Letter Re: Recreational Vehicles and Investing in Tangibles

Thank you for the blog and all the great info you put out. I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask you, but first a little info about myself. I am a 40 year old male with a wife and two kids. I live in Kansas, I work at a large manufacturing plant and my wife works for a insurance company. We have a mortgage and other dept. I would like to buy some land out of town and build a retreat for my family and myself for when TSHTF but can not afford it right now. My grandfather though does own land about a hour north of here. I was wondering what you thought about buying a RV, stocking it with supplies and when the time comes bugging out in that. Also you are always saying to invest in tangibles, What do you recommend ? Thirty round magazines? Ammunition? Barter items? Right now I have about $1,000 to invest but I am lost as to what to buy. I already have my protection squared away so that is not an issue. Once again thank you for all you do and I wish your wife a full and speedy recovery. – Mike in the Great Plains

JWR Replies: I’m fairly certain that you are suggesting an RV strictly as a one-way “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) vehicle to get to your grandfather’s farm, rather than as a vague concept for retreating. For any readers that might consider wandering aimlessly in an RV, see this narrative that I wrote in the early days of SurvivalBlog:

“Land mobile” retreating in a recreational vehicle (RV) is another invitation to disaster. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, a fixed location retreat is vastly superior to going mobile. In my opinion the myth of ”Road Warrior” mobility and firepower is in actuality just an expanded opportunity to wander into ambush after ambush. No vehicle short of a $70,000+ Cadillac Gage V100 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) would have both the cargo capacity and the ballistic protection required. (A little Ferret scout car just doesn’t have the capacity. I speak from personal experience on that!) Also, consider that you would need a pair of APCs to provide mutually supporting defensive fire. And then of course you will probably want a belt-fed for each. With spares, ammo, and accessories that is an additional $3,000 per vehicle.

If by chance you already have a fully stocked retreat established and have $150,000 in cash laying around for a couple of ultimate G.O.O.D. vehicles, see: Dave Uhrig’s web site and then click on “Armor”. (I should mention that I have done business with Dave Uhrig on two occasions. He is quite reputable.)

Here is a dose of reality for you: If you choose to go entirely vehicle mobile then you will eventually lose a battle–most likely in a roadblock ambush–or your RV will break down. Or it will run out of fuel–with some likelihood that it will be on exposed terrain in an untenable situation. Also, since the logistics that you could carry would be limited, you will start out with an inherent disadvantage to fixed location retreats. This also creates the prospect that once your food supplies are depleted you will be tempted to take what you need from others. To paraphrase John Dibari (my high school chemistry instructor) when he described troublemakers: “If you aren’t part of the solution–you’re the precipitate.” (That is, someone who precipitates trouble–part of the problem, not the solution.) Scratch that idea!

Since you have a definite destination (your grandfather’s house), then you are better off just storing (“pre-positioning”) what you will need there, rather than trying cram what you will need into an RV for an 11th Hour trip outta Dodge. Odds are that those items will be more secure there, than if they were stored at your house in the Big City, anyway. If his house lacks the requisite storage space perhaps he would be agreeable to you buying a 20 foot CONEX for your gear, and storing it there

In answer to your other question: See this SurvivalBlog post from 2007 for my recommendations on buying full capacity firearms magazines, for barter.