Two Letters Re: A Vehicular BoB


There was some interesting commentary posted to your blog about a vehicle bug out kit and how to keep your vehicle running during a time of troubles.

Most of us concentrate on using the vehicle for a short period of time to get out of Dodge and then [if need be] plan on walking from there.

I would suggest that we also look at using the vehicle as our bug out kit. At least at first when we have to get out quickly, and if we don’t have a longer term farm/ranch that we are planning on going to.

We have a number of children we are responsible for and the thought of walking with a backpack miles and miles through hostile territory with children does not sit well.

Besides, the number of diapers we would need to carry, let alone the children, makes a bug out from a vehicle impossible. And no, we won’t leave the kids behind.

We have also practiced our bug out several times over the years (lets go camping to the kids or lets go to grandma’s for my wife …) and it is painfully obvious that without a full day’s preparation we can not get the whole family ready and on the road. So we have modified our camping trailer to act as our bug out kit. That’s right, the whole trailer. This can be done with RVs of any sort as well as with large SUVs and trucks. In these cases simply pre-pack a large duffel bag or Rubbermaid containers with supplies that can be loaded quickly.

In the trailer we have placed tools, supplies, and all the other items for an extended disaster stay that would force us out of our house. Figure six months to one year minus the food supplies (I’ll talk about that below) and guns. The trailer has been modified to have a PV panel on top to charge the batteries and we have a generator that we can take with us and power up the trailer with. The water tank is full and again has been modified to filter water coming into it (while I will take clean looking water from an unknown source, I won’t try to filter pond water etc. into the tank). Plus we have several bottles of bleach in the trailer to put into the water tank to kill off any unwanted bacteria.

Guns and ammo are set up pre-packaged anyway so that if we had to walk out (doubtful) we just need to grab a rifle and pistol and their accompanying go-packs (pre-loaded magazines in carriers such as the Eagle shoulder bandolier that holds nine AR-15 magazines). Hence we have about five minutes worth of work to load firearms and their supplies.

In the event of a major disaster we would also need to load additional food into the trailer. We figure that this would take us about two hours maximum as the one bay in our garage has been converted to storage duties. Hence back the trailer up and start to shovel cases of food into it. In theory we would be ready to ride out a six month disaster that forces us from our home with about four hours of effort on our part.

This leaves us with two critical items that can not be readily carried – water and fuel. This has been overcome with careful planning on our part. First, we have mapped out likely hide spots for ourselves and the trailer – mostly campgrounds on National Forest lands. Using these campgrounds does two things. First, they normally have pit toilets already in place. Second, many of them have water sources that are gravity fed from streams and the like or have a well/pump pre-installed that can easily be run off of the generator we have. We make it a point to talk to the campground hosts to find out the location of the wells or water supplies when we camp there over the summer.

To overcome the fuel issue (and bulk ammunition storage, and additional supplies that we might not have time to toss in) we have managed to find a couple of deserted, roofless cabins in the woods near the campgrounds. The Forest Service used to maintain (and still does in places like Alaska and along the Appalachian Trail) cabins for hikers. In many places these are still marked on maps. But over the years of neglect many of the cabins have fallen apart and only the walls and fireplace/chimney remain. Close to two of these cabins which are to of our two primary bug out spots. We have managed to cache additional supplies near the cabins. In one case it was inside an abandoned mine not more than 100 yards from a Forest Service cabin which was only about 1?2 mile from the campground we have decided on.

What this does is also set us up for a longer term survival situation as well. During the initial days of chaos after a major, societal collapsing event, nobody is going to look for abandoned cabins without roofs. During this time we will be snug, if more than a little cramped, in our camping trailer. When the situation looks like it will not stabilize anytime soon, then as the weather gets nicer, we have the tools (already in the trailer) to replace the roof on one of these cabins in short order. Strip the trailer of items such as the propane stove, etc. and we can move into a nice, if rustic, survival retreat.

I will add that since many of these cabins were built in the 1930s they have rock solid walls made of large logs and cement. Almost like the walls that bunkers are built out of . . .

With the two caches we have, and with the trailer in tow, we figure we can ride out a year or two in the woods in relative comfort. And if we are forced to displace we can do so relatively quickly even with the kids. – Hugh D.


Mr Rawles.
I just read the letter from the gentleman in Central America regarding bug out vehicles. He advises replacing a the starter battery of an auto-transmission vehicle with a deep cycle battery. I think that’s not ideal for anyone further north than Florida. Good quality deep cycle batteries are not very good at giving up lots of current in a short time, e.g., starting an engine. Under good circumstances (oversized battery, warm ambient temps, fuel injected engine in good tune, etc), they will act as a starting battery. But in challenging conditions, particularly cold weather, they can struggle to provide the amps a starter demands to crank a stubborn engine.

Best bet for that role is a compromise battery: Deep cycle/starting. These batteries are more durable than a starter battery when repeatedly drained for powering electrical devices. They are not as durable as a true deep cycle. But they also have some of the cranking “oomph” to provide lots of amps quickly, for starting a motor.

A great bug-out 12VDC battery is an deep cycle/starting combination of absorbed glass mat (AGM) construction, because of the flexibility it offers. They are pricey and don’t hold as many amps, pound for pound, as a good quality flooded battery, but they are very durable, lose their charge slowly when unattended, requiring less care. They can safely be pressed into service for many indoor duties because they don’t vent hydrogen when charged, and they can’t leak acid. I’ve got a deep cycle/starting combo AGM that I keep around the house. It started life as a trolling motor battery about eight years ago. Since then, it’s been used to jump start cars, as a starter for a generator, as a battery backup for a personal computer, and to run an inverter during an extended power outage. It’s sitting under my desk right now. If the power goes out, my PC, monitor and Internet connection will keep running for five or six hours. In a pinch, if I need it, I can disconnect it and use it to jump start a car, run a fridge on an inverter, etc. Very handy to have one of these around. Regards, – Rich S.