Survive the Drive – Vehicle Survival Preparedness, by Prepper Ray

Where will you be when the SHTF? You need to consider that you may not be at home when the world around you begins to fall apart. You are very likely going to have to travel to get home or a bug out location. You may be at work out shopping or even on vacation. No matter where you are the problem is going to be just being able to get from point A to point B. The type of vehicle you have and the equipment you have in that vehicle may in fact determine your ability to get to where you need to go in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

I discovered many years ago while trying to reach relatives in the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Hugo that driving even a short distance, can be difficult if not impossible without the right vehicle and equipment. I learned in a real SHTF situation how important the type of vehicle you choose can make a huge difference in getting there or not. While trying to bring emergency supplies into what was at the time Ground Zero, I ran into police road blocks due to evacuation routes, detours, impassible roads and utter destruction in my path. I was not a prepper at the time, I just so happened to own a 4 wheel drive truck with oversized tires and a bumper mounted winch. I had a good knowledge of the “back roads” and few alternate routes to get where I needed to go. The 4 wheel drive function and larger tires proved to be the key in driving through the downed power lines, fallen trees, debris and driving around disable vehicles left abandoned in the roadway. Realizing how important it was to have off road capability, I have always owned a 4 wheel drive vehicle since that time. It’s now been 26 years and I am now prepared to survive the drive and much more.

The vehicle you choose is critical, A truck is a solid choice, not only does it make sense in any SHTF situation, trucks are useful in hauling supplies and equipment to your bug out location in non emergency times. A heavy duty 4-wheel drive (4WD) option is a must and a crew cab will give you extra room for people or storage. My choice of vehicle was the Jeep Wrangler 4WD 4-door. What it lacks in hauling ability was made up in the ability to go almost anywhere off road, its nimble size and power to weight ratio is what I needed in my area.With an add-on cargo rack and factory high capacity fuel tank that I keep at least half full all the time, it was a sensible and economical choice for me.The vehicle’s ability to perform above and beyond most normal driving situations is the point I’m trying to make. In addition to the vehicle itself there are several items that the prepared individual needs to have available at all times.

Road Atlas or Road Maps

You might think that a paper map or road atlas book is old school when you have GPS technology, but GPS electronics may or may not always work in a SHTF situation. An up to date paper map always works. You should know how to read a map and practice driving alternate routes, there’s always more than one way to get somewhere. From time to time try driving alternate routes so they are familiar to you in non emergency times you will find it helpful to know the roads when you need it.

Tire repair kits and 12 volt air compressor.

Driving over and around disaster areas can be treacherous, not only on the vehicle’s drive train but mostly on the tires. With no time or ability to get help or even change to your spare tire, it’s imperative that you have a good quality tire plug and repair kit and a good quality 12 VDC air compressor in the vehicle. A can of Fix-A-Flat is not a viable option. The cans are of little to no use in my experiments, the pressure they provide is usually not enough and they just don’t always work as advertised. You can however permanently repair a flat tire faster than you can find your jack with the right tools and know how. I don’t think it’s even necessary for me to mention how vulnerable you become to criminals while on the side of the road, changing a tire. Speed and efficiency is critical in survival mode, especially when traveling and making roadside repairs. Remember this; desperate people will do desperate things during disasters. Get a commercial quality tire repair kit from a automotive supply dealer, not your local Wal-Mart.

Trauma Kit.

I’m not talking about a simple glove box first aid kit, you may have to self-treat more serious injuries. Have a well-equipped trauma kit with splints,eye wash, slings, tourniquets and heavy duty bandages and dressings. You won’t be treating an ingrown toenail. You may be self treating a broken arm,a serious laceration, or worse.


Most vehicle manufactures offer high capacity or dual tank systems to increase your fuel capacity, if not, there are aftermarket options in most cases. In addition to my high capacity factory tank I carry a nice 12 volt fuel transfer kit designed to defeat most anti-siphon type tanks along with extra hose and a hand pump style transfer pump. Since storing gasoline in your vehicle may not be the best smelling or safest thing to do, there is no harm in storing a clean empty gas can along with a hose and funnel in case you need to extract fuel from an abandoned vehicle along the way. Don’t expect gas stations to be available, they won’t be.

Tools and more

A tool kit is necessary for emergency repairs along the way a variety of good quality tools is imperative, include a socket set, extra belts and hoses for your engine. I also have emergency fuel tank repair epoxy, just in case. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a couple of spare quarts of oil and even extra headlight bulbs and fuses.

A vehicle mounted winch is critical, make sure it’s above and beyond what you think you need in capacity. Having a variety of tow straps, snatch blocks and town chain can make quick work of pulling yourself out of a bad situation.A pair of leather work gloves and hat-mounted or head-mounted light are a must.A set of binoculars will help you evaluate dangers or obstacles that lay ahead.

Comfort Items

When your normal drive time is about an hour you can obviously expect a much longer time in your vehicle during a SHTF situation. I drove over 5 hours in what should have been an hour under normal conditions. You will need to keep a couple of bottles of water and an MRE or food item, since stopping at a roadside store is not an option. Keep a supply of sanitary hand wipes, a blanket and most of all a roll of toilet paper, need I say more? nature calls so be ready for that.

Defend Yourself

I haven’t mentioned a firearm since that’s something you should have with you, on your person at all times anyway. But I will mention that having extra ammunition and extra magazines in your vehicle along with bear spray and a knife are a must. Why bear spray? It’s a high capacity pepper spray perfect for crowd control. Mob scenes, looting and rioting are always a possibility.Before storing any type of pepper spray in your vehicle keep in mind that high temperatures during summer can be a problem for an aerosol can. Keep some cash onboard, not a lot but enough. How much? You won’t be stopping by the store for milk and bread but you must consider that some cash may be necessary depending on your location and distance to travel, don’t expect ATMs to be available or working, they won’t.

Many of the items I have mentioned can be organized in a “Bug-In” kit,how you choose to organize your equipment is not as important as having the stuff you need in your vehicle and having the ability you use the equipment you have. Several times I have used the word “good” and “quality” remember that you get what you pay for and you don’t get what you don’t pay for.Bargain basement tools and cheap equipment won’t work very well . In closing it is important to note that during a SHTF situation it is never safe to travel unless absolutely necessary and you want to avoid driving whenever possible.Any movement away from your survival location is dangerous but properly equipped in the appropriate vehicle your chances of survival can be increased.- Prepper Ray Lexington, S.C.