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Five Factors to Consider Before Buying a Bug-out Vehicle

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Earlier this year, Savannah and Brandon Boerjan of Mountainburg, Arkansas, were driving home after purchasing a trailer when they experienced the scare of a lifetime.

The couple noticed that everyone around them was driving faster than normal, so they did the same to stay with the flow of traffic. However, when the couple — who was driving a pickup truck pulling their new trailer — turned a corner, they were shocked by what they saw.

According to Savannah, “A tornado dropped right on top of us and slung us all across the interstate into a ditch.” Their truck flipped over and the trailer was destroyed, but the couple emerged unharmed — except for a sore shoulder affecting Savannah.

Obviously, if you turn a corner and run into a tornado, there’s not a whole lot you can do. That situation is a rarity, but it brings up a good point: You need to make sure your vehicle is capable of getting you where you need to go in a crisis situation.

If you live in Montana, owning a 4×4 is probably a given for a bug-out situation — I imagine it’s necessary for most of the winter months. If you live in southern Florida, you might want to consider a sedan that gets good gas mileage so you can get to safety without stopping as often. Without getting into a debate on the merits of different makes and models, I want to give you a few factors to consider when buying a vehicle that you can depend on to save your life.

  • Gas tank. Anyone who has ever had to evacuate before a storm knows that one of the biggest challenges is crowded roads and gas stations. We’ve all seen footage on the news of folks waiting hours just to get gas. For this reason, I recommend investing in a bug-out vehicle that that has a large gas tank as well as a place for you to store plenty of five-gallon containers of gas. I have a Chevy Suburban that holds 31 gallons of gas with enough space to store another 31 gallons.
  • Tires. Perhaps one of the most important components on any vehicle is the tires you buy. Tires are the one thing I would never go cheap on. Where I live in southern Utah, I do a lot of driving on dirt roads in remote areas. For my safety, I put tires on my vehicle that have a thicker tread so they can withstand jagged rocks and won’t go flat easily. I recommend buying either all-season or all-terrain tires depending on where you live. I personally have all-terrain tires because I know that if I need to bug out there is a good chance I would be traveling on dirt roads where a better tread is necessary.
  • Trailer hitch. These are an absolute must for any truck or SUV. When bugging out, you may want to pull a camper or a trailer full of belongings. I realize most cars don’t come with trailer hitches, but it’s something I recommend adding. Plus, since trailer hitches are usually secured to a vehicle’s frame, they make a great contact point for connecting chains to the vehicle if you need to pull it for any reason.
  • Brush guard. For those of you who have attended my Escape & Evasion Driving Course, you have seen how beneficial a brush guard can be. This is one of those add-ons that can be very useful depending on where you live. If you live in a remote wooded area, you might need to push fallen trees or other debris out of the way. A brush guard makes this a little easier and helps protect your vehicle.
  • Ground clearance. I personally don’t own any sports cars, however, I have family members who do. While they are fun to drive, they aren’t the most useful cars in a survival situation — they sit low to the ground and typically don’t have any cargo space.

The fact is during an emergency, ground clearance is a huge deal because you may be forced to drive through water or over debris in the road. If your vehicle can’t even clear a small tree that fell down, you are in for a long trip. So even though Corvettes and Camaros are fun to drive, they should be your last choice in a disaster.

Getting out of dodge during an emergency is something we all need to prepare for. A truck or SUV is be a good choice — just make sure it has the features I mentioned. Remember, you are betting your life on this vehicle, so think through your purchase and make sure you are ready to bug out.

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