Can you turn your car into the ultimate survival vehicle?

Bugging in means you can ride out certain survival scenarios right in the comfort of your own home. But when SHTF, sometimes you will need to bug out in your car. Before that happens, how do you turn your car into a bug-out vehicle (BOV)? (h/t to

If you decide to bug out with your family, you need to make sure that your car is stocked with the necessary supplies and gear so you can reach your bug-out location (BOL) quickly and safely.

Choosing a bug-out vehicle

If you have the means to do so, you can purchase a car that you can turn into a BOV. However, if funds are tight, you can also work with whatever vehicle you have.

Follow the tips below to turn your car into the ultimate prepper vehicle.

Important qualities of a BOV

When buying a new or used car, make sure your choice has the following characteristics. If you’re modifying your current car, improve or compensate for these qualities instead.

  1. Affordable — A BOV is affordable and has the features you need. It shouldn’t be expensive to fix and maintain, either.
  2. Easy to fix and maintain — Certain vehicles are easier to repair and others require more work. When buying a car, always choose the former.
  3. Inconspicuous — When SHTF, it’s better to have a BOV that blends in. Don’t get something that screams “prepper on board,” especially if you don’t want to be a target for looters.
  4. Fuel-efficient — In a disaster scenario, it’s best to have a car that will let you drive as far as you can on as little fuel as possible.
  5. Spacious — Spaciousness must be balanced with fuel efficiency. Just make sure that you have room for the whole family and your supplies.
  6. Reliable — Maintain your car so it can get you to your BOL as soon as possible without breaking down.
  7. Rugged — Ideally, your car should be able to drive over a variety of terrains. Get a four-wheel drive if you can.

Consider getting a car with fewer or simpler electronics to ensure that it survives an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. You also need to decide if you want a gas or diesel vehicle.

Types of prepper vehicles

Certain vehicles are prepper-ready. But if you’re making do with the family car, some modifications can turn it into a prepping vehicle.

Below are the pros and cons of the common types of vehicles and some tips on how to turn each one into the ultimate prepper vehicle.


A typical small to medium car isn’t the ultimate BOV, but after making some changes, they can do in a pinch. Even if you have a small car, your skills and supplies can make a huge difference when SHTF.

Due to the smaller nature of most cars, you need to prioritize the supplies that you bring with you. Alternatively, you can add extra space by attaching a cargo carrier to the roof of your car.While they have less cargo space, some cars are fuel efficient.

Cargo vans

Cargo vans combine the maximum amount of space for passengers and supplies while still being relatively mobile. They’re not as rugged as SUVs and trucks, but they allow you to store more supplies and gear.

Taking out some seats will allow your group to lie down and sleep, especially if you want to turn the van into temporary living quarters.


Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are great BOVs since they drive well off-road, have lots of cargo space, and are inconspicuous. SUVs are usually four-wheel drive and are relatively fuel-efficient for their size.


Trucks are similar to SUVs, but the former usually emphasize ruggedness and hauling power over storage space. If you have a truck, add roof racks or haul trailers for more cargo space.

Prepping supplies for your BOV

After checking if your car has the seven crucial qualities above, make sure it has necessary survival supplies such as:

  • Car escape tools
  • Car repair kit
  • Food and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Water and water filters
  • Firestarting equipment
  • Prepping tools
  • Emergency blankets and extra clothing
  • Gas siphon or a gas can

Aside from these supplies, each member of your survival group needs their own bug-out bag (BOB) with food, water, medical supplies, and prepping gear so you can all survive if you need to abandon your car. (Related: How to bug out in your car.)

Regardless of the type of car that you own or choose to buy, you can turn it into a bug-out vehicle by enhancing its properties and storing the necessary gear and supplies. Doing this ensures that you can safely bug out when SHTF.

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