Off-roaders are more prepared than most for a worst-case scenario, as their 4WD would make for a solid bug-out vehicle if the need arises.

Regardless of what you drive, when things start to head truly south, you’re going to want to bug out. The decision to pack up and bail isn’t one to be taken lightly, and chances are it’ll never come to be. However, we live in unprecedented times these days. If you’re looking to add the proper accessories to your ride, there are a few things you’ll want to add. It is time to build the perfect bug out vehicle.

Reliability is key

Reliability is key in a bug out situation. When society is crashing down around you, the tow truck will not be coming. There are plenty of resources available that look at the most reliable trucks and SUVs and you will often see Toyota at the top of those lists. You can add a bug out Jeep or Nissan to that mix as well, along with less conventional off-road brands like Honda, Subaru and Hyundai. That’s not a knock on GM, Ford or Dodge, not by any means. If you’re looking to buy a new-to-you ride to use as a base, check out our list of best used buys. We’re big fans of our Tacoma, but there are lots of good options.

Keep up with your basic maintenance with regular fluid changes. That includes your transmission, transfer case and differentials. We run Redline Synthetic throughout our Tacoma and have been impressed with the performance. Another great thing for a bug out vehicle is a quality, reusable air filter. We run a K&N system that can be washed and reused easily. An Optima battery is a good idea too.

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How can I carry extra fuel?

Unless you’ve never seen a Mad Max movie, you know how important it is to have a large fuel source when you need to bug out. If businesses are closed, you can’t just stop for gas easily. Titan Fuel Tanks has many options for safely and easily carrying extra fuel in your bug out vehicle. We’re adding the over-the-fender tank to the bed of our Tacoma to carry spare fuel. You can also get a wide range of fuel cans, including some that lay flat and are easily carried on a rack system.

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Which tires are best for bugging out?

Toyo Open Country A/T III

You need tires that get good traction, resist punctures and last a long time for your bug-out vehicle. We’re testing the new Toyo Tires Open Country AT III tires and have been extremely impressed with how well they work on and off the road. The wet pavement traction is better than anything we’ve used so far and you’ll be impressed with them too.
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Do I need a winch on my bug-out vehicle?

A winch is always a good idea on a bug-out vehicle. The tow truck isn’t going to come pull you out of the ditch if nothing is running. You can pull yourself out, pull out someone else’s vehicle or, more importantly, clear things out of your way. We mounted a Warn ZEON 10S on our Tacoma and it’s amazing. Synthetic rope is definitely the way to go for most conditions. We mounted Warn’s Sidewinder that replaces the hook and shackle on the rope. It gives you a stronger and easier-to-use mounting point.

With a winch, you’ve got an extra set of extremely powerful hands that can help you out, or help you be the hero to someone else. And if you’re bugging out during a weather-related issue, like a tornado or hurricane, you’ll be glad it’s there when a tree falls across the road.

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What other essentials do I need in my bug out vehicle?

There are a few things that should be in your bug out vehicle in case of a bad situation. When you need to bug out, you don’t want to have to look for things, either. We suggest having them in the vehicle at all times, or having them all together in one spot so they can loaded in a matter of minutes. You should seriously think about having:

  • First Aid Kit – in case of boo-boos
  • Tow Straps – they come in very handy
  • A Tarp – can be used as a makeshift shelter
  • Tie Downs – always good for securing things
  • A Chainsaw – Look above to the part about the winch and trees being down
  • A Cooler – a good idea for hauling cold food, or if you need to haul extra water
  • Flashlights – get a flat at night and you’ll thank me
  • A Phone Charger – keep your phone ready to go
  • Basic Tools – for fixin’ stuff
  • Hi-lift Jack – for changing tires and other stuff
  • A Knife – you’ll find it pretty handy

What is the most important thing to have in an emergency?

That’s an easy one – Common sense. Don’t panic. You’re ready for anything that can be thrown at you. As a wise man once told me, keep your head about you and you can get through anything. When times are uncertain, that can make the difference. There are other things you can add at your own discretion. If you are looking for ways of protecting yourself, your stuff and your family, check out one of our sister sites,, for some defense essentials to have on hand.