Buckle your seat belts. This is going to be a long one. There are many websites and blogs that will tell you all about what to prep with, how to prep, and how to survive a SHTF event. The majority of them concentrate on static locations. That is to say, how to prepare your home, bug-out location or how to cache supplies. What is not often discussed is how to get everybody in your party, and all the remaining supplies you stockpiled, out of a non-tenable location to a safer, more secure one.
My intent is not to provide an exhaustive and complete list to you, nor is it to tell you what to do. My intent is to point your thinking to possibilities that you may not have considered before this. It is too easy to get lost in details and concentrate solely on accumulating supplies to stay put. The probability there may come a time when you need to move out is significant. I’m reasonably sure that you would prefer to take all your unused preparations with you for further/future use and protection. After all, ammo and water are heavy, people take space and need food. You might also like to have barter goods available without reducing your own needed supplies.
There are some questions that you should be asking yourself. What kind of vehicle are you starting with? A small station wagon or SUV with AWD? A Jeep? A ½-ton pickup? A van? A Medium Duty truck? A combination of these? The next question is: How reliable is it? Is it in good condition? How new is it? What are its’ load and mobility capabilities? Do you need multiple vehicles?
Let’s talk newness. Shiny new, upscale vehicles scream TARGET. They are also susceptible to electronic component failures, Nature (sunspot activity EMP) or, police/officials (many new vehicles can be stopped remotely). They also draw too much attention from the unsavory types, looking for an easy target. How common is your vehicle? Can you find parts easily? Your better chances are with older, well-maintained, scruffy looking vehicles. They are easier to come by, repair, and cheaper too. Making them reliable is easy and fairly cheap. Choose well and keep it/them fully maintained. Make sure that you can accommodate all the members of your party, plus maximize storage and cargo weight capability. Install external cargo racking wherever possible (roof racks, ladder racks, etc.). Keep the fuel tank full. Keep all you are able loaded at all times.
Pickup trucks have good cargo capacity but are limited in the passenger department. SUV’s have passenger capacity but lack cargo capacity. You may want to think about multiple vehicles if you overrun one of these capabilities with a single vehicle. I know. You think I’m nuts. “What? Two fuel eating hogs?”. No. I am not insane. Multiple vehicles will give you options when you are out on the road. Think of it as built-in redundancy and “shelter in place” wherever you are each day. Even if you end up abandoning one along the way, you still have more supplies than you would otherwise have had and, possibly a new “cache” location when you leave the dead vehicle.
Have you considered a Contractor’s work truck? This is also known as a Work Body truck. These are commonly of the F350, F450, F550 (or GM or Dodge RAM equivalents). Look around next time you are on the road and notice how many of these vehicles are around. Note also how they are loaded. Interesting, isn’t it? These are heavy-duty beasts of burden. Their whole purpose in life is to haul equipment and materials safely, economically, and securely in all weather. They do not have an easy life. They do have huge payload capacities for their size, exceptional towing capacity and are built to take abuse. They do not often have the frills of their non-commercial brothers but have only one purpose in the world … work hard and work long. Picking one of these beasts up used is cheap but, be aware that they will require repairs before their full reliability is restored. The first owners will have worked them very hard and only replace them when reliability declines. Once restored, they will happily provide services to you for an extended time.
So you think I’m nuts for advocating a Work truck. Consider this: work trucks have the same characteristics as their cousins, without the luxury. They get the same, or better fuel mileage, use the same driveline components, and they were made reliable because the commercial world demands it. Many of them also have extended cabs to accommodate a larger crew and are 4X4. Think about your experience loading, unloading, or accessing your tools with a standard pickup truck. Wouldn’t it be nice to access your tools and equipment without climbing into the truck bed, chasing stuff around that has come loose? Wouldn’t it be nice if the goods and equipment stored could be kept out of the weather and secure, while still having the capability to place a full load in the bed AND have access to all of it? Consider also that the large population of such vehicles will guarantee that after SHTF, there will be spare parts available for a LONG time … jus’ sayin’. Food for thought.
In the final article of this series, we will explore camouflage. In it we will explore what is meant by the term. It doesn’t only mean “Multi-colored, earthen patterns to blend in with the woods.” There is much more to it than that. These articles are intended to get you thinking and provide a venue for further discussion and idea sharing.