Hands Down, The Best Bug Out Vehicles, Period.

Hector Santana
6 min readFeb 6, 2023

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Let’s just say this 4Runner is more than equipped for the ride of your life. tuningblog.eu

When you need a vehicle for those occasions when the shit hits the fan, you need something reliable, something that won’t let you down when it counts. Yes, cars are much better today than they were fifty years ago but that does not make all of them worthy of being a bug out vehicle.

The Toyota 4Runner 4x4 has been a top SUV for decades. Best in its class year after year. This thing is durable, as in hard to kill. No other SUV has a cult following like the 4Runner. The older the better. Right now, first and second generation 4Runners are commanding serious dollars across the country. Not because they are vintage, but because early versions of this beast are highly sought after for their reliability, ability to modify, and for their lasting quality. It takes hundreds of thousands of miles to wear down its parts. My 4Runner is 20 years old and it has every original part it was sold with, except the alternator which I changed last year. I mean even the original struts are still there. One of the reasons it is so tough is that it is built on a Tacoma frame, making it one tough cookie.

Yes, those are anti-aircraft guns mounted on a tacoma/Hilux. photo:autojosh
American troops using the Tacoma as a technical truck in Afghanistan. photo:brian894x4

Speaking of the Tacoma, it's no push over. It is consistently ranked in the top two pick-up trucks in the world and has posted more number one’s than any other manufacturer. In fact, the Tacoma or Hilux as it is known abroad, is the number one civilian vehicle used in combat. Remember all of those technical pick-up trucks with 30-millimeter machineguns mounted on the bed of the pick-up, yes those are Tacoma's. We saw them in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, you name it. Why, because they are so damn reliable, even in war. Both the Tacoma and the 4Runner are highly adaptable, modifiable, and darn tough when it comes to off road capability.

To round out the list of Toyota’, the Land Cruiser 4x4 is the flagship of all the off-road capable vehicles under the Toyota brand. The Land Cruiser is a well-known safari vehicle in Africa and in the Middle East. It is equally as well built as the 4Runner or the Tacoma, and it is easily adaptable to multi-use roles such as desert, off road, or long distance uses. You will often see these vehicles outfitted with kit to make their use and appearance much more rugged. If you need reliability and comfort, look no further. This thing has it all. Toyota’s have several darn tough contenders on this list but let's see what else is ready for action.

The Ford F150 is a tough, durable truck and an excellent bug-out vehicle. photo:RMT

The Ford F150 4x4 has been a leading pick-up truck among American manufacturers year after year. Why? It ranks top tier in pick-up truck reliability, raking in more milage than any other American made truck. Plus, its off-road capability is excellent in the forest or the desert. Getting you to where you want to go in comfort. Not to mention space in the bed for all your bug-out wares. Speaking of American vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler is another top bug-out vehicle with the chutzpa to claim the top 4x4 ranking. The Wrangler is another truck with a cult following, decades after its appearance as the Willy’s Jeep in the 1940’s. This thing is modifiable like no other off-road vehicle. There are literally hundreds, even thousands of looks you can give this vehicle. It is durable and can get into and out of difficult places, especially in the bush.

Jeep Wranglers are commonly used as off-road vehicles, making them great as bug-out vehicles.
The Land Rover Defender is a badass on the trails and on the road.

But the Wrangler is not alone out there. The Jeep has another stiff competitor in the ranks. The Land Rover Defender is a long-trusted safari vehicle and a darn good bug-out vehicle. It has it issues, like a gas guzzling motor and some reliability concerns, but when it's on point, it is awesome. Most issues can be avoided with proper care and maintenance. The gas thing not so much. But this thing is rugged, and it looks badass coming down the road. Just like the Jeep and Tacoma, it is made for all the dirt, rock, and water you will find in the rugged Mountain environment.

But remember, many of these vehicles will not operate in an electromagnetic pulse environment. So, what do you resort to in that case. Well, unless you had your vehicle in a Farraday cage, the only thing you can do is drive a former military vehicle designed for that type of situation. The ubiquitous HMMWV military vehicle is a clear favorite among preppers of all types for its durability and off-road capability. Yes, it’s terrible on fuel and yes, its loud and sometimes unreliable, but it certainly has badassery down packed. You will get attention so be prepared for it if you drive this down the road in a post-apocalyptic situation. Better something less pretentious, right. Crickets, nah…

These former military HMMWV’s are excellent vehicle's but they are also loud, gas guzzlers. photo:armormax

The Stewart & Stevenson LMTV or M1078 is a big and very capable bug-out truck for the discerning consumer. EMP’s be dammed, this thing is loud and formidable coming down the road. It will certainly get you where you want to go, not so much comfortably but perhaps, safely. It will ford through water much like the HMMWV, and in some cases provide ballistic protection if you are lucky enough to get one with the ballistic panels.

The LMTV is an excellent bug-out truck for the demanding job of getting through the chaos. USARMY

You can get one at a government surplus or from Steel Soldiers, an online forum for military vehicle aficionados. There are two versions, so do your homework to make sure you know which one you are getting. However, get a good truck mechanic because these motors can be a handful. Why don't you see an MRAP, Buffalo, or a Stryker on this list. Well. they are not as readily available to the public as you may think, and they are very hard to maintain and run, with fuel supply being a primary concern. The vehicles mentioned have manageable fuel requirements and offer excellent protection and off roading capability. What about motorcycles, you ask?

Yes, motorcycles are great getaway vehicles. However, they offer no protection against hostile forces, and you can easily be knocked off of one at your expense. Not to mention, you will not be able to carry much in the form of supplies. Of course, there a host of other bug-out vehicles that you can consider, but those are generally custom made or not within reach of the average joe. Remember, these things can range in cost from $5000 to $50,000. But custom-made vehicles start at $65,000 and over. There is no sense in throwing all your money at a getaway vehicle when your best bet might be a beat-up gremlin, and NO a Porsche 911 is not a bug-out vehicle so please don’t try that in a real SHTF situation. Safe Trails…

No, this is not a bug-out vehicle… But it sure looks good.

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Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.