bushcraft skills

Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for food

bushcraft skills

Feeding yourself off the land can be a challenge even in favorable conditions and is one of the most important bushcraft skills to learn.  It takes a good knowledge of local plants and animals as well as the ability to actually catch or gather them to make a meal.  The field of bushcraft has lots of ways to make this easier.  For more basic information on getting started with Bushcraft, check out our article HERE.

Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for edible plants

Being able to forage for your dinner requires an in depth knowledge of the plants in your area.  You need to know not only what you CAN eat but also what you CAN’T eat.

bushcraft skills

What to look for

  • Roots and tubers:  Roots and tubers are found in the soil underneath the vine or stalk of a plant.  They are very nutritious but usually require cooking or boiling.  Potatoes, yams, and onions are all either roots or tubers.
  • Grasses: The young whitish tips of many grasses are edible and often palatable.  They can be eaten raw
  • Seeds & Nuts: The seeds and nuts of many plants are edible and provide a good source of nutrition.  If you taste a seed or nut and it has a bitter or acidic quality it is probably not safe to eat.  Frequently seeds and nuts can be made safe to eat by soaking them for 12 hours in water or boiling.
  • Fruit & Berries: We are used to seeing fruit in our supermarkets on a regular basis but it is important to note that the apples, pears, and bananas we consume are the product of thousands of years of cultivation by farmers.  Many berries and fruits found in the wild can be harmful if eaten.  Generally any fruit that is red in color should be avoided.  Unless you are sure a fruit or berry is safe to eat these are best avoided.
  • Leaves: The leaves of many plants are edible both raw and after boiling.  Some palatable ones to seek out are watercress and nettles (be careful when picking nettles as they can sting), both of which often grow near freshwater streams.  Beware leaves that have a strong bitter taste.

bushcraft skills

Things to avoid:

An important part of bushcraft foraging is knowing what to avoid.  Remember that there are exceptions to every rule so it is best to educate yourself about your local plants as much as possible.  Here are some general guidelines to follow.

Bad smelling plants – If a plant, or fruit has an off putting smell it is probably not ideal to eat.  Out sense of smell has evolved over thousands of years to warn us against dangerous foods.  Avoid anything that smells distasteful.

Taste of almond – This is usually an indication of the presence of prussic acid which is toxic to humans.  It can sometimes be removed by boiling the plant.  If you can no longer taste the almond bitterness after boiling or soaking it is probably safe.  Be sure to safely discard the water you boiled the plant in.

Acidity or Bitterness – Any plant that tasted extremely bitter or “hot” should be avoided.  This is a typical sign that it will make you sick or worse.

The Color Red – Seeing red leaves or fruit is a likely sign that a plant is dangerous to us.  There are some exceptions of course (strawberries, apples) but unless you KNOW a red plant or fruit is safe avoid it at all costs.

Fungus – There are some mushrooms out there that are edible and even tasty.  However these can be hard to differentiate between their lookalike toxic cousins. Again, unless you are SURE a mushroom is edible it is best to not eat them at all.

bushcraft skills

But what if?

If you are uncertain if something is edible or not and out of options the general approach is to taste a small bite of it WITHOUT swallowing it.  If it tastes OK (no bitterness or strong acidity) then swallow a small sample and wait 1 hour.  If not unpleasant reaction occurs it is safe to eat more.  Again, this approach is a last resort.  You are better off to keep on searching if you have any doubt in your mind.

Also remember that cooking or boiling can reduce or remove bitter tastes and in some cases toxins as well.  Again, it is essential to gain knowledge over your local plants to be able to use this option.

bushcraft skills Bushcraft Skills: Trapping and Hunting Game

Foraging Plants vs. Animals

When every calorie counts, there’s no question: Eating animals is the most efficient path to survival. Plants can offer additional nutrients, flavor, and supporting calories, but generally won’t contain enough calories to sustain you on their own. Most leafy plants will only offer 30-50 calories per ounce of weight. Contrast this with the 200 calories available from a small freshwater fish and 500 calories provided by a single fat squirrel. The numbers grow exponentially for larger game. Nuts, to be fair, do offer a respectable caloric payoff in the neighborhood of 150-200 calories per ounce. Most acorns will need a lot of preparation, but walnuts, beechnuts, and butternuts can be eaten fresh or kept for a few days after being dried in the sun.

Finding Food

Food sources are all around us; no less so when we’re in the backwoods. Regardless of your geographic location, you can rest assured there are plenty of indigenous wild edibles. One of your regular bushcraft projects should be to practice identifying and gathering some of these food items.
When moving in the woods, look constantly for animal sign. Scat, tracks, and eaten plants or nutshells are all indicators of recent animal activity. Gather convenient plants while you’re moving on other tasks; don’t devote valuable time to seeking out these lower calorie foods.

bushcraft skills

Traps and Snares:

If you’re in a situation that calls for feeding yourself, you’re likely to have a lot of work to do to stay alive. Moving toward safety, tending a fire (learn how to make a self feeding fire HERE!), securing water, and treating injuries take time and calories. Don’t waste either of those precious commodities on actively hunting for one animal at a time. Use snares and traps to multiply yourself. Snares will require wire or cordage. Keeping a few good sections of thin wire in your bushcraft backpack or survival kit is a good idea, and can be one of the more valuable bushcraft tools in a survival scenario.
When placing trap and snare sets, designs are limited only by your imagination. A few of the most common sets are:

  1. Figure-4 deadfall (video below)
  2. Basic peg trigger for spring-tree snare (picture above)
  3. Fish funnel
  4. Squirrel pole (video also below)

When setting traps, the key is to placing the trigger or snare loop where an animal is likely to hit it. Game trails, particularly those that lead to water or dens, are excellent locations. Place snares directly in the trail with the snare loop a couple inches off the ground at the height of a likely target animal’s head. Traps with baited triggers, like the Figure-4 Deadfall (see the video below), should have some tasty bait rubbed on the bait stick. Food wrappers or mashed up fish or frog parts work well for this.

Be sure to check your sets regularly. Remember, you’re not the only predator in the forest. A handy rabbit in a snare would make quite a good meal for a scavenging coyote.  Check out this video on making a Squirrel Pole:

Cleaning and Cooking Game

Once your carefully set traps have secured some food, don’t ruin the payoff with poor processing. It’s important to cleanly skin and gut game to adequately cook and minimize spoiling of the meat. Squirrels and rabbits are easily skinned with just a few knife strokes. Fish can generally be filleted and de-scaled in about the time it takes to peel an apple.
Cooking is a pretty simple affair. Roasting meat on a spit is simple and gets the job done. Fish is generally best grilled on a flat rock facing a fire. If you luck into enough meat to last for longer than one or two meals, consider smoking and drying the meat on a tipi-shaped rack made of green wood and covered with bark.  If you want to hone your primitive fire making skills, you can check out our How-To article HERE.

Bushcraft Tools for Wild Edibles:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When you’re going into the wilderness, make sure an EPIRB is in your bushcraft backpack. From there, a quality knife, plenty of snare wire, a primary and backup fire starter, and a small fabric bag for holding foraged food are all near-necessities.

One of my favorite Bushcraft Tools, the Gerber LMF II



As you can see, there are really a lot of options for feeding yourself in the wild.  As with most areas of survival the ability to do this comes down to knowledge and practice.  Many of the trap sets look fairly simple, but hands-on experience will pay off. Integrate these setups into your regular bushcraft projects (but check your local game laws first). Practicing these skills will ensure you’re well prepared when a real need arises.

If foraging is one of the many bushcraft skills you want to master, start by learning about the plants and animals around you and then get out there and try it.  I challenge you to try and feed yourself 1 meal from foraged or caught food the next time you head out to the woods!

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a foraging tip you would like to share?  What bushcraft skills do you want to learn more about?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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Map Reading Skills

Learn These Map Reading Skills To Never Get Lost Again

Map Reading Skills

If you’re navigating through unfamiliar terrain, a map is as valuable as gold dust. You may have planned your routes by them and will be relying on them throughout the course of your expedition or bug out. However, a map is next to worthless if you don’t know how to decipher it. Map reading and land navigation is are vital skills that can be applied to many survival situations.  This article will outline the basics to help you sharpen up your map reading skills.

Map Reading Skills: Using A Map’s Scale

First, your map should be at a scale which is useful. For instance, having a small-scale, detailed map will be of no use to you if you simply plan to drive through an area. In the same way, if you are on foot, then having a less detailed map can be next to useless. It is also important to understand the scale bar. This bar will show the size at which a kilometer or mile is shown on the map and is usually expressed as a ratio. For instance, 1:50,000 means that each measure on the map is 50,000 times smaller than the true distance. This will allow you to use the map to determine distances for land navigation.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Reading Contour Lines

A thorough understanding of reading contour lines is an extremely useful tool to add to your arsenal of map reading skills.  Because a map is 2D, different heights of terrain must be indicated using contour lines. These show the altitudes of the land and are recorded at regular intervals – usually 50ft (15m). Each point on a contour line’s ring is hypothetically at the same height, which is indicated with a number (in feet or meters). This tells you how high above sea level the terrain is. In general, contour lines which are closer together indicate a steeper gradient. However, it’s important to bear in mind the scale of your map so that you don’t over or underestimate the gradient.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Reading A Map’s Key

The key will explain what the symbols used on the map refer to. These will represent a range of manmade and natural structures, types of land (woodland, swaps or beaches, for example), rivers and water. There are some features which are not depicted to scale. For instance, roads, paths and waterways will often have a standard width which may not represent their exact measurements.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Understanding Map Grids

Maps will have horizontal and vertical grid lines which divide the map into squares. This division is either based on longitude and latitude or may be individual to the particular mapping authority. Grids will allow you to more quickly determine distances, since they are usually at a comprehensive scale (for example, the distance from left to right is often 1 kilometer). These grids will also allow you to explain to other exactly.

Map Reading Skills: Orientating Your Map

Important to remember is that the grids on a map do not necessarily indicate north and south, though they may provide a rough indication of this. You will need to also be aware that your compass does not point to true north, but to magnetic north. Most maps will also indicate magnetic north. The deviations between these can help you map-read your way across a landscape, as can taking note of your surroundings in relation to features on the map.

Map Reading Skills: Conclusion

Hopefully our crash course has helped you sharpen up your map reading skills.  If you ever have to execute your bug out plan or evacuate unexpectedly knowing how to use a map and compass will greatly increase your chances to make it to your rally point or bug out location.  As with any basic survival skill it is important to practice using your map reading and land navigation skills to find your way.  Master these and you will never be lost.

Author Bio

Roman is a former EMT living in NYC and co-founder of Ready To Go Survival. When he’s not working on the next big thing for preppers; he likes to go camping, shoot stuff at the range, archery, and ride his bicycle excruciating distances.

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Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review

In any survival situation, the ability to prepare food and boil water are crucial. You need to make sure your bug out plan accounts for this. There are a variety of stove types you can add to your bugout bag and picking one that meets your needs while making the right compromises is an important decision.  Many space-conscious preppers look for an ultralight stove to solve this problem.  We came across a great example of a well made, compact backpacking stove in the Emberlit Stainless Steel Collapsible Stove.  Mikhail at Emberlit was kind enough to send one over for us to put through the paces.  The Emberlit backpacking stove weighs 11.3 oz (316 g) and folds flat to fit in a pack or even a pocket.  It utilizes a rocket stove style design which allows it to burn nearly anything and conduct heat in a highly efficient manner.  Finding a rocket stove that could pack down to nearly nothing seemed too good to be true.  As we conducted our Emberlit Stove Review we were impressed with the functionality and versatility of their design.

Emberlit Stove Video Review

Click here if you have trouble viewing the embedded video

Emberlit Stove Review

The test I devised for our Emberlit stove review was pretty simple: make a cup of instant coffee-a trail favorite of mine. The Emberlit comes in a nice, reusable package with assembly instructions printed clearly on the front. I removed the Emberlit folding stove from its envelope, hastily ignoring the simple instructions and just assembling on the fly. The only real thing to note in assembly (pointed out in the instructions) is that the front (the side with the fuel feeder opening) goes on last. Beyond that, there’s basically only one way to put it together. This simplicity of design means you could put the stove together in a hurry, in a low light situation, or if your hands are numb from the cold or unsteady.

Emberlit Stove Review

Once I had the Emberlit assembled, I set about collecting fuel. As with any camp fire, you want to make sure you have all the fuel you’ll need set aside before you light your fire.  There are few things more demoralizing that getting some kindling lit and realizing you don’t have enough to keep it going. This is of particular importance in a crisis or bug out scenario.

Emberlit Folding Stove Review
The stove disassembled and laid flat after use

With my fuel gathered and set aside, I set about building my fire. I removed the grill section and added a couple of pieces of balled up paper, some of the smaller dry twigs on top to start.  I lit the tinder and commenced adding more small kindling. The rocket stove based design of the Emberlit makes getting your little fire going as easy as you could hope for. The walls protect the small fire and hold in heat, while the bottom vents draw in air creating a chimney effect. Once I’d gotten a good bed of coals, I replaced the grill and started feeding larger pieces of fuel through the Emberlit’s front opening. I set my canteen cup full of water on the grill and continued tending the fire. Since this is such a small fire, you do have to keep an eye on it and feed it as it consumes fuel. The grill section is flat and stable enough to accommodate a large pot or pan, should you need it.

After a few short minutes my cup had reached a rolling boil, and was ready for coffee. I extinguished the fire, allowed the Emberlit to cool and quickly wiped it down and packed it. The whole process was quick, easy and left hardly a trace of my passing.

Emberlit Stove Review
Coffee on the way

Emberlit Stove Review Pros:

  • Incredibly packable. You could fit this stove in your pants pocket.
  • Versatile fuel source. Use whatever is at hand: wood, moss, cardboard, paper, charcoal, dung, or any other biomass.
  • Easy to use. Simple, quick, and obvious assembly.
  • Rocket Stove design makes getting a good fire going easy.
  • Stability. The Emberlit is well built and stable enough to use in many cooking applications.
  • Solid build quality
  • No need to worry about carrying around bulky, unstable fuel canisters
  • The floor of the stove keeps your fire off the ground which is great in wet or snowy survival scenarios.

Emberlit Stove Review Cons:

  • Takes a little more time and care than a liquid or solid fuel stove to boil water.
  • Need to wait for it to cool before packing it up

Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review Conclusion:

Overall I would rate the Emberlit Stainless Steel Collapsible Stove very highly and recommend it as an addition to any camping kit or bugout bag.  Over the course of our Emberlit stove review it became obvious that its simplicity, durability and versatility make it an item you’ll use again and again.  It is worth noting that Emberlit’s stoves also come in a titanium version for those wanting a corrosion resistant collapsible stove.  Our testing showed that the Emberlit folding stove has a fairly easy learning curve to climb but as with any piece of survival kit, make sure you take it out and practice using it.  Mastering basic survival skills and tools BEFORE you need to use them is what preparedness is all about.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of the Emberlit folding stove?  Is there anything else you would want to see as a part of our Emberlit stove review?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About the Author

Oakley is an outdoor enthusiast and life skills student located in Northern New Jersey.

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cold weather survival gear

Cold Weather Survival Gear

Having a survival kit packed full of bug out bag essentials is a good start towards coming out alive in any situation.  However if you are likely to have to face a cold weather survival scenario you should consider adding specific cold weather survival gear to your kit to maximize your chances.  If you live in a cold weather climate you may have these items in your BOB at all times.  However if you live somewhere that has seasonal changes in temperature, you should include the addition of supplemental cold weather survival gear into your regular bug out bag updates.

cold weather survival gear

Cold Weather Survival Gear

There are many essential BOB items that are helpful in a winter survival scenario.  The best of these can serve to greatly increase your chances of survival when the mercury is dropping and snow is on the way.  Here are our picks of the best cold weather survival gear that should be a part of any bug out bag in a cold climate:


This will greatly help you when breaking trail through the wilderness, digging a fire pit, or when shelter building.  If you are going to be shoveling snow a flat shovel blade is suggested.  If you will have to be digging into frozen ground a spade or pick end will serve you better.

Broad blade for moving snowSpade tip for digging in frozen ground

Saw or Hatchet

This is a personal choice but bringing one or the other is a smart move.  These tools will help you build a shelter and gather firewood as well as many other important tasks.  A hatchet will be better at smashing ice and splitting wood but a saw generally weighs less and is better at cutting dead wood for fires.

High quality basic hatchetSurvival Chain SawCompact Folding SawHatchet/Saw Combo

High energy/low weight foods

Maximize the space in your BOB by using compact rations that have high calorie values such as MREs, granola or powerbars, energy gels, or nuts.  You will be burning more calories than normal so you need to up your intake to keep pace.

High energy gel - high energy, little weightHigh calories, take up little spaceKeep hydrated, just add water

Fire starting equipment and tinder

Having a fire is a key to keeping warm in a cold weather survival situation, make sure you have a high quality fire starting set.  A magnesium fire starter will last longer than matches and will work better in wet or windy conditions.  Invest in a good one to maximize your odds.

Compact and reliableOne handed firestarterMilitary grade firestarting gel. Better than any tinder.

Container for boiling snow

A metal water bottle or canteen is a great multipurpose survival tool in this regard.  It will serve as a storage container for the water after you have boiled it and will not crack if the water freezes, like a plastic bottle would.

Wide mouth makes it easy to stuff snow insideClassic style, comes with an integrated cup and carry caseInsulated to keep liquids warm

Emergency blanket

This is another great piece of multipurpose cold weather survival gear.  Emergency blankets are relatively inexpensive and in a cold weather survival situation they can be used for wrapping up yourself up to keep in warmth, as a ground cloth to keep you from losing heat to the cold ground and to keep moisture from being absorbed by your clothes, or as a shelter building material.

Compact and inexpensiveUpgraded, heavy duty version of a space blanket with integrated hoodBivvy sack made of emergency blanket material. Put your sleeping bag inside for extra warmth.

Quality waterproof boots

Taking care of your feet is one of the core elements of survival.  Wet shoes from walking through snow can quickly lead to frostbite.  Being immobilized due to this can quickly lead to death.  Having a good pair of warm, waterproof boots will eliminate any issues with your mobility and allow you to survive longer.

High quality warm, waterproof men's bootHigh quality warm, waterproof women's bootAdd on to your boots to give you traction on ice

Brightly colored bandana

Something brightly colored, preferably fluorescent will be visible from great distances against a snowy background.  This can be used for signaling passing cars or planes.  As mentioned in our multipurpose survival gear article, a bandana has many uses and this applies to cold weather survival as well.  As a cold weather survival gear item a bandana can be used for:

  • Collecting and melting snow and ice

  • A Layer of head cover under a hat

  • Wrapping extremities to prevent frostbite

  • Signaling

Bright orange and printed with helpful survival informationBright red and printed with 1st aid infromation

Quality sleeping bag

Having a quality sleeping bag rated to sub-zero temperatures is one of the most important pieces of cold weather survival gear you can have.  It will allow you to rest when you need to in order to recover your energy.  Additionally, keeping warm at night will cause you to burn less calories that would otherwise be spent keeping your temperature up.  We suggest one that is rated to -20 degrees F (about -30 degrees C) for starters.  If you live in a very cold region get one that is rated for even colder to ensure your safety.

High quality bag rated to -20Extreme bag rated down to -40


If you are in an area that usually receives a lot of snow these are a good thing to have.  They will make traversing snow covered ground far easier than breaking trail through snow banks.  Snowshoes can be purchased in many places or you can learn how to make them in the video below:

Basic snowshoesMidrange snowshoesHigh quality top of the range snowshoes


As we have discussed in the past tailoring your bug out bag to your survival scenario is a key to having it be as useful as possible when you need it.  Adding cold weather survival gear to your kit will greatly increase your chances of succeeding in a winter survival situation.  Be sure to pick quality gear, you will not be happy that you saved a few dollars when you are out in the wilderness freezing.  As with any survival tools make sure you take any items you select out and familiarize yourself with using them.  You don’t want a life or death situation to be when you are taking an item out of its original packaging.  Practice your cold weather survival skills and hone the techniques of using your cold weather survival gear for the best results.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a piece of cold weather survival gear that you would recommend?  Do you have an innovative use for one of the cold weather survival gear items that we mentioned above?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below.

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best bug out vehicle checklist

Best Bug Out Vehicle Checklist

best bug out vehicle checklist

If you are one of the millions of people who own a vehicle you should seriously consider integrating it into your bug out plan.

However, this can be more complicated than simply throwing your bug out bag in your car and hitting the gas.

  • How can the particular advantages of a vehicle evacuation be maximized?
  • How can we eliminate any negatives?
  • What is the best bug out vehicle checklist to maintain?
  • What is the best bug out vehicle for YOUR survival situation?

We will walk through each of these points and demonstrate how to effectively incorporate a bug out vehicle into your bug out plan.

Bug Out Vehicle Advantages

1.  Greater travel radius

A vehicle will allow you to travel further faster.  This should be explored as part of bug out planning.  Is there a better location further away?  Just because you can travel further doesn’t mean you have to.  Take the best bug out location option, not the furthest.  If you can defend a closer location better or cache more supplies there, consider these factors.

2.  Carry more supplies

A vehicle can carry more supplies and survival tools than a person can lug.  This is great as a properly planned bug out vehicle checklist can make your ride a mobile bug out location.  However, it is important to avoid the temptation of packing EVERYTHING.  The goal is to find a balance.  Bring survival gear that will extend your independence and raise your odds of survival, not everything imaginable.  As always, focus on multi-use items.  Additionally, you should not consider even the best bug out vehicle to be a mobile bug out bag.  You should always have a full bug out bag packed and at hand in the vehicle in the event that you have to ditch it quickly.

3.  Additional shelter

Your vehicle can shelter you from rain and wind even if you are out of gas.  If it is running it can also provide heat or cooling as needed.  This makes it a powerful ally.  If a storm is hitting you can simply take cover in your vehicle rather than having to set up a survival shelter.  It can also be slept in with no additional modifications.  If you are in a pinch you can even cook on the hot engine with proper preparation (how to video below).  This will greatly raise morale and increase your odds of surviving.


Bug Out Vehicle Disadvantages

1.  Can create dependence

Planning to have the best bug out vehicle for your survival situation is fantastic but you should not consider it as an answer to all potential problems.  You still need to plan your bug out assuming that you are going to have to ditch your car, and all the niceties it brings at some point.  You may run out of gas or run into an impassable road.  Either way if you planned on driving the entire way to your bug out location you are going to need to improvise.  Even with the best bug out vehicle you will need to hone those survival skills and plan on hiking to your destination in order to guard against uncertainty.

2.  Not as versatile as traveling on foot

Foot travel is more energy intensive than driving but it is also more versatile.  Imagine you have your bug out vehicle checklist planned and packed and when SHTF you go on your merry way to find that everyone else has the same plan.  You are now faced with miles and miles of traffic.  Is this still the fastest way to bug out?  What if rubble and debris cuts off a vital road?  When planning your bug out route consider if going on foot is a more direct means of travel as you can cut through terrain rather than having to stick to a road or trail.

3.  Additional complications

Traveling by vehicle provides serious advantages as we mentioned above.  However even the best bug out vehicle also adds additional complications and costs in volume, weight, and money into your bug out plan.  Consider this addition as a whole when assessing what is the best bug out vehicle for your survival situation.

Best bug out vehicle

The Best Bug Out Vehicle

The ideal bug out vehicle would have the following qualities to maximize the advantages of a vehicular bug out while minimizing the challenges present:


A no-brainer when picking a bug out vehicle.  This will vastly increase your options when bugging out.  A non-4WD car will quickly break down if forced to drive off road.  Having a 4WD bug out vehicle will enable you to pass over far more terrain and reach safety faster.

Modular interior

Unless you are planning on bugging out in an RV you will want to modify the interior of the vehicle to be more suitable for survival.  This may mean taking out seating to allow more storage or making it convertible for sleeping in.  It is important to note that although you will want to customize the interior of the vehicle you want to do as little tinkering with the engine and drivetrain as possible.  Customization in these areas make repairs and sourcing replacement parts far more difficult.  Reliability is key with a bug out vehicle, having stock parts that you may be able to scavenge is an essential element of this.

Diesel engine

A diesel engine has many advantages over a gas model.  They are generally more fuel efficient for one.  Additionally, they allow far greater fuel flexibility, being able to run on home heating oil, kerosene, and some jet fuels.  This significantly increases scavenge potential while on the road.  Diesel fuel also has a far greater storage lifetime than gasoline.  With the addition of commercially available fuel stabilizers diesel fuel will last more than 10x longer than gasoline.

Good gas mileage

Having a gas guzzler for your bug out vehicle is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.  Gas will surely be in short supply and you may not even have the time or opportunity to scavenge additional supplies while on the move.  Look for a vehicle that is rated for at least 23-27 MPG to ensure gas efficiency will not be a problem while making your evacuation.  Higher MPG would be better but may be hard to find for a vehicle that has good storage capacity.  Check out this site for a list of all car models with mpg ratings.

Easy to repair

Reliability is key with when trying to find the best bug out vehicle.  Having stock parts that you may be able to scavenge is an essential element of this.  Choosing a vehicle that is widely used and has commonly available parts is ideal.

Trailer hitch

This opens up options for including a bug out trailer as a part of your bug out plan.  A trailer allows more cargo space overall without sacrificing passenger seats, which is great if you have a family travelling with you.  Additionally, a trailer can be ditched once the supplies within have been used up to improve gas mileage.

Brush guard

This should be partnered with any vehicle you intend to take off-road.  It will save your front end and radiator from damage and also improves your ability to ram trees in the way or doors that need opening.

Manual transmission preferred

This isn’t required but it sure helps.  Manual transmissions increase reliability, improve gas mileage and are easier to fix and replace than an automatic transmission.  They also allow you to push start a car if an ignition is burned out or you lose your keys.

Bug out vehicle checklist

So what additional items would you want on your bug out vehicle checklist to increase your odds of success?  Note that this is in addition to your bug out bag, which you will be bringing as well!!!  Here is a list of items that will maximize the advantages present in a vehicular bug out situation:

  • Extra fuel containers

  • Siphon Pump

  • Tow Straps

  • Seatbelt Cutter/Window Breaker (see our comprehensive guide on these by clicking HERE) 

  • CB radio

  • Tire chains

  • Jumper Starter



  • Can of Fix-A-Flat

  • Basic tool kit – Pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, duct tape, stanley knife, cable ties

  • Power inverter – To charge any electronics you may have on the go

  • Winch

  • Extra oil

  • Spare keys

  • Spare tire – not a doughnut!

What else can I do to make my bug out vehicle great?

  • Beyond stocking up your bug out vehicle checklist be sure to service it regularly.  There is no point in having the best bug out vehicle in the world if it is unreliable or won’t run when you need it!

  • Make sure you have a reliable Jump Starter!  This is easy and can save your life!  This is the one I strongly recommend.
  • Practice driving your intended bug out route to see if your car is up to the task.  This will also help you identify any difficulties along the way and point out any modifications you may need to make to either the car or your bug out plan.

  • If you choose to use a manual transmission vehicle make sure all the adults in your bug out party know how to drive it.  As with any aspect of your bug out plan, redundancy is key.

  • Add vehicle inspection and testing to your regular bug out plan reviews to make sure your bug out vehicle still fits into your strategy.


As you can see, there are a lot of options for finding the best bug out vehicle for your survival situation.  Understanding them and what works best is an important step towards adding a car or truck to your bug out plan.  Adding a bug out vehicle checklist to your bug out bag essentials will additionally help you maximize the advantages of bugging out in a vehicle.

It is important however to not depend on any one thing in your bug out plan for your survival, including a car or other means of transport.  Keep flexible and be ready to continue your bug out on foot if need be.  Please also check out our printable Bug Out Vehicle Checklist Graphic below which you can download and print to have with you when you are preparing your bug out vehicle:

Best Bug Out Vehicle Checklist

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any items you would add to this bug out vehicle checklist?  What do you think would make the best bug out vehicle?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below.  If you thought this post was helpful please Like, +1, or Tweet it using the social media buttons at the top of the page, thanks!

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