12 Tips to Pack Your Bug-Out Vehicle Like a Pro
Q: “Hi, really appreciate all the articles you and the others do on these websites! I’ve been searching for articles particularly on one would pack their vehicle mine being a truck in the event I had to get out. I know pallets that are shipped have a specific order on what goes on first comes off last. I have to factor in weight especially and usually pack the bed with the heaviest items over the axle or forward. I would also be interested in how you would organize backpacks as weight is also a major factor. Many Thanks.”
Well, we’re going to cover the vehicle loads in this article and follow up with one on backpacks and rucksacks in Part 2. So, let’s jump into it! One of the things that you must find out first regarding your particular vehicle is its load capacity. How much weight can it hold? How much can the axles take? It is more than this, however: certain weight loads will shift with terrain and with the gradient driving upon. A steep incline that tilts the bed of that pickup too far will end up turning that pickup into a dump truck.
In addition, you also need to assess what you’re transporting to minimize danger. Ammo, flammable liquids, and so forth. An accident with a power line can introduce electricity into the equation and create a secondary explosion that ends up being worse than the accident. Let’s go through some basics.
- Strap down all your loads as best you can…and make this mandatory with anything that is liquid/fluids, such as water cans, fuel cans, etc.
- Make sure all your flammable liquids are in sealed and sturdy containers that do not leak and can hold up to rough handling.
- Pack those flammable liquids to the rear of the vehicle…the point being if they’re on fire, they’re away from the driver and passengers as far as possible. This will not stop gunfire, but that’s a different problem.
- Minimize those flammable liquids in the truck bed. Maybe one or two gas cans max. If you need to haul that much, then you should have a trailer/cart of some kind.
- Stagger your load evenly…think of the term “Bilateral Symmetry” …that is a “mirrored” side…one water can on the left, and one water can on the right. Make the load even.
- Ammo in military-issue ammo cans. They’re water-tight with a rubber seal, and they can take a beating. Pack these guys to the rear of a vehicle. Use cargo straps to keep them from “hopping” around…tie them down as best you can, and stagger the load evenly.
- Whatever your maximum load capacity is, load up only to 90% of that at the most. Give yourself that “pad” either for extra items you may need to acquire, or changes in the loads if you have more than one vehicle in your entourage.
- All emergency gear (such as fire-starting equipment and pioneer tools – shovels, picks, a chainsaw, and rope/cables – needs to be stowed in the rear where it is accessible easily and quickly.
- Foodstuffs and food supplies: insulate them with pads, cardboard boxes, and Styrofoam for temperature controls, and pack them evenly toward the front.
- Weapons (besides the ones you’re carrying on you) should be accessible by the driver and the passenger in the cab or behind the seats.
- Medical supplies: in the middle of the bed, protected for temperature and packed to grab at a moment’s notice.
- Nest: Build a “nest” around these supplies of food and medicine with things such as blankets, sleeping bags, and rucksacks. The rucks should be packed to the rear, just forward of the ammo.
The reason ammo is packed in the rear is that if you must abandon the vehicle in a SHTF-scenario, you want to access the ammo and control the weapons (in the cab) and download these first. They are a priority and sensitive items.
“Those who beat their rifles into plowshares will soon plow for those who do not.”
Weapons and ammo are vital to keep the other “B’s,” namely your beans and band-aids. You can prioritize for yourself, but I mention this: if you’re just sitting around in a hide site for a week, unless you’re injured, you’ll need the food before the medical supplies. The weapons? If you have food and medical supplies and no means to defend them…you’re just holding onto them for someone else when it hits the fan. Three B’s are “Bullets, Beans, and Band-Aids.”
Returning to the packing, if it is wintertime and you have water containers, make sure that you take out about ¼ out of your container to allow for expansion if the water freezes. Don’t put in any additives such as “salt” or “alcohol,” as it will keep it from freezing but it pollutes your water supply and makes it either a “dehydrating solution” or a “diuretic.” Both defeat the purpose. Remember: water’s heavy, at 7.6 lbs. per gallon…you can use that figure to estimate the weight of any fuel you’re toting, as well.
Camouflage all that you have packed. For your pickup truck (that’s what we’ve focused on here), if you stack supplies up on pallets and load the truck, ensure that everything is strapped down. Make sure that you have a cap to smack on the back of the pickup. If you don’t want to use it before SHTF, that’s fine. Just make sure you can throw it on when it all collapses. It will be worth its weight in gold to keep your supplies dry and shielded from the elements.
Get yourself a good bathroom scale and/or a hanging “hunting” scale. Yes, you will want to inventory and weigh everything before packing. Stick to that 80 to 90% of the load maximum, and you’ll do well. Make a diagram for all that you’re loading up. This will help you to place things properly and in a well-organized manner. Cover your load and block off the inside by putting up cardboard in the windows of the cap. Take the time to cut the window-blockers to form and duct taping them in place, so you can remove them if need be. Don’t “spray paint” the windows, as you may need to use them in the future.
Practice placing all you will put into your vehicle in a “ready” posture…that is, in order ready to place into the vehicle. Drilling it will make it smoother when the time comes to do it for real. The better you are organized, the smoother a movement will go. Finally, make sure your vehicle is in good working order with all fluids topped off and the tires in good shape. Next part we’ll go over how to pack those rucksacks. Stay in that good fight, and fight it smart! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition