The Preparedness Papers
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This paper was originally written in 1984. It was very good then and is still valid in many points today.However 25 years have gone by and there have been some very important technological advances that were not even considered then. So, this paper is intended to update this subject and add the new advantages that have come about since 1984. This paper is a revision to the previous SP84-20.
This paper is intended to give the reader the basic knowledge to make informed decisions. Additional study and lots of experimentation will need to be done, by the reader, in order to assure that each person makes the best survival transportation choices for themselves and their situations. Regrettably, there is not one single vehicle that is best for a survival situation. Rather, each choice is a matter of compromise and of decisions, by the reader, in deciding for themselves which vehicle to own for everyday and survival situations. It is unlikely that the great majority of readers are financially able to just buy any number of vehicles that they want. All of us have to weigh financial considerations into the equation. However, it is advisable to purchase as good a quality as you can afford. Remember, you usually get what you pay for. Also, remember to shop around for the best price.
Ethically, stealing cars, trucks or other transportation is not a good idea! Remember, you represent survivalists all over the country & world. Anytime your actions are not squeaky clean, folks will get a bad impression of whom and what survivalists are. Stealing is not a good thing and can and will land you in Jail. DO NOT TAKE THIS CHANCE! YOU CAN NOT MAKE SURVIVAL PREPARATIONS OR HELP YOUR FAMILY OR NATION IN JAIL! Borrowing, with the owner's permission, is another thing. If you have friends who have extra vehicles or used car lots and you can convince them to let you borrow their vehicle for a while, then go for it. Remember to bring the vehicle back in good condition or better condition than it was, if possible, and be prepared to buy the vehicle in the event of an accident. DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR FRIEND BEFORE YOU BORROW! IT MIGHT SAVE YOUR FRIENDSHIP.
Who can you borrow from; friends and family. For a price usually; repair shops, rental car agencies, work and possibly you're church.
Appropriating transportation is the next category. What I mean here usually has a cost involved; time.If there is a junk yard near your home, you might check into helping and/or volunteering around the yard on your off hours. Initially you tell the owners that you do not need pay just some parts. Have a goal and you will be able to build a car or truck from these parts. Another option is to find a person with an old vehicle that can be brought back to running condition, buy this old car and restore it.
Other options include fixing up wrecked cars for the vehicles themselves, bartering at work or contacting insurance companies or repossession companies and picking up some good deals from these companies.
APPROPRIATING A VEHICLE IS NOT THE SAME AS STEALING! YOU ARE PAYING FOR THE VEHICLE IN LABOR, MONEY OR THE BARTER SYSTEM. YOU ARE NOT PAYING THE FULL PRICE OF THE VEHICLE THOUGH AND YOU CAN BE HAD. WATCH OUT!
Strolling, a walk through the woods, a cross-country hike or an afternoon day hike; all are good for you.
Hiking in winter often means snowshoeing or skiing; it's good to learn how. Hiking offers unparalleled mobility; the only cost is the clothes you wear and the equipment you carry. To be good at hiking you need to practice. Backpacking and camping clubs would be a good start; even with friends. Try short 1 to 3 mile hikes first. Then up the distance to 5 miles and in a couple of months you can go as far as 10 miles a day. If you are in reasonable shape and start out early enough. Keep your pack weight down to 20 or 25 % of your body weight (example: if you weigh 100 lbs, you need to carry 25 lbs or less of equipment; if you weigh 200 lbs, then you should be able to carry 50 lbs of equipment). A good backpack, a tent that weighs 5 lbs or less and a sleeping bag that weighs 5 lbs or less, are essential. A cook stove (to prevent smoke from a campfire from giving yourself and your camp away), will be your major expenses. If you watch the trader type of papers or read the classifieds you might be able to find these items at a very reasonable price.
Clothing: Something you should have already. I like natural fibers, cottons for summer and wool for winter. Though many newer clothing technologies are out like Gortex, which is excellent, Polypropylene garments, Nylon outer shells, Thermax insulated coats, wool or Gortex type socks and good boots with ankle support; are essential. I also like moccasins or other slippers for around camp or home when I do not need my boots. If you do not know which equipment to buy, go to a sporting goods store and talk to a salesman. They are very helpful. Check out brand names, feel and try on the garments. You can then decide if you need to buy them.
Another good source for equipment, are the hiking and backpacking magazines that are out. They usually have articles that deal with certain types of equipment and some even offer equipment reviews.
The following list describes different equipment and the approximate cost ranges associated with them:
|Backpack (external frame-4,000 cubic inches or more)||$100 -to- $250|
|Backpack (internal frame- 4,000 cubic inches or more)||$150 -to- $500|
*Both backpacks are good. Chose what feels better when you try it on. If you do not make many trips, the external frame is simpler and easier to maintain and keep up.
|Tents||$150 -to- $650|
Tents (a good, light 5 lb or less, tent, if you can find one; should sleep 2, at a minimum. There are models on the market that sleep 4 and are under or just over the 5 lb weight limit, so look around).
|Water Filters||$40 - to- $150|
DO NOT FORGET WATER FILTERS. Water Filters (you want a minimum of one pint a minute output with a pore size of not more than .4 and possibly using an Iodine-based element.)
20 degrees F $100 -to- $200-10 degrees F $180 -to- $500
10 degrees F $120 -to- $400 -20 degrees F $250 -to- $600
0 degrees F $145 -to- $500-30 degrees F $250 -to- $670
-40 degrees F $370 -to- $700
Sleeping Bags (Depending on your local weather; a waterproof or Gortex outer material is good, but will increase prices. I like synthetic fills that keep you warm even if the bag gets wet. Temperature ratingsand prices are listed. All bags come in one standard size; for taller folks 6 ft tall and over will have to special order your bags for your height. Weight should be kept to around 5lbs or less)
|Camp Stoves||$60 to $80|
Camp Stoves (multi-fuel capability and light weight-under 24 oz), are essential.
The following is the rest of your basic set-up for backpacking:
|Wool Shirt||$30 to $100|
|Wool Pants||$30 to $100|
|Wool Socks||$5 to $20|
|Wool Watch Cap||$10 to $20|
|Polypropylene Long Underwear||$20 to $30|
|Cotton Pants||$10 to $30|
|Cotton Shirt-Short Sleeve||$10 to $30|
|Cotton Socks||$1 to $5|
|Cotton Underwear||$5 to $10|
|Moccasins||$15 to $40|
|Boots||$50 to $300|
|First Aid Kits||Various-Starts at $10|
Bicycles are fun, good exercise and are an efficient method of transportation. Many bicycles have been used throughout history as instruments of war. In WWI Bicycles were used by both sides to help transport troops, equipment and supplies to the troops at the front lines. More recently the Viet Cong used bicycles to transport personnel, supplies and equipment to their forces in the south. They transported nearly 500,000 troops, over 1,000,000 tons of supplies and about another 1,000,000 tons of equipment to the south in spite of the American efforts to bomb the Ho Chi Minh trail out of existence.
Technology today has resulted in many great bicycles for our consideration. They are tough, lightweight and capable of going almost anywhere. They may look like the bicycles you used to know and ride as a child, but they are much superior. The tires of bicycles have also been influenced by technology. Your best bet is to stick with standard tire sizes and if you can afford them, purchase puncture-resistance tires or the airless type of tires (no flat tires). What bicycles should you consider? How about a Mountain Bike? It is made for cross country travel and is popular among many folks today.They are fairly expensive, but the possibility of buying one used, does exist. Another option is to take an old bike and repair it and/or rebuild it to suit your survival needs. Once you have your bike, don't forget tools you might need to keep your bike running and to repair any damage. Wrenches, special chain and gear tools, minor metal tools, duct tape and other items to help make temporary repairs. Another tool that is essential is the air pump, if you have a regular tire and the tube patch kit. The other tools are bags and other items to help you carry your survival gear while you are riding. Don't forget clips for your trousers. It is dangerous and could be embarrassing to get the cuffs of your trousers caught in the bicycle chain.
Sources: Some sources you might consider are the bicycle magazines that are out now days. An old one listed is Delonq's Guide to Bicycles and Bicycling. (Delong is an older source and does not list the new mountain bikes, but does have some excellent information on what you might term regular bikes).
Quiet Travel: Bicycles provide quiet transportation. They can carry a rider, his gear, and the tools necessary to keep the machine operating for quite some time. They are very mobile and can go through traffic jams, up narrow trails or through wooded areas with little difficulty. Bicycles are also relatively quite, which would allow you as the rider to hear vehicles or people approaching and give you the opportunity to get out of the way or hide if you felt you needed to.
Other Safety Gear: Do not forget safety gear like helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, gloves and other items that would help in both survival situations as well as in bike riding situations. (The Israeli Kevlar helmet is remarkably similar to many models of bike safety helmets and paint will not effect the protection of the helmet.)
Bike Stand: Consider buying a stand so you can practice riding your bike in the safety of your home. Many have progressive resistance built into the stand, so you feel like you are riding up a hill.
Mobile Electricity Generator: A small generator that hooks to the frame of your bike while you pedal can recharge some batteries to provide electricity; a way to turn your exercise into a useful by product.
Experiment: Try it! Have a deep cycle battery in your home or apartment hooked up to a DC television. You are only allowed to watch TV based on the juice you provide the battery. A one-battery set-up will last for about 3 hours before you need to pedal for a while.
Bike Lights: Necessary for riding at night. I prefer the battery backup with the current supplied directly from the generator while you are riding your bike.
Water Carriers: Canteens, water bottles or the newest system called CAMELBAK; all are good and all have a place in your survival gear. The only disadvantage to Camelbak is that if you carry it full, it is heavy! Remember, if you have your water filter, then you do not need a whole lot of water to carry; just enough to get you to your destination.
Prices: A good mountain bike will start around $500 and go up from there. Used bikes, if they are in good condition, can be decent buys. Used bikes can be bought from rental firms (places that rent these bikes out to tourists), if they are in good condition by their owners. Some bike shops may have some rentals; if so check out their prices.
Conversion: Converting a regular bike to a mountain bike might be an economical way to go if you are handy with the mechanics of working with metal and have the basic frame that is in good condition already. Basically, you will need a good front shock, a sturdy hub, oversized brakes, a good sturdy wheel to replace the cheap fragile wheels of street bikes, a shock system for your bike (you can get by without this, but the ride is softer on your anatomy with shocks) and maybe a new set of handlebars.You could conceivably get by with less than $200 if you shopped around and did your own work.
Disadvantage: The biggest disadvantage to a bicycle is that it's like walking; it is relatively slow moving. The average person can walk about 10 miles a day.Riding a bike, the average person might be able to travel 50 miles a day. How far or fast will you be able to go with your bike and yourself loaded down with your survival gear? At best not far enough or fast enough for most folks. If you have time and advanced warning, walking or bike riding might be feasible alternatives to driving. If this is all you have then you are better off doing something than doing nothing. While walking and bike riding are fun and good exercise, they are my second and third lines of transportation; my first is driving.
Unlike many, I have difficulty accepting motorcycles or mopeds as survival vehicles. I can see situations where they might be useful, but not as a survival situation type of vehicle. They make a lot of noise. They are too small to carry a sufficient amount of spare parts for any lengthy trip. They are a pain in the neck to work on. There is little space for carrying extra fuel or supplies. That said, however, they are a lot of fun to operate. They will get you fairly quickly from point A to point B (at least faster than walking or bicycle riding) and they are fairly mobile in tight situations.
Mopeds: Are an attempt to mix the benefits of a bicycle and a motorcycle, together. The result is a bicycle that is too heavy to pedal very far and a motorcycle with an engine too weak to carry it far. If you weigh over 200 lbs, you will find that the moped motor will not let you go anywhere, except down a hill. They were not popular 25 years ago and they aren't too popular today.
Mini-Bikes: Are small motorbikes. Some can be bought with Briggs & Stratton engines for them. These engines have spare parts readily available and can get worked on fairly easily. A little care will allow the engine to last for a very long time. Regrettably, mini-bikes are too small to carry much of a load; around 400 to 500 pounds and then only at low speeds and on flat ground.
Motorized Skateboards: Usually just have a weed eater two stroke engine. These small engines do not go very fast or carry very much weight.
Trail Bikes: Trail bikes are like motorized mountain bikes, but beefed up with an adequate engine.They usually don't do to well on the road as they are too light and they were designed for primarily off road use. They are possible contenders for scout vehicles in a survival situation, but they are way too small to carry much more than a survival bicycle would. They break easy and are high maintenance.
Regular Motorcycles: Harley Davidson motorcycles are excellent bikes, but again they are specialized and mainly for road use. Get it off the road into a field and it is likely to get stuck or wrecked. It is an excellent bike, but even with a side car attachment, you would not be able to carry much gear in a survival situation. This is why motorcycle gangs always have a pick up truck or two with them when they go on a road trips to carry spare tires and to carry the bikes if they break down.
Snowmobiles: These are great fun in the snow, but are not very well thought of. They break down easily; they can't tow or carry a large load and they are heavy. They may be useful getting around in town or in a local area, but they are limited to snow. They do not have the ability to carry spares, tools or fuel necessary to keep and maintain the vehicles themselves. I'll argue against using these as survival vehicles, except in the backwoods or in extreme emergencies.
For scouting missions, re-supply efforts, small maintenance tasks (if you have the 3 or 4 wheel varieties), motorcycles might do the job if you had your place (home base) stocked with fuel, spare parts and tools and you had the knowledge to use them.
Without being prepared to use these assets in the most economical way; the mere purchase of these vehicles takes away money from your other preparations and degrades your survival preparedness.
Realistically, these vehicles are not going to be useful to you in a survival transportation manner.
Horses, mules and oxen are all animals that can be tamed and used in survival situations. They can and should be used to help plow the garden as well as to pull a wagon. A pack horse or pack mule can carry an enormous amount of goods. When hooked up to a wagon this amount can be further increased. Although I have seen people ride oxen (castrated cattle), they are much more useful pulling a wagon than being a riding animal. All will need feed during the winter months especially if you intend to get any work out of them. During the summer they can forage for grass and grains themselves.
Regrettably, this option is open only to a few of us who have a barn or enough property to raise horses, mules or oxen. Remember, mules are sterile, so you will have to breed a horse and mule to get another male mule. Oxen are castrated cattle so they too, are sterile. Horses can reproduce, but you need the large Morgan type breed to pull wagons. Clydesdales are excellent horse breeds, but they are expensive. You will also have to know how to shod horses and keep them healthy and fit.
Wagons are expensive, as is the tack and saddles and other necessary items for use with animals. Large animals this size will need about 1 acre of pasture per animal to graze or you will have to buy feed for them to survive. It is also necessary for these animals to have a place to stay in bad weather; a barn or some similar structure. Building one of these can get pretty expensive. If you have the land and the money and love working with animals, then this might be for you.
Your mobility will be similar to a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Your hauling power will depend on your animals and their power as well as your experience. You can travel 25 to 50 miles a day depending on your load and the road. Animals may be for some of us, but for the rest we need to consider something that takes a lot less care and doesn't cost as much as pack animals.
Dogs and dog sleds are similar propositions to horses, mules and oxen. Thankfully, the majority of us do not face the conditions of Alaska that requires dog sleds for travel to lay-in supplies, etc. Raising and training dogs is a lot of hard work. Dogs can be and are a joy to work with and be around. Remember, a dog team requires constant training, a lot of food, that you will have to raise or buy, and they will need some place to live that is sheltered from wind, rain and bad weather. If you have them in an enclosed area, less than 1 or 2 acres, then they will feel crowded and will require exercise daily to keep them in shape. Again if you have the money, time and love animals then this might be for you.
I have heard that hopping a freight train is popular again. My suggestion is to not do this. First, because it is dangerous, you could get hurt doing it and if you are injured you will lose money you might otherwise spend increasing your survival preparedness. Second, hopping a freight train is illegal. It is the same as stealing a seat on an airline or on a bus without a ticket. If you get caught, you might do jail time. If you are in jail, you can not make survival preparations! Third, you could be mugged or robbed by professional train hoppers. Don't get me wrong; not everyone who hops a train is a crook or a mugger. In fact, some are good people, but there are a remarkable number of bad people who would like nothing better than take advantage of a person's weakness getting on or off a train to rob or harm them.
There is a way though you might be able to use the railroad beds or the old facilities that have been abandoned by railroads. Nielson has a book out called Right Of Way; A Guide to Abandoned Railroads in the U.S. This gives maps and descriptions of railroad beds (known as rights-of-way), old railroad tunnels, old railroad bridges, etc. from WW II to the present. If you have one of these in your area then you might be near a perfect retreat route or even a retreat site. The rails may have been taken up, the bridges probably no longer exist(if they do, they should be considered unsafe), but you can be sure they did not cave in any of the old tunnels or tear-up the track beds any more than necessary. Just remember, the premises belong to the railroad, so don't invest a lot of money making things comfortable. If the place is torn up, then you can see if the locals have been in there trashing the place.You might not want to leave evidence of your having been there. If you can get a long term lease from the railroad or the county, for the property, then it might be appropriate to invest in it, but don't count on it.
Motor Homes: A lot of folks think getting in a motor home and heading out, will provide the comforts of home with the advantages of being able to dodge trouble. A motor home makes sense as a command center for a group when they first evacuate an area. Cooking, communications and a place out of the weather can all be accommodated. You can also drive away in it, but you usually don't travel far or fast. The range is usually similar to a car and the motor home uses a lot more fuel. Unless the motor home is dual axle or heaver then the towing or loaded weight, it is not as great as it could be. This might be improved if you gutted the motor home of non-essentials and used light weight alternatives in fixing up the place afterwards.
Travel Trailers/Camper Trailers: These are similar, except you need a vehicle large enough to tow the trailer. Stripping the trailer and replacing lighter and better materials might not be a bad idea.
Take out the toilet facilities as these take a lot of space and are not comfortable or practical. They also have water holding tanks and waste storage tanks. Without the shower and toilet facilities, you can divert the water to cooking, cleaning uses.Toilet facilities can be set up with portable sun shower bags for cleaning and chemical toilets or outhouse style toilets, when you get to your survival location.REMEMBER THE COFFEE TASTES BETTER IF YOU DO YOUR TOILET BUSINESS DOWNSTREAM!
Look at the floors; normally these are made of fiber board or some other composition board. Tear this out and replace it with pressure treated plywood. Throw the carpet away and put linoleum down. Not only is plywood lighter than the fiberboard, but the linoleum will prevent spills from soaking through to the plywood and possibly warping the board.
Next, look at the storage space and sitting space. You need storage space more than you need a bed or a lot of sitting space.If you have room, a small workshop or tool storage section should be built into the vehicle.
Next is space for communications equipment and batteries to run this stuff. If you have weapons, a space for them needs to be built in and concealed while you are building these shelves.
Your cooking area or kitchen should have a gas or propane stove with an oven for baking. Since you have gas for your stove or oven, how about a refrigerator that uses gas to cool with?
A generator and possibly a battery bank will help any electrical appliances function properly. You could also use solar panels to produce electricity. DC (direct current) appliances are available so you should have all the comforts of home.
Insulation is a must and if you don't have enough in your vehicle you need to make some for it. Using Mylar type insulation and sewing it into individually made cloth cases linked together with Velcro; you can provide an amazing amount of insulation for little effort or cost.
The problems with trailers or motor homes are they are not particularly fast, they get stuck easily and they can be EXPENSIVE. If you are a good mechanic and handyman, then fixing up an old trailer/motor home might be a solution for you to consider. Lots of travel/camper trailers are available. Some are reasonably priced. However, to get a good deal on one you have to be willing to invest your time, money and labor into restoring one. Trailers, motor homes and campers are also not very agile when it comes to negotiating traffic. Be aware of this fact or you will get stuck in traffic or will cause an accident. There are some negatives, but on the whole trailers, campers and motor homes are not a bad choice for a survival transport especially if you are with a group who will help you finance and modify your vehicle.
Since 1984 technology has transformed aircraft into some interesting variations that are worth considering. None of these aircraft are really survival transportation vehicles. They are more along the lines of scout, supply and courier or intelligence types of vehicles; similar to the motorcycles listed earlier. They may, however, be useful in helping people evacuate an area or take casualties to a hospital quickly.
Light Personal Aircraft (LPA's): LPA's are commercially available aircraft that a person might buy for their personal use such as the Piper or Beech aircraft. They might carry 1 or 2 people comfortably or 3 or 4 in a crowded environment. They need a long prepared runway for takeoff and would not be suitable for folks who do not have enough land to build a runway for themselves. They are very expensive. However, they are very reliable and are useful for short trips (1,000 miles or less). If you are a businessman who travels regularly (weekly) to the same place (over 300 miles), then this might be for you. A short 300 mile trip would not take long and you could be at your destination and back before someone driving could make it to the destination. This would be good for fast getaways.
Gliders are the next aircraft to consider. Many now have motors to help the glider take off, and then the glider can ride the air currents to the destination and come in for a landing. This option gives you more range. Wind currents do not always cooperate, but the motor can power the glider to the next ridge and the pilot can go from there. Even with motors, Gliders are cheaper than private light personal aircraft. Regrettably, gliders do not have big engines and do not have a lot of speed or range with the engine. Sure, it would get you in the air and probably take you another 2 or 300 miles, but it does not have the power or fuel capacity to go much further than this. A glider might carry 2 people at once, but that is usually the limit.
These aircraft can be real fun, but they can also be killers. If you do not know what you are doing don't try to make one at your home; your life is not worth it. Hire someone to build it for you or buy a ready factory-made version. These aircraft are usually only for 1 or 2 people maximum, although there are several passenger type kits available. The expense with these aircraft can be as much as a factory built personal light aircraft. If you help build it though, you should be able to help maintain it. Some experimental aircraft are basically hang gliders with 2 cycle big weed eater type engines attached. These fabric-winged aircraft fold up and store in any garage. They are fairly slow; usually top speed is 30 to 40 miles per hour. They are not strong enough to stand the wind of a big storm. These aircraft are usually the cheapest available, but again they are not suitable for survival situations.
Helicopters are the next aircraft to consider. Personal helicopters are on the market in kit form or for a little more money in completed condition. They are around $40,000 completed and if you put one together you might be able to get by with $15,000. Usually they only have the power to lift one or two people. They also do not have a lot of storage space.
Motorized or un-motorized; these are good solid aircraft that can be fun, although I do not see much survival application to them. As you can see aircraft have changed since 1984 and are still improving. I can not see any practical applications for aircraft as a survival vehicle, but it might be a good escape vehicle if you have a landing field in your back yard and can get to your aircraft. For the vast majority of us, this is not an option.
Aircraft are good for scouting, transporting supplies or messages of a high value nature or for intelligence operations, but for the survivalist I can see little value in them. Learning to fly is usually not too expensive, but getting your license is. You have to rent an aircraft for a minimum of 35 or more hours of solo time before you will get your license. This is another factor in ruling out the aircraft as a survival vehicle.
The sea or a large lake, are ideal places for some privacy. You can get away from it all and can usually carry enough supplies to keep you or your group alive for some time.
Small boats are good for 1 or 2 people or for weekend paddling. A small boat can carry an enormous amount of supplies and can be propelled through the water by paddle or by a small motor. Canoes, flat bottom John boats, rubber rafts, bass boats, etc.; all fit into this small boat category. Aluminum, Kevlar, or ABS plastic and fiberglass type boats; are available. I prefer aluminum, Kevlar or ABS plastic canoes; aluminum or Kevlar John boats. Kevlar rafts and most bass boats are made out of fiberglass. These boats come in 10 foot lengths all the way up to 26 feet. The John boats, canoes and rafts can all be purchased between $100 and $600. A bass boat can cost up to $20,000 depending on the make, model or accessories you get. Personally, I will go with the canoes, John boats and rubber rafts any day.
One small boat that I have not mentioned is the Jet Ski. I know they are fun, but I can't see where they would be a viable survival vehicle. Sailboats can be small, one or two person day boats or larger ocean boats. If you are considering sailboats, anything fewer than 18 feet, is probably too small to do you any good. Unless you are on the ocean, anything bigger than a 25 or 30 foot model, will be to big to get you anywhere safely.
Larger boats are for ocean sailing and can be very well equipped. Sailboats are fairly expensive. If you are landlocked, a sailboat is not an investment you should consider. Where would you go - around your lake? If you are near the ocean, though, a sailboat could be the exact thing you need. Pontoon boats are one form of power boat that I have ridden on and are stable platforms for lake or river travel. The pontoons, though, are usually the weakest link and a small pinhole could sink the boat without any warning. If you want a power boat, you might be better served by getting a V-hulled vessel about 18 foot or longer with an enclosed cabin if possible. The cruising range is usually great enough to get you 3 or 400 miles away before you have to refuel. They are usually faster than most other boats around and they often have some amenities like a stove and refrigerator. The primary draw backs to power boats are their cost. However, if you plan to use your boat like a motor home and use it as your communications HQ on your way to and after you reach your survival location, then this might be the way to go. It is likely that water avenues of escape will be open to all those with watercraft to use them. The biggest drawback is that you and your boat will be exposed when passing towns or banks and you run the risk of theft or worse.
Barges are the last consideration here. These are like huge John boats and are used to carry corn, wheat and other produce from terminal to terminal along our nation's rivers. Barges do not have motors, but can be pushed by other boats to their destination. They can carry up to 5 railroad cars worth of supplies or cargo and can be converted as a houseboat for living quarters. Without any means to move though, these barges are not a good survival vehicle, unless someone in your group is a tug boat captain; otherwise, this might not be a wise move.
If you are not sure whether a boat is for you, look at a map and see if you have lakes, rivers that join up and go to other rivers that lead to the sea. If you do, you might have the makings of the perfect survival vehicle in a boat.
Cars come in all shapes, sizes and forms; from compacts to luxury models. Choosing the right one is not easy, so chose a model that you can work on that will last and that has a history of reliability. Choose a popular model to be assured of spare and used parts.
Compact Cars (Economy Size)
Some examples of compact models (meaning one that 1 or 2 people can travel in with relative comfort and have a medium sized load of equipment), are the VW Beetle, the Subaru Justy, the VW Thing, the Rabbit, the Ford Escort, the Chevy Cavalier, the Dodge Neon or the Shadow. These cars can pull a small trailer and you can mount roof racks to them with adequate space to store equipment and survival gear. In theory, you could haul enough parts, tools and fuel along with your survival gear to be truly self-sufficient for a good while.In reality though, do not expect to haul everything you need. You do need to have enough tools and parts to take care of minor emergencies. THIS IS ESSENTIAL WITH ALL VEHICLES THAT WE WILL DISCUSS FROM THIS POINT ON!
So what do you need for your car?
You need a spare set of belts for your vehicle for the alternator, generator, oil pump, etc.; a spare set of radiator and heater hoses, a thermostat, assorted fuses that fit your vehicle; a spark plug set, distributor cap/electronic ignition module, fuel filter, points and condenser, if your vehicle uses them; assorted metal screws, rivets, nuts, bolts and even possibly some nails; assorted electrical wire, electrical connectors, electrical pliers, tape; assorted electric bulbs for the lights in your vehicle, engine oil, brake fluids, spark plug wires and transmission fluid.
All the above repairs can be done with a bit of training and are the most important steps you can take to keeping your vehicle alive and running well. Anything more major than the above repairs usually involves specialized tools (often different tools for each model or make of vehicle) and a highly specialized education on repairing and fixing vehicles. Major repairs take time and involve parts that are often difficult to find when no emergency is looming, much less when you need your transportation right now.
What else might you need for your vehicles?
- A tool kit to be able to accomplish these repairs.
- Tools to get you out of a ditch, a come along, hand winches, shovels, traction devices to get unstuck; even carpenters, masons tools, etc., are all handy in some cases.
- How about a navigation kit? After all you have to have a plan to know where you are going, or you should.
- A battery powered kit with a flashlight, radio, set of walkie talkies and spare batteries at a minimum, should be in your car.
- A basic to advanced First Aid kit is crucial, depending on your education, the availability to get it and the use of it.
- Spare sets of clothes in your survival vehicle, is not going to hurt either. Pack for hot and cold weather and you will always have extra clothes available. Don't forget boots, camp shoes, etc. Also, think about rain.
- A personal kit to include MONEY, prescription drugs if you need them, extra glasses in case you break the ones you have and other items you feel you might need (weapons, Ham radio gear, extra food, special tools, battery powered computers, etc.).
Believe it or not a compact car can and will carry all this. I know as I own both a ford Escort and a Subaru Justy. Both cars are big enough to fit these kits and have room for me, my wife and our survival gear. I do admit it is a tight squeeze, but it can be done.
Medium Size Cars (Sedans, Station Wagons, etc.)
Medium sized cars offer more room and therefore more comfort. Some of these you could conceivably pack for a whole family for survival situations. Examples of medium sized cars are the Ford Taurus, the 4-door Chevy Beretta, the Dodge Diplomat, etc. Some of the medium sized cars come in station wagon size and are better suited for family survival transportation than the regular medium sized cars as they have more room. In fact, I class these cars above even the luxury models listed below.
Luxury Models - Luxury models are usually good because they offer more room and more comfort for survival vehicles. Examples of these vehicles are the Lincoln town Car, the Ford Crown Victoria, the Buick Regal and some of the larger Cadillac models. These cars cost $25,000 or more and are very good cars, but as survival vehicles, give me a station wagon for a family just about any day.
Mini-Vans - Mini-Vans are like station wagons; they are a great choice for a family. They are not a bad choice for only 1 or 2 people either as they are fairly easy on fuel. They hold an enormous amount of survival supplies and many of them have roof racks already or you can get them for the vehicles. In my opinion, Dodge makes the best Mini Vans, but Ford and Toyota, as well as some of the other models, are just as adequate.
Regular Size Vans - Regular Vans are a good choice for families. They hold an unbelievable amount of supplies and can be equipped with roof racks and other space savings devices. The biggest draw backs are fuel efficiency and most are usually only 2 wheel drive. If you are careful and can drive in icy weather, you should get around fairly well.
Pickup Trucks - Pickup trucks (small ¼ ton, regular ½ ton, the larger ¾ or the Dually 1 ton trucks), are good survival vehicles. Most of them are 2-wheel-drive and some can come in 4-wheel-on-demand drive. Whatever you get, you can haul a large amount of equipment. With a camper you have a place to sleep out of the rain. Roof racks, the ability to haul a trailer of large sizes and the ability to haul survival supplies in the bed of the truck, are all major advantages that trucks have over regular cars. The largest disadvantages are fuel economy, travel capacity, and storage space. Fuel economy is very poor, you can't usually haul more than 1 or 2 people as passengers without crowding and there is little storage space behind the seats to put things out of sight.
4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles - 4-Wheel-drive vehicles can be very useful; they can also be a major pain. When a vehicle is designed for 4-wheel-drive, 2 things occur, which are good for off road, but not so good for on the road. First, the vehicle is made taller so you have more ground clearance. Second, the wheel base is shortened to make turning shorter. This is good for the trail, but can cause the vehicle to tip over or wreck on the road. Major disadvantages of 4-wheel-drive vehicles are the fuel economy; it's usually very poor; the rides are rough even with good shocks, etc.; and you are limited to only having 1 or 2 passengers because of the space limitations and there is usually little or no space to put things up or conceal them in the vehicle. The major, and only advantage, is that 4-wheel-drive is available for you. (This can be a disadvantage as it causes you to become overconfident and wreck or get your vehicle stuck because you over estimated its abilities). I have owned 4-wheel-drive vehicles and was very satisfied with them, but I did not like the gas mileage, the rough ride on long trips and the road handling ability with its high ground clearance and its short wheel base. The only accidents I ever had, involved this 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
Consider a power inverter for whatever vehicle you get, own or use for your survival transportation. Consider solar cells to keep your battery charged or maintained. Consider a winch for you larger vehicles (van size & up, if it will fit). Consider DC appliances for your vehicle and extra batteries if you have a way of charging them; it sure makes cooking, cleaning, etc., easier if you have these appliances.
Rental Trucks - Rider, U-Haul and many other places rent trucks of various sizes to help people move around the country. These vehicles would be excellent for a survival transportation situation since they can haul such a large load. However, the gas mileage is usually poor and their ability to carry passengers is usually limited to only 1 or 2 people.
Tractor Trailer Trucks - Tractor trailer trucks are another option, but you must know how to drive one. Air brakes have to build up pressure before you can drive anywhere. Unless they have a sleeper cab, they can usually only carry 1 or 2 people, but they can carry an enormous amount of goods in the trailer behind them. These vehicles might be better suited to group use than an individual use, but it is still an option to consider.
Used vehicles can be good investments. An older vehicle can usually be worked on with few specialized tools. Parts are usually easily available especially if the used vehicle was a popular model. Do not get one that is already broken. If it does not run or if it needs a new engine or transmission, you may be looking at some major expenses. HAVE THE VEHICLE CHECKED OUT BY A MECHANIC YOU TRUST AND WHO WILL GO WITH YOU TO LOOK OVER THE VEHICLE. This can help you in negotiating for the price of the vehicle also. Check with the NADA (National Association of Dealers of America) available by request at most used car lots; for the suggested price. Then offer less than this for the vehicle especially if it has a few flaws or needs some work (what used car doesn't?). Try to buy from individuals, municipalities, colleges, etc., directly instead of going through a used car dealer. Remember, a good used car can be better than the most expensive new car if it is in good shape or can be put that way with a little effort. Do not waste your money if you do not have to. Buy only the better vehicles that do not need much work.
I am sure you have heard the term "layering" in dressing for cold weather. Well the same applies to survival transportation.
Your first layer - your primary survival transportation, is your vehicle. In this vehicle you have all the supplies you think you might need for breakdowns, survival situations, and evacuation.
The next layer is your secondary survival transportation. This might be a bicycle, a motorcycle, a horse or whatever. Just remember, you have to tow or pack your secondary survival transportation along with you. The secondary survival transportation is in case you have an accident or in case you get stuck in traffic and still need to travel away from one place towards another.
Your secondary or primary transportation might be a boat, if you are near enough to water, for this to be an option for you.
Your last layer of survival transportation is of course your feet. So, packing ready for a hike is not too bad an idea.
Gasoline - It is crucial that the fuel used in your survival vehicles, all be the same. In the majority of cases this will be gasoline. Gasoline is hazardous to store in your home and does not store too well, unless preservatives are added to keep it from losing its power. Stabil is one of best preservatives on the market.)At best, gasoline will store for a year without any preservatives added. 5 Gallon Jerry cans are what many suggest as great mobile containers. They are a bit expensive and you would need at least 2 to fill up an economy car sized fuel tank, but they would definitely work. Remember, your vehicle will use more gas when loaded down than it does when it is not loaded down.
55 Gallon drums have been suggested and if you have a pickup truck or van, this might be an option you want to explore. You will have to have a special pump to transfer fuel from the tank to the gas tank of your vehicle. You will need some way to load it onto your vehicle as a 55 gallon drum of fuel is heavy!
If you have a secure place and own your own property, you might consider a large fuel tank that might be buried or put in your back yard. One that is 150 to 300 gallons are usually available at the CO-OP stores for sale or rent and they keep it filled up and serviced.BE AWARE THAT MANY STATES WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BURY THESE TANKS ANY MORE BECAUSE OF POLLUTION CONCERNS, SO BE READY TO CAMOUFLAGE OR CONCEAL THESE TANKS.
It might not be a bad idea to store fuel elsewhere in the event you might need it later; your friend's property, family farms, the shed at work or concealed along the roads. Be careful of discovery and be prepared to lose and write these off, especially if you do not have the permission of the people who own the property to store fuel on their property.Stick to friends, family or like minded individuals if you can, to be sure your fuel will be kept safely. Inspect it at least once a year. If your friend is using it, then write this off; if an emergency comes up, he will take your fuel and leave you nothing.
Propane - Some vehicles use propane as a fuel. If yours is one, then be sure you have propane stored and have the equipment to tap into other propane sources in the event of an emergency. Propane is a great fuel for cooking and to provide lights for a campsite, so you may want to plan on having some of it available.
Kerosene - Kerosene is also good for heating and for having a kerosene lantern (or for cooking in some cases). This is another fuel you might want to have around (kerosene keeps longer than gasoline, but you still need to add preservative to it to keep it useful over a long range time.)
Coleman Fuel - Coleman fuel is good for cooking or lighting; it is really too specialized for most uses. Coleman makes dual or triple fuel types of stoves and lanterns so get them and use them instead of relying on Coleman fuel.
Generator - Having a generator to provide electricity would be a good idea and if you kept it using the same fuel as your cars or other vehicles, then this would be available for your use for some time.
Many customizations can be done on most cars; from James Bond like oil slicks to bullet proofing your vehicles. These tend to be fairly expensive; they reduce the carrying capacity of your survival vehicle and may not be needed. I prefer the following customization: roof racks to increase carry loads and survival gear, solar cells for battery chargers or battery maintainers, winches if the vehicle is large enough to have room for one, camper tops for pickup trucks, racks for 5 gallon jerry cans, power inverter that run off of batteries or off of the cigarette lighter of a vehicle (should be powerful enough to run a ½ inch drill or a power saw); extra batteries, if you have a way to keep them charged; a towing ball, if the vehicle can accommodate it; run flat tires might not be a bad idea if you can find or afford them and if you feel you need a bullet proof car after this, then by all means look into conversions that help with this.
Obviously we have not examined all combinations of survival vehicle nor have I included traveling through fallout in this paper. Military vehicles require special training to operate and are not recommended. Traveling through fallout is a special subject in and of itself. No single vehicle is ideal for all survival situations. You must decide and tailor your decisions for yourself and your situations.