Survivalism # 10: The BOV and the BOL

Jack GoblinStarred Page By Jack Goblin, 15th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Planning

'Bugging out' means to flee danger. And when you need to bug out, you need a means to do so, and a place to go.


A previous article in this series (link) addressed the BOB, or Bug Out Bag, a staple of survivalist preparations. The BOB is a container like a backpack or gym bag filled with supplies and equipment that can be picked up on the way out the door in an emergency evacuation, and which will provide assistance during disaster. This article will discuss two other areas which are of importance to survivalists when there is a need to flee: The Bug Out Vehicle or BOV, and the Bug Out Location or BOL.


If running is necessary, the question is, how? For most people the answer would be obvious: In the family car. Throw in supplies, keepsakes, family, and pets, then get in and drive away as fast as possible. This would seem straight forward. But survivalists tend to take a broader view of the matter. And consider problems that might not be obvious.

Such as, what escape route is to be followed, and is the family car up to it? If you are in a city and will need to get out, how fast can you load up the car and get away?

One of the lessons of huge evacuations such as Katrina is that major highways and escape routes will quickly become clogged with vehicles trying to flee and you have to move fast to get ahead of the pack. And if you do not move fast enough you may wind up in a miles long traffic jam barely creeping forward or perhaps not moving at all.

Is your car sturdy enough for such stress? Does it get good gas mileage? Is the gas tank kept at least half full so a stop at a gas station, which might use up critical time, would not be needed? A flat tire, engine breakdown, running out of gas, backed up traffic, may mean you do not get away at all.

Pre-planning - Key to success

Survivalists try to work around these potential problems in various ways. Keeping a close eye on events and being aware of possible dangers is part of this; so is a determination to take off early, even if it exposes them to ridicule for premature evacuation. So to speak.

Getting maps of the area and planning and exploring alternative routes is also common. If the main roads get blocked, or become impassible, knowing of other ways out of town which people may not be using or even aware of, like flood control canals, could be a life saver in a major disaster.

Another tactic is speed of preparation. Those with a BOB already have essential supplies packed. Some take this planning further and have lists of what else they wish to take with them and can load their vehicles and be on the road very quickly, if they take anything additional at all.

They prepack totes and bags full of supplies - BOBs on a grand scale - that can be shifted into a car in short order. And even practice loading up their vehicle, so they know what fits and what doesn't, and how quickly they can move supplies. Their mantra is that when minutes count, you have seconds to get things done

Many survivalists also already have necessary resources in their cars: Automobile supplies like oil, spare fan belts, and tire chains and repair kits; AND food, water, first aid kits, and survival gear. The idea being that if they are forced to flee immediately, or are caught away from home, they'll have adequate supplies with them.

Different types of BOVs

Not to mention there are innovative solutions involving the BOV itself. Some survivalists don't simply settle for the family car or cars, they get vehicles specially suited for escape. A four wheel drive truck capable of navigating terrain most cars couldn't manage, along utility and fire roads or even off road completely. ATVs and motorcycles for greater mobility. Bicycles, with the advantages of maneuverability and smaller size. And of course, walking.

Those near water often consider boats of various kinds, from kayaks and rowboats to sailboats which can be mobile living quarters on which people can survive for months. Even aircraft have been proposed as Bug Out Vehicles: Light planes, if one can reach an airport and can fly, or ultralights, small one or two person flying craft that can take off anywhere there's room.

However, some of these have little cargo capacity. You can't carry much in an ultralight or kayak. And while carts can be attached to bicycles and ATVs, and a person on foot can use a two wheeled game cart to haul a great deal of weight, there are simply not many ways to transport as much as swiftly as in a car or truck. If you need or want to take many things with you, this would be a problem.

When BOVs don't work...

Another problem given consideration in the matter of a BOV is, the circumstances under which a BOV might not work, and what to do in that case. This would of course include when the roads have been rendered impassable. By other cars stuck in a jam, but also by flooding, earthquake damage, or winter storm. But there are events which can disable the BOV itself. In this category, the main concern is an EMP.

An Electro-Magnetic Pulse is a burst of energy lasting milliseconds generated by the detonation of a nuclear bomb. It flows through most things without harm. But in delicate electronic circuitry like computers, it can induce wild voltage surges that destroy micro-processors, which have almost no tolerance for such things

A powerful nuclear bomb, set off at a high altitude above the U.S., would produce an EMP that could damage or destroy computers and micro-processors for hundreds of miles. Given that most technology in the U.S. is now computer dependant, the fear is that such an event would return the affected area to the level of the 18th century in a second. Including many newer model vehicles, which use micro-processors extensively to regulate engine function.

How serious a danger this is, is debated in the survivalist community. Some studies suggest cars may not be as devastated as was once thought. But to be safe, it is not unheard of for survivalists to make their BOV an older car or truck, or a diesel vehicle: Something with few or no computer parts, which would not be harmed by an EMP.

Regardless of the Bug Out Vehicle chosen and the plans made involving it, the purpose of the BOV is to get away from danger. The purpose of the next item, the Bug Out Location, is to try to make sure that wasn't in vain.


Where you are going if you have to flee your home. Having a specific destination is important because, if you know where you are going, then you are simply going from point A to point B and you can devote all your efforts to the trip. If you have no destination, then you are a refugee. And you are wandering until you can find some place that offers sanctuary.

Deciding where to go if forced out of normal living areas is therefore a matter of considerable importance. Some plan on going to the homes of friends and family, or hotels or motels (if room is available), or second homes in a different area. Some simply intend to run and assume the government will take care of them. And some - maybe more than some - have the idea of running for the hills. Escaping into the wilderness to live off the land.

It is a popular idea... among those who have never tried it. Those who have, soon realize it is a lot harder than it looks, and those without skills, proper equipment, and the necessary physical abilities probably can't do it. Animals don't stand around obligingly to be shot nor do they skin and butcher themselves, or preserve their own meat. Plants don't have signs saying which are edible and which are not, and how to prepare them. Fish don't always bite, the weather is not always favorable, and fires sometimes aren't easy to start or keep burning. All of these are problems. Possibly fatal problems.

But there's also the problem that, since so many people will be running for the hills, it might be a little crowded there. The story, surely apocryphal, is told of a man who became worried about the possibility of disaster. He quizzed friends and co-workers as to their plans. Several - after swearing him to secrecy - told him of a special place deep in a nearby woods, an isolated cabin they were sure no one but they knew of, and how they would take their families and flee there in the event that things fell apart.

It did not take the man long to realize they were all talking about the SAME cabin, which apparently was well known. And that if something did go wrong, his friends, their families, and probably many more and THEIR families would all go running to that cabin: A huge number of desperate, scared, probably armed people all suddenly confronting each other in a high stress situation.

The man decided to stay away from the woods completely.

Current thought on the BOL

Survivalist thought on the ideal BOL has evolved over the years. At one time it was a spot in the wilderness where there was no one around, further from any major city than a normal car could travel on one tank of gas. With increased gas mileage having expanded how far a car can go, and the prevalence of ATVs and other vehicles capable of going very far on little gasoline, distance is no longer a major consideration. Shrinking areas of wilderness, and more people out in the country, means that places with no one around are rarer. And a realistic assessment of what would be necessary to survive long term in the event of a prolonged breakdown in society if you just head off into the woods indicates you could take a semi-truck full of supplies with you and still not have enough.

Many survivalists now believe that an ideal BOL does not exist, it is too dependent on personal circumstances and the situation. Although a fertile farm in a favorable growing area, with its own solar and wind power system, plenty of farm animals and supplies, surrounded by strong fencing and supportive neighbors, well off the beaten path, is hardly to be sneered at.

Conclusion - Staying Home, instead?

Indeed, the idea of bugging out is no longer as popular as it once was. There are of course circumstances in which flight is the only intelligent course. And some live in neighborhoods and situations where attempting to stay in even minor disasters would be dangerous. But many survivalists these days have considered the advantages of sheltering in place, with the much greater storage capacity and protection available in a house or apartment, and have made their living quarters as secure as possible so they can stay.

While not ignoring the BOV and BOL, in case they HAVE to go..


Bol, Bov, Bug Out, Car, Disaster, Emergency Supplies, Escape, Farm, Survivalism, Teotwawki, Truck

Meet the author

author avatar Jack Goblin
Was born. Haven't died yet. Don't intend to anytime soon.

Thank you much for reading my articles. I hope they brought you pleasure and enlightenment. :)

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
15th Mar 2014 (#)

After reading this, I'm wondering - what must it be like to live in so much fear and terror that it propels an individual to become a survivalist?

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author avatar Jerry Walch
19th Apr 2014 (#)

Howdy good buddy! I really don't think fear or terror has anything to do with wanting to be prepared, it has more to do with accepting the fact that very bad things can happen unexpectedly and we need to be ready to survive them. The event can just as easily be an act of nature--tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, forest fires, etc.-- as a man made event. Either can be just as life threatening and we need to have a survival plan in place.. I put my trust in God, Steve, but I also believe that God helps those that are prepared to help themselves.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
19th Apr 2014 (#)

Very thorough article Jack.

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author avatar joyalariwo
15th Mar 2014 (#)

Interesting article Jack.... thought provoking as well, good work.

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author avatar Jack Goblin
16th Mar 2014 (#)

It is hardly terror. It is the simple understanding that bad things happen; but with preplanning and preparation, the chances of survival without harm can be greatly increased. Or you can put all your faith in the government and Guardian Angels. :)

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
16th Mar 2014 (#)

Interesting post!

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