Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sharpening Your Skills


No matter what your preferences for camping or other recreational activities, you will get more pleasure out of your efforts as your skills develop and improve.  Regardless of how good you may be at a particular task, you can almost always find room for improvement and without regular practice and exercise, even the best experts begin to experience diminished ability.

Every camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, or OHV trip is an opportunity to hone your  existing skills and perhaps develop new ones.  Every trip requires and pre-and post trip acitivites  that, as you practice them, will improve.  Preparations will become easier and take less time as you refine your checklists and your procedures.   You'll get better and better at hooking up the trailer or getting the RV on the road.  Every trip is a chance to observe and refine your driving skills.  Driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer takes skills most drivers don't experience in their daily lives.  The more your drive your rig, the more comfortable you will become and the more fun it will be.  Setting up camp, building campfires, and camp cooking are routine activities that also get easier with practice.  

Experienced campers may want to choose specific survival techniques to practice on each outing.   You may feel comfortable with routine camp tasks, but might benefit from practicing starting your campfire using flint and steel or perhaps even creating emergency shelters or hunting or foraging for food.

Just about every outdoor activity can benefit from regular practice.  Whether you're just camping or out hunting, fishing, hiking, dirt biking, or enjoying your personal watercraft, there are always skills you can improve upon.  Some skills you can practice during routine activities but others may require some special preparations.  The availability of online guides and instructional videos can provide answers to many questions and give you entertaining ways to learn new skills.  When I say "entertaining", I mean entertaining to YOU, rather than turn your novice attempts at new skills into entertainment for your fellow campers, which happens all too frequently when we jump into something without proper preparation.

Just like sharpening our tools makes them safer and easier to use, sharpening out skills will make our activities safer and more more fun.  And don't be afraid to draw on the expertise of other more experience campers.  They're likely to have had their share of embarrassing moments and may be able to divert you away from potential disasters.  Of course you will probably want to avoid seeking help from the resident practical joker, who may be likely to take advantage of your naivety to entertain others at your expense.

Look sharp, be sharp!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Family Activities

Camping, RVing, and OHV riding are excellent family activities that complement each other.  Camping by itself offers a variety of places to go and things to do that can keep a family enterained and provide opportunities for bonding and teaching moments.  We found that dirt biking was perfect for our family.  We have 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls, with a 14 year age spread.  Just try finding something that will hold the interest both boys and girls from 4 to 18 over several years!  Our RV made an ideal base camp for dirt bike rides, providing air conditioned comfort on hot desert days and a warm haven from bad weather.  Coming "home" to a hot shower and a comforable bed is something to look forward to after a long, hot dusty, desert ride.

Camping, in either a tent or an RV, brings a family together in ways you probably won't have at home.  First of all, you will be in closer physical proximity than you normally are in a permanent residence (how can you not in such confined spaces?) but more importantly, you will be sharing experiences.  Even routine tasks like fixing meals that are typically taken for granted at home can be opportunities for shared activities and family bonding way beyond what is available in our electronically centered lives these days.  Camping helps get both couch potatoes and video game addicts out of their ruts.  Of course it may take some planning and organization to take advantage of these opportuntities.  You may have to convince your teenagers to leave their video games at home or at least impose -- and enforce -- some limits on their use.  It will help if you have planned interesting meals that they can be involved in.  Campfire cooking is usually a unique and entertaining enough experience to provide incentives for most kids but even cooking in the RV on on the camp stove can be fun, especially if it involves making special treats!  Plan your outings to go where there are fun things to do.  Do a little research to find out if the activities are suitable for your family.  Some ranger-led nature hikes are really fun for younger visitors but may not hold the interest of your older teens.  A visit to an antique car museum will probably be fun for everyone, particularly the boys, but your boys might not be so thrilled with spending an afternoon in a doll house.   You might even find it good to spend some time learning to share video games with your electronically addicted children.

RVing is often easier for a famiy than tent camping.  There is usually less setup time and effort required when you get to camp so you can spend more time on non work-like activities.  An RV gives you flexibility in travel.  Even with a trailer you can pull over into a rest area or onto a safe spot along side the road when someone needs to use the bathroom instead of having to scurry to find a service station.  With a motorhome the on board facilities are conveniently available anytime to everyone but the driver.  Traveling by RV often lets you choose optional side-trips along the way.

We found OHV (dirt bike) riding to be a perfect complement for RVing for our family.  Everyone very much enjoyed riding and even found some fun in maintaining their bikes and riding gear.  There were frequently new areas to visit or new trails to ride and re-visiting favorite trails was always a fun adventure. We found riding offered an unexpected balance of opportuntities to build both individual confidence and teamwork.  We went riding with our "Desert Rat" group (www.desertrat.org) almost every holiday weekend while the kids were growing up, forming friendships that endure to this day for both adults and kids.

Like most things, you'll only get something out of an activity if you put something into it.  Camping, RVing, and OHVing provide opportunities for building character and for family bonding, but it is up to you to make use of those opportuntities.  You'll need to select appropriate destinations for you family and plan relevant activities.  You'll need to watch for -- or create -- "teaching moments" when you can use activities to help kids learn important life lessons.  Sometimes you can offer hands-on experience to augment book learning in things like science, biology, first aid, mechanics, astronomy, and survival.  Sometimes your activities will provide good examples of personal interaction and the natural consequences that result from life choices.  Little, if any, of it will happen automtically.  You'll need to pay attention to what is going on and make use of the circumstances and situations you encounter.

Family togetherness.  Try it!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Starting Fires Without Matches

Being able to start a fire in a survival situation could literally mean the difference between life and death and certainly adds considertably to your comfort.  There is much folk lore and much is written about starting fires without matches.  Of course the easiest way to start a fire without matches is with a Bic-style lighter.  Many survivalists strongly recommend you include a lighter in your survival kit.  They are inexpensive, light weight, and easy to use.  Even after they run out of fuel the spark may be used to ignite tinder.

One of the most commonly considered ways of starting a fire witout matches is rubbing two sticks together.  I don't know about you, but the only way I want to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together is if one of them is a match!  Otherwise, rubbing two sticks together is a time-proven technique but is is very tedious and takes a lot of effort.  The most efficient way is to make a bow drill.  For this you will need a green stick that is flexible enough to be bent into a bow, a piece of string or other cordage long enough to form the bow, a dry stick about a foot and a half long (softwood works best), a wooden base plate, and a hand guard.  The hand guard should fit comfortably in your hand and will serve as the upper pivot point for the drill.  It may be made of wood or stone or just about anything that will protect your hand from the top of the spinning drill.  The base place should be softwood and you'll want to carve a small depression in the middle to hold the tip of the drill.  Loop the bow string around the middle of the drill stick.  Place the bottom end into the depression in the base plate and put some dry tinder near the point of contact.  Hold the hand guard in one hand (left hand if you're right handed, right hand if you're left handed) and put it on the top of the drill.  Then move the bow back in forth in a sawing motion to rotate the drill, using the hand guard to keep pressure on the drill so there is significant friction between the drill and the base plate.  When you start to generate smoke look for a glowing coal and be ready to put the tinder on the coal.  Blow gently to increase the temperature of the coal to ignite the tinder.  Take care not to blow so hard as to blow out the flames when the tinder begins to burn. If you don't have materials to make a bow, you can turn the drill by rubbing it between your hands.  Start with both hands at the top of the drill and rub them back and forth to rotate the drill, all the time pushing or pressing down to keep pressure on the drill.  This also helps reduce injuring your hands.   This "hand drill" technique an be really hard on your hands and can easily produce blisters.  Les Stroud (Survivorman) recommends slapping your hands together frequently hard enough so it hurts to stimulte blood flow and minimize blisters. Another way of starting a fire rubbing two sticks together is called a "fire plow".  In this case, instead of rotating a stick o generate friction, you simply push the point of one stick along a groove the base plate rapidly and repeatedly until you create enough heat to get your fire going.

Flint and steel are another age-old method for starting fires.  If you have  flint and steel or can find stones that make sparks when struck together, you can use the sparks to ignite your tinder.  I find this a LOT easier than rubbing two ticks together!   My first attempt at using flint and steel was very frustrating.  I didn't realize the "flint" had a coating on it that I had to scrape away before I could get sparks.  But once it was gone, Wa-lah!  Nice big sparks --with the right angle and the right pressure.

Sunlight can be used to ignite tinder if you have a way to concentrate it.  The stereotypical tool is a magnifying glass, but you may be able to use spectacles or broken headlight lenses.  I've even seen demonstrations of using a piece of ice, but most ice containes too many contaminates that cloud it doesn't focus the sunlight as well as it needs to be.  An alternative is to polish the bottom of an aluminum can.  Soda and beer cans are often all to commonly found among the trash strewn in even surprisingly remote places.  Polish  the bottom of the can using some kind of rubbing compound (chocolate bars and tooth paste are two fairly common sources) until you can see your teeth or the whites of your eyes reflected in the parabolic surface of the bottom of the can.  When you aim the polished surface directly at the sun it will focus the suns rays at a point a few inches in front of the can.  Use a pice of wire or a stick to hold your tinder right at the focal point.  Here is a demonstration of how to do this.

Steel wool and batteries can be used to start a fire.  Steel wool comes in different grades of coarseness.  You want 0000 steel wool.  Use clean steel wool.  Soap pads like Brillo and SOS are usually too coarse and the soap interferes with igntiion.  6 and 12 volt car batteries, even when somewhat run down, can usually produce enough current to get steel wool going but even flashlight batteries can do the trick.  I've seen people start a fire by carefully breaking the bulb of a flashlight (take care not to damge the filament) and using the hot filament to light a fire.  Incandescent bulbs are about 10% efficient producing light and about 90% efficient making heat.  Another way to use batteries to start a fire is simply to create a spark by touching wires connected to the hot and ground sides of the battery together.  To get a good spark, strike one wire against the other rather than simply pressing them together.  Once they are connected they will no longer create a spark -- but the wires may get very hot and are likely to burn you hands if they aren't protected.

The key to starting any fire, and especially to getting a fire going without matches or a lighter, is having the right tinder.  Tinder must be easily ignited.  For my personal fire starting kit I carry some 100% cotton balls. And no, although the synthetic "cosmetic puff" may look the same, they don't work the same.   You may see many folks recommned dryer lint for tinder.  If its cotton lint, from towels or underwear, it will probably work well, but lint from synthetic fabrics like nylon, rayon, and polyester are more likely to be melted than ignited by sparks.  In the wild, you may have to make your own tinder.  Dry bark from tress like cedar and juniper, fluff from seed pots like milkweed or cattails, or even dry grass (rub it between your hands to grind it up and make it easier to light) can all be used as tinder.  Another option in the wild is "punky" wood.  This is the partially rotten wood you find in fallen logs, tree stumps, and hollow trees.  It is usually a redish brown color and has a kind of alligator skin pattern.  Pine needles are usually too course to be used as tinder unless you grind them down into small particles or dust.  Magnesium shavings are an excellent tinder and will light even when they are wet, but unless you have some in your survival kit, you're not going to find them in the wild.  In the old days you could break open a flash bulb and use the magnesium filaments but most modern flash cameras use LEDs these days.

After tinder, the next important step will be your kindling bundle or "birds nest".  Most likely you will want to use dry grass, pine needles, or loose, stringy bark for your birds nest.  You should have a bundle that is a good double handful, slightly larger than a softball.  Once you have your tinder started you insert it into the birds nest and soon you should have a pretty good ball of fire ready to start your campfire.  A real birds nest would work but will probably be soiled with excrement and may give off an unpleasant odor.

Always prepare your campfire before you start trying to ignite your tinder.  The last thing you want to be doing is running around looking for wood after you get your tinder started.  You can choose a teepee or log cabin style fire, depending on the size and quantity of fuel you have.  Make sure you leave a place to push your fire bundle or birds nest inside to get your fire going.  Build the fuel pile up starting with small sticks, the size of a pencil or less, then keep adding progressively larger fuel -- thumb sized sticks, then 1"-2" sticks, etc.  All the wood should be dry and well seasonsed (not green!).  About the only green wood that burns well is sagebrush.  Most other trees and shrubs need to dry out before they will burn well, so gather dead wood rather than breaking branches off living plants.  Don't make your initial fuel pile too big.  You can always add more fuel if you need more heat, but getting too much going at once just wastes fuel.  Be sure to have a stack of fuel ready to use as you need it.

Of course you always want to properly prepare you fire site to avoid losing control.  In addition to normal precautions like clearing the ground and building a fire ring, make sure you don't have anything on our person that will iginite easier than your tinder!  If your clothing is contaminated by fuel or oils the fumes may flash into flames and light you up instead of your fire bundle!  You wouldn't want to be making sparks or creating open flames anywhere near fuel tanks or containers.  And be aware that some things you might not normally consider as flammable can be extremely so in the right concerntration.  Flour dust, for example, is so volatile a one cup can generate an explosion nearly equivalent to a stick of dynamite.  With that in mind, NEVER try to use flour to extinguish a kitchen fire!  Keep in mind that both flour and sugar are made of flammable carbon and hydrogen, which are also the primary components of gasoline!

Practice! Practice! Practice!  Starting a fire without matches isn't easy.  If it were, why did we invent matches?  If you find yourself in a survival situation, it is unlikely you'll have the time or inclination to spend hours trying to get a fire started.  You will want -- or need -- it NOW!  Even striking a spark with a flint and steel takes a little practice, so take advantage of your camping trips to try out and practice various methods of starting your campfire without matches.

Light 'em up!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Survival -- Make Do

Surviving  the effects of a natural or man made disaster or being lost or stranded in the wilderness often means making best use of available resources, whatever they may be.  Les Stroud (Suvivorman)frequently touts the value of examining your environment to see what you can find that you can use.  Explore both the natural resources and man made detris.  What is normally considered trash can be extremely valuable in a survival situation.  Most of us throw out tin cans without giving them a second thought, but tin cans can be very useful and valuable in a survival situation.  You can make a very efficient rocket stove from a single one-gallon can and a couple of soup cans.  Tin cans can be used as cooking pots or to boil water to purify it for drinking or medical use.  They can be flattened to patch holes in roofs or other shelters.  They can be used to collect and store food when foraging. You might even use a tin can to dig a latrine if you don't have a shovel.  In a dire emergency you might be able to use the ragged edge of a tin can as a substitute for a knife. The bottom of an aluminum soda can can be polished (a chocolate bar or tooth paste makes a good rubbing compound) and used as a parabolic reflector to focus sunlight to light a fire.  Sometimes a plastic water bottle can be used to focus sun's rays to start a fire.

It wouldn't be possible or even feasible to list all of the ways you might use trash.  The most important lesson to learn is to examine everything with an eye to how it might be used.  Some things are fairly obvious: tarps and plastic sheeting for shelter, paper, cardboard, and scrap wood for fuel for warmth and cooking, corrugated sheet metal for shelter but there are many other resources you might make use of in a survival situation.  There are many components of disabled or abandoned vehicles that might be salvaged.  Doors, hoods, etc., might be re-purposed for shelter, lubricants like transmission fluid and motor oil can be drained and used to lubricate other machinery or burned as fuel, upholstery and padding from seat cushions can be used for padding or insulation or sometimes to make shoes or clothing, wiring may be ripped out and used as cordage for building shelters, batteries, if they still have any charge, might be used with 0000 steel wool as fire starters.  In a long term scenario, you might devise a way to use wind, water, or pedal power (like a bicycle) to turn the alternator to produce electricity and charge batteries.  Pieces of glass headlight lenses might be used like a magnifying glass to concentrate sun's rays to light your fire. 

Not long ago, a young Boy Scout survived being separated from his troop in freezing overnight temperatures in the Utah mountains by building a debris hut.   A debris hut is very simple to build:  just pile up a bunch of leaves and grass or pine needles and burrow into the pile or just lay down and cover yourself over with them.   It will be a lot scratchier than a feather bed, but it could keep you warm enough to save your life.  Also, make sure the debris is dry and free from insects.
 
The most important concept is to take a careful inventory of ALL the resources you might have in a survival situation.  They might be discarded items (trash) that you can make use of or natural resources that can be adapted for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and fuel.  You never know what might come in handy if you use your imagination and seek ways to make good use of anything you have available.  In winter even snow can be a valuable resource.  Not only can you melt it to get drinking water (as long as it isn't yellow snow!), you can use it to build shelters to protect you from the elements.  Be creative.  You might even make snowballs to defend yourself from animals or other unwelcome intruders and perhaps you could even use them as weapon for hunting small game.  Practice looking at discarded items and asking your self  "What could I do with that?" instead of just turning away in revulsion thinking, "Ugh!  Trash!"  You will want to exercise some discretion.  Partially filled soda bottles found along roadsides might deliver an unpleasant surprise.  Truckers have been know to use them as urinals to avoid stopping for a restroom break.

Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sharpening Your Skills

No matter how long you've been a camper, you can still benefit from sharpening your skills.  I doubt if any of us get to go camping as often as we'd like, and, unlike cutting tools, which become dull with use, our skills will become dull with non-use.  No matter how good you once were at making camp or starting a fire, if you haven't practiced it lately, you'll probably find you've lost your edge.

The best way to sharpen or maintain your skills is to be actively using them.  For many years my family went dirt biking and camping in the Mojave Desert just about every holiday weekend.  That meant going out about once a month and that gave us a pretty good opportunity to stay in practice.  Now that my wife and I are semi-retired and have moved to Utah, our outings are much fewer and farther between.  That means that when we do get chance to take our RV out, we have to invest some time remembering all the routine preparations we used to take for granted.   Our old check lists come in very handy, but each time we discover a few things we used to do almost automatically that we don't think about now until its almost too late. 

It is also good for machines (RVs and OHVs) to be exercised regularly.  Even if you can't schedule vacation time or even a weekend away, try to take a short trip or two at least once a month.  Seals in engines and running gear can dry out and crack.  Regular use keeps them functioning.  Driving also flexes the rubber in tires to bring out compounds that guard against cracking and sun-checking.  A simple overnight trip to a nearby campground now and then can help keep both you and your equipment in better shape.

Tent campers can hone their camp making skills in the back yard. Set up your tent to refresh your skills and verify its condition between camping trips.

Fire starting skills can be practiced lighting fires in your home fireplace as well as lighting campfires.  If you don't have a fireplace, maybe you can build a campfire in your back yard.  Don't have a fire pit or anyplace to make one?  Locate an old washing machine tub.  They make excellent portable fire pits.  The perforations allow ample ventilation and air flow yet restrict sparks.  You can set the tub on some bricks or concrete blocks to minimize any damage to lawns or patios.

Practice your outdoor cooking skills on your home BBQ.  They may come in really handy if there is a disaster that takes out utilities.  We once had a power outage hit right at dinner time.  Since we have an electric range, that pretty much took out our normal cooking facilities until power was restored.  I went out to the back yard, brushed the snow off the BBQ, and transferred the meal in progress outside.  We barely lost a couple of minutes.  Your BBQ is good for much more than cooking burgers, chicken, or steaks.  You can heat water for hot drinks and cleanup.  You can prepare soups and stews.  The the addition of a campstove oven, you can even bake on your BBQ or camp stove.

Dutch oven cooking is a fun and easy way to prepare wholesome and tasty meals, for both camping and everyday eating.  You can put your Dutch oven on a BBQ or set it directly on coals on the ground, then put the appropriate number of lighted briquettes on top for even cooking.  If you line your Dutch oven with aluminum foil, cleanup of even sticky things like "dump cakes" is really quick and easy.  It takes a little practice to get the heat and the timing down to produce the best results, so frequent practice is highly recommended.

Keeping your skills tuned up can be lots of fun too!   The best way, of course, is to go camping as often as you can, but even camping at home between trips can be interesting and helpful.

Look sharp!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Camping, Survival, and Emergency Sanitation

Dealing with human waste is usually not a topic for polite company, but it is essential to know what to do when camping, in a survival situation, or during an emergency at home.  Most people have no idea that cholera, which is one of the leading causes of death in refugee camps worldwide, is mostly caused by poor sanitation.   Many other diseases are also fomented by poor sanitation, especially when you are dealing with groups of people.  The larger the group, the greater the hazard!

If you're staying in campgrounds with toilet facilities your needs are pretty much taken care of, as long as you take advantage of the facilities and exercise a reasonable amount of healthy precaution, such as thoroughly washing your hands after using the toilet.  That doesn't mean just a quick rinse, but at lease 15-20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing or rubbing with soap and (preferably hot) water.  The primitive pit toilets in some remote campgrounds don't have water, so bring along some hand sanitizer.

If you're dry camping in an RV, you should be in pretty good shape as long  as you don't run out of water or overflow your holding tanks.  You will want to ration your water usage and filling of our holding tanks to ensure you can make it through the outing.  Then you must properly empty and flush your holding tanks at an approved facility.  Sloppy dumping can create a bio-hazard that could affect you directly and is likely to impact may subsequent users of the facility.  Make sure to flush any spillage in the dump basin into the drain.  Always do your best to avoid any spillage outside of the dump basin and should some occur, clean it up as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

When you're tent camping or in survival mode, you'll be dependent on more primitive methods.  You will want to locate or designate an area downwind and downhill from your camp site as the latrine area.  For short term camping you will probably just dig your own individual latrine for each need.  If you're staying in the same place for several days you may want to dig a larger latrine for convenience.  Either way, it must be at least 200' from any source of water (stream, well, spring, lake).  You will want to dig a deep enough pit so you can cover your deposits to prevent people from stepping in them and to discourage animals from digging them up.  Tent campers may take advantage of portable potty chairs for added convenience.  The are usually similar to folding camp stools or camp chairs that can be fitted with plastic bags to collect the waste for proper disposal.  What can you do if you don't have soap and water to wash with?   Bring along some hand sanitizer if you can.  It is inexpensive and comes in various sizes, including "travel" sizes that are suitable for pack, purse, or pocket.  I also suggest you explore the options that may be available in nature, especially to prepare for a survival situation.  For example, sagebrush has anti-bacterial properties.  Rub your hands with sage brush leaves or "wash" them in smoke from a sagebrush fire.  The smoke won't remove dirt and grime but it will kill bacteria.

During a disaster or emergency situation at home normal utilities may be out for several days or more.  It may be possible to continue to use your residential toilet (as long as the sewer system is still in tact) by manually filling the toilet tank.  You don't need potable water to fill the toilet tank.  Save that for drinking!  Even muddy or contaminated water from streams or lakes will do.  By the way, this only works for gravity feed toilets.  You need good water pressure to operate below-grade toilets you find in some basements.  Lacking sufficient water to operate your toilet,  you'll have to make other arrangements like you might use for tent camping or in survival mode.  Some home survival kits include a toilet seat that fits on a 5 gallon bucket fitted with a plastic bag to create a fairly comfortable and reasonably sanitary toilet.  Just make sure to tightly seal and properly stow or dispose of the plastic bags after using them.  This is probably a more desirable solution than trying to dig a latrine in your back yard.   If you live in a rural area where you have plenty of raw land available, a pit latrine may be an option, but I wouldn't recommend it for an urban or suburban environment.

With a little knowledge, care, and planning, you should be able to manage human wastes without creating an unreasonable bio-hazard, whether you're camping for recreation, in a survival situation, or weathering out a disaster at home.

No crap!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bug Out Vehicles

 Just what is a "bug out vehicle"?  The definition may differ depending on your strategy for dealing with emergency situations.  For some folks, who have ready access to stable roads, an RV may be a good bug out vehicle because it can be set up to contain everything you need for survival (food, shelter, water, first aid supplies, and sanitation facilities).  But if you live where roads may become impassable during an emergency you may need something else, perhaps a 4WD or other off road vehicle.  Your every day car might be used as a bug out vehicle if you don't have anything else available and the roads are useable.  In a rural area, you might even use a horse as your bug out "vehicle".

First of all, what does it mean to "bug out"?  "Bug out" is a popular term for abandoning your home in favor or a more viable location to survive a disaster.  Well prepared survivalists or "preppers" have usually pre-selected one or more possible destinations they could escape to if remaining at home were no longer safe.  In the most basic usage, you might "bug out" to a designated Red Cross or community emergency shelter, but is is usually used to describe traveling to a new personal safe haven for you and your family.  What kind of bug out vehicle you might need will depend entirely on what your bug out plans are.  If you're only going to be going to a local designated shelter, your family car or even a bicycle might be adequate, but if you have prepared a personal or family shelter in some remote location, you will need to consider a vehicle that is capable of getting you there even if roads are damaged or closed.

The purpose of a "bug out vehicle" is to give you a way to evacuate your home during some kind of emergency.  If you have survival plans than include escaping to a remote mountain cabin or a cave, you need to have a vehicle capable of carrying you, your family, and your supplies to reach your bug out location.  That may mean adding extra fuel tanks or gas cans if your bug out location is far from home.

You don't have to be heading to some secret, remote location for a bug out vehicle to be useful.  Even if you are only "bugging out" to to nearest Red Cross or other community relief shelter, having or own bug out vehicle can help you get there in relative comfort and with the supplies you need for your personal health, safety, and comfort.  Community shelters aren't likely to be stocked with your specific prescription medicines or any special dietary needs you or your family may have.  About all you can count on is having a roof over your head and basic protection from the elements.  If you're lucky you may get a cot or a least a blanket or two to sleep on.  We had to evacuate our home in a suburban community in southern California when a careless forklift operator knocked he valve off a large chlorine bulk storage tank.  We used our 28' Class A motorhome.  One of the approved shelters a few miles upwind of the chlorine gas cloud at a church we were familiar with.  We parked our motorhome in the church parking lot and had everything we needed to last out the time it took for the toxic cloud to dissipate.

What is the "ultimate bug out vehicle?"  You may see manufacturers make claims that they have the ultimate bug out vehicle, but as mentioned in the opening paragraph, the kind of vehicle you need will depend on where you live and where you need to or plan to bug out to.  Sure, it might be nice to have a $600,000 all-terrain expedition vehicle equipped with solar panels, elaborate water filtration systems, and a multi-fuel engine, but few of us could afford it and most most of us would never need it.  Only YOU can determine what kind of vehicle is right for you.  I live in a rural area.  In addition to my motorhome I have an 11 1/2' camper and 1-ton 4WD pickup, plus dirt bikes.  My first preference for evacuating my home should it be necessary, would be my motorhome.  Next would be my truck and camper, whose smaller size and 4WD would give me more places I could go.  If roads were impassable, I could go lots of places with my dirt bike, with my bug-out bag on my back.  If you live near a navigable lake or stream (or think you'll be crossing same to reach your destination) you might want to include some kind of marine transportation like a foldable or inflatable boat or raft or even a simple canoe.  I knew a gut who kept small airplane at a private airfield in the Los Angeles area in case he couldn't get out of town any other way.  That was in addition to a 4WD Landcruiser and some OHVs.

Do an Internet search for "bug out vehicle" and you'll get tons of results ranging from a 10 wheel, all wheel drive behemoth RV to tricked out Jeeps and various tracked vehicles.   If nothing else, just looking at them is entertaining!

Bug out and be safe!