Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

Graywolfsurvival SHTF vehicle part1: The search

Ultimate SHTF vehicle buildSo what vehicle would be not only the best SHTF vehicle but also affordable by the normal working person in the US? I’m going to buy a vehicle that satisfies what I need and then go through some of the improvements I make to it so I can give you some ideas of where to start and where to go with your vehicles.

What I’m looking at doing now is coming up with a vehicle that meets the following conditions:

  • Under $10,000
  • Cheap to maintain
  • Very good off road
  • Can sleep 2 inside comfortably
  • Decent gas mileage/range
  • Discreet enough that it wouldn’t be noticed as a SHTF vehicle

Under $10,ooo

What would be optimal is if I could do the whole build for under $10,000. What I’ll settle for is something that I can buy, and make reliable, for under $10,000. I live in the Phoenix area so that’s most likely where I’ll be buying it but might go farther if the added cost of getting it would be worth it.

Cheap to maintain

I was first thinking that this category was going to be ‘Very reliable’ but after thinking it over (and some of the helpful comments on my facebook page when I first posed the question at this facebook post), I may reconsider if given the right vehicle at the right price.

Very good off road

The thing has to be able to handle off road 4×4 life like it was born to it. I plan on doing a lot of camping with the thing and in a SHTF scenario, the last thing I want to do is leave it behind halfway through my bugout route. And I want my bugout route to include places that mortal vehicles won’t go.

Can sleep 2 inside comfortably

What I’d like to be able to do with this vehicle is jump into it at a moment’s noticed with a ‘friend’ and drive up to some remote location to camp without having to sleep in a tent. I may still bring a tent but if the weather gets really bad, I’d like to be able to stay in the vehicle without having to suffer.

Decent gas mileage/range

A diesel would be optimal for a lot of reasons, but I don’t know of many vehicles in the US that would fit my requirements. That being considered, I need something that I’m not going to have to spend a fortune driving and wouldn’t have to keep looking for fuel if SHTF.

Discreet enough that it wouldn’t be noticed as a SHTF vehicle

The biggest diversion from my previous thinking about vehicles is being noticed. I was at first looking to build the most capable vehicle that would carry everything I needed. I now see that I forgot that ‘capable’ includes not only an urban situation after SHTF but also normal everyday life before SHTF. I don’t want people to know my capabilities in any other part of my life, why would I want my truck to scream them out like they do with my F350 Beast?

Current thinking

A Toyota Sequoia seems to fit some of those points on the surface, but due to the ‘luxury’ aspect, I have to used up almost all the $10k just to get my hands on one (I’m in AZ). It’s not off the table though.

I’m looking for something that will get me pretty much wherever I need to go and not look like it will. I’ll be adding several aftermarket upgrades.

What I haven’t settled down on yet is the ease of repair vs reliability factor. A 1990 Ford Bronco is very easy to fix and the parts are everywhere but it’s not even in the same ballpark as a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser. On the other hand, good luck finding parts for a LC if SHTF. I may end up getting something less reliable that is easier to fix if that makes more sense.

I first thought a truck with a camper would be the solution (which is why I have the trucks), but I don’t like having to crawl through the sliding window to get to the rest of the truck. Plus, Fords are pretty good offroad but they aren’t the most reliable vehicles. Not the worst either, but not what I’m looking for.

Now that being said, a Ford Bronco or Chevy Blazer in the right year might not be as reliable but they’re definitely easier to fix and parts are everywhere. Unfortunately, they only come in two sizes: tiny and goddam huge. The little ones won’t work so they’re not in play. The bigger ones do have their draw though.

EMP-proofing is definitely a consideration, but unfortunately a pre-electronic vehicle isn’t very reliable usually. I’d probably just adapt a vehicle as best as I can and add redundancy with electronics that are in a faraday cage as a backup. If you happen to know of an EMP-proof vehicle that honestly fits all the requirements, feel free to suggest it but just commenting that a 1969 Bronco is the best because it can withstand an EMP isn’t helpful because it doesn’t consider the main requirements I’ve listed.

Contact me

So, if you happen to have a vehicle in the Phoenix, AZ area (or enough of a deal that it would be worth the travel), email me at graywolfsurvival at gmail dotcom or through my Facebook or Google+ pages.

If you happen to have some ideas, please comment below or at my facebook post on the topic. I’ve seen these kind of requests before, so comments such as ‘I’ll just go with what I can carry’ or ‘The best SHTF vehicle is a horse’ are completely unhelpful and are probably just going to be erased. They don’t satisfy the requirements above and just prove you’re an idiot for posting them.

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Colin McCarthy says

    Idea of being able to sleep inside it is a great one. We’ve a Chevy Equinox and I think that will just have to be my SHTF vehicle as I can’t afford another vehicle.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      A big lesson about prepping is exactly what you said. You have to deal with whatever situation you’re in. There isn’t any ‘best’ vehicle for all situations so anything you have is a compromise anyway. The best thing is to break down the pros/cons of what you have and make adjustments maximizing what the good points are and compensating for the bad points.

  2. John Foley says

    actually any pre 1974 chevy ford or dodge vechile with 4 wheel drive would be the better solution for several reasons one the parts you would have to stock to replace after an emp could run you into several thousand dollars on the newer trucks where as stocking points and condensors several sets for pre 1974 vechiles would probably cost you less than 100 dollars the pre 1974 vechiles are much easier to work on parts are almost always available in at least a junk yard stocking an extra alternator and waterpump and fuelpump might cost you a couple hundred bucks being a mechanic from way back i remember guys fixing thier own cars and i still do so i would much prefer the older to the newer vechiles some of the newer cars have several computers on them even todays diesels have several computers the newer might be more reliable in a everyday situation the older ones will be more reliable after the shift and remember if you get a v8 youll be able to steal sorry appropriate the parts off the newer cars the next thing to worry about would be protecting it from an emp you would need to basically put it in a large faraday cage for the truck because of all the computers by the way i like your comment about idiots at the end

    • graywolfsurvival says

      lol. Crazy but I had people posting about horses being the best bugout vehicle, just as I said they would. It’s like people only care about proving that what they chose is the best choice, no matter what the situation. Totally impractical in an urban environment and provide zero protection from the elements.

  3. John Foley says

    another thoght you could go with a pickup truck with the new tents that fit in the bed it would be more than comfortable for two inside the bed oh bye the way thank you for your service from one vet to another a vechile to consider is the old international scout no matter how hard i beat on mine you couldnt kill it 4 wheeling or open road

    • graywolfsurvival says

      I have two 4×4 pickup trucks already but they’re not gonna do what I want them to do. I’d also like more protection than a tent. I’ll be keeping a tent in the vehicle anyway but if there’s really bad weather, I don’t want to be stuck in a tent. I had a scout before and did a lot of looking. They aren’t very reliable vehicles compared to most others but they’re killer off road when they’re running. Thanks for your service bro.

  4. A good option would a some type of SUV. A ford or a chevy maybe. They have acceptable gas mileage and are pretty good with offroad, just make sure to get the 4×4 version. Those second hand ones from the 90’s or 80’s have to be pretty cheap, and best part is you can find parts everywhere. There is big enough space for 8, so two aint a problem. Plus, you can use the extra space to store your survival equipment/supplies. A pickup might look like a good choice but actually is a terrible one. Putting all your stuff in the back is a good way for letting people steal your stuff without you even knowing it while you are asleep at night. Plus when in a bad situation like being shot at or being chased by some animal, you cant get your supplies without getting injured or killed. So best stick with some sort of suv. Or you can opt for a crossover of some sort. It’s better to have a longer lasting reliable car rather than one that has more common parts but with less reliability since lets face it, in a shtf situation you’re not going to find a lot of spare parts lying all over the area, cause one shits going down, everyone will be scavenging for supplies just like you, so dont get your hopes up about extra parts. You could try your luck with a landcruiser or a pajero, they are both good offroad and onroad ; reliable too. They are pretty common so maybe finding spares wont be too much of a hassle. Just remember to get some spares on hand before things go south.

  5. 1980’s toyota pickup with 22r engine ($1000 – $6000) Camper shell of craigslist ($100 – $500)

    Regardless of your vehicle keep extra everything and get a good die set to make your own bolts from the ones you can find. Grab at least 1 roll of gasket sheet. Use the synthetic 15k mile oil (insert brand) and keep at least 1 change worth with you. look into cans of 4 cycle fuel.

  6. asian redneck says

    Just tossing this out there national highway and safety did a study on emp effects on vehicles, most vehicles would shut off but could be restarted with just the turn of the key.I know I’m posposting late as you already have a jeep grand Cherokee, but food for thought to others who read this.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      I’ve seen several studies on EMP, including the one you’re talking about. Unfortunately they didn’t get a chance to do a full-on test that would reflect real-life so there isn’t good empirical data on it but that’s what I’m going on until I see something better. EMP is a concern but it’s not my primary concern at this point. That’s why I opted to go with a better performing and more reliable vehicle instead of an older pre-electronic one.

  7. Mark Schmidt says

    Im thinking an older Jeep Cherokee. The parts are everywhere and the vehicles are cheap. Also there are tons of accessories and upgrades on the aftermarket. 2 can sleep comfortably in the back with the seats folded down, they are cheap to lift and get about 18-20 mpg for the 6 cyl. 4 cyl and even a few rare diesel versions are out there for cheap. They handle great off road, and on the road. And because they are so popular and small they fit in everywhere. Ohh, and phone books fit easily in the doors for a quick cheap bullet resistant solution. Mine has over 180K on it but i have seen many out there running into the 250-300k mile range, so reliability is there.

  8. Although I love it there, PHX is probably not the best SHTF city. Not only is it too big, you’ll have mass exodus if you lose electrical power…especially in the summer. I’m in ABQ now…and the weather is fairly tolerable, year round. Plus, there is a lot of open area around the state. Not as much water as I’d like, tho.

  9. A non-electronic dodge cummins truck (pre-1994), reliable, gas isnt great but its workable, and can offroad like a beast

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