Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of a bug out trailer, it’s important to discuss a few things that will more than likely be brought up. Issues like the legitimacy of the idea, the probability of ever using it, how money could be better spent, what should be equipped and what shouldn’t, etc. There will be passionate folks on both sides of the fence who are adamant about their personal beliefs. This is a good thing.
However, for the sake of this article, let’s try to stay on track in terms of ideas, concepts, solutions, etc., wrapped around a bug out trailer. There’s no point arguing the probability of use or anything like that. To be honest, the odds are slim that anyone will ever need to bug out…much less use a bug out trailer in a “formal” capacity.
But, what if your trailer can be used for more things than just bugging out? What if it can pull double duty for camping, overlanding, hunting, or whatever else you can think of? Think of it in terms of a recreation item with a bonus of being able to be used for bugging out.
That’s the angle I would like to approach this topic. In full disclosure…that’s exactly what my “bug out trailer” is. It’s a trailer my family and I use recreationally with a side benefit of being ready for the apocalypse.
What is a bug out trailer?
We should probably start out by defining bugging out. In our related article, Bug Out Bag Essentials, we defined bugging out and it is probably good to revisit our definition here. Simply put, bugging out is the action of leaving the safety and security of your home on short notice due to an unexpected or emergent situation.
To set the stage for this article, we are talking about unexpected and sudden evacuations or departures with the hope you will get to return home after a short amount of time.
A bug out trailer or survival trailer is a trailer used as an extension of your bug out bag. It’s a storage unit on wheels.
Typically, a bug out trailer will carry extra supplies in the form of water, food, gear, tools, etc. Ideally, they are mobile, easy to maneuver, and lightweight. The ability to handle more than paved surfaces is a plus. Throw in a means of protection from the elements (a place to sleep) and you have further extended your capabilities.
However, there are pros and cons to everything. Let’s take a look at a few of the pluses and negatives surrounding a bugout trailer.
The good and the bad
The benefits I discuss below are based on what I would consider an appropriately set up trailer. Building or buying the wrong solution will negate a lot of these.
- Expanded cargo
- Having extra space for food, water, fuel, gear/equipment, tools, shelter, etc., is a huge benefit.
- Easy to tow
- If sized appropriately, a bug out trailer should be easy to tow. We can be our own worst enemy here if we think bigger is better.
- A compact size will typically equal lighter weight and increased mobility.
- Off-road capable
- We need to be mobile on as many different terrains as possible. Again, this is based on selecting something appropriate for the task. Picking the wrong trailer or setting it up wrong could also decrease your off-road capabilities.
- Increased sleeping capacity
- Having a bug out trailer can greatly expand your sleeping capacity. This could prove to be extremely helpful if you are traveling with a family with small kids.
- Off the ground
- When I say off the ground, I’m referencing the use of a rooftop tent as part of the solution. I know most won’t have this, but it’s what I utilize so I’m listing it.
- The added capacity and space allows you to be able to pack a few more creature comforts. This could translate into better bedding, sleeping pads, shelter, etc.
Now that a few of the pros are out of the way, let’s discuss some of the cons. For these, I took a look at my trailer and noted what I saw as deficiencies.
- Highly visible
- There is no doubt you will draw attention if there is ever a scenario where you would be using this to bug out.
- Susceptible to inclement weather
- Any time you are staying mobile, your shelter and provisions will be less than ideal. Weather can be a bear to deal with.
- Not very secure
- Securing the contents of your trailer can sometimes be problematic. Even worse if you disconnect and leave it for any amount of time.
- Small interior space
- This can be both a pro and a con. If you have a small, mobile unit, you are going to be limited on space. However, this can also prevent you from packing crap you don’t need.
- Not a long-term option
- This is not a long term solution. Ideally, this trailer would be utilized as a bridge from where you are to a more permanent solution.
What are the basics a bugout trailer needs to include? It varies greatly and is very subjective; however, here are a few things you may want to consider packing:
- Means to cook
- Power source
- Medical/First aid
- Solar panels
My bug out trailer
My trailer was built using a military Jeep trailer, M416, as the base. I like the simplistic, beefy design, as well as the compact size. I also bought it for a good price, which helped free up some money for other “things”.
Let’s look at a few of the specs.
- M416 trailer
- Extended tongue with lunette ring
- Spring over axle “lift”
- Tailgate for easy access
- 2” receiver on rear bumper
- 31X10.50 tires
- Underbody spare tire
- Weatherproof locking box
- 100 amp marine battery with charger
- Tongue box
- Elevated rack over the tub
- Cascadia Vehicle Tents (CVT) Mount Denali rooftop tent
- Side tables
- L-track tie-down rails
- (2) 40mm ammo cans for storage
- 11-pound propane tank
- Hi-Lift Jack
As I stated up above, my trailer is used primarily for outdoor recreation. That’s what it was built for and that’s how we use it. I will get into all the details of its recreational use in another post.
However, I do believe it could pull double duty as a bug out solution if needed. Even though, for the specific purpose of bugging out it may not be the best. Something like a small cargo trailer, if built out properly, would probably be a better solution. Again, mine is not built specifically for bugging out and I’m okay with that.
What are your thoughts?