EMP proofing a brand new car can be extremely costly, this is why my personal recommendation to you is to use older vehicles which are mostly EMP proof and extremely durable.
The best bug out vehicles for EMP are the following, Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle, Dune buggy, Dirt bikes, 76 GMC, American Motors Spirit, Chevrolet Chevette, International Harvest Scout 2, Ford Bronco, Land Rover, Chevy K5 Blazer, Toyota 4Runner, Dodge Ramcharger, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Suzuki Samurai, Lada, Dacia, Fiat Uno, Yugo, Volkswagen, and the Trabant. On the other hand, you can always use a bike, a boat or even a horse, which all are 100% EMP proof.
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In today’s world, we are dependent on modern electronics, without it we would be back in the stone age. Relying on technology is a two-edged sword, on one side it makes our lives much easier but on the other, it is one of our greatest weaknesses. You might think that having no electricity for a few days will not be a problem, but without electricity, water won’t flow from your tap, you won’t be able to buy water as without electricity everything will be closed.
An electromagnetic pulse or EMP can come from two sources, man-made and natural. Man-made is during a conflict situation where the enemy launches an EMP bomb or a Hydrogen bomb which will also have an EMP effect, altho the current political climate is fairly stable and an EMP attack is unlikely. EMP from natural sources comes from a solar flare, these are fairly common and usually low in intensity. You can find a lot of EMP proof vehicles for sale, but my recommendation is to stay away from newer vehicles as these are extremely expensive.
EMP’s can be either man-made or naturally occurring with solar flares, in my recent article How to protect yourself from solar flares ( Cheap & Easy ), I address both occurrences.
Although once in a while the solar flare can become as powerful to actually cause an EMP effect, the last time this happened was in the 1800s. Back in the 1800’s people were not relying on electricity and electricity was considered a novelty back then, but if a similar solar flare would hit today it could disrupt our entire way of life for years. Some people will actually make an EMP-proof garage, the problem with this is that you can never know when an EMP attack might happen and odds are that your car will not be in the garage.
While most preppers are interested in EMP proofing their vehicle but only a few look at the big picture. In the case of an EMP, not only your vehicle will be disabled but also the complex network which allows you to refuel your vehicle. What is the point in having an EMP-proof vehicle if after a few miles you run out of gas and there is no place where you can refuel it? In this case, in addition to food and water, you will need to stockpile fuel, enough to get you to your bug out location plus some extra gallons as you never know if you will need it.
Altho people when thinking of a bug-out vehicle the first thing that comes in their minds is an EMP protected military vehicle or a Mad Max-style dirtbike. People tend to forget that we have a large variety when it comes to transport and not all of them will actually need an engine. Without an engine, there is no need to worry about an EMP stopping your vehicle. Altho not all vehicles are actually considered “vehicles” by some but these have been used for thousands of years for transport and they have 0 chance of being affected by an EMP.
Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (CUCV)
This is a utility cargo vehicle purchased and used by the US military, it is produced by Chevrolet and comes in various models but the most common one is the M1109. These have a 6.2-liter diesel engine and 4 wheel drive, do note that these are almost 50-year-old cars but they also cheap and easily maintained with cheap parts. These have been used by the US military in different environments, try to get one specialized in your local environment as these are also prooved and tested for it.
An added benefit is most of these have some sort of camouflage already. Although these are very reliable vehicles try to keep an eye if it is rusty, as these cars are old you will find some rust but ask yourself if it is fixable. This is an excellent emp hardened vehicle, especially if you can get one that has been used by the military.
These are mostly lightweight and fast vehicles, altho not all of them are equipped with diesel engines which I highly recommend. Usually, these are one or two-seaters and can not carry a lot of supplies. But if you need a good reliable vehicle which is mostly mechanical except the spark plugs, this is an excellent choice. If you like cr related projects these are fairly easy to make and you can find online several starter kits. What is grate about a dune buggy is that you can easily convert it to an armored bug-out vehicle.
Most modern dirt bikes have a lot of in-built electrical components and sensors, some even have onboard computers. Your best option, in this case, is to go for a pre-1990 manufactured dirtbike which runs on diesel. These are usually powerful and can carry a moderate amount of weight, as these are made mostly for off-road driving you will not have problems such as getting stuck in the mud as you might do with cars. Getting an emp proof motorcycle, isn’t that difficult as long as you are searching for older models of dirt bikes.
With a big V8 engine, manual transmission and 4 wheels drive this is an excellent bug-out vehicle. It has no electronic devices which the engine uses and this makes it EMP proof. This vehicle has been mass-produced and prices are low. Another big benefit for the 76 GMC is that it actually has 2 fuel tanks, meaning you can carry a lot more fuel than with your average 4wd.
American Motors Spirit
This car came out of the factory with a Ziebart Factory Rust Protection which guaranteed no rust for around 5 years. Altho as it is a 50-year car this warranty is no longer valid but you will find that in most cases these cars have very little rust. In addition to that, it has a larger than average trunk space, most of them are equipped with manual transmission and you can find some with diesel engines also.
This was one of the cheapest mass-produced cars in the USA, altho it lacks power with around 70 HP it makes it up with being cheap as dirt. These come with manual transmissions altho it might become harder to find a diesel-powered one.
International Harvest Scout 2
I am recommending the IHS 2 as the original one has a collector value and it will be more expensive the more time passes. The original one is one of the most popular mass-produced SUVs, manual transmission, 4wd and extremely reliable, I highly recommend it as a bug-out vehicle in any SHTF scenario.
This was created as a family SUV, comes with a powerful V8 engine and manual shift. It also has great off-road capabilities and spare parts are quite easy to find. One of the downsides of the Ford Bronco is that you will find it difficult to get one with a diesel engine which is in reasonable shape.
These were used as a military vehicle by the UK army, they were produced as “recently” like the 1990s. What stands out with this vehicle is that the UK military had these made specially to be able to survive an EMP, meaning they come with a diesel engine and 0 electrical devices. As with all military vehicles these were worn and torn through the years and you will have to search a lot for one in a good shape.
One of the major downsides is their right-hand wheel which could be a problem for some people, but you can find Land Rovers with a left-hand wheel for a little bit extra.
Chevy K5 Blazer
The Chevy K5 Blazer model was produced from 1969 to 1991, it has a manual transmission and no electrical devices needed for the engine to work. The most sold units were in 1972 and if you are searching for one right now you probably find one from that year. PS: it also comes with a diesel-powered variant.
This is a Japanese manufactured car starting from 1983 till the present day, we are talking now of the 1983-1987 model. This is one of the more unusual models as you can take off the top revealing a second roll bar. As all SUV’s it has a high center of gravity which means you can roll over in a tight corner, altho the SR5 variant had an altimeter and a tip-o-meter. You can also roll down the back window adding extra ways to store your supplies. This vehicle is so robust that you can also use it as an emp proof tractor.
It comes with a shift stick, 4 wd and there are diesel-powered ones also.
First-generation produced from 74-80. while the second generation 81-94, all other produced more recent than 94 I do not recommend as they have onboard electronics. Models after 85 had a 4 wd system which could switch in and out of 4×4 at 50 mph. Altho there are very reliable vehicles but do not go with the ones using the automatic transmission system as they will be disabled by an EMP.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer
This is a one of a kind full-sized SUV as it is the only one being equipped with wood panels. The benefit of these wood panels is that you can make a small rack and place some of your supplies, do not forget to tie them up as best as you can. This SUV was produced between 1963-1991, a very sturdy vehicle, no electronic components for the engine to work, manual shift and comes with diesel engines also.
Usually, this model has 4 doors but you might come across some that only have 2 doors, only go for one with 2 doors if it is in an exceptional state. As for packing and unloading the 2 door variant will be extremely time-consuming.
This is the smallest SUV on this list but I just couldn’t ignore it, while it is small it consumes very fuel-efficient. Although this is a Japanese manufactured vehicle you will have no problem finding these in the US, the same is true for spare parts. This is an ideal bug out car for one or two persons, so if you have a family you can cross this off your list. It comes with a 4×4 drive, manual transmission but you will find it hard getting one with a diesel engine.
You might be laughing saying a horse is not a vehicle, I beg to differ, horses have been used for thousands of years as a pack animal. In the case of an EMP, you will not have to worry about not being able to use your horse, all it needs is food, water and rest. Altho I do not recommend using a horse for bugging out in an arid environment as horses need a lot of water and if you are not able to find any you will be forced to abandon your horse and carry all your supplies.
Even today horses are very popular among law enforcement agencies and rescue agencies, as they have the ability to access areas where your average vehicle with an engine can not.
Horses are very powerful creatures, they can carry a lot of supplies but horses are only viable as a bug-out vehicle in rural places as you probably do not own a horse if you are living in the city. Another major problem is riding a horse is an actual skill which you have to learn.
The only reason why I listed a horse on my best bug out vehicle in case of an EMP list is because it is the only “vehicle” which is unaffected by an EMP and does not require your physical force to be able to travel.
Bicycles are one of my favorite ways of transport, you can avoid most of the traffic jams, has the ability to go off-road, easy to maintain and it is 100% EMP proof. You can also add a bike trailer, this way you can carry a lot more supplies. A bike is a fast way to get out of a populated city especially if you are an avid biker. The skill of being able to ride a bicycle is relatively low and with some practice, you will gain enough endurance to be able to bike for miles.
An added benefit for using a bicycle is that you can use it as a plan B if for any reason your bug out car breaks down you can use your bicycle to continue to your bug out journey. Bikes are fairly common and in the case of a major SHTF event, you will not have any problems finding one.
Oddly enough few people ever consider using a boat as a bug-out vehicle, provided that the boat or raft does not have an engine it is 100% EMP proof. Altho using a boat for bugging out is highly situational, but if you are one of the lucky ones which own a boat you will find it an extremely good bug-out vehicle. Sail or paddle boats will work fine in the case of an emp and if you are located on a river and you are traveling downstream then you sit back and relax as the stream will do all the work for you.
Cars built in former Communist countries
All cars built in former communist countries are very reliable and fuel-efficient. These cars have a manual transmission and have almost no electrical devices in them, not even radio as this was considered a major luxury at that time. One of the great benefits of these cars is that they are extremely easy to repair and most often people do not even change parts but improvise with them, although I do not recommend these to be used as a day to day car these are still valid bug-out vehicles, especially against an EMP.
You will find that some of these have few metal parts and some even use wood for their frame, do not worry about having the cars wood pieces to rot as even to this day most of them are rot free. However, these cars tend to have a lot of rust, by that I mean it is not unusual to find a hole in the floorboard or on the ceiling of the car. During the communist era everything was rationed, form food to electricity and even fuel, this is why these communist-era cars are very fuel-efficient.
One main issue with these cars is that they are extremely small compared to US-produced cars and you will not find 4×4 wd on most of them.
Do note that these cars have not been built for any kind of comfort, most owners consider them carriages with engines or even worse a 4 wheeled coffin.
This was built by the USSR, it had to have very low fuel consumption and to withstand punishing winter conditions, although it will work in a freezing condition you might freeze to death in it.
Built-in Romania during the communist leadership, this is not one of the best as it tends to break down a lot. If you know somebody who owns a pre-1990 Dacia mainly the 1300 model you probably know that for every week of driving it he spends at least a day to repair it. Although later models will have 4×4 wd the pre-1990 models are not 4×4 wd, on the brighter side it has low fuel consumption, comes with a diesel engine and a manual transmission.
As a side note, you don’t even need a key to start it as you can put a screwdriver in the keyhole and it will start without any problems
This is one of the smallest cars, produced in Italy and the pre-1990 model comes with manual transmission and most of them have diesel engines. The inside is even smaller than the Suzuki Samurai’s, and with only 2 doors this car is mainly suited for 1-2 persons. The trunk is also fairly small and installing a roof rack and putting your supplies there might let you pack more but its small engine will struggle a lot.
Produced in Yugoslavia and it is considered a Supermini, much like the pre-1990 Fiat Uno this also has only 2 doors, manual shift, and almost 0 electronic components. Although this is more or less the same as the Fiat Uno it has no problems starting and running during wintertime.
Although you might not think of Volkswagen as a car produced in a former communist country it actually was, as after ww2 the soviet union split Germany into half, with east and West Germany. Volkswagen was built both by the west and east, the eastern communist version came with manual transmission and most of them had a diesel engine. There were a lot of models built during this time from the Beetle to Polo and the larges one beeing the Passat.
These cars, even to this day are popular in former communist countries no matter on which continent you are.
This one is one of the oddest looking cars ever built, it has a metal frame and was almost entirely built from recycled materials. This was an unreliable car, owners often joking that the car couldn’t survive a 500-mile journey. Although this is an EMP-proof car its hardly even considered a car even for the 1980’s standards. The Trabant has a large following of vintage car lovers and if an EMP hits these might be one of the cars driving on the road unaffected, although by driving I mean pushing it as probably once you get out of your parking space something will break.
Protecting your vehicle from EMP
The latest generations of vehicles are filled with electronics and most of them have onboard computers, in the case of an EMP blast all electronic components in your vehicle will fry and your vehicle will not even start. If the vehicle is hit with an EMP while it is moving the vehicle will simply shut down and stop, and this is the last thing you want if you are bugging out. Simply put the more electronic devices are needed for your vehicle to function the odds of them being damaged in an EMP increase significantly. Most batteries will survive an EMP blast provided they are not hooked up to an electrical device if you want more info on how EMP effects batteries check out my article Does an EMP effect batteries? ( Can they survive? ).
There are several types of EMP-proof fabrics sold online, these work excellent provided that your vehicle is covered with it and the edges of the EMP-proof fabric actually touch the ground. You might notice a little flaw on the usability of such a fabric, as luck will determine if you are driving your vehicle or if it is safely parked and protected by the EMP fabric. In the case that you are driving your vehicle while the EMP hits then it is useless.
There are some vehicles that are coated with some special kind of material that makes them EMP-proof, but these are made for the military and cost a lot of money, for most preppers this is not an option and I will not even add such vehicles to the best emp bug-out vehicle list below.
The older the vehicle is the less reliant it is on electronic devices, it might still have electronic auxiliary devices such as a stereo but these devices are auxiliary which means they are not needed for the actual functioning of the vehicle. These vehicles do not have sensors that do not let you start the vehicle if the sensor detects a minor malfunction, but as we all know it in most cases the actual sensor is malfunctioning.
There are several benefits of having an older vehicle as an EMP bug-out vehicle, as these are older their cost is small compared to the new models. Maintenance is easy as these vehicles were made to last, not like modern vehicles which are made to be replaced after 5 years.
One of the downsides of these older vehicles is that in some cases you can not legally drive them as they are not considered “safe” for driving it today. In addition to this, you also need to keep an eye out how easy it is to get parts, for some old mass-produced vehicle parts will be easy to get but if you have a foreign vehicle which is 30 years old you might end up finding that parts are extremely rare and expensive.
One thing that people seem to forget in the case of older vehicles not relying on electronic devices is that these are combustion engines that need a spark if they are fueled by gasoline. These combustion sparks come from spark plugs that are electronic in nature and in the case of an EMP these will not function. You can avoid this problem by making a small EMP-proof box in which you store your back up spark plugs.
Things to consider before buying an EMP-proof vehicle
As in all things related to prepping you will need to do research on the topic. You need to take into consideration how far your vehicle needs to travel, how many supplies you can carry with it and most importantly if something breaks that you not only have spare parts but you also have the knowledge on how to repair it. In any EMP scenario, there will be mass panic and it will bring the worst out of people, especially from the ones that have no supplies, in this case, your first priority should be protecting yourself and your family, if you want more information on the subject check out my article on What is the best bug out gun? ( Top 29 Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles).
Diesel vs Gasoline engines
It is common knowledge that the more refined fuels have a shorter shelf life and usually highly refined fuels rely on an ever more complex infrastructure than less refined fuels like diesel. Diesel is synthetic gasoline and one of the major benefits of it is that you can make diesel from biodegradable matter like plants, which will make it biodiesel.
There will be situations where traveling on the road is not a viable solution, like in the case of an EMP most vehicles will stop working and they will create a massive traffic jam on the highways. There is no point I having your vehicle EMP poof if you are stuck in traffic and eventually you will have to abandon your vehicle. In this case, having the ability to travel off-road will be vital.
Your bug-out vehicle should be as easy to be maintained as possible, and in the case of a malfunction, you need to have some basic skills on how to repair it. You also will need to have extra components that could brake more often, in this case, you need to make sure that your vehicle of choice has easily accessible spare parts which are cheap. In addition to this, you will need some basic vehicle repair skills and an understanding of how the vehicle’s engine functions. If you understand how your vehicle’s engine functions it will be much easier to identify the problem and repair it.
The fuel tank is not the only part of a vehicle which dictates how far you can drive it. You should choose a vehicle with a towing capability where you can hook a small tank of fuel or one that has at least an overhead compartment where you can put the additional fuel. While stockpiling fuel you also need to keep in mind that no matter what your vehicle must be able to carry this extra fuel also.
In this case, a bug-out car will be able to carry much more fuel as a dirtbike, altho this also depends on the distance and road access of your bug out location.
Ease of concealment
Blending in is essential while bugging out if other unprepared people see your vehicle full of supplies they might target you. The problem with concealment as it is urban concealment is different from rural concealment. You might blend in easily with a white car in a city but in a more rural landscape it will stick out, in addition to this, a normal car reflects sunlight from miles away. This is why most military vehicles have a matt color.
If you need to conceal your car fast your best option is canned spray paint, my recommendation is to go with a matt black spray paint. Do not forget that your head and tail lights, mirrors and windows also reflect sunlight, in this case, you can use duct tape and newspaper to cover these up while you are parked.
Manual vs Automatic Transmission
This not even an argument in the case of an EMP your vehicle must be a manual transmission one. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission then it relies on electrical devices rather then mechanical devices to change the gear, and no matter how good you might think your bug out vehicle is it will not function if it has an automatic transmission in case of an EMP blast. Another big positive for the manual transmission is if your spark plug gets burned out or disabled by the emp that you can simply push your car in order to start it.
Usually, 4×4 drive vehicles meant for off-road driving have a winch, this will be useful if you get stuck in the mud. Even if your bug out vehicle is not made for off-road driving you should still install a winch on it as you never know when you might be forced to go off the road.
Some vehicles come equipped with a roof rack but not all, consider installing one and this way you will be able to carry a lot more supplies. The downside of this is that it breaks concealment as a car packed from top to bottom with supplies is easily noticeable, but in my opinion, having the ability to carry more supplies is more important than being concealed.
Making a presumption that at one point you will be forced to go off-road, have you ever tried going off-road for longer periods of time with road tires? You will need the adequate type of tires for the terrain on which you are traveling, even if your bug out plan only consists of driving on the road, you never know when you face a roadblock. In this case in addition to your supplies also back off-road tires.
When you have decided to purchase an EMP-proof bug-out vehicle keep in mind the following, it needs to be built before 1985, must have a diesel engine and have a manual transmission. Also, check how easy it is to get spare parts for it as these have not been built in almost 50 years. In addition to this always check for rust.