Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

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Which should I use for a BOV?

1: Camry
2
7%
2: Dakota
10
36%
3: Vanagon
2
7%
4: Upgraded truck (with recommendation)
4
14%
5: Upgraded Vanagon
8
29%
6: Something else I'll recommend
2
7%
 
Total votes: 28

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Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by BitterBeerFace » Sat May 03, 2014 6:50 pm

Currently, my fleet of vehicles is 3: Grey 2005 Camry, 1996 Dakota extended cab 4x4, 1980 Vanagon Westfalia camper

My main plan is to hunker down with preps, but if getting out of here became necessary, I'd like to take the "hmmm, which should I take?" decision out of a time-sensitive situation. I'm flying solo, so that eases some things and makes others worse.

The actual locations I'd consider bugging out to are between 30 and 250 miles away. That includes 4 locations I know I'd be welcome... if something bad enough happened that forced me on the road somewhere other than those, I guess it's "get as far away as humanly possible".

I'd have whatever fuel is in the vehicles' tanks, plus about 20 gallons in 5-gallon NATO cans, plus 1 or 2 gallons in 1-gallon lawnmower cans.

So, the way I see it, here's my choices:

Camry. The ultimate grey man vehicle. If someone's looking for "the guy in the grey camry", they might as well be looking for the "guy wearing a T-shirt". Highway range is about 450 miles on a single tank (close to 30mpg). Other main advantage could be speed if time was of the essence. Off-road ability, sleeping accommodation, and cargo hauling capacity all suck.
I've honestly never worked on this car and have nothing for parts. Also too new to be able to get cheap parts in junkyards. I'm thinking I wouldn't want to try to live out of a camry if things got bad, but who knows...

Dakota. (V6) Also very common. Highway range is 350-400 miles (around 18mpg). Speed is also good if necessary. Off-road ability is quite good, but it's stock, so it's not built for off-road. Sleeping accommodation could be ok with a bed built in back under the fiberglass topper, but that'd mean sleeping where the gas is stored. Cargo capacity is good, but if sleeping in the back, capacity is a lot lower than you'd think. (I've road tripped this way) While possible to shimmy from the back into the cab through the slider rear window, it's not easy.
North of 150K miles, so I'd want to do a bunch of wear replacements and gather some spares before feeling comfortable about it. Dakotas in this vintage are common in junk yards as well, so I could probably scrape up things I might need.

Vanagon. Not common, but there's a sub-culture of VW people, so I might find instant friends on the road. Highway range is 200-250 miles (around 18mpg). Speed is slow, has no problem at 70-75, but max isn't much more. It's fuel-injected, so not EMP resistant. Has surprisingly good clearance, so off-road is actually OK. Sleeping accommodation is excellent, also has self-containted cooking and refrigeration ability. Add a BBQ propane tank (which I have) and I could cook and cool food for months. Cargo capacity is also quite good, but with a bunch of NATO cans, I'd also be sleeping with the gas. (also would have an interior full of gas cans) Since everything is one large open space, I could get from the bed to driver's seat and be moving in a few seconds.
Engine is air-cooled, no power steering. The only fluid required is oil. I already stock spare parts, belts, etc. (having an issue on the road can mean waiting a few days for replacement parts in a good world, after SHTF, you'd never get parts) I'd consider the Vanagon to be my most prone to breakdowns (oldest), but I'm also perfectly comfortable hopping in it tonight and driving 300 miles.

So what do you think? Work on prepping just one? Or two? Which ones?
Last edited by BitterBeerFace on Sun May 04, 2014 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Coal-Cracker » Sat May 03, 2014 7:24 pm

Where do you live?

If you live in an urban or rural area would effect my decision. As well as what type of climate? Is snow part of the equation?

I live in a rural area with a lot of mountains/elevation changs and the roads are prone to washing out. Furthermore, there are seemingly endless dirt roads intersecting the paved roads. These dirt roads' condition range from something a small sedan (like a Camry) might be able to handle (weather permitting), to roads that you aren't traversing without good tires, a lift and maybe even lockers. These reasons have made me personally decide that the ability to go (reliably) offroad is important.

Even offroad conditions change with location. There is a big difference between wheeling the craggy rocks in PA, versus some of the smooth slickrock found in parts of the west.

You have to decide what works best for your locale. Maybe offroad ability needn't be a high priority for you. Though I doubt anyone will ever think in a SHTF, "I wish I didn't have so much versatility with where I can drive."
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Halfapint » Sat May 03, 2014 7:30 pm

Personally, I'm a gas saver BOV person. If things are really that bad that people are bugging out, then you better believe that gas lines are going to be crazy. I wouldn't count on getting any extra gas, perhaps trading other travelers but I wouldn't be caught dead in a line for gas. So in my opinion your Camry may sound like the best. If you're bugging out what doesn't fit in the trunk back seat probably isn't needed. You could also get a roof rack that will kill your MPG by around 5-10% for extra storage. You also have to account for loaded down car, they are going to burn gas faster in stop and go, and up hill travels. So saying 30mpg for the camry and loading it down with gear, supplies, guns and ammo is going to kill MPG as well. I would say with a roof rack, and loaded down car you're looking at 22mpg instead of your 30.

The Dakota with the v6 has more power, and is less effected by the weight (has more power availible) so you may actually get better mileage then the camry. Plus you wont have to be riding with your cans inside the vehicle. So the Dakota would be my bet with out knowing more about your cars.

If you are looking at a BOV I'd consider working on the engine, make them run flawlessly. If the Camry is newer I'd look at putting a Turbo on it if you want to go that route. A turbo (if you lay off it and just take it easy) can and will increase MPG and give you more power while staying in a higher gear going up hill or with a heavy load. Turboing a V6 requires a lot more parts, and is more expensive.


The one I would stay away from is the VW. They are awesome, but really lacking in the power department and as you pointed out guzzle gas. I would not make this a BOV


Don't know if I helped at all I just wanted to point out some other stuff to think about.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat May 03, 2014 11:08 pm

Dakota for me by a long shot, doesn't sound like the range takes a huge hit over the camry, and you could probably fit more gas cans in the back then in the trunk of the car. With the exta-cab you can fit a lot of gear in there with you even with the bed in the back. flying solo I think you could live a LONG time out of any of these, but the dakota seems to have the most options.

PS. you should post a poll with this thread :awesome:
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by ArmchairRacer » Sat May 03, 2014 11:41 pm

I'm going to be different an recommend the VW, it sounds like any of the 3 would get you to your furthest BOL, but what if there isn't space for you? Even if you're welcome they may be out of beds and VW would assure you a bed. It would also be the easiest to live out of long term if it came to that.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by BitterBeerFace » Sun May 04, 2014 3:07 am

I'm in the upper midwest. Flat corn/beans country. I live in a small metro of 60-70K and none of my routes would take me through a major metro area. 1 route would take me near a major military base, so that might be a target... not worried about nukes at that one spot, since this whole area will take a massive fallout hit from western bases in a nuclear exchange (if I'm not underground already, I'm dead). 2 locations would require me to cross the Mississippi (with primary path being a city close to 100k) , so no added clearance or anything will help with that if bridges are gone.

If I'm bugging out and have time to load stuff, I would be piling a good amount of weight into a vehicle. (I should plan this better!) Water, food, guns&ammo, tools... (I don't have anything pre-stocked at any of the locations, so if I don't bring it, I start to drain others' supplies) The capacity of the Dakota and Vanagon are actually similar, but the Camry could get loaded down fast!

The VW, in it's current state isn't really useful in winter. (no defrost, weak heat) So thinking of using that would almost require the Dakota in the mix for winter.

In reference to the Dakota, it used to be my daily driver, but it's been knocked down to utility vehicle usage recently. (since getting the camry) I've considered getting a bigger truck for more versatility in normal times. Still extended cab of some sort, 8' box if possible, 4x4 and towing capacity for car trailers--any recommendations for trucks that fit this bill that could be had inexpensively?
It doesn't look like fuel economy would go down much if I stepped up a size in trucks. (maybe like 18mpg to 14mpg)

The ultimate plan for the VW is to upgrade it to a complete subaru AWD system. 2.5L motor (would jump from 67hp to 170hp) and modified transmission (combined with vanagon syncro front diff/gear). That'd be a serious change in terms of winter and off-road capabilities, but it's also in the future. The mileage would actually probably go up to around 20-22mpg.

I don't see changing the Camry for anything for at least a few years. Maybe working on it some, but otherwise it's going to be my commuter car for a while.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sun May 04, 2014 5:13 am

Fully laden MPG differs quite a bit. Make sure that's factored in. The VW might get 18mpg normally, but will it get that when it's loaded down with everything on the route you've chosen under those conditions? Are you likely to be idling or moving at non-optimal speeds for periods of time? Are you throwing 600lb of people and basic kits in, or is it 3000lb of gear, food, water, fuel, and people going in there?
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Stercutus » Sun May 04, 2014 3:44 pm

I'd take all three. The truck can haul your gear and extra fuel and the VW would give you the living and food prep area. If you can only take two take the two mostly likely to make it and the two you can least afford to lose in whatever holocaust you are fleeing.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun May 04, 2014 6:28 pm

Blacksmith wrote:I'd take all three. The truck can haul your gear and extra fuel and the VW would give you the living and food prep area. If you can only take two take the two mostly likely to make it and the two you can least afford to lose in whatever holocaust you are fleeing.
are you imagining some tandem trailer action or did you miss the part about flying solo?

AWD vanagon would be seriously BA and a BOV contender if you can use enough subaru parts to make finding spares easy. I always wanted a Sychro but I didn't want something with parts that hard to find. I've heard to the Subaru motor swaps before but never an AWD swap, any links to people who have done it?
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by BitterBeerFace » Sun May 04, 2014 9:17 pm

Yep, need to be clear--at the moment, I'd be bugging out alone. When I have talked about things like this with local, like-minded friends, everyone thinks about going different directions (friends or family elsewhere). No one else is really stocking up for hunkering down, either.

The mileage numbers for Camry and Dakota are not heavily loaded. For the Vanagon, 18mpg is what I've averaged on several long road-trips. A good amount of supplies/stuff loaded in the van. I should identify what I'd be taking and do some real-life test loading the vehicles.

There is a big push in the Vanagon community to get full drive-train subaru swaps available. (would make subaru engines bigger than 2.2L legal for registering in California, for one. Would be generally awesome for two!)

There are 2WD subaru engine/transmission combos driving around now. The total AWD set up is a bit less mature. Some are using syncro front differentials, some are looking at re-using a subaru rear differential backwards.

http://www.subarugears.com/

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewto ... hlight=5mt

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewto ... hlight=5mt

But back to my vehicles--the suggestion of adding a turbo to my Camry makes very little sense to me. Why would I go to that trouble? I'm not concerned about horsepower/speed with it.
Upgrading engine/drivetrain of the Vanagon would greatly enhance it's abilities for regular use. (as would things like a solar array, enhanced battery bank, etc)
No comments about switching pickups to something bigger? I'd like to at least consider larger trucks that would be good for utility roles, as well as potential BOV.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Doryman » Sun May 04, 2014 11:30 pm

If I was bugging out, on my own, through farmland, I'd roll the dice with the Dakota. Even if it's stock, it's still got the ability to deal with bad roads better than the other two, and dirt roads might be an option where you're going. The Dakota would likely handle the extra weight better than the other two, and if you need a replacement part while in Farm Country, you're more likely to find an old Dakota than an abandoned Camry or Vanagon.

It won't be as comfy as the Vanagon, but you'll likely to be too exhausted to care.

On the new truck issue; unless you have a lot of extra cash lying around, I'd hold off. Keep the Camry as a daily driver, put the fuel savings into maintenance/upgrades on the Dakota (or other preps). Win/Win all around.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by ArmchairRacer » Mon May 05, 2014 6:24 pm

Vanagon with Subaru AWD would be completely BA and further makes me think that's what *I* would take.

As far was trading the Dakota for a fullsize pick up, any of the big three will work just fine and the combo you want should be available on the used market, buy as new as you can afford. I'm a Chevy guy, Dodge is the only one that had a half ton with a solid front axle after about the mid 80s so that's a consideration if you want to go offroad much.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by manowar1313 » Mon May 05, 2014 6:39 pm

I would prepare the Vanagon.

The Camry and Dakota would be good but like an everyday drivers are limited. You don't want to jump into your BOV and realize you've only got 1/2 tank of gas.

Alternatively I would use the Dakota with a nice on-road/off-road trailer. Something you can back right up to and be movin out.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by MaconCJ7 » Mon May 05, 2014 9:23 pm

Dakota. Light duty truck that can haul everything you, as a single guy, can own. Or need to own. Work the wording as needed. Sleeping in the cab isn't comfortable, but if it's for a couple of hours enroute, it's really not an issue. If you run into a collapse that a camperish thing would be more useful, the camperish thing won't be much use. Fuel and gear are your biggest concerns. Plan for your trip + 1/2, on just what you have. Dakota sports that with ease. Don't plan on bed sleeping, that's too much effort anyway. Sleep behind the wheel as you would on a real road trip with your bed fill with crap. Location might be different, but 250 miles is an easy day trip, and a really rough 2 day trip.

I'm saying this as a guy apt to tell you to go diesel. Plan for the Dakota.

Camry is cool. Shit for long range comfort or gear haul

Dakota is perfect. Range is well within what you should plan for. It can haul your gear. You can crash in the cab easily enough.

Vanagon sucks fuel. While comfortable, it sucks in every other aspect. Unless you make mods, extra fuel is in the same compartment as you. There is a certain cool factor to it, but nothing that would matter if you were bugging out after bugging in no longer mattered.


The Camry does have it's + points. A lot of them. But your plan is to bugout after bugin failed. The honest test is Camry vs Dakota. LT tires are better than tires for the Camry. Camry has a better unladden mpg than the Dakota, but the Dakota carries the weight better. If you can grab a BOV trailer, the Dakota is better prepped for it. Dakota can haul more, including extra fuel. NATO cans are nothing but heavier normal cans. Power to bugout ratio, Dakota wins everytime. If you were to be trying to slick through any downtown during any normal day, the Camry wins. You want to bugout after all else fails. Great plan, but take the truck.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by 88sport » Mon May 05, 2014 11:32 pm

First, let's me say that I am biased; here's my BOV:
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Secondly, let me give you a list of shit I want to do to it:

Cummins 4BT swap
Swap the offroad lights for an LED lightbar
31" AT tires
2 inch suspension lift achieved at the time of the engine swap with solid axles
31" or 33" General Grabber AT 2's all around
Possible swapping of lightbar for a cap and platform setup

So, let me start this part by saying I don't know where the 18mpg claim comes from. My '88 has the 239CI V6 with a 3 speed automatic and it's 4x4. I get like 13.5mpg usually and it is what the EPA used to say I was supposed to be getting. I don't expect to be getting very far with that kind of mileage especially with the fact that during a bugout you probably won't be driving the most efficiently considering obstacles in the road, going offroad to avoid said obstacles, being stuck in traffic with other people if you are in a mandatory evac zone, yadda yadda. I believe that Tater Raider has a calculation that basically equates to you needing about double the amount of fuel you would usually need to get to a place pre-bugout. So, with that said, I still think that the Dakota meets your needs the best. Here's why:

-Cargo capacity
-Offroad capability
-Power
-Generally not as easily bruised and beaten up like a car with plastic bumpers*

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Paladin1 » Tue May 06, 2014 9:26 pm

The Westfalia is really the only logical choice and you know you want to fix it up, don't you :D

While not my personal cup of tea (my BOV is a Land Cruiser) Westfalia's have a following for a reason. If you do indeed need to BO, it covers off on everything, carry capacity, off road ability, shelter, etc. Many people have used Westfalia's for extended expeditions so your needs are well within it's capabilities.

Getting it more capable for winter is any easy upgrade. Engine/drivetrain swaps can be done, but are huge projects. While they certainly could use more HP, I really don't think any loaded vehicle is going to be out running any "raiders" if that is what your thinking about when you express concern about it topping out at 75mph.

Not that I would discourage such a swap!
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by BitterBeerFace » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:56 pm

A quick update--did some work on the Dakota and it's the BOV for now. Decided to keep it. New tires and other maintenance done.

And of course I want to fix up the Vanagon! That'll be a longer project, but I'm good for now :mrgreen:

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Darkhunter » Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:38 pm

I'd go with the Dakota for all the reasons listed in this thread above me. I wish I had a Dakota actually. I have a Hyundai Elantra for the economic/"grey man" type deal to get to my BOL as I mostly have to travel through cities to get to mine. If you have the ability to get off road for a good portion I'd try getting a supped up Dakota (Or at least know the limits of the "off road abilities" of your vehicle.)

Dakota all the way.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by fred.greek » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:13 pm

Washington State “wilderness” location.

http://www.matrix.nwmls.com/Matrix/Publ ... 34750072#1

A friend has put his “bugout” location up for sale. He has been living in Japan for a long time, and I gather has decided to retire there.

Just putting this out for anyone who might be interested.

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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by thelight » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:30 pm

Something Different: Subaru Outback or Forester. If you're buying new, anyway. Used I'd go with the Vanagon Westfalia, Syncro. But I've always had a soft-spot for the pop-top camper-vans like that.
Regarding the Subarus: Very convenient, quite capable "off-road", can haul trailers, get good mileage, and as much ground clearance as an F-150 Stock. Also, if you look at the WRX/STI's, you've got a really capable rally vehicle.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by ineffableone » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:58 pm

Just a little point on the Westfalia MPG. You can achieve much better than 18 mpg. My 73 Squareback was getting 25-30 mpg fully loaded with all my possessions including a roof rack full going from AZ to OR. I was slow as hell on hills, and my stopping distance was none too good. But I got great gas mileage. This was due to a great VW mechanic in Mayer AZ who really knew how to tune VW's. He had his VW van running 35 MPG fully loaded with parts from CA to AZ.

Just figured you might want to know the MPG for a VW can be improved. I don't know enough myself to explain how. But if you really like that VW option, then it might be worth looking into.
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Re: Help me decide on what to use for a BOV

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:22 pm

My late vote is for the Camry, reliable as hell. Very good milage. Bugging out solo? Remove the back seat for a Mad Max Road warrior configuration and you will have plenty of room for your supplies. As far as lading, assume it seats five 150 pound adults. The three adults not sitting in your back seat represent 450 pounds of supplies. How much were you planning on taking with you?
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