Ideas for SHTF transporta​tion

This guest post is by M Dotson and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Alright, we’ve got our Bug Out Bag (BOB) filled with all the essentials of getting from here to there safely. Flashlights, food, bullets and fire makers are all stashed in their own special place in the hopes we never have to use them. We have publications, tools and weapons we want to bring with us. It’s all been calculated and planned down to the last ounce. We’ve drilled and practiced until its second nature to grab the BOB and jump into our predefined spot in the vehicle.

We ensure the primary vehicle maintains that certain level of gas to get you there. You have a seat for everyone and you have worked out where everything needs to be in case things get ugly. You know who’s driving and who’s shooting. The vehicle is maintained at a high state of readiness; few extraneous items are left in the vehicle in preparation for BOB’s and bodies.

So, what happens when all these carefully worked up plans goes to hell in a hand basket if you can’t start your vehicle? What happens when that EMP hits the vehicle and turns it into a 2.5 ton paperweight? Well, now is the time to ask that question and plan for the answer. It will probably involve walking.

I’ve noticed that kids today will stand and wait for a ride to keep from having to walk. I’ve had my own children give me that look when they were told to walk. I also got a different kind of look from their doting mother.

If cars and trucks are disabled due to an EMP, or series of them, we’ll have to find a different mode of transportation. Older vehicles that have points and condenser will still operate. The newer ones might not, depending on where they are and the strength of the EMP. Planes may fall from the sky.

I’m no expert on EMP’s, but the point of this is alternate transportation in the event your existing mode of internal combustion propulsion is suddenly removed from your control. The most obvious choice would be a form of a cycle; bicycle, tricycle and you can even get a quadcycle. The most common form would be the bicycle, and a pair of high quality walking/hiking shoes

During the Viet Nam conflict tons of supplies moved down the Ho Chi Min Trail on bicycles. The Vietnamese would sling a couple of hundred pounds of beans or bullets on a bike and walk it to where it needed to go. Sometimes they’d tie a bamboo stick to the handlebars so they could push and guide easily. After delivery, they’d simply ride the bikes back up north to get more supplies.

There are small, lightweight trailers one can attach to the back in order to tow. There is also a wide variety of attachments such as horns, bells and lights as well as baskets and saddlebags. One can usually find a beater bicycle for free. The tires will be flat and dry rotted, it’ll be rusty and the seat will be water-logged from sitting outside. But, for just a few dollars, far less than what a new bike would cost, a new seat and tires can be purchased. Squirt a little used motor oil on the chains and repack the bearings with grease.

Additionally, one of the vulcanizing inner tube patching kits would be a must to keep on the bike. sells the

Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit for $3.50. It also sells a decent manually operated tire pump sells for about $15.

It may not be the first choice to get where you’re going, but it will get you there eventually.

This contest will end on June 5 2012 – prizes include:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of   A total prize value of over $150.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I have thought about being ready for after an EMP and have a mt. bike I ride fairly regularly and also have an older enduro type 250 motorcycle stashed. But what about my riding lawn mower, cheaper model atv’s that run on a smaller motor, golf carts, tractors, etc etc??? I think my 10 year old riding mower would be emp proof it has no complicated electronics on it and I don’t have a gas golf cart but I could hook up my generator to the charger to my electric golf cart if it does not get fried. I think IF an EMP happens we will all be suprised what stops and what does not.

    • Just about every gasoline engine sold for the last 30 years or more (large/small, 2-stroke/4-stroke) has a CDI module to control the timing/spark plug firing. Sometimes it’s referred to as the “black box”.

      Like just about everything else, who knows how susceptible they’d be to EMP? Might be a good idea to have a spare in a faraday cage for anything you wouldn’t want to live without – chainsaw, log-splitter, outboard, generator, tractor, or whatever.

  2. Alternative transportation is surely going to become a game of wits for all of us in event of a bug out. Foot power, bike power, motorcycles and four wheelers/ATVs, from rafts to canoes to sailboats and houseboats, dogsleds or travois- we’ll be inventing methods that haven’t yet been thought of. Personally, I’m all for a canoe and bicycle as alternate methods of travel. (And I have a repair kit for the canoe, as would most back country travelers- which just goes to show ‘if it can happen, someone’s thought of a way around it’.)
    No matter the method we devise, we will need some method of maintaining its usefulness.
    On the tire repair kit, be sure to pack it in an air tight container or the glue tube will deteriorate in several months and totally evaporate in a year. Airless storage will keep it for a couple years at most.
    On tires: ‘new/fresh’ tires need some time to mature or they wear more rapidly- the same with vehicle tires. So buy a set or two now and hang them in a cool, dry place (out of sun) and let them age a year before using them and you’ll get more miles from them. The material does become more ‘slick’ doing this, so be more cautious when riding in rain or on wet surfaces.

  3. Excellent Idea. When I was a teenager I used to be really heavily involved in mountain biking. I still have the bike i used. Within a few hours, I can probably have that thing road ready again but change it so it’s not a competitive mountain bike. Remove the high maintenance front shocks and put the front fork back on. Put the gooseneck the right way so I’m not hunched over in racing posture, get a more comfortable seat, grease the gears and pump up the tires and I have a much more comfortable bike for the long ride.

    I know what I’m doing this weekend!

  4. JP in MT says:

    I was running through the Internet last night and came across a pop-up tent trailer for bikes. Sounds like a good idea for grid-down bug-out.

    Now if I can just remember where, I’ll post it.

  5. Never had a problem with my kids walking where they wanted to go and in their teen years, we had horses. It is my grandchildren that are too lazy to walk and expect us grandparents to get out and chauffeur them around while they text on their cellphones or listen to their Ipods. Breaks their hearts and they tell me how mean spirited and cruel I am to not ferry them wherever their hearts desire when they will not even help to carry the groceries in from the car. I guess I will be heard hearted for the rest of my life.

    • michael c says:

      Thats called “tough love” and I never knew a parent that did not have to use it.

    • Harold,
      It’s not just the kids. I’ve seen people loop the parking lot at the local ‘Y” several times, trying to get a parking spot close to the door to go in and do their workout. Never did understand that one.

  6. good point on the bike, each family member should have one. I invested in one and intend to add for each one and start a “biking family” walks and adventure. Thank you for this informative post.

  7. Like many what I know about EMP can be written on my pinkeye’s fingernail, in Large print. What I know about points and a condenser I got the hard way. If you’re counting on them working after an EMP I would carry at a minimum a spare condenser and a point file feeler guage. Spare points might not be a bad idea either. Getting these in and adjusted is almost a lost art, one worth studying while you have the leasure to get it wrong the first few times. Diodes on the alternator, and the bendex or solinoid on the starter might also be good spares for your Faraday cage. A two stroke motor is about as simple as they come, I hope to add one to my mountain bike soon. A spare carbon set up for alcohol and veggy oil are also in the plans.

    • Rich Muszynski says:

      greetings. some suggestions for your post. for points and condensers in the ignition. you can use a paper match book cover or outside of the book of matches to gap your new point set if no feeler gauge is available. the paper on a match book is close enough to get your points working. note also if your points get pitted or arced you can use the striker on the same book of matches to clean the points, just turn the engine to put the points on a flat on the lobs of the distributor and move the point movable point out so you can get the paper sand paper between them then release what ever you pried the points apart with and move the paper matchbook striker up and down and you will get the points contact surfaces nice and shiny. will allow even a burned out set of points to work long enough to get you to where you are going.,

  8. Great Idea I’ll also mention for about $50 you can get a small motor (gas) that will fit on a petal bike.
    As for me I made a faraday cage out of one side of my garage so my Harleys and 1 car are protected for EMP’s

    •’d you do that(if ya don’t mind my askin)? Harleys my baby!

  9. Mountain men always preferred Donkeys or Mules as they are sure footed and can forage , they also have much steadier nerves and dont spook easy . If you have to use a bicycle to get out of town , animal power may be a better choice once you do .

    • and you can always eat the animal if things get real bad

    • tommy2rs says:

      And if push comes to shove donkey’s, mules, horses, etc. are much more edible than bicycles.

    • Donkeys and mules are not stealth livestock, though.
      HEEEEEE HAAAAAAAW all day long. Just about as annoying as a rooster.

      • That and the other thing about animals is that its care would give the kids something to do and keep their mind on something other than the situation .

  10. michael c says:

    I used a bike until I was 26 because my mom did not have a car. I blame my good health on riding bicycles into my adult life and have a few always around – it is great exercise and does not damage the joints like running does.

    I would advise against mounting motors on bikes – if there is no gas then you have dead weight making the bike heavier. There won’t be gas long term so, plan for long term.

    I would advise getting a light for the bike. It will allow you to haul firewood at dusk and light your path should you get caught out after dark.

  11. When the

  12. When teh SHTF. bugging out may not be an option, as in cases the police will have major trunks of travel blocked. I don’t plan on out. I intend staying put and making the best of the situation where I am. I am not taking a chance on being caught in a traffic jam and having to hoofing it to somewhere else.
    Police road blocks usully occur during dire circumstances. So why the chance of getting caught in a traffic jam?

  13. Luckily we live super close to one of the Great Lakes. We have two mountain bikes all kitted out (just for normal breaks and blowouts) and a super light bike trailer for my kid. The trailer has a bunch of room in back and is currently holding all the pumps and patches and oil for the bikes. It could easily hold a pile of food and water and clothes if needed. Seeing’s how are plan is to ride to the lake in a GTFO scenario and hop in a boat (of reasonable size) EMP is not really an issue for us (as far as we can see). We have a boat in mind to purchase to have down on the slip for when the need comes. Until then it will be used for fishing and getting to know different parts of the lake and even sites to BUG-IN in the area (if the house is not a viable option, of course). We plan for the boat to be big enough to accommodate a fair sized motor if needed to head to Canada or the Atlantic. If the boat motor is toasted we plan for it to be big enough for me or wife to row. We so far have thought of these things as the best course of action to take with the least people traffic/contact and the most open options to have. Any suggestions or questions are appreciated.

    • Rich Muszynski says:

      greetings. some thoughts on your post. one. any boat motor will take one heck of a lot of fuel to get anywhere with. Sails are a much more reliable power source. you won’t run out of air. if you are handy with tools one of the old boat designs would be the ticket for you because they had to be streamlined because of being powered by oars or sail so do not require much power to move them. Have you read the book on rowing that came out some years ago? in it a man and a woman had built a 25 foot i believe it was, row boat that they rowed across the Pacific ocean with only their own muscle power for it. anyway most boats are not designed to be easy to move since they count on unlimited power from outboards to be available to move them. take almost any modern boat and take it out for a row, you will soon get the idea of how impractical rowing is in a modern boat. if one is available try rowing one of the old wooden designs made to be oar powered. world of difference in how much energy is needed to propel them. having one with a folding mast and a simple sail makes them even more independent of a outside power source. check old issues of The Mother Earth News, you will find plans for boats that we here in the NorthEast call Gunkhole boats. they are simple boats designed to be used for camping along shore out here in the Atlantic, simple in construction and with plans included to build your own. water ways are certainly going to be the least crowded avenues of transport in bad times.

      • I was actually thinking along the lines of an old boat like my grandfather used to take us out fishing in. It was seaworthy but we used it a lot inland as well. It was an old school wooden boat that was meant to be rown with an attachment for a small motor. It was about 20 feet long and once you got those oars dug in it would slip along very easily. Thanks for the heads up. I was not sure what they referred to them down here in the U.S. Back home we called them shallow drafted dories. Thanks again.

  14. Desert Fox says:

    In my younger days, (9-13) my family of five (3 girls) did not have a car at all so we walked to school and everywhere. We had two bikes, a large one for my dad and a small one for the girls. We used it mostly to go to the store to buy meat, milk and bread daily since we didn’t have refrigeration either. We did fine!

  15. Jarhead 03 says:

    I have four bikes, two are full size functional mountain bikes and two are folding bikes one a full size folder for the SUV and the other a bit smaller folder for the cars trunk. I have two trailers for the bikes in the eventof an EMP or when gas prices go up and I do my grocery shopping by bike. One trailer is a child carriage that anytime I pack something in it, everyone thinks its a kid so I get a little extra space onthe roads and for all they know I’m actually carrying groceries or my pack and other goodies. The other is a flat trailer with side and front drop in guards for camping, hunting and gathering fire wood. I could sleep on it if need be and I have transported a pig as well as heavy firewood and other gear.

    I have seen people mount small fuel powered engines designed for go carts, heavy duty weed eaters and so on so they don’t have to peddle or use it in conjunction.

  16. transport says:

    If you really want a great vehicle for bugging out then consider the Toyota land cruiser, or its equivelent in the Lexus lx 450 and lx 470. The both have great full time 4wd lots of room, older models can be bought if you are worried about emp. It is excellent at off roading, and was really well made for off roading at the factory. The frame is extremely heavy duty, the axles are super thick. If you ever see one then get down and look underneath it, you will be very impressed. These vehicles scream quality. Basically this vehicle is factory made to be run way out into the middle of nowhere and and make it out. The engineering that went into this vehicle is just incredible. Also numerous accessories can be bought for them, to make it better at off roading, such as arb bumbers, winches, tents that fold into a super small package on top, and then pop up into really nice sized tent on top of the vehicle, snorkel kits, lift kits etc.

    • axelsteve says:

      The Landcruiser is a great rig. I have nothing bad to say about them but the weight and cost.I have never owned one but I have worked at a toyota dealership for many years and can attest to how great they are.I would love to have a good fj 45 myself.

    • Always loved the original FJ Landcruiser. The only problem with them besides the price they are going for nowadays is that they were very susceptible to rust, especially the frame. Japan did not know about our harsh, salt filled winters when they started sending them over here.

    • A 1974 Landcruiser was my first new vehicle and it never let me down. I ran it for more than 25 years and nearly 300,000 miles, and then let it sit in one of my old barns with the intention of a rebuild. Seemed to never be enough time and money, so I eventually sold it to a local guy who the last I heard was still in process of getting it rebuilt. I’m originally from Western PA and between there, W. Va., and sounrthern Ohio I had this thing places so deep in the woods that there wasn’t even a logging road within 5 miles. Ran it across a creek at one point where I had water breaking over top of the hood. That vehicle never let me down, and I would whole heartedly recommend the older ones at least to anyone looking for such a vehicle. Not an electronic gadget on it, with a simple carbureted inline six. Actually, the only complaint I might have was that in 2 wheel high range, 4th gear, it pretty much topped out somewhere between 55-60 MPH downhill with a tail wind. On the other side however, in 4-wheel low range you could (and I did) pull stumps with it. Dang I miss that powder blue machine.

  17. Rich Muszynski says:

    greetings. here in Maine it is illegal to mount a motor on a bicycle unless it is so small that it cannot even move the bike with no one on it. any motor big enough to be useful here is considered a motorcycle once you convert to it. I checked on the ones offered on E Bay and they are too big to be used here. and i assume in other states as well.

  18. Rich Muszynski says:

    greetings. on using a bicycle for a transportation vehicle. note they have foam tubes that fit in the tire that are puncture proof and cannot go flat. you find them often at Wal Marts. have those installed in your tires and you don’t have to worry about flats. and the tires are useful for a much longer time since as the tire wears it gets thinner and more puncture prone if you have tube in it. with the foam you can ride the tire to completely worn out without flats. and another note. if you lube your bearings on a bike with some of the modern greases like Slick they will function much longer then they would with ordinary grease. another thing. racing or touring bikes would not be suitable for use as the Viets used them to transport things with. tires are to thin and the wheels to fragile. mountain bike would be much more suitable. and have stronger frames as well. and there is a book out printed some time ago on home made carts for bicycles. even how to make Mexican pick ups, which are 3 wheeled bicycles with a large container in the front for cargo. sort of like a oriental rickshaw. as a teen i had a route selling ice cream in the summer at the parks that had a refrigerated box on the front that i would put dry ice in to freeze the icecream products. same principle.

  19. Rich Muszynski says:

    greetings. still flapping my gums here. Check history books on world war 2 and you will find a lot of the German troops were issued with bicycles that they rode to try to keep up with the armored forces. and troops that weren’t issued bikes simply took them from the civilian population in passing during advances.

  20. SurvivorDan says:

    I recently went trekking in the White Mountains with my dog, Dag. As a young man, thirty+ years ago, I could hump for miles with 90 lbs of gear and another 20lbs of rifle and ammo. This is no longer the case especially at 8300+ feet in elevation or even down in the desert with the stifling heat. I could barely manage thirty-five lbs of pack and 12 lbs of weapons.
    As my Go-Bag alone weighs 65 lbs, I know I wouldn’t get too far on foot.
    I have been looking into getting several bikes and I like the suggestion to get old beaters and fix them up. Good article M.

  21. SurvivorDan says:

    I do have one Kawasaki ATV but I don’t know the effects of EMPs on it and there is always the problem of securing more gasoline. Peddle power seems a must have.

  22. SurvivorDan says:

    Once again MD’s warning comes to mind. Bug in if at all possible, gang.

  23. Kelekona says:

    I still recommend keeping a razor scooter around. They are excess weight once you leave the road, but they will let you maintain a light jogging pace without impact for as long as you can stand on one leg. (I’m in horrible physical shape and have to start walking after a mile to let my lungs rest.)

    My 50cc scooter should be okay after an EMP, except for the lights and the starter motor. (I can also kick-start it.) I wouldn’t want to take it out until I access how many people have similar transportation.

    Until things settle down, I think using a bicycle might put you into the same category as “smells too clean” or “looks too fed.” I’m going to plan on foot power and carts for a while.

  24. I’m hoping to get my 3 yr old Bernese Mt. dog trained to pull a cart. She still has so much puppy in her I can’t seem to get her interested in much but she’s big and strong, should be able to tug a cart fairly easy. Kinda’ wishing we had gone with a Newfie instead of the Bernese, but she’s family now so hopefully will have some luck getting her to settle in to her job soon. Keep you posted when things work out.

    • Buuurr in Ohio says:

      Bernese is a nice, family dog. A Newfoundland would have been better work-wise. They love it. I grew up in Newfoundland. I have seen many of them and despite them laying on wharfs in the summer they are quite a different dog in the woods. Great fun for pulling the kids on sleds across a frozen pond.

      I don’t know where you live but both dogs are pretty miserable in any weather over 20c celcius.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Oscar I spent a month trying to get my 4 yr old 90 lb (beefy) pit accustomed to toting a dog pack with 12 lb of water and dogfood. On our first trek in the mountains he was flagging after two miles. I had to harness his pack onto my pack. Maybe it was the altitude but I can’t get him to carry much. Maybe he’s just out-smarting me. Good luck with yours.

  25. Don’t forget an adult trike. Has a nice little storage area in back, is stable, and even if it’s not as nimble on tight trails, can still go off-road if you have the leg strength. Another thought is loading your bike up a la the Viet Cong. Lash a couple sturdy poles to the seat and handle bars and bungee your kit to the frames.

    My personal experience in this is modifying a kid’s scooter into a little narrow cargo hauler during my misspent youth back in the ’80s. 12 packs of beer are bulky and heavy, and when you don’t want “The Man” to bust your underage drinking fests, we’d decamp to the canyons above Salt Lake City. It took a little backyard engineering, but the gist of it was to affix a brace two twelve-packs high (flat) on the deck, so they can’t topple over, a mess of bungees to lash ’em down, and that was it. They came with a handbrake, were able to be pushed along very narrow paths, were very light, and you could carry four to six twelve packs up into the hills. Also, when coming down from the party zone, were very fun to ride at breakneck speeds down aforementioned trails…

  26. If my newer computer controlled truck is no longer an option, I’m a believer in the BOB = Bug Out Bike, with a bicycle trailer. There are single wheel and two wheel styles, I have the single wheel and that is easier to deal with going over dirt trails than a two wheeled version I sold. Both the bike (Specialized Rock Hopper) and IBEX trailer can fit in my truck with room to spare.

    I am of the mindset that if I must leave or Bug Out in a true SHTF collapse scenario I will not be planning on coming back. I really like my trailer, it will carry my entire NCB (Never Coming Back) pack, which also contains my GHB as a phased system, while I am peddling, and if I must abandon or hide the bike and walk, just put the pack on my back.

    I also have a facility on my way out of town, where I can ride the bike wearing my GHB to the facility and have the remainder of my NCB gear and trailer waiting for me once I am almost out of town… that would allow for getting a better feel for conditions and increased maneuverability through town side roads before getting loaded for the exodus. I have practiced a number of variations of routes, which also helps me get into better shape.

    As for baskets, you can strap two very versatile 5-gallon buckets on either side of a back rack for your “baskets” or saddlebags.

    My experience with the ‘run flat’s’ tires Zeus type were very hard riding and I would rather carry the extra repair lit and tubes than feel every rock for any long distance.

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