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How to Prepare Your Off-Road Rig for the Zombie Apocalypse

Admit it: you’ve tried this thought exercise: “What do I need to do if I need to get out of Dodge?” An exodus for the rest of us? Off-Road.com is here to help you flee when society goes dodo (and let’s hope it remains a thought exercise).

Where do I begin? Let’s consider what you’ll be confronted with: a quick vehicular exit from a crumbling urban metroplex, with gear and provisions to last the time it takes to settle wherever you’re headed. That means:

1. Transportation that can get you out.

2. The provisions you need to survive in that vehicle for as long as it takes to get to where you’re planning to wind up, and to keep that vehicle going.

3.The plan for where you’re winding up.

Factory-based anti-breach and urban-extraction vehicles take many forms. This tornado-adapted Super Duty-based armored wagon would be functionally suited for a zombie-style apocalypse, but it would be difficult to maneuver and draw too much attention in less drastic settings.

While you’ll need to figure out your #3 on your own (see you in Utah), Off-Road.com has asked me – legitimate zombie-escape/retaliation specialist and host of Hank Watson’s Garage Hour (GarageHour.com) – to peel back a few layers of #1: what you’ll do with your vehicle to make it escape-effective, and #2: what needs to be in it to win it.

Urban realities fuel necessity. Though hard to park and lacking turn signals, the home-fab narco battlewagon would be effective in situations requiring capacity and road-clearing power. The LA-bred commuter assault sedan, while capable offensively and fashionably accoutered, might prove uncomfortable when trundling longer distances.

It’s not as if you need to stretch nowadays to imagine circumstances that might drive each of us out of a crumbling suburbia. If it’s not zombies cresting the hill intent on eating everyone willing to pay four bucks for a cup of coffee (“Brains?”), it could be something akin to a “low-information” apocalypse of web-addled Twittering mobs of the mindless (“Today the mall, tomorrow the world!”), the re-Soviet Russians pulling a Red Dawn, or Islamist extremists looking to peg every Geiger counter in your hometown. So, take this story with a grain of salt, but don’t kid yourself: fleeing the crudulation of urban society is a little real for a lot of people. Also, remember: a sense of irony and humor are essential to survival, despite the fact that both are trying to kill you. If you’re such a dummy that you get the Homer Simpson cantaloupe treatment from zombies, you’re not going to last long when death gets smart.

Factory choices like a 440-powered pickup (or a the marginally modified diesel four-by) will serve a fleeing cadre well. All vehicles have compromises, however: would you take the simplicity and rebel charm of the Lil’ Red Wagon, beset with two-wheel drive and only one bench seat, or the harder-to-repair diesel of the four-by crew-cab 2500?

Rules for the Road: What’s Makes a Vehicle Escape?
You may think you’re ready, but are you applying practical rules of apocalypse escape logic? Here are a few that can quickly focus you on what’s a “need” and what’s overboard:

Multi-road and surface capability: A car can go on the road, but a truck can go on-road and off. Something with big ground clearance can also clear big things on the ground.

Wagon-based 9/10ths trucks like the 4Runner, Cherokee, FJ or Exploder would all provide storage, security and overlanding capability, sacrificing some size for better maneuverability. However, their soft-sided shells, extra glass and propensity to attract teenage drivers should be cause for caution.

Hauling the essentials: The smaller the rig, the less fuel, food, ammo and booze you can squeeze in, and fewer members of your supporting cast. Of course, the tradeoff is mileage and maneuverability: good luck getting your assault dump truck down an alley.

A significant risk to heavy machinery will be heavy repairs. Blow a tire on your F-150, and at the worst, you’ll need to swipe a wheel and tire off another. Hole the sidewall on your weird-by-strange mil-spec Unimog, however, and prepare to walk – there won’t be many specialists of the sort this truck requires during a low-info apocalypse.

Mechanical replenishment: Which will be easier to find? Gas or diesel? Do you have backup oil and water and other fluids? What about spare parts?

Survivability and durability: A rig built of exotic parts (can you say turbochargers and aftercoolers?) is going to be tougher to repair than a straight-six F-150 or 22RE Taco.

Pickup or wagon? An enclosed interior means more safety, and more secure hauling, but there’s less space to mount a .50-cal, and more weight.

Frame versus unibody: Let’s be honest… one of them is going to break first, and it’s probably not the one that they use to build a Kodiak.

American and foreign militaries have long answered the low-information and foreign invader question with wheeled transport. The simplicity of the armored deuce-and-a-half “gun truck” (as applied to North Korean forces) bears a remarkable suitability for modern urban extraction.

Equipping Yourself for Fun and Pleasurable Dezombification
Let’s figure that you’ve chosen a truck, or if you’re lucky, two: a four-wheel drive pickup like a Ford F-150 or big-block C-20, and a four-wheel drive wagon, like a 4Runner or Suburban (teamwork – there’s much to be said for working with the like-minded). Think about features; think tactically. You may “want” a bush bar with lots of cool tubing, but every edge and tube becomes a place for zombies and commies to grab. Consider “armor,” along the lines of “plow.” You may recall the front-end of Tallahassee’s Escalade in the documentary film “Zombieland.”

Realistically, what you’ll find at the crossroads of available and effective will be OE-based. A full-framed wagon like Tallahassee’s Escalade (minus the steps) or a bus-based transport such as this toothsome example will work well. Note the handhold issue cropping up on both “Crossroads” busses – barbed wire and exposed propane tanks are serious no-nos.

The ability to cover glass would also be useful, but less so if you’re dealing with well-trained shooters instead of brain-dead voters. More important to guard/armor would be vulnerable functionals: the radiator, for example, or dangling brake lines and the fuel tank. Armored undersides also mean fewer places for the undead to get hung up, so skid plates might be ideal. If you need sliders, keep them close to the vehicle body and without handholds.

Power? Yes. Effective extraction is more about reliability, however – 200 ponies delivered reliably are worth more than 400 you can’t count on. Gearing multiplication (and real four-wheel drive versus a viscous-coupled all-wheel drivetrain) will substitute for lesser power on most days. It must, otherwise no one would buy Toyotas… The actual mechanical connection of power to ground through real gears is an underappreciated asset: it’s a lot easier to force two gears to mesh when you’re arguing with a stick instead of a computer.

Modern military-use heavy trucks will be as available as the nearest Army Reserves parking lot (assuming all the reservists have not already driven them to their bugout spot). We suggest aligning your extraction effort with skilled American warfighters, who will already be well trained for this sort of exfiltration.

When you consider your needs, consider from a low-information zombie’s perspective as well: a roof rack might seem like a good place to store your water (unless you’re in the cold, which means unless you’re using the new plastic military cans, you’ll have a ruptured can and no water), but it’s also a good place to store a North Korean dead-ender who’s tasked with penetrating your hideout.  Fewer external handholds is a good idea. The same goes for things like running boards – anything that makes it easier to get in makes it easier to get in.

Packing Logic Versus Companion Requirements
Speaking of provisions, it’s time to get efficient. Think dry goods; think dense and easy to pack; think nutrition; think value. The only liquids you haul will be water, fuel (and mechanical drink like oil and trans fluid), and hard alcohol (because of its value medicinally and in a barter setting). Think an electric ‘fridge is a good idea? Think again: unless you’re insulin-dependent (or your doctor said you’d die without ice cream), it’s a power draw that takes up space.

Remember: no level of prep can stop stupid. Load up your Cummins Dodge with MREs, Thompson submachine guns and diesel mechanics, and you’ll still fall in a hole if you’re not smart about where you make that U-turn.

The flipside of the “space” argument includes necessities that support the operation of the aforementioned vehicle. Tools? Yes. If you know your vehicle, you know what you’ll use beyond a crowbar, slip-jaw pliers, BFH (that’s a hammer for those of you missing the acronym) and razor blades. Ether and a blowtorch would be handy. A CB? What spares will make the cut? How many tires? How many belts? A set of brake pads? An extra radiator or power-steering pump? There’s always the salvage angle to consider – things like radiators, hoses, lighting or wiring are more easily salvaged and transplanted from other vehicles than a half-shaft or parts that are particular to your chosen truck (which augments the argument for choosing a vehicle that’s got replacement parts available). A sweet new twin-turbo Raptor might look like a killer way to smash legions of ear-sucking undead, but a solid-axled Blazer can be repaired with a hammer and duct tape and will drive fine with tractor tires.

A grand element of leaving society behind is where you’re leaving to. Are you friends with the owner of a flak tower? So are a lot of other people. If you expect to leave the undead behind, how will you buy your way in? Booze, ammunition and danger skills will mean a lot in the post-apocalypse economy.

If you encounter a “not enough space” quandary that begins compromising the functional needs of escape, you’ve reached the edge of your envelope: either that’s the wrong truck, you need to leave the fat neighbor behind, or it’s time to expand your forces into additional vehicles. This is where the rubber meets the road, because what you thought you needed quickly becomes something to forget when you run out of space. How many tools, versus how much food? Can you trade canned goods for MREs? Is 1000 rounds of double-00 buckshot too many? Perhaps 200 pieces of 5.56 NATO (which ain’t much good for zombies anyway) is worth a few cans of Sterno, a crate of graham crackers and two bottles of Wild Turkey.

Read the signs. Really, there will be signs, some more conspicuous than others. Thankfully, as you’d expect from any bureaucrat, their first instinct is to treat disenfranchised voter blocks like an untapped barrel of whiskey. Their foolish pro-victim schemes usually end up in stickers, sloganeering, excuses, and then, thankfully, the eating of bureaucrats’ brains.

Brass Tacks: The Rig You Need and What It Needs
Pushing capability: A bumper that’s closer to a plow, and build quality that won’t leave you broken down in times of duress. Of course, no bumper can move a jammed freeway, but you’re smart enough to avoid the freeway in urban areas. Right?

Power: Enough to move an obstacle, not so much that it’s thirsty. Power is relative, too – a big vehicle needs more. What about electrical power? Two batteries or a second alternator would be handy for long-term fleeing.

Traction: Four-wheel drive that is enabled with properly aggressive rubber, and a drivetrain that you can count on. Aggressive modern tires will go 10,000 miles.

Pre-apocalypse relationship building is a great conversation starter for those “weird” neighbors. So what if he’s mathed out all the sight lines in your neighborhood and has a 4x8’ sheet of plywood prepainted with “LE and US Military Welcome. Blue Helmets Will Be Shot.” The same guy also stashed fuel all the way to his compound in Utah. And he has a compound in Utah.

Action: Ground clearance, a vehicle that’s not so stiff that it can’t clamber over a pile of zombie corpses, and armor that will help you get through rather than get hung up.

Security: No soft-tops, no capes (and few racks). You don’t want the bad guys to get good purchase, and when the going gets weird, you need to lock the hatch. Too much glass can be a liability in this case.

Some tools and equipment are essential despite their size. A toolbox-fitted compressor is essential for overlanding (and your truck better be able to power it). The same goes for portable welding equipment. Both are excellent bartering devices as well.

Sight: While your dad’s disco van with the teardrop blister windows might look secure, it’s a tradeoff for blind spots large enough for a squad of NVA regulars. Choose wisely, and know your weak points.

Reach: You never know how far the next gas will be (and if you can get to it), so if there’s no 35-gallon tank option, you’ll want a few jerry cans stashed in back.

A derivative question: that hound may be a great guard dog that can eat its weight in terrorists, but it better also be able to survive on a diet of terrorist (unless you like dog food as much as he does). The same question goes for anything in your truck (and your truck): what’s it going to take to keep it alive?

Fix: Can you haul the equipment and parts necessary to keep that truck alive? K.I.S.S.

Tools and gear: Some essentials – a 12-volt compressor or 12-volt fabrication gear, or a second spare tire, will be essential but take up a lot of room. Prepare to make choices.

Remember, you’d better know whose side people are on. Some are easier than others.

Fools and fear: Who’s coming, and how much does each need to survive? When planning for the concerns of ailing folks, things like medicine push a lot of other “essentials” into the “notsomuch” column. Unless you plan to eat pet food (which is a workable solution, according to Mad Max Rockatansky), your dog better hunt.

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This article was originally published by a www.off-road.com . Read the Original article here. .

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