Coping: UrbanSurvival Bug-out Vehicles

imageWhen my life-long chum was out last week, a topic went by in conversation that I meant to expand on in a column one of these days.  And today is that day.

The topic is wheelbarrows and hand trucks.

Now you would think that living in the East Texas Outback, as we do, that we would be up to our ears in wheeled devices…and we are…but in different ways than most.

A word or two about the genealogy of such devices is worth considering.  As you know, we have our Seven Major Systems of Life and of these, one category is “Transportation.”

Furthermore, you we would know – if I had bothered to publish my book “Victims of Process:  How unwritten recipes run your Life” that Transportation is divided into Land, Sea, and Air.

What’s more, there is the “friction layer” to deal with in each of these – and these have given birth to a number of specialties such as Naval Architecture, Aeronautical Design, and Wheeled Vehicles.

These may then be divided further into power sources:  Human, electric (including solar), internal combustion, and so on.

Which is why we are spending some time this morning at the intersection of Housing and Transportation [subset Land, power source Human] this morning.  Don’t bother mentioning that it’s unusual to think about such things in such an orderly manner; by doing so (gridding the world conceptually to a fine level) it is easy to invent new ways of being.  Which is what we like to do around here.

So my chum has a wheelbarrow and I do not.    He lives in a very nice neighborhood and the wheelbarrow gets a lot of use.  There is firewood to move around.  Being a good prepper, he’s got a whole chord or three of wood.  And his wife is a superb gardener, so there’s work for a wheelbarrow there, as well.  And for simply moving stuff about.

We both have hand trucks, mine was picked up at the local Tractor Supply store about 10 years back, on sale, for $21 bucks.  That was when goods from China were just ramping up.  And something the Chinese have always excelled at is two-wheeled carts – from hand trucks on up through rickshaws.

Inflation – not to mention all those Trade Deals that are going to save the American Consumer which haven’t exactly worked, and the price at Amazon for a decent little hand truck is what?

The Safco Products 4069 Tuff Truck Continuous Handle Utility Hand Truck, Black is $61 bucks.  Mine happens to be red and has pneumatic (air-filled) tires, as opposed to the solid ones. 

Some discussion about which kinds of wheels are best is in order.  As you’ll see, my old hand truck has pneumatic tires.  I learned long ago (from Uncle Stanley, I believe it was) that hard wheels are fine – as long as your work is on super hard surfaces, like concrete or flooring.  But, if you want to do work on soft dirt, the best choice in wheelbarrows or hand trucks is to get one with air filled tires that can be adjusted to the work surface.  Blow ‘em up to 40 pounds or more for inside work.  But 10 pounds with a modest load on dirt or gravel is a lot easier to handle.

Its like back in the bike riding days:  A Schwinn was a much easier bike to ride of gravel, soft dirt, or sand.  The hard tired (60 pounds) worth of narrow tired English Racer while keen (and fast) on asphalt or paving, sucked rocks and generally had to be pushed on gravel or sand.  Same concept applies to wheelbarrows, so I assume my chum’s wheelbarrow is pneumatic because he uses it all over his yard.  Smaller and fewer tracks.

imageWhat you see here is my 10-year old cart with a 20 pound propane bottle and a “flame thrower” attachment.  Just the thing for lighting off burn piles, clearing out a fence line, and so on.

A bungee strap and something like a Red Dragon VT 2-23 C Weed Dragon 100,000-BTU Propane Vapor Torch Kit ($55) and not only will you be able to burn out weeds and start off brush piles, but you can also quick-start mesquite if that happens to be your thing BBQ’ing.  Or hard coal (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).

OK,” you’re wondering to yourself, “Why no wheelbarrow on 28.82 acres, more or less?  And are you getting to a point?”

Well, we have this thing called a tractor and where most people might decide to use a wheelbarrow, the way I operate best is buy using as many “big tools” as possible.

When there is some wood to be moved around here, more often than not it is not cut up into wheelbarrow sized pieces.  Even when it is (not often) I can still shove the front loader bucket under damn near anything  up to about 550 pounds and place it with a high degree of precision.

A late uncle of mine was a cat skinner up in the Aleutians during WW II and I always admired people who could tame a cat, cut a road, put in an air field, or whatever.  So therein lies my desire to be a tractor artist.  It’s not a six-way blade on a joystick on a D-6 Cat, but  it turns out that it works exceptionally well for everything from moving furniture to hauling gravel around.

Even more impressive, its use requires a few brain cells but few sweat glands and it’s getting to be the time of year around here when that really matters.

As a bug-out vehicle, the tractor will carry a 500 pounds of personal gear, make its own road when necessary, and it can carry (when I get it welded up) two 55 gallon drums of diesel on the back.  With a full tank, that will go 12 miles an hour for 115 hours, roughly.  Pencils out to 1,300 miles and some reserves.  On flat ground and lower throttle setting, it might go further.

Nothing against wheelbarrows, but like people’s views on the Income Tax, they seem best suited for everyone else.  Working at peak performance (age 67 remember) my power output over time is likely less than 1/3rd of a horsepower. A bit more if I work up to it.  But with a twist of the starter key, the tractor is 24 horsepower and power steering to boot.

As someone who has studied urban preparedness to the n’th degree, I would suggest taking a look at old photos of refugees.  Hell, even some of the new photos are revealing.

People will have some kind of push cart with their personal possessions piled up.  While we don’t like to think that such a fate would ever befall us, all those government ammunition buys and all the meetings on “domestic security” argue there is a reason to be a bit paranoid.

A number of “hiking carts” have come out over the past 10 years, or so, and many of these are almost ideally suited to personal bug-out missions. 

If you live in an apartment or condo, and you need a vehicle or cart for serious bug-out consider something like the Pack Wheel.  Yes, these are made in the USA, thanks for asking.  No, they are not cheap, either.  Still, something to think about.

Next step up might be something like a deer cart, in terms of carrying capacity.  Something like the Best Choice Products Deer Game Hauler Utility Hunting Accessories Gear Dolly Cart, 500 lb. will only set you back about $65…or you can get a couple of bikes at WallyWorld and take a cutting torch to them and brew your own.

I really like the idea of a powered bug-out system and when I look at the game hauler, I think to myself “Could I make that a solid axel and put one of those 100 CC moped rigs on it?  Easier if you start with a bike cut in half, I suppose.

Still, of all the bug-out and UrbanSurvival rip-offs on the net, few if any actually offer serious thinking on the topic that matters most – which is how to survive when the crap hits the fan. 

If you don’t have some way to move personal goods in a non-automotive way, you do stand the risk of being stuck in place and that’s not the kind of outcome we like to think about.

Wheel-up along with your prepping and maybe a couple of good mountain bikes isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

  Put them on a tractor with a loader bucket full of freeze dried foods and seeds…and maybe a middle buster plow…yeah, where’s that land in Colorado, you were talking about?

Write when you break-even,


Coping: UrbanSurvival Bug-out Vehicles — 15 Comments

    • This is not exactly a new one, at least around here. I was citing it prior to Y2K, lol. Of course, having a bother-in-law who is in the church doesn’t hurt, either. Sometimes I forget that people may have missed the firstg 14 years of UrbanSurvival. When the eyes are back up to speed, I do have plants to do a cheap and easy (think 99 cents on Amazon) compilation of the best ideas from the 1008 to 2014 period so folks can catch up.
      If you have some time for interesting research, go look at how the Mormon canneries have been harassed by the fedgov because…well…the official excuse had something to do with GFA as memory goes, but if you read between the lines and have enough coffee onboard to be truly paranoid *I’m working back up to it, lol) then yeah, it is a great boo9k and if you add my bud Gaye Levy’s notes on prepping over at, then you really are pretty much ready for anything.

      Of course, 30 acres of land doesn’t hurt, either….but prepping is a continuum, not a specific point you get to. It runs everything from having a few weeks of canned goods and a dozen cases of drinking water (that you cycle through, naturally) on up to a place like ours.
      It is the classic journey of a thousand miles begins with a lot of small steps.

  1. I’ve seen large wagons being pulled by a rototiller with the tines removed. AKA Chinese gas ox.

  2. Bought a flame thrower torch George, should work better than starter logs on those farm burns. Great idea.

  3. Love the ” more brain cells but less sweat glands ” my old 2000 Ford may be old and tired but it’s a hell of a lot stronger than me ! With a trailer it can two a couple of tones with ease and can hit near 30 miles an hour on a blacktop , I agree the best bug out machine made , the agricultural tractor .

  4. If you are serious about ever going diaspora, it’s all conjecture until you have actually loaded up and done at least a three day exercise to discover what you are overlooking. The military has done this for years, but newbies can still screw this up in unimaginable ways. Just go out on your back 40 and spend 3 days in a tent for starters. Take down the tent and move it a hundred meters every day. Hell, just try living in your shop for three days with the water and electricity turned off.

    There is no better bug out vehicle than a self contained motor home with a small trailer behind it. If you think you might go cross country, a self contained camper on a 4×4 pickup will do. Solar panels on the roof, a water filtration system and a preloaded trailer, and you are good to go in 30 minutes. Store this under an earthen roof at least 12″ thick. Makes a wonderful position to retreat to if disaster should seriously strike your house.

    Just keep in mind, that once you leave your property, as a senior, you are considered a resource for exploitation for anyone with children. And I am not talking about babysitting.

  5. You can find out more about the Pack wheel type of hauler at Low Tech Magazine 2011, How to downsize a transport network.. The Chinese Wheelbarrow.. I made a small version from the pictures in the article. Could push 4 Five gallon buckets around with absolute ease. I’ll be building another one. Going to put in 300 square feet of raised beds. A lot of dirt hauling. At 79, sold my log splitter, going back to a sledge and wedge.Need something to make life easier. Who wants to push a conventional wheelbarrow. If you are a gambler, I’ll swap a one ounce silver round for a year’s subscription. Electronic doodles for a four dollar, when purchased, coin. On SS, have three extra mouths to feed for the next two months.. Only reason I am making this ultra generous offer, and only at this time..

  6. Tractor for bugout – interesting. I might weld up some carrying attachments for my three point. There is a problem with the natives though – you make a real target of yourself. Jealousy can be a bitch, and there’s no shielding from stray bullets. I presume you have a jump seat for E.

    Regarding wheeled carts, two wheels are great if the track is wide enough, but wheelbarrows rule on the narrow and sidesloped track. Even the local Pull-n-Pay junkyard uses wheelbarrows. Pneumatic is best until it leaks, but what about soft foamed tires? They might be the best compromise.

  7. When the crap hits the fan it’s more a matter of luck than plan. Remember the saying about the plans of mice and men. Nevertheless, rather amusing for city dwellers.

  8. One of the best cart rigs I have seen is what they call a ‘jogger stroller’. They are built for joggers to roll their wee bairns across the land. Tricycle setup, canvas, good load capacity, light, large pneumatic tires. You can strap, bolt, hang or sew all kinds of rigs to this and roll away.

    I have a friend who does those storage auctions, and she uses one she found in a storage to move gear around everywhere.

    Don’t buy new as they are pricey, but kids grow up fast and these things clutter up garages really quickly. You can find them with relative ease. Even saw one of those cross country hikers using one instead of lugging a backpack – he just set backpack in the kiddy seat and hung gear off it.

  9. When the hits the fan, I gotta agree with Clif (HPH)on this one; all the prepping yo can do will not matter. KARMA will. What if the sheet the fan when one is on vacation, or at the doctros?? What then? Bottom line, (IMO + Clifs) IF your Karma says thumbs up, you will make it, and if the thumb is pointing down, well ….. What good is all the prepping if it gonna come down to that? But that doewsn mean that I cannot see your point(s). Becoming more Spritual also means being able to figure out your Karma in this life which includes when the sheet hits the fan.

  10. Good morning George!

    and good night! Are you sayin we’alls gonna be refugees? That’s contrary to what heard from Tom Petty: But in the event that you are correct in your prognostication I would recommend readers to check out for carts to cover all needs.

    Sure hope the Kubota survives what they may throw at us. Why it might be like old times riding the tractor to town on Saturday night!

    and that torch might be good for roasting zombies?

    Kidding aside—as you regularly point out—there’s serious stuff to do to get ready and daylight’s burnin.

    Blessings on you and yours for your work.