Gasoline won’t be pumping. Electricity will buzz out. You might have some sun. You’ll need to be on the move. Bikes, cars, trucks, trains, foot or boat, you’ll need to move around, carry supplies, and stay alert while attracting the least attention possible. Before you lay out your fantastic apocalyptic plans, there are several factors you must consider.
Magnitude of Disaster
Will you still have electricity? Gasoline? Are food and supplies readily available? You can’t carry much on your bike, but a car won’t go far once gasoline becomes scarce. Count on the highways being clogged with the dead and vehicles out of fuel. A boat will only take you so far without sail power, and even then, you still require rare fresh water, food and supplies.
A bike is speedy, silent and reliable, hell it’s even endorsed by Max Brooks in his famous guide. However, don’t expect to pack more than a week or two’s worth of food and gear if you’re on a bike. Forget traveling cross-state with a bike, unless you have lots of time and zombies are in short supply. A motorbike is a bit more suitable for off-road use, distance and carrying capacity, but please note it is prone to fuel shortages and is a great attention getter.
Consider bicycles and motorbikes to be supplemental transportation. You will need them for quick getaways around your area and for ferrying supplies, but attacking and moving are impossible with such a means of transportation. Whatever your gas-powered vehicle, you’ll want a bicycle in the trunk or on the roof, along with your guns, blades, ammo and food.
Many potential survivors, several on this site, want to rig up a Humvee or light truck with armor plating, gun turrets, spikes, chainsaw ports and many other fantastic ideas they nabbed from zombie movies. This ain’t Iraq folks, and an iron plated vehicle is slow, cumbersome, and eats through fuel. We can rule out the laughable idea of steel-plating a Prius, so let’s not consider that. Your best defense is evading Zack, and an offensive vehicle will still need to be speedy and reliable. If it can break down on you, it will.
Considered an armored vehicle as something for short trips to crucial destinations through very planned and re-planned paths with multiple routes.
Of course, you could always just build an iron-plated storm chaser in the name of science. Ben Anderson of the Examiner has put together a fine zombie apocalypse transportation article explaining just why tricked out visionary vehicles are a bad idea.
Most pre-zombies will spout off the name of some ludicrous military vehicle or giant civilian truck, some even fancy vehicular weaponry (tanks, etc.), as the optimal apocalyptic conveyance. The last thing you need is a damn tank leading an unholy army to your doorstep.
Yes, your armored truck sounds like a fine idea on paper, but it’s hardly executable unless you make a Killdozer, have access to heavy shop materials and posses a valid driver’s license.
Stick with what you know. If your car runs well, is reliable and gets good MPG, consider that your #1 Bug Out Vehicle or BOV. Keep it stocked with a good supply of food, water, radios, and perhaps even install a CB and keep some emergency illumination at hand. Flashlights and road flares are good to have anyway.
The vehicle to the left is Elwood, my 2004 Chevrolet Impala 9c1. It’s got a cop motor, a [3.8L V6 3800 Series II], it’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made [after] catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas. He gets little upgrades every now and then to keep him as my reliable BOV. Currently, he has V-Rated General A-A tires, a CB Radio, USB hookups, 400W power inverter and everything the Chevrolet Police Package provides. Elwood is considered my primary BOV for getting me out of town when SHTF; not much but it’s a start. Throw a collapsible bike in the trunk and I’m ready for most any situation.
If you have enough external gas cans, you’ll be good to go with a longer fuel range, regardless of your MPG.
If you’re going into an urban area, unless the roads are clear, you’ll probably want to be on foot or bicycle. Consider any attempt to enter an urban area to be for recon, SAR, or essential supply gathering. You’ll want to avoid these infested areas at all costs. For this reason, the suburbs and countryside are far better places to search and settle than a metropolitan area.
The Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared” also applies to vehicles as well — you’ll want your BOV to be swift, strong, and provide adequate fence-crashing, puddle stomping, and zombie splattering abilities. The usual 4-wheeled vehicle can accomplish most of these things, but consider specifics. A light truck is useful in supply gathering, while a swift car is more useful for speeding across infested areas.
Jalopnik has crafted a fine article of dreamy (if somewhat impractical) Zombiepocalypse vehicles.
If the apocalypse is disastrous enough, there will be no more fossil fuels. Bikes, pack animals and sleds will be the only means of ferrying cargo. One often overlooked mode of transport is the humble sailboat.
A sailing vessel will get you places no car every could (assuming you can get to the ocean or a Great Lake). With hydroponics, a wind generator, and water purifiers, you’re set for a life at sea or on the Great Lakes eating fresh caught, non-undead whitefish every day. Besides a proper skill to master, sailing could ensure your survival when roads are crowded, gasoline has disappeared, and the lands are poisoned.
Aircraft will be extremely hard to maintain, and without a qualified pilot, you’re risking death for yourself and your partners. On the rare occasion the opportunity arises, the advantage of a long distance traveled is not worth the risk. Military pilots, passenger jet pilots and even civil air pilots depend on lots of fuel, good weather, ground and air crew for their operations. Stick to the surface.
Take the time, learn how to repair machines, sail a boat, and build a bicycle. These skills could save your life more than being a crack shot in your Killdozer ever could.