While more and more people within the prepping community are learning the importance of bugging in – something likely to be your most practical response for most disasters – the fact of the matter is that there are situations out there that necessitate getting the heck out of dodge.
Perhaps it’s news of an incoming Hurricane Katrina type event. Maybe you just heard your government plans on locking down an area to the point of house arrest. Did armed thugs just make an autonomous zone of your neighborhood?
In any of these situations – and in many more – getting out of the area may very well be your best bet. But what is the best way to do so?
Is it better to bug out with an RV or is it better to bug out with a tent?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each…
Bugging out in an RV
These must have some advantages to them, right? After all, there’s a reason that there was a national shortage of these throughout the past few years. Many discovered the advantages of using an RV to head for the hills, and so we’ll take a closer look at what some of these advantages are first.
What are the advantages of bugging out in an RV?
I think there are several of them, but first and foremost would have to be this:
An RV is fast.
If speed is of the essence, you can’t beat an RV. The ability to hop onto your local interstate and cruise at 70 mph can cause you to get as far away from the X as possible. You could literally get out of your state in a matter of hours with an RV.
In a similar vein, an RV gives you the opportunity to put some serious distance between you and the fan-spread, flying poop. It’s not just that you can get off the X fast, you can get hundreds of miles away from the X, fast. Consider volcanic explosions, such as Mt. St. Helens.
When a super volcano is spewing lava throughout the area and ash is clogging the air for hundreds of miles you need to bug out a long way away. Dust-caused pneumonia is what you’re looking at if you don’t. An RV is superior to a tent for allowing you to do so.
You can bug out longer with an RV than you can with a tent.
You can bug out for a much longer period of time with an RV as well. Think of the amount of gear and food you can haul with you in an RV versus with what you can carry on your back. It’s not even a contest. With an RV you can easily stock several months’ worth of food – what I believe to be the key limiting factor in most peoples’ bug out length – with little to no discomfort.
(All the more reason to check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on emergency evacuations, is it not?)
Bugging out in an RV provides better shelter from the elements than does a tent.
When winter comes you’ll be much better sheltered against the elements with an RV as well. Would you rather spend a freezing February night in a canvas tent or in an RV with solar powered electric? Yeah, I’ll take the RV. A month bugging out in winter in a tent is a test of endurance. That same month in an RV? Not so bad.
What are the disadvantages of bugging out in an RV?
I think the main thing here is that you’re relegated to traveling on a road. If there are traffic jams, dangerous road blocks (such as Rwanda saw throughout the early 90s), or washed out roads you’re not going to be going anywhere.
You have to have gas to keep that RV moving as well. In The Event will you have access to gas or not? That’s something of a crap shoot, but it is something to think about. An EMP, supply chain shortage, or the like isn’t going to leave you with the ability to find gas very easily. If, instead, it’s an incoming hurricane, wildfire, or something of the like, this isn’t something you have to worry about as much.
If somebody is actively looking for you (again, consider the Rwandan genocide, a deranged stalker, or the like) an RV also presents a greater signature. They have to stay on the road, and so roads are all that have to be searched. Again, your situation will determine if this is even something you need to think about, but it is a potential con of RV bug-outs.
Bugging out with a tent
Everybody understands that there are fantastic benefits from owning a tent. But just what are they? And are there times when a tent may not be the best solution after all? I think so, and I think you’ll agree with me here.
What are the advantages of bugging out with a tent?
There are many, but I think this is likely the most important:
It can remain close at hand.
One of the great things about a tent is that you can stow one away just about anywhere. Personally, I’m a fan of the Snugpak Scorpion 2 , as it easily fits within a bug-out bag, car trunk, closet, or office with little bulk or weight. This means it’s much more likely to be at hand when you need it.
Consider if you’re on a business trip 200 miles away from your home. You’ve your get-home bag in the trunk of your car, but you don’t have your RV. If The Event happens while you’re at this trip, it’s the tent that is going to be at hand – not the RV.
Tents are within reach of the common man.
Price point is another factor which tents have in their favor. It’s much easier to put $300 into a quality four-season tent than it is to put $30,000 into an RV. The preps you have are going to do you more good than the preps you were saving for in the event of a disaster, so this is most certainly a consideration to take into account.
Tents make for true off-grid capability.
I personally like the ability a tent gives you to go completely off-grid as well. When I’m backpacking, I can literally disappear off the face of the earth with my tent. I can drive to the trailhead, hike 20 miles into the wilderness, and then bushcraft off trail several hundred yards till I get to a spot I want to camp.
That’s about as remote of a bug out experience as you can get – and in many cases, that’s what people are looking for in these types of situations.
Minimal upkeep is required for a tent.
Further advantages of utilizing a tent for bugging out is that it’s a one and done purchase – you don’t need gasoline to keep it moving – it’s not deterred by roadblocks, man-made or otherwise, and it has a lower signature than an RV.
If I was given an area to search, (let’s say a Russian soldier marching through Ukraine) I’d have a much easier time finding an RV than I would a tent. Whether that’s something you’re concerned about or not for your situation, well, that’s up to you. Either way, it is something that a tent has going for it.
What are the disadvantages to bugging out with a tent?
Chief of these I can think of would be that a tent doesn’t offer anywhere near the shelter that an RV does. Even with the best of sleeping bags, it can still get cold at night in winter. If you live in The Beautiful South, this may not be as bad, but if you live in Montana, Maine, Idaho, or anywhere else where deep freezes are the norm, you need to start thinking of what you’re going to do to stay warm.
Another con of tent bug-outs is the amount of gear you can carry with you. If I’m bugging out with my tent, I’m only going to be able to take what I can carry on my back. We’re looking at probably 50 pounds or so of gear including food. That’s not going to last you very long out in the woods even if you are trapping, hunting, and foraging.
On past backpacking trips I can typically carry three days’ of food with me with minimal discomfort, and that results in a 35-pound pack. If you throw in weapons, ammo, and other bug-out gear on top of that, you’re looking at a significantly heavier pack with not a lot of that extra weight coming from food. How effectively can you travel with that much weight on your back?
What you choose depends on what you’re preparing for.
As with everything, there are always going to be pros and cons. It’s no different with the debate between bugging out in an RV versus bugging out in a tent. If this is a question which has been burning in your mind of late, hopefully this will help to chisel away at some of your doubts.
Is there one which is better than the other? It depends.
What are your thoughts on the debate though? Are there other benefits and disadvantages we didn’t list here? Let us know in the comments below!
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.