Before the Corona Virus put the state of Michigan and most other states on a draconian lockdown, my son and I decided to test our navigation skills and plan a bug-out route from our home to a predetermined location in the FJ Cruiser.

Best Bug Out Vehicle: FJ Cruiser

First off, I’m not an end-of-the-world prepper per-se but I do like to be somewhat prepared for realistic scenarios.

The bottom line, my son and I were kinda stir crazy and needed to get out of the house. So we figured this would be a fun task for us.

By living in a rural area full of natural resources and freshwater sources, I already feel one step ahead of those in urban and metropolitan areas.

Bug Out Video

Our primary source of navigation while Overlanding is the Gaia GPS that we run on an iPad mounted in the FJ.

Our starting point in this exercise was to first, find a remote location to travel to. One with little to no homes nearby. A location full of resources like water, fish, and small game.

Somewhere without trail traffic yet includes multiple ways out in the event of a hasty ex-fil. Our map recon showed a clearing along a viable river about 45 miles from our home that satisfied the criteria.

So we recon’d and plotted a route via satellite imagery that followed a river, and avoided most paved roads, and all populated areas.

To get to the location we selected, we first had to leave our neighborhood. Within a half mile of our house, we were off the paved road and traveling on oil field roads.

Due to the time of year, these back roads were still full of snow, ice, and large puddles from the melt-off. Fortunately, the FJ Cruiser on 35″ tires and a 3″ lift had no issue trudging through the soggy trail. Although we tried to avoid ALL paved roads, this wasn’t possible due to a forced river crossing.

And the only viable option was to jump on the hardball road and scoot across a bridge. Averaging only 17 MPH on the route we later deemed “Zombie Route,” we arrived at the location 2.6 hours after leaving home.

Best Bug Out Vehicle: The FJ Cruiser

After hiking around the selected site getting the lay-of-the-land and locating avenues of arrival and departure, we started the camp set up.

In a real-world situation where a potential threat could cause us to make a hasty ex-fil, we’d probably have slept inside the vehicle. However, this was also our first overnight trip in the FJ, and wanted to set everything up to test this rig for future adventures.

Although we did find a few minor bugs that need sorting, the FJ Cruiser “Godzila” is a great little vehicle for Overlanding. And I look forward to testing its mettle on the trails this summer.

Manistee River

Our chosen site was perched on the bank of a vibrant river flowing through a large swath of state-owned land. As we pulled in, several whitetail deer were just vacating the area.

Additionally, there was evidence of rabbits, ducks, and trout that could all be sourced and processed quite easily. Although we did hear some dirt bikes during the day, they were a few miles out and never happened into our quiet little spot.

My son and I had a fun day on the trail feeling out the FJ and how it handled with a full load. We made some camp tacos, enjoyed a nice riverside fire, and had a decent night’s sleep. Albeit a bit chilly as the temps dropped into the 20s.

Best Bug Out Vehicle: The FJ Cruiser

The following morning, my first order of business was brewing essential life-giving coffee. Followed by a breakfast sandwich and finally the breaking down of the campsite.

best bug out food

Our 14-day trip to Utah last year honed our skills breaking down camp efficiently.

Since the “Zombie Route” that got us to the river site was safe, we decided to return home generally the same way. Occasionally exploring short alternate trails and discovering a few potential campsite locations.

Sites we marked on our navigation system for future use. Now we have to wait for the lockdown to get lifted so we can get back out there and continue to enjoy nature.

*Originally published on The Gear Bunker

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