6 Ways to Build a Covert Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) or Gray Car

Christmas 2016
December 23, 2016
cold weather survival
Cold Weather First Aid and Survival
March 13, 2017
Covert BOV

Your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) may be the most versatile vehicle out there, with the ability to climb rocks, dig through mud, and jump through the air at high speeds, but still be a poor choice of vehicle.  That Hummer, FJ Cruiser, or Extreme Jeep Wrangler could do you more harm than good!

Don’t Draw Attention Unless You Want to Pay Dearly

The last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself.  That bright yellow Hummer is bright and will make people notice you.  You need to convert your gray-man skills to something useful for your vehicle.

If you don’t work on your covert Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), you could end up surrounded by a group of thugs or murderers bent on killing you and taking everything you have.  4-wheel drive will not stop a bullet.  350 HP will not keep people from destroying your tires.

No matter what capabilities your vehicle has, people are smart, and can find a way to overcome it, if they really want to.  Your best chance is not to draw their attention.

Create a Covert Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV)

We agree we want some good functionality from our vehicles, but that we don’t want to stand out and be seen easily.  Just take a step back from your vehicle and determine what you would have to do to make it less visible.

If you want to make an amazing Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) where a “covert look” is an important function just like off-roading, then look at the following items.

  1. Color: Bright colors stand out. Drab colors are better.
  2. Vehicle Type: Some vehicles scream “city yuppie” or “soccer mom”, while others yell “expensive armored vehicle for the taking!” Find something in the middle.
  3. Lights: Black out your lights so people can’t see you.
  4. Vehicle Size: Tiny vehicles look like easy targets, and so will you. Big vehicles are bold and draw attention.
  5. Vehicle Noise: Vehicles with loud exhaust are telling, even blind people, where you are.
  6. Accessories: Some accessories are quite normal for an average off-road vehicle and add some strength and aggressiveness to its demeanor, but others make it look like an overpriced show-truck.

Choose a Color That Doesn’t Stand Out

The color of your vehicle is one of the major items that you can do to make it more covert.  It is harder to hide a bright orange, yellow, or red vehicle than something darker.  With these colors, you are begging for people to see you and take your stuff.

Use Neutral Colors: Simply going down to a dark blue or gray would make a vehicle less visible, but a better option would be to paint your vehicle something earthy like black, brown, or green.

Use Dull Finishes: Want to take it even further?  Try primer colors for their dull appearance to reduce the amount of reflection off the body.

You can even paint a vehicle camouflage if you want to REALLY hide away.

Don’t Off-Road in a Prius, and Don’t Race in a Leaf

In the middle of a packed city, it would be a poor choice to have a huge jacked up off-roading rig.  It gets poor mileage and is likely to attract attention.  If you have an amazing tactical vehicle, it could be mistaken for an unmarked police, or federal agency, and would attract rioters in an uprising.

Some vehicles don’t look very masculine, and because of that, people would probably judge you the same way, even if it is way off base to do so.  There isn’t any point in providing them incentive to mess with you, though.

Sometimes, just an old pickup is the best option.  You don’t attract the attention that you are “wealthy” but you have some basic all-terrain capability with the ability to tow as well.

Your Lights are Easily Seen

In the dark, people can easily see you in a running vehicle.  Even in the daylight, your lights can give away your position.  We need to remove this problem.

Even if you turn your lights out, your brake lights will light up if you press down on your brakes.  This can be bad if you are trying to stay hidden.  I have two basic suggestions for this:

  1. Wire up a Blackout Switch: Wire up a switch that will remove all lights, including your brake and reverse lights, as well as cab lights to ensure that nothing is lit up in the dark. This takes a little modification to your Bug-Out Vehicle’s wiring.
  2. Use Duct Tape: Not as absolute of a solution, but SOOOO much easier. Just cover your lights with black duct tape or chafers tape to keep them from being seen. You could just keep the tape off until you need to use it, but you will have to stop, pull off the road, and tape your lights when you are probably in a rush.

Vehicle Size is Almost as Obvious as Color

If you are driving around in a tank or Humvee, it is pretty obvious that you stand out from the crowd.  A huge F350 that is lifted and has huge mud tires also stands out.

If you choose something that is designed for utility, not looks, but is also not huge in size, then people won’t notice you as much.  If you have a ten year old, basic 4×4 truck, you probably won’t be too noticeable.

When I see a jeep wrangler on the road, I don’t notice it nearly as much as a large suburban with tinted windows that looks all tactical.

Sound is Critical for Covert Ops

The military spends a lot of money developing ways to reduce the sound of their equipment, because they could be in a combat environment.  One of the best examples of this is the soundproofing measures that have been taken on submarines in the Navy.

Large and heavy equipment is mounted on rubber feet so they don’t push noise through the water.  Everything is designed to be quiet independent of why it was mounted.

Mufflers: If you own a nice 4×4 pickup, but it has a loud glass-pack or doesn’t even have a muffler, it makes for a poor Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV).  I shouldn’t be able to hear you from a mile away.  If I can’t see you at this point, I sure can hear you, which means that I can find you.

Noise Makers: Keep your vehicle quiet.  Reduce any rattling of license plates, and be ready to remove them if required.  Don’t blast loud music.  Keep a good, efficient muffler on your exhaust.

Tire Alignment: Your tire alignment and balance is also critical.  Unbalanced or misaligned wheels not only reduce your tire life, but also generates noise when you drive that others can hear.

Worn Parts: Wipers, brakes, and belts all make noise when they get worn.  Keep your vehicle running quiet by sticking to a good maintenance schedule on these items.  Keep your engine tuned up! Good combustion is much quieter than something that isn’t firing quite right.

Accessories that Conceal or Can Easily Be Concealed

I am about to contradict myself.  Get ready for it!

Tinted Windows: If you want to conceal items in your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), one of the first things you can do is tint the windows.  In some vehicles, this doesn’t really stick out too much.  It really has more to do with what vehicle you are tinting.

Grocery Shade: In one of my cars, I may have a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) and many other Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) items in the back of it.  No one knows what is back there because I use the pull over shade (grocery screen) over everything in the back of my car.  People may know that something is under there, but they have no idea what IT is.

Truck Bed Cover: If you have a truck, you can use a basic hard bed cover (or cap).  It will provide you with weatherproofing anything in the bed as well as.  There are covers that are flush with the bed, and others that are flush with the top of the cab.  Use the caps that are flush with the cab, because they provide more room for storage or if you needed to camp out in it… Assuming you don’t have a truck bed camper.

Hide-Able Bulletproofing: You can weld metal panels or install Kevlar inserts into door panels and the shell of your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) without anyone seeing it.  You just provided yourself with more strength or bullet resistance.  You could also get bullet-proof glass if you had a bunch of money for that type of thing.

Hidden Horsepower: If you have a car that can handle it, nitrous oxide (NOS or NOX) systems can add horsepower and speed in small spurts.  These are easy to conceal.  Turbo and Super-chargers can also help with these items.  This is all expensive and unnecessary, but I needed to include it.

Winch: Having a winch on your truck isn’t a concealed item, but not only will it help you for getting stuck, but it does help with the public opinion of you.  You may become less of a target… Thought: “People that normally have winches are usually hunters and country boys, which usually have guns, so maybe I won’t mess with that guy.”

Spray Paint: Keep many cans of non-gloss spray paint so you can quickly spray your vehicle, if the situation ever comes to that.  Browns, Greens, and Tans of different shades help with more of a “camo” look.

Hide Your Stuff and Your Vehicle

Use basic concealment methods to hide everything in your vehicle.  You don’t want people to know what you have, and therefor want what you have.  Make your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) less desirable to people that want to take them and if you have any upgrades to it, keep them hidden.  If your accessories are visible, make sure it tells other, “Hey man, you probably don’t want to mess with this guy.”

Don’t forget that people can find you by sound, not just by sight, and take measures to keep your vehicle quiet.

Keep older, smaller, and narrower vehicles with good ground clearance that will help you on narrow roads, and make your vehicle less noticeable.  Use vehicles that “fit in” to their intended purposes and locations, so you can be a “gray man” even when in your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV).


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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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