In order to define the best vehicle these inputs have to be taken into account:

  • The zombies are the classical ones, "the walking dead" ones are a perfect example (definitely killed only by headshot, attracted by noise, etc...).
  • We are in year 2018. Population: 2% alive, 18% definitely dead, 80% zombie.
  • The vehicle-proposing person must convince a party of 8-10 people.
  • The party is heterogeneous, one or two people are capable to perform some minor mechanical/electrical intervention on a vehicle, for instance they can add metal spikes, fuel tanks, firing loopholes, etc. They can't change the engine with a more powerful one or replace wheels with tracks.
  • Other specific, yet not really special skills, could be taken into account, for instance: one person could be really good at cutting and sewing, whether to use it to create nice curtains or a vehicle ghillie suit is up to your answer.
  • The party could also use other vehicles for scouting or scavenging, like a motorbike and/or a pick-up, but the main vehicle must be able to carry safely the whole party (but maybe not comfortably, it's not necessary to have one seat per person).
  • The party should travel to at least 5-6 different cities, 400 km far from each other on average, then they should find a final generic safe place. (400 km considering detours and menace escapes, see below)
  • In the party there's a very intelligent person (which should also be the one proposing the vehicle strategy and path), therefore feel free to suggest nice tricks, but he's a regular guy without specific high level skills. For example: he could find a clever way to enter a building, but he can't pilot a bomber or hack a bank's safety vault.
  • The party has some limited supply, and a relatively safe place for 7 days, therefore they have some time to organize the travel. They also have an initial mobility range of 20 km to find the final vehicle, and the 7 days can/should be spent also to modify the vehicle.
  • They live near a center-Europe big town, 30-50K people, even if most part of the city supplies have already been scavenged by other groups, it is possible to find fuel, food and tools with some research. The research is time expensive, therefore if the vehicle is easy to find and it doesn't need modifications they can use the 7 days supplies to start the travel immediately with some stock. Even though I prefer to have a customized vehicle.
  • I'd rather choose an European city instead of a North American one, because I don't like to have a lot of fire weapons involved in this travel. Of course hunting rifles and some pistols could be considered common weapons, but heavy machineguns are incredibly rare and RPGs/grenades are out of the discussion.
  • The vehicle should therefore withstand some low caliber shots, but it doesn't need to be a military armored vehicle.
  • Is also difficult to obtain any military grade gear because military bases are some of the most infested zone (emergency sirens attracted the zombies - they were the first choice shelter, but they eventually collapsed) or they have been reclaimed by huge groups of raiders.
  • The party should expect (obviously) zombies, blocked roads (mostly because of abandoned cars), and raider scouts attacks (3-4 people, armed but without big guns). Because of the surrounding zombies and the raiders' reinforcements, having to repair the vehicle for more than 1h have to be considered as game over.
  • The vehicle's speed is not really important except for the fact that a slower vehicle must carry more essential goods, and the faster ones are preferable because of flee chances. It is also valid the concept that a slower vehicle, yet capable to overcome most road obstacles, is actually a "faster" one with respect to a supercar that needs to take several dozens kilometers detours.
  • Flying could be theoretically considered, but it seems to be really difficult to find the right fuel, the noise will attract a lot of unwanted attentions from both live people and undead, once departed there are no chances to go back (noise->zombie), the destination airfield could be impracticable, and especially there are no trained pilots in the party (this limit could be bypassed, but the other cons must remain and therefore it's hard to justify a flying vehicle).
  • Railways could be an answer, but proper trains can't: every train except for few really old ones have electrical engines, and the diesel ones are not easy to be used by a common untrained person. Moreover, since at least any station is likely to have some trains on the nearby railway, the vehicle must be at least capable of both road/railway or to remove the blocking trains (also derailing the wagons and make them overturn could be an acceptable choice, but it's a long and noisy process).

EDIT, info from the comments: - The food is rarer than the fuel. The party, considering some distractions (zombies and raiders), can gather 30-40 litres per day using 4-5 people. The food is rarer, the most canned food is already consumed and the people now need to hunt, gather edible vegetables or fish. There's no overall lack of food, the wildlife somehow grew in large numbers when humans stopped their activities, the issue is to collect that food. Hunting is time expensive and food preservation is limited. Moreover the "food" is usually outside the cities, while fuel and gears are way more common in the cities.

Please describe a vehicle that fulfill the inputs, its most useful modifications, what to carry as essential goods and emergency supply and especially detail the reasons. If you think you have the perfect vehicle, even in case some conditions are bypassed, please still answer. Obviously the more conditions are removed, the less the answer will be interesting.

Bonus: Travelling on water can't be an answer to reach the safe place (it's far from the sea), but detours on water are appreciated to reduce risks and let the party rest a little. Let's say that a couple of cities are near the sea, therefore if the vehicle could be easily carried by a small vessel it would be better. For instance, a small van has way more chance to be carried than a "Mad Max style" war wagon.

Malus: I'm NOT ASKING for a zombie killer vehicle: even if it could kill several zombies, its main purpose is to carry 10 people for a long range trip. If you think that is safer and faster just to kill everyone in the path (zombies and raiders) by driving a huge beast on the vehicle then you have to justify it.

Edit: my question is related to this one What kind of land transportation can be used for plowing through hordes of zombies? because we are talking about zombie apocalypse, but it's a totally different approach: i highlighted as malus a zombie-smasher veichle. Even though is admitted to propose a zombie-killer vehicle, the main goal is to move the party safely through EU, not to destroy a Z horde.

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    $\begingroup$ 98% of the people are dead and 80% undead, needs clarifying. Are 80% of 2% undead or are the undead counted among the dead? $\endgroup$
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Ludi: 2% alive, 18% definitely dead, 80% zombie. $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously one specifically designed for post-apocalyptic travel. $\endgroup$
    – TMN
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ I love the implication that a North American setting would naturally involve heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. :D $\endgroup$
    – Epicedion
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ The answer is ..... A toyota. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:44

33 Answers 33


Railway Maintenance Vehicle

enter image description here

Ride on the tracks. They go everywhere and will be mostly clear.

Obstruction on the tracks? Hop off and drive around it.

Build a living space and storage space in the large flatbed area.

Extra bonus: Crane Arm. Use it to clear paths, load supplies and fight zombies.

Most models change modes with just the push of a button! You don't even have to get out.

enter image description here

The most important roads for getting out of the infection zone are going to be the ones that are most impassable. Everyone will have tried to escape the oncoming horde by car, then abandoned their vehicle in the road when they got stuck in traffic. Other road-based suggestions like the Firetruck or Semi will get abandoned by your party too when they see the endless sea of cars they would have to push out of the way. Off-roading the whole way is slow, risky, and unreliable.

But the rail system will let you cruise across the quiet countryside, away from cities and noise and danger:

enter image description here

When you want to hop-off the rails, the little access-roads and dirt roads won't be clogged, since they weren't evacuation routes. If a road is large enough to be clogged by the evacuation, it's probably also large enough that the train tracks go over or under it. Your only trouble will be if the tracks have a level crossing with a clogged road. You'll need to find a way through. But with road wheels, train wheels, a powerful engine, and a crane, nothing can really stop you.

The deck where you'd usually collect the fallen trees or store utility poles provides plenty of space for building an armored living/storage enclosure. I recommend cutting a hole through to the cab so you can switch drivers and put armor over the cab doors. I recommend putting the door at the back, where it can be defended by the crane-arm.

enter image description here

Whatever railway vehicle you find, the railway maintenance package will be built onto a truck model also used in heavy-duty tow-trucks, medium flatbeds, snow plows, and more. So it will be possible to find replacement parts. It will run on standard diesel and have large gas tanks just like the Tractor-trailer answer. They are essential fleet vehicles because they might need to help clear the tracks to restore rail service after an incident, so they are very well maintained just like the Firetruck. Some even are firetrucks. It's not hard to drive like the giant dump truck or an actual locomotive. You lower the train wheels with a switch on the dash, let go of the steering wheel, and use the normal gas/brake pedals. (often, the locomotion in track-mode comes from the tires simply resting on the top of the tracks.)

I don't know if anyone has even thought to measure the fuel-economy these vehicles get while driving on the rails, but I can't see why it would be worse than on the roads. It might even be better. They can travel at the same speeds as the trains, and they are heavy-duty enough to carry the weight of all your stuff and their improvised armor while still driving aggressively.

Speaking of aggression:

"The articulated buzz-saw arm with enclosed cab package is perfect for the modern zombie hunter who prefers an elegant, superior, refined solution, yet still has a taste for the old classics."

People are saying it will be hard to find one of these. I went looking for one this morning and found one in no time. It was at the first terminal rail depot I checked, parked in the bus loop. I found another one parked on the street nearby: enter image description here These were out on duty. I didn't even have to check the obvious place, which would be the central rail maintenance facility where they are stored. They store a whole fleet of these vehicles there. They're called road-rail vehicles.

More info on what using this would be like:

These road-rail trucks are designed to change modes at a level crossing or other place where the pavement is level with the top of the tracks: enter image description here

That should be easy, and with a little practice could be done in mere moments without people getting out, assuming you're on a wide enough crossing. At a narrower crossing it's possible, just a lot more fiddly work and possibly using wood blocks and wedges ramps to get the wheels to climb up onto the rails (figure 20 minutes). This sort of work isn't about brute force, it's a chess game (like a much harder version of "parallel parking"). The rails are as tall as a curb, and you've got to be lined up with them a particular way. Hopping off the rails not at a crossing will be quite the puzzle, you could find your fronts outside both rails and your rears half in half out, or even stuck between your duallys. Lots more work with the blocks and wedges to get the wheels to climb out in a useful way to get you off the track (figure 30-40 minutes). Getting on the track not at a crossing would be much harder (for noobs, 1-2 hours with lots of frustrating mistakes). And if you ever forget to pick your blocks and wedges back up, you're in trouble next time, and must go on a scavenger hunt for suitable blocking. A railroad tie weighs 150-250 pounds.

But if you want, you could have your characters discover, after they leave the first rail-yard, that it isn't a breeze, and have a tense moment where they are pushing the gas pedal to the floor trying to get a stuck wheel to hop over a rail.

At a larger crossing, the trouble will be getting the truck situated correctly so that the train wheels hit the rails when they are lowered. You start with the rears (since you can only steer the front) - this goes a lot faster if the truck has a backup camera, and some clever foreman has Sharpie'd on the screen where the rails need to be. Otherwise, for a newbie, this will be fussy and probably require someone to get out and help you line it up. Still, setting on would easily fit within your "no more than 1 hour repair" window. But keep in mind if you're driving in truck mode when attacked, unless you find a level crossing, jumping back onto regular tracks is gonna be too slow. You'll have to flee in truck mode till you find a level crossing or lose your pursuers.

If you've got a character who knows as much about these vehicles as I do (and I don't work for a railroad or anything I just like trains and read about them sometimes) then they'll know that the best plan is to only change modes at level crossings. If you leave the rails without knowing where the nearest level crossing is, there's a moderate chance you'll be stuck in truck mode for a while. It might be a good story mechanic to have your characters pick a truck that because of its size and particular alignment of tire-spacing, isn't able to hop onto the tracks except at level crossings. Then when they decide to get off the tracks, you've got that tense plot element of being stuck in truck mode until you find that next crossing.

When you come to a fork in the tracks, it will be 'switched' to send trains one direction or another. If you don't want to go the way it is currently set, you'll have to stop and have someone get out and change it. Most switches are remotely controlled, but that system will be offline. Someone could get out and switch it manually, but that might require a particular tool or key or both, get those off train crew zombies or find them in a rail depot). So if you are fleeing down the tracks, you might come to a switch and just have to go whichever way it's currently set. Though you might be able to hop off at a crossing, drive around the switch and hop on to the line you want.

The trucks back up very easily, but possibly not quickly, as the reverse gears are pretty slow. That's a vulnerable point; if you arrive at a blocked point on the track, you may not be able to reverse fast enough to lose the zombies.

The truck probably has a transponder for PTCS/ATC/TPS, which is a radio/GPS based anticollision system - it advertises your location to other trains and control points (bad) but also prevents fast trains from plowing into you (good). Your heroes may be able to figure out this transponder exists, and if they do, shouldn't have too much trouble pulling the power cord out of it.

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    $\begingroup$ It's a great suggestion. Note, ANY typical small pickup truck, can be fitted with the system to run on rails. Very common is just a Chevy Suburban outfitted like this. The last time I was in a "truck that went on train rails" (this was in the US west) it was indeed just a Suburban. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ Just FWIW, "These road-rail trucks are designed to change modes at a level crossing" - FWIW, the ones I have been in, you can scramble on to the tracks anywhere at all, not just at-level. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ Actually this seems to be the company that makes the kits you bolt on to a pickup: harscorail.com/equipment/hy-rail/light-duty-0307a.html They really should add "zombie battling use-case" marketing pages! $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for going out and actually finding them! xD $\endgroup$
    – Kieran
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ I love how this is not only more practical than what they do in most Zombie stories, it’s also way cooler and more visually striking too. It’s pretty much a perfect answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 20:04

What about a boat? (zombies can't swim right?)
Europe has a pretty good river system and will get you to pretty much every big city.
The two mechanics will have to deal with operating locks along the way, there's always a manual override.
You can go with a group of two or three motor yachts or one large river cruise ship or converted freighter.

Boats are a reasonably fuel efficient way of travel.
They already have large diesel tanks (some motor yachts already carry 750 to 1500 liters of diesel).
Don't need a lot of alteration, already equipped with everything you need for your survival (water tanks, kitchen, beds, solar power, etc.).
Perhaps you can get down to the sea and continue traveling along the coasts using sailing yachts.

When you do get to the coast, go looking for a yacht with a fresh water maker ;) .

Here is an overview of rivers and channels accessible by inland freighters. You can often travel some ways further up river using smaller vessels (research required). Detailed overview of rivers and channels accessible by large inland freighters around the netherlands.

Overview of all rivers and channels accessible by inland freighters.

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    $\begingroup$ From a story perspective, boats are awesome. While essentially invulnerable to zombies in the middle of the rivers (assuming they sink and are not smart enough to use floats), there's this tension every time someone needs to go ashore for foraging, operating the lock... or when passing under a bridge :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ Bear in mind that not all boats need to have keels, sails or motors. Birchbark canoes were used for millennia in the Americas to transport people and goods over long distances through challenging terrain. If there was a part of the river that couldn't be paddled through, they could pick up their canoes and portage to the next safe place. While there may not have been zombies onshore historically, there were certainly dangerous wildlife and hostile tribes/raiding parties. Canoes are quiet on the water and easy to conceal when going ashore for supplies. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ @theGarz I think you might be underestimating the waterway network in europe: portofdortmund.com/fileadmin/img/englische_Fassung/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Potential downside: You're going to go through pretty populated areas. Most cities are built on rivers. That means either lots of zombies or less-than-friendly people. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Rose
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @theGarz Whats with the shallow water obsession? yes you will encounter that traveling way upstream and get into canoe only territory (along with some rapids, waterfalls etc). but you can get to Budapest with a 110m container ship. And pretty much every decent river or canal of has a dept of at least 2 meters. Yes water travel is not ideal, no you won't be able to get everywhere with every kind of vessel. But that would be the challenge. Anyways, an answer has been accepted, go with it or not ;) $\endgroup$
    – HTDutchy
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 10:09

What about bicycles? They're quiet, they don't require finding fuel, they're maneuverable, they're easy to repair even for laymen, they can be used in multiple different types of terrain, and they're fast enough to outrun a traditional zombie hoard.

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    $\begingroup$ There are too many drawbacks to this answer. On bicycles you can't defend yourself from a hoard of zombies unless they're all behind you (or from non-zombie raiders/crazies using weapons). Once you're surrounded you're essentially dead. Also, the OP said if you're stationary for an hour you're dead. Given that you have to sleep during this 1,000km ride you're dead. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ They said having to repair for >1hour, not having to be stationary. The key is to use the bikes to find the shelter. Blocked roads are going to make most large vehicles useless, but a bicycle can navigate through stopped cars, through woods, etc. And you don't need to defend, just outrun the zombies and hope you don't get caught between multiple herds. $\endgroup$
    – David Rice
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRice, I agree bicycles have some great advantages. I just think they have too many drawbacks for a group of ten people going 1000km with 80% of the population being zombies. Let's just say this wouldn't be my first choice. I'd go with a dirt bike over a bicycle. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ Why not both? Add a couple of bicycles to your primary vehicle, even if its only used as "just in case" Maybe one as an electric MTB with solar charging, but it takes a while to charge. The other a normal BMX or something the reader can identify with - an old Huffey cos it was available. Useful for scouting too, there's no point sending the motorised convoy into a possible dead end and being trapped. Also use radios or something for scouting. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 4:39
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    $\begingroup$ @user3445853:you know that having off shift on a tandem bike is highly inefficient, right? Barbed wire against zombie and bullets? It's likely to be a trap instead of a shelter. What if, with this tortoise-vehicle, you turn a corner and you see a horde or a raider pack? You are slower than and less manuvreable than a single bike and with only 4-5 zombies that can grasp the barbed wire you are likely to be stuck due to additional drag. If raiders you'll be dead. You are in a street, not protected by anything and for sure you can't outrun them. No offence, really, but it's one of the worst idea. $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 9:07

I suggest a heavy rescue vehicle. (a type of specialty firefighting or emergency medical services apparatus, primarily designed to provide the specialized equipment necessary for technical rescue situations such as traffic collisions requiring vehicle extrication, building collapses, confined space rescue, rope rescues and swiftwater rescues. They carry an array of special equipment such as the Jaws of life, wooden cribbing, generators, winches, hi-lift jacks, cranes, cutting torches, circular saws and other forms of heavy equipment unavailable on standard trucks)

It's basically a Jack of all trades of whatever hazard you're gonna find on a road. And as an emergency vehicle, it should be well-maintained. It may be a bit small, as they do not seem to carry more than half a dozen people.

It also should be quite easy to find, looking in fire stations, but that means it's probably already been looted.

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    $\begingroup$ @Anketam though you could fill up the water reservoirs with diesel - that's 400-500 gallons, which gives you a range of 1200-2000 miles, which would be enough to get from Arkansas to California (on the Interstate, of course...) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the idea, especially for the "well-maintained" part which is relevant. $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ "It also should be quite easy to find, looking in fire stations, but that means it's probably already been looted." - I guess such rescue vehicles would be owned by the state, if it hasn't collapsed yet :D $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid Daniel B has it right. You can count that in a zombie apocallypse every road would be blocked by abandoned cars. You only need a traffic jam caused by any reason to make zombies attack the stopped cars, leaving the road clogged with several dozens (or hundreds) of abandoned cars. In all probability, any vehicle larger than a motorbike is not going to go that far unless it flies or sails. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ I had a similar idea so I want to add the vehicle Unimog: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unimog It comes in a lot of variations and is quite common in Europe. $\endgroup$
    – Petey Pete
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 14:39

Go big: find a Haul truck from a quarry or mine.

A big haul truck (Image source)

Even just the size will make it hard for the zombies to climb. You'd probably want to weld on some additional stoppers. The height makes it easy to spot and shoot any approaching zombies from far away.

The size means that you can take pretty much anything you need with you, any amount of water and food and other supplies you can find. The truck will also go off-road just fine, the big wheels will cross ditches without any problem.

However, prepare to spend quite some time finding fuel sources - these trucks usually have about 5000 liter tanks and eat about 1000 liters per 100 km, travelling at about 60 km/hour. Being diesel engines, you can run them on heating oil or even food oils also.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I like it. The biggest drawbacks are refueling (how long does it take to fill up a 5000 liter tank), finding one, and folks shooting out the tires. Might need to do some uparmoring there. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ I guess that those tires cant be shot out with a common rifle - such vehicles are most likely to have full rubber tires. $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ Another couple of potential drawbacks are low overpasses (or even some not-so-low overpasses - it looks like this one is around 6 or 7 meters high) and narrow roads. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Sadly, haul trucks aren't just sitting around large European towns. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ Sadly it's really fuel expensive, as per other comments (50 liter/research-day ratio) you will need 250 days to have enough fuel to do 1500km. Moreover you can actually overcome a lot of obstacles but you also can only choose 10m wide road, without bridges and overpasses, and i don't think that in EU such roads are easy to be found except for the highways, but then a not passable obstacle will force you to have a really really long detour. Without the fuel/food issue would be really nice to live in a moving fortress. :) $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:26

A seaplane can fly 10 people plus supplies 1000km before refueling. Takeoffs are loud but relatively safe as any attracted zombies will slip below the waterline. Landings are more dangerous but relatively quiet if you cut engines at high altitude. The downside is needing to row to shore.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello, Fred Frogfist, and welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! Please take our tour and visit the help center to learn more about the way the site works. Have a nice day! $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ Finding a sea plane capable of flying 10 people plus supplies might be pretty hard. Most sea planes are small single engines. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Rose
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ @RobRose Clearly, my friend, you have not met the Antonov 2. You did say Europe... It's a beast of a biplane that outperforms most SuperSTOLs. They made like 50,000 of them. Not that many are amphibious though, no matter, they can take off in a blown kiss. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 22:19

A Toyota pickup truck.

They are reliable and dead simple to repair. They can carry a lot of people. They can operate off road. They are easy to acquire. They require no special skills to operate.

For the past 30 years they have been used in civil wars and insurgencies in third world countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Hilux#Use_by_militant_groups https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_War

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Never forget the Toyota War $\endgroup$
    – jorfus
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ This is very much a terrain thing, but much of rural Europe has high hedges, ditches, banks, along with rivers and canals. The Toyota war was fought largely on open dessert terrain and is a great choice in that situation but not so good in Europe. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Fine, then... a Range Rover. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 22:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget the punishment they can take, some shown here, such as driving into walls, trees, driving over volcanoes, being dropped from cranes, etc. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – rkeet
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 6:50
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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea of 2 or 3 pickups working together. Far, far more resilient than a single one. They can recover each other. You can cannibalise the other vehicles for parts. You can abandon one if it's irreparable. You can split up to gather food and fuel at the same time, but you know what happens when groups split up, right? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 11:41

Many models of fire truck will seat 6-8 comfortably. 10 would be a squeeze, but it's doable considering that the seats are designed with men wearing fire gear in mind.

These specialist vehicles have the added advantages of very large water and fuel tanks. While your mpg/mpk won't be great it's still comparable to most large trucks, and lorries, somewhere between 3-8 mpg depending on load.

They also come equipped with most of the things a party is going to need to survive. Lots of water, medical supplies, fuel, and a few solid axes; add food and your very basic needs are met.

These vehicles are also likely to be equipped with some very nice speciality gear. Towing gear, wrenches, pneumatic cutters and spreaders, hoists, powered lifts/extension ladders, and let's not forget the the water pumps. A fire hose is a formidable weapon; if focused properly you can easily push back a zombie horde. (See riot control applications of fire hoses). Keep in mind that many modern trucks are capable of both pumping out and pulling in, refilling shouldn't be too problematic. Fire retardant clothing, rebreathers, thermal imaging, and other fire specific gear could also come in handy.

You'll also have much more than a standard first aid kit. Not quite as nice as an ambulance, but the next best thing. IV bags, defibrillator, intubation kit, pretty useful stuff post-apocalypse. Then again... If you're raiding the firehouse, you could take an ambulance as well. Many stations will house both.

Plenty of storage space, both in compartments and on top, more than enough to meet the need.

Your standard firetrucks are very sturdy vehicles, many come with a roughly two foot wide bumpers for pushing and ramming, run flat tires, etc. Forestry service models offer additional protection in the form of much beefier designs including exterior roll cages that are designed to take the force of falling trees. Additional armour may be required to stop bullets, but that's true of most any vehicle beyond military hardware.

Another huge advantage is that firetrucks are typically maintained exceptionally well. When in service these trucks never miss an oil change or brake pad swap. When you find one, you can count on it being in pretty good condition.

Lastly these vehicles aren't incredibly rare. Much more likely to find a firetruck than, let's say, an armoured bank car. Most any city will have several, and post apocalypse they're likely to be a fairly common sight.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ post apocalypse they're likely to be a fairly common sight - except for those of us reading this post who will be sure to hit up the fire stations first thing ;) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1, several good points, i'm only worried about the availability. In case of zombie apocalypse i expect that every available policemen, firemen, military and their gears would have been already used. Sadly this would be true for every sturdy means of transport (unless the infection exploded like wildfire not giving enough time to react). $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer, didn't know about the forestry ones (makes sense for the bits of europe that have forest left, particularity at this time of year!). I guess they could have roll cages but they have anti tip mechanisms $\endgroup$
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ While fire trucks have only two rows of seats in the front, some have usable space in the rear (between the cab and the water tank). Six people will fit confortably in front, but the rear compartment will fit another four: automobileromanesti.ro/images/mari/Roman/roman_8135fa-3.jpg $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:30

I'm sure it's not the most optimal answer, but what might be amusing is an amphibious bus such as those used in Duck Tours.


  • Amphibious (obviously). Would be able to cross calm bodies of water.
  • Roomy. Should be able to easily carry 8-10 passengers plus supplies.
  • High off the ground. Zombies would have trouble getting in.
  • Tough. If the vehicle is military or military surplus, it would presumably be fairly durable.
  • Openness. The possible lack of windows or walls in the passenger area would be a vulnerability, but would also offer numerous escape routes in an emergency.
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    $\begingroup$ +1 but reliability may be a factor. Every duck I've ever seen was from the 70s and looked like it. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The ducks are gone now, a few sank and the rest were retired as far as I'm aware. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 7:25
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I know for sure that there are a few still in use in tours. Seattle for example is still running duck tours. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:30
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix given that 10 people died in a crash with a duck just the other week made international news - I don't know why you'd say they're gone. $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ This has comedy zombie movie written all over it. $\endgroup$
    – jorfus
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:39

There is no conventional vehicle that will satisfy your desires, because in a situation where 98% of people are dead, the roads are not navigatable. Period. If everyone died at the same time, they’ll be clogged with crashed cars: if this was a more gradual apocalypse, they’re clogged with the cars of desperate, now deceased, evacuees. There’s 300 million cars in Europe. In an apocalypse, most of them will be stopped in the least convenient places possible.

In some places, you might be able to drive around them, but the places that will be most clogged are bridges and tunnels where it won’t be an option. You’re also screwed on most one-lane roads, which, especially in Europe, are everywhere, usually with precipitous drops to the right and sheer walls to the left.

Want to go off-roading? Good luck: allied tanks, with sappers to back them up, had a nightmare of a time going through the hedgerows and farms of France, and that’s hardly a unique trait of France in comparison to countries in the rest of Europe.

What you want is not a group transportation method, but a bunch of light, flexible options, which are used per-individual. I recommend folding bicycles and inflatable kayaks/rafts. Parts are easy to get, they require no fuel, they’re almost completely silent, a literal child can learn almost everything you need to repair one in a pinch. The rafts will get you wherever the bikes can’t. The additional benefit here is that there’s no one point of failure in your group: losing your mechanic doesn’t screw you when something in your engine goes blooey.

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    $\begingroup$ Today, roads are kept clear only by continuous ongoing maintenance. Without zombies, a few vehicles in a single accident readily create huge traffic snarls. Those snarls can take hours to clear. Even assuming authorities decide to clear the roads at any cost and sacrifice accident victims' lives to do so ASAP, it won't hold for long. Too many will be fleeing, there won't be enough crews, those crews are in too much danger, and there are too many miles of completely indefensible road. The only roads still open will be where some authority is still holding on. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 4:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You make good points. Take a look at my answer about railway maintenance vehicles. Rides the tracks, yet able to hop off the tracks and drive around obstructions. $\endgroup$
    – Jared K
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer but in a wasteland where food is less common than fuel and raiders packs are a true menace isn't a good option to choose some unprotected calories-consuming means of transport. If the large vehicle issue is to get definitely stuck somewhere, you can easily switch to bike in almost no time (you can even carry them on the truck), the opposite is impossibile and i'd rather start the trip on a motorized, protected vehicle instead of bikes. $\endgroup$
    – theGarz
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Great, you’ll start the trip, get nowhere because all the roads out of the city are completely blocked, and seitch to bikes. Glad we see eye to eye. :p $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ kindly moderate the content of the language used in the answer $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 17:44

Well, 8-10 people means a large vehicle. It needs to be relatively durable, have at least a decent cargo capacity, and have a strong engine.

Looks like a cargo Lorry to me. Probably with a extended cab to fit more people in. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/wm-truck.jpg (Pic from google, shows a cargo Lorry with an extended cab and standard 40ft trailer)

If you are worried about strength of the vehicle.... 148,000 lb (67,000 kg) max weight it can carry. (this size is uncommon, but achievable)


  • Bigger Fuel Tanks. This lets you skip towns that might have too many zombies without having to worry too much about how much fuel you have left.
  • Armor. I'll assume cartridges are maxed out around the 30-06 rifle for common use. (please correct me if I'm wrong.) So a solid inch of steel all around the walls of the trailer, and at least 1inch around the cab. Maybe bullet-resistant windows as well, or steel trapdoors on the windows.
  • In the armor, small trapdoors on the wall to allow rifles to poke out. So you can reply to raiders without having to get out of the trailer.
  • On the roof itself, have a hatch leading into the trailer. This is for people to shoot out of the top and also for emergency escape. Folding armor plates (trapdoors that lead to nowhere, the door itself functioning as armor) should provide enough cover to be useful.
  • A connection between the cab and trailer. Like a Articulated bus, should not only be feasible, but recommended. Sadly, armor would be light to non-existent here, so install good doors to compensate.
  • On the outside, a small plow, wheel covers (to prevent bandits from easily shooting out wheels), and some lights to shine in entryways. Also, more mirrors in order for inhabitants to see outside bit.
  • On the inside, some storage, rifle/shotgun rack, bunk beds or hammocks, as well as maybe a workbench. Make sure whatever you put in there is secured and if possible bolted down. Maybe take/make some sort of folding plywood wall along with chicken wire in order to make quick walls while scavenging or setting up a base.
  • Paint: Do not color it black, color it a dark blue. It's better for nighttime camouflage.
  • Backups: since things can go wrong, you need backups. In this base, I recommend taking a couple of bikes for land travel, and a couple inflatable kayaks for water travel.


  • Military gear. Please don't use this to raid military bases. It can be disabled by landmines, shot up by .50 cal quite easily, and does not fare well against explosives.
  • Rough terrain. This is not going to fit through a forest or anywhere not relatively flat.
  • Attacks from above. The roof, in order to save weight and structural integrity, is unarmored (or maybe lightly armored). In either case, someone in a sniper's nest can do serious damage. Constructing a counter-tower on the trailer itself is bad due to stability issues as well as having to go under bridges tends to not go well with tall structures attached.


  • Mini-base. Who needs to make shelter when it is already there? Just park and set up minor defenses!
  • Combat effectiveness. While not a military vehicle, it can take a beating from hunting rifles and shotguns.
  • Plow. If you have enough momentum and a large plow, you can shove vehicles out of the way. (Mythbusters did something like that)
  • Power. It would be very easy to mount a small generator to the cab or inside the trailer (if inside, include venting system). This allows indoor lights as well as a place to recharge electrical devices.
  • A large cab model can have a toilet installed, so you do not need to exit in order to relieve yourself.
  • End of journey. You already have all you need for a house. Just park and build around the truck to get a good quality home!
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm - I dont think that a truck would fulfill the requirements, although the cargo is quite good - when it goes offroad, the journey ends for you. $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ They can do off-road a tad, just not the classic rough terrain that you see in movies. Such as forests, short and tall dunes, and ruined buildings. Any other concerns? $\endgroup$
    – Joe P
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ What you see there is an American truck. In Europe, these will be tricky to find, as the cab-over design dominates, both because of length restrictions and because the roads are windier and destination depots smaller and fiddlier, so a long US-style cab makes little sense. While it can dirt-road, it really can't off-road at all. If used, would at least need to be able to very quickly shed the trailer without leaving the cab, even under high torque (ie, release when the trailer is tipping over, so the cab doesn't go too). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @dewiMorgaon. I know, but the cab was closer to a side-bonus. Besides, the European-style cab is much easier to armor up. I agree with the off-road assessment, but I think leaving the trailer behind would not be needed as long as the driver is careful. $\endgroup$
    – Joe P
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ An inch of steel? That's 25mm! Almost twice what the APCs have(although they use hardened armor materials) and still weight 10+t tonns. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Dzink
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 20:56

I am a pilot so I would chose a light twin, its fast, its above all the issues, and you can get in and out of places quickly and blocked roads are not really an issue. There are some myths in your statement that are worth dispelling which makes it a far more realistic choice.

Flying could be teorethically considered, but it seems to be really difficult to find the right fuel

This is not really true, especially if you are running on the assumption there is fuel for a car or truck in question the shelf life of auto gas is no better than Jet-A or 100LL. As a matter of fact the requirements for aircraft fuel storage, filtration and the issues once encountered with fuel system clogging has lead to extremely high quality storage for aviation fuel (far better than auto fuel). In the light twin game you have two options piston planes (running 100LL) or Jet/Turbo Prop (running Jet-A).

Jet-A is plenty abundant at pretty much all airports and tends to store pretty well for a long time. Even a small amount scavenged from a sitting airliner is enough to top off a light twin. Generally speaking airports tend to have quite a bit of fuel on hand.

Piston planes typically run 100LL (100 octane with lead added) also known as AvGas. 100LL is actually one of the more "rare" fuels out there since its only application is for light piston aircraft these days its just not made in the quantity it once was. That being said plenty of aircraft can easily be modified to run auto-fuel or "MoGas" and there are lots flying out there that do. As a matter of fact many of the common aircraft engines out there from the big makers were originally certified to run on 87 octane. I would not advise climbing up to the service celling but it will get you off the ground, and move you a few hundred Kilometers.

the noise will attract a lot of unwanted attentions from both live people and undead, once departed there are no chances to go back (noise->zombie)

This I understand, and shy of a mechanical failure which you can mitigate with extensive pre flight checks you would not be looking to go back anyway. A diesel truck may very well loud and draw attention to you just as much as an aircraft but in one your off the ground in less than 30 seconds.

the destination airfield could be impracticable,

Who says anything about landing on an airfield. While runways are nice airplanes land on grass all the time. Most light twins can be landed in under 4000 ft. (some in even far less).

and especially there are no trained pilots in the party (this limit could be bypassed, but the other cons must remain and therefore it's hard to justify a flying vehicle).

As you say, this can be bypassed so lets assume there is someone in the group with some flight experience.

As for withstanding gunfire ill direct you to this question for more info on that.

And to answer the question directly, id try and find a nice de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, high wing making it easier to land in a field, fixed tricycle gear so you don't need to worry about retract issues, plenty of room to fit everyone, and turbine powered so I can scavenge some Jet-A. Other solid options are a Beech King Air or a Mitsubishi MU-2 or even a Cessna Caravan if you were confident in a single post apocalypse PT-6A.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ only thing about landing on grass - works well if maintained to any degree, Not so much when fields are left fallow $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Baldrickk There are cases where aircraft were run on car fuel in WW2 after crash landing in fields and needing to get back in the air. This answer sounds impractical, but given the safety once in the air I think makes it by far the most. $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ That’s awesome, I had no idea. How onerous are the repair requirements? I know that military planes have anywhere from 50:1 to 8:1 maintenance to flight time ratio. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DanielB you may want to head over to aviation.stackexchange if you want a deeper answer (id be happy to answer it there) but the Piper Archer I fly is down for a few days every year for annual and maybe another 2 or 3 days during the summer months for odds and ends repair. If flown regularly most GA planes are quite reliable largely because of their simplicity. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @tylisirn: Not so. Depends on the engine, but I've been running car gas in my Piper Cherokee for a couple of decades. Got the STC (supplemental type certificate) which was pretty much just replacing a few lines, and adding a dual fuel pump setup. It's mostly high performance engine like WWII fighters that require the high octane leaded. See the aviation site for more info, or just search on "Mogas STC". $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 6:25

How about three hot air balloons?

enter image description here

one for 3 persons, the other for 3 more persons, and the third for 4 persons.

they can be launched from any large free field.

they are a safe place (if they fly high enough), and have enough capacity for food and fuel for the whole journey, too.

they launch and fly silent (if using the "right" fuel)

(each could carry 5 persons + regular fuel (technical data of standard hot air balloon), but the fuel they find may be less efficient so they would need more fuel and they need food and weapons as well, plus, they should carry some rope and an ancor, too (will explain later) )

The heroes may find enough balloons, if they don't the one good at cutting and sewing could craft them using any cloth that is light enough ( and it should not be to leaky, too ).

the balloon must not be leakproof,leaks will only result in less fuel efficiency. (this is why airships are a bad solution. just thinking about loosing helium and therefore height due to a leak loudly crashing into zombie town! ouch *:) )

they can use anything that burns well for fuel (fossile fuels or even fat). even zombies fat.

fat has only about twenty percent less energy density than propane (calorific value) plus you do not need heavy gas bottles plus fat can be easily synthesized.

enter image description here

if the heroes don't find enough fat, or want some easy-to-burn fuel, they could use ethanol.

they could make ethanol out of zombies, raiders, and any other trash using fermentation and destillation!

they would have to carry more fuel (mass) with them if they used ethanol instead of oil since ethanol has about 42 percent less energy density than propane (calorific value) while oil only has about twenty percent less energy density than propane. (calorific value)

enter image description here

but ethanol can be burned easier than fat.

enter image description here

burning the fuel is quite easy, the heroes just put some cloth in an open barrel filled with fuel and lit it up!

the heroes have to find or build some fan to start filling the balloon with air, but even building a fan is easy, they just take any electric motor (or even a diesel one if theere is no electricity (out of a vehicle) ) and connect a screw-propeller (maybe diy) to it.

maybe the heroes use fat and ethanol as fuel, using the ethanol for lift offs only (since it burns faster) and the fat for the rest of the journey.

if they find out that they cannot lift off because their way of burning the fuel is not fast enough, they just have to get more balloons, so each takes less payload, and try again.

enter image description here

btw, they could also throw such molotov coctails down when attacked.

Also, their usual fuel, gas bottles, can be found at many european gas stations.

The heroes wait for the right time to lift off. (when the wind goes into the right direction)

if the wind changes unexpectedly, they go down (do not land!!!), throw the ancor down, and hover until the wind changes again. (while hovering they need far less fuel, since the air around is dense and the heavy ancor is down.)

if attacked while hovering near the ground, they may lift off again, or destroy the attacker with molotov coctails.

one could destroy entire small armies with such an air attack.

policemen on fire due to one single molotov coktail in paris enter image description here

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think you'd have to be pretty desperate to use hot air balloons. fun as the idea is. You definitely couldn't use just any fuel, the balloons use kerosene or similar liquid/gas fuel because it's the most space-efficient way to generate that much heat. Even if you could fill the balloon with hot air on the ground using local materials you'd still need more standard fuels to stay in the air. Next, you can't control direction, it's slow as hell, and if the wind is too high the balloon itself will collapse and you die. You'd have to be insane to travel 1k km by balloon. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ space is not the problem. Imagine large trashbags filled with some junk hanging down. the junk could be used for fuel. and if the wind changes unexpectedly, well, use the anchors. $\endgroup$
    – KGM
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ I advise against your style of bolding words. It makes the text visually cluttered, and hard/cumbersome to read. The boldness also loses its value when it is used so much. If every sentence is emphasized, none of them are. $\endgroup$
    – Jared K
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I invite you to examine the concepts of Energy Density and the Rocket Equation, trashbags full of combustible junk/corpses aren't going to have the energy density or capability to release heat quickly enough to fly a hot air balloon, much less one big enough to lift their own weight! There's a reason that no hot air balloon ever created has run on a wood-stove. Gas-burners in hot air balloons put out a terrific amount of focused heat thanks to a great deal of clever engineering and the energy-density of propane. I'm afraid that much like your balloon, your answer is very unlikely to fly! $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ fat has an energy density of 37 MJ per kg, your propane has an energy density of 46.4 MJ per kg, I don't see such a big difference. this means that you just need to carry about twenty percent less fuel with you (mass, not volume) plus fat does not need a heavy gas bottle as fuel tank. => fat would work for shure plus fat is easy to find and produce (zombie oil *: ) ) $\endgroup$
    – KGM
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 9:15

The Antonov-2

You did say central Europe.

enter image description here

This is a BEAST of a biplane. Designed post-WWII, this thing is designed to carry big heavy loads and land pretty much on a driveway. It seats 12 and its nominal use is large scale cropdusting. Useful load is 4700 lbs.

But what makes it amazing is its short-field performance. It's essentially a fixed-wing autogiro. Stall speed is a mere 26kts (30mph) - that is stupid crazy low even for a SuperSTOL. That means you could land in a driveway or even VTOL into a stiff headwind like a Harrier) -- though you'd want a bit of runway for that max-weight takeoff.

It's powered by a 1000 horsepower Wright R-1820 (or Soviet equivalent). Range is 525 miles on 1200 litres (300gal) fuel -- so you'd need to turn it into a "flying gas can" or make an intermediate stop for fuel. Cruise speed is 120 statute mph.

This was introduced in the late 1940s with over 18,000 built. There's nothing quite like it; it's a bush plane extraordinaire.

  • $\begingroup$ If you are going that route, why not a PBY? Can land on water or ground, and range is huge. They are pretty slow, though. $\endgroup$
    – Jiminion
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Jiminion scarcity. For all the reasons you cite, choose PBY if an airworthy PBY and An2 are sitting next to each other. But all you'll find in Central Europe is An2’s. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 17:15

For me the main consideration is the group size, anything smaller than some kind of converted bus is going to be impractical for 8-10 people on a reasonably long trip, especially since they'll want to shelter in the vehicle for sleep, probably more often than not. A large bus will give you a good amount of space in which to do conversion work like expanded fuel tanks, food and water stores etc... so that's a plus as well. They tend to be durable and relatively mechanically simple so as to reduce maintenance costs as well which is useful in a wasteland environment.

I would council against using any single vehicle for any trip in an apocalyptic setting, rather you need at least two vehicles each individually capable of completely the journey with everything you need to take and everyone on board, you should be planning for the loss of at least one vehicle in such a hostile situation.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer to get the greatest percentage of people safely from one location to the next. If one fails, the others might make it. Greatly increases the complexity and coordination though. A convoy is usually a good bet. This is a well proven tactic. $\endgroup$
    – Jammin4CO
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:11

A decently fueled diesel semi truck with a trailer to store your stuff could get you 1000km on a single tank of gas.

As can be seen on this Truckers Report forum* question, fuel economy for a fully loaded truck is roughly 7 miles per gallon, or about 3 kilometers per litre. And this question shows that capacity ranges from 50 gallons on the low end to 300 gallons on the high end, or about 189-1135 litres.

So, the average semi truck could carry enough fuel for a 600-3000km trip. Combine this with sturdy wheels, powerful and reliable engine, ample storage space for people/food/water/fuel/knick knacks, and a rotating set of drivers due to the built in cab bed means this truck is only gonna stop when you want it to.

  • Yes, it's some random forum and not at all scientific, but niche forums like that are usually reliable.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ah, the war rig! $\endgroup$
    – Jared K
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 21:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Official sources for goods vehicle fuel consumption by weight, Table ENV0104: gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env01-fuel-consumption $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Diesel also doesn't go bad like gas does. Being a foot pump siphon, you do not want that stuff in your mouth. $\endgroup$
    – jorfus
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @jorfus Diesel does go bad just as gas does. It just takes a little longer. 6-12 months is about it before you're running watery fuel but it won't be as much of an issue in a diesel engine. $\endgroup$
    – DJSpud
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 17:03

Luckily your requirements match quite well with some current thread-scenarios of asymmetrical conflicts. What the military has come up with are the so called MRAP.

I´d suggest the German ATF-Dingo. You´d have to get the long version for 8 People or two of the small ones for 10.

enter image description here (Source Wikipedia)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Get two long ones, and assume you'll lose one to misadventure, or plot adventure :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 17:04

If this is going to be made into a movie, I'd go with a double-decker city bus. For the American (ticket-buying) audience, those are amusing and characteristically European (or really British). Fun to see on screen. I think a Harry Potter movie had a battle in one.

Modifications that ordinary people could make would be to weld some sheet metal onto the bottom floor windows. If the bus has a back door, you could load the bottom floor aisle with barrels of explosives or other surprises to roll out the back at enemies during a high-speed pursuit. Weld some blades onto the hubcaps to cut down zombies on the road (like an old-time war chariot). You might weld something like a cowcatcher or plow on the front to knock down any zombies that block your way. Really, if your characters can get their hands on a welder, they can make some crude improvements fast.

From the top floor of course you can position warriors with firearms. At quiet times they'll have a lookout stationed in the "crows nest" and this would be a good setting for conversations or the romantic sub-plot to play out, under the stars or whatever. In the eventual climactic battle, the surviving characters will set the bus, packed with explosives, to ram into the enemy base, and they can bail out from the top deck. Oscars, here we come.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Double decker buses also have the added advantage that they can swing pretty wildly without tipping over.. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:13
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @WayneWerner Exactly what you want in an exciting action story about a thousand-mile-long vehicular melee battle. $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ while double-decker buses are seldom if you are not in the uk, a normal standard bus will be easy to find. A standard bus has emergency exits to the top, so you could remove these and have access to the top. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 10:17

Going for a single vehicle is a bad idea. If it breaks down or gets stuck, the whole group is in peril. Instead, consider 3 or 4 off-road capable SUV's, like Jeeps or Land Rovers, and wagon train it to your destination.

  • Common enough to find, and to find parts for
  • Everyone can drive them
  • Small enough to move around obstacles on the road like broken down cars
  • Maneuverable enough to handle situations like sloped road sides to get around blockages.
  • Big enough, though, to push through at least a small group of Z's
  • High enough ground clearance to handle being off road, or over partially obstructed roads
  • Good in areas that may be flooded
  • If one gets stuck or breaks down, the people in it can pile into the others, and in a true emergency, they can all fit in or on one (uncomfortably)
  • In a tactical situation, multiple vehicles can flank and maneuver in combat, and split up to make it difficult to be followed.

Ideally, you might want to combine a couple of the answers here - multiple types of vehicles in one convoy. Some for scouting ahead, some for moving the bulk of people and supplies, some dirt bikes carried along for investigating narrow routes, hybrids for generating power at camp, etc.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Up in our north in the winter situation is pretty similar to what OP describes: if you get stuck on the road for several hours, you die (from cold, not zombies) unless help comes. Some towns just close the gates in the evening so people would only travel during the day. Guess what? Only idiots go for long distance on 1 car. So, practice corroborates your answer:) As for different types - logistics get simpler if your vehicles all use the same fuel and same spare parts $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 14:27

You gave a list of reason as to why air travel might be an issue but what if I can give you an air travel method that would solve all those issues while still answering all of your requirements?

I give you the airship:

  • Exist in RL 2018
  • Zeppelin NT can carry 12 passanger + 2 crew members meeting your party size requirements
  • Very low maintenance air vehicle heterogeneous party is all that's needed to maintain it for a single 1000km trip
  • 400km-1000km trips have been done in airships more then once
  • Multiple stops & takeoffs in a single trip are easily possible
  • The 7 days are more then what's needed to prep an airship for takeoff and no defensive modifications are needed as we all know zombies can't fly and the airship doesn't need to land until they reach the 1000km destination
  • There are airships in Europe (not as plentiful as planes but still there are some)
  • Low fuel usage - only fuel needed is to power the props for forward & directional trust, once inflated buoyancy takes care of lift.
  • unlike stated in another answer modern airships can withstands a lot of damage, their frame is made of different compartments so even if shot at and multiple compartments get bullet holes in them the rest remain intact and keep the ship afloat, also the most commonly used lifting gas, helium, is inert and therefore presents no fire risk.
  • There are civilian airships so no military gear needed (but there are also military and police airships BTW - they make great observation posts)
  • Fly over all the zombies, blocked roads & raider scouts (airship can fly far higher then most bullets can get at so after takeoff your safe from any attack short of military grade AA guns, rocket or other air vehicles)
  • They are slower then airplanes true but the Zeppelin NT example I gave above gave above has a cruising speed of 115 km/h, you can reach your destination in a single day flight so if you pack lunch you aren't even going to miss a single meal (and you can even eat while flying), cargo is a non issue as the same Zeppelin NT is built for 14 people and you only got 8 on board.
  • fuel is standard aviation airfuel for most types but in theory as airship engine are only used for maneuverability you can use normal fuel as a replacement in a pinch, there have been reported cases of aircrafts flying on normal fuel & as airships don't have a minimum speed to stay afloat there's no risk in having reduced efficiency.
  • They are a lot quieter then aircrafts.
  • No airfield is needed, any open space is a possible landing zone.
  • Are easier to fly then airplanes, if I was in a zombie apocalypse and had a blimp nearby I would rather try flying it then taking any land base method of transport, you also mentioned this is the only limit that can be bypassed in possibly having a trained pilot in the group.
  • Flies over water just as easy as it does over land.
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for airships. I like airships. Airships are nice. They're much safer and durable than what people imagine, because they imagine we're in 1937 still. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ Airships would work nice if you could find one & the gas to run it... Creating hydrogen is very slow... and Helium is rare in Europe... Plus, you need a tight hull for them, which you won't find. I prefer the balloons - they are easier to obtain. $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 21:28

When planning a long journey, start with a vehicle built for long haul travel and adapt to the other challenges, the journey is the toughest part here. So many solutions here are ideal for the zombie-apocalypse but lacking on the long-haul side of things.

How about a long-haul Coach bus? They've got room for 50+ people in their main passenger configuration, but if you got one retrofitted for Band Tours then you'd have a lot more interior space to play with and more amenities for your smaller group, things like a minifridge/freezer, bar, bunks and so on.

Most coaches have a chemical toilet, a hell of a lot of cargo space in the lower deck, and critically the passenger space is raised a good two meters off the ground. They also have hatches in the roof in case the vehicle flips on its side, so you could potentially build a fighting platform on top without too much trouble.

They're built to travel long-distance, so good mileage is a given, they also usually run on diesel and fuel should be relatively commonplace and adaptable to other sources if necessary.

With the band-tour buses, the windows are frequently blacked out to fend off the paparazzi, so you'd be able to have light inside the bus at night without being a beacon for any raiders/zombies that might be watching.

Offroad travel is not going to work, but with some retrofitting you may be able to fit a large snowplow to the front of the bus and push aside any other vehicles on the road.

  • $\begingroup$ no window can be black enough to prevent any light from being seen from outside. + what do you do if a wheel gets stuck. lifting up a whole bus is impossible under such conditions. *: ) also, any car is quite noisy. $\endgroup$
    – KGM
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Good points both, though the addition of curtains (which the buses already have) would neatly solve the light problem. it's not really a major selling point, just a handy bonus under some circumstances. If the bus gets stuck you're pretty much screwed though. My main thought is that as long as you're mobile the zombies are essentially a non-threat. the real threat is raiders. So stick to the roads and keep moving. You shouldn't need to go offroad in a trip through europe from city to city. Noise isn't as big an issue as all that. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ If the heroes have some luck Your solution is best (+1), if they have bad luck, your solution is *: ). $\endgroup$
    – KGM
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ If the bus gets stuck, revert to plan B: The cargo space has room for a dozen bicycles, so switch to those and use people-power. You can also use them for scouting while parked up for refueling or during expeditions for supplies along your route. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 15:32

How about a crane vehicle like this one: https://goo.gl/images/zUo9km

It's large, you can create some makeshift shelters alongside the crane, it's well capable of storage capacity (extra fuel and food) on the sides and you can potentially deal with things like trees across the road and other large multi-ton obstacles. Possibly you could drive with the crane slightly lifted while it carries a shelter underneath (chained to below so it doesnt move constantly). This would give a vantagepoint and protection from Zombies and mean only the drivers cab needs a lot of protection (and perhaps the crane-cab).

I'm assuming that most people intend to live, so raiding is unlikely as it's a time-consuming, high risk and loud endeavor with high risks even if you succeed due to the zombies, and you dont know what kind of resistance you'll meet. Also with 90% of the populace killed trying to raid other people is a terrible idea as you'll find precious few people to actually raid. This means it requires little protection from bullets, and more in the way of speakers and antennae to communicate and trade with survivors.

As a secondary idea I would go for velomobiles: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velomobile

Velomobiles are bycicles/recumbent bikes that have a protective shell around it. A trained person can reach 90km/h on them, made easier with electric motors that draw 1/8th the energy of a fully electric car. Often they can carry 200kg of luggage or in this case supplies besides the driver, and in some cases they can carry a small cart behind it.

The biggest problem with this is that it's not a single main vehicle. Perhaps these could be carried on a main vehicle like the crane to "shop" around the area you stoppes in. Otherwise these velomobiles are small, allowing them to maneuver through gaps, debris and parked cars. They are low and hard to keep track of when you take off things like visibility flags, perfect for avoiding zombies. And perhaps the most important: they are extremely silent. In a dead world like you describe a car engine could be heard for kilometers around, especially downwind. Almost soundless vehicles would be key in avoiding the zombie hoards. As a last advantage: with a dynamo or solar panels you can recharge your batteries, while fuel ages quickly and becomes useless. This means the velomobiles would be able to reach any city you want without fuelstops that have to be near zombie-populated area's (where any pumpstation would be located), and even if you run out you can keep pedalling and retain high velocities.

Edit: for repairs, velomobiles require relatively little. Drag some of the compounds that together make the shells and you can repair holes. For all other repairs any bycicle kit will do and unpowered tools can be used to repair or replace parts of the frame when damaged. A pretty important feature when you cant just pop by a garage for repairs.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Almost soundless vehicles would be key in avoiding the zombie hoards. => This! Unfortunately I assume that after the zombie apocalypse sources of electricity are at a premium, which is why I didn't post an answer suggesting Electric/Hydrogen fueled cars, but it seems to me that if zombies are attracted to noise, a silent vehicle would be the best way to avoid being beset by a zombie horde each time one stops. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Matthieu M. The advantage here is that the electric engines of velomobiles could be recharged by the person himself through dynamo's or a portable solar panel. Careful use could also help. Keeping a Velomobile at speed isnt too difficult (although high speeds like 90 would, but doing 50 in zombie&obstacle land seems fast enough), it's the acceleration and going up hills that's the most difficult part. Only engage the engines during acceleration and going up hills and you'll be able to go far on a single battery, and extra batteries is an option on most sites. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Oh yes, I completely agree with this answer :) I wanted to suggest electric cars because it's easier to haul gear/multiple people/... but unfortunately the batteries would quickly go flat on cars :( $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 6:44

Rally Truck

2018 Dakar Rally Winner (Tatra) enter image description here

2018 Dakar Rally Second Place (Kamaz) enter image description here


Much depends of the rate of travel of a zombie, and how acute their hearing is.

If you were is western North America (US or Canada) and not on the coast, I would say that your best mode of travel would be horse. I don't know the settlement pattern of Europe well enough. I think horses would work in Germany with aobut 30% forested and wild lands, and would NOT work in Belgium and Holland.

Travel cross country to avoid concentrations of people/undead.

A horse at a walking pace is quiet, especially on a dirt surface. Possibly make socks for them to muffle hoof sounds on pavement.

Horses will not be stopped by pileups on the road.

Downsides: Given the supplies you are taking you likely need between 5 and 15 pack horses for a group of 10 people (.5 to 1.5 pack horses/person) A pack horse can carry about 120 pounds to 250 pounds (sources vary), and keep up with a mounted person. I suspect that long hauls require lighter loads.

In usual travel mode, pack trains moved 10-15 miles a day, with 12 miles (19 km) being typical. Speed was not great -- about 2 mph, maybe a bit more. Horses need time to graze if you are living off the land. They will need access to water. They can go further/faster if fed a grain supplement, but this increases the number of pack horses. Packing at the start/end of the day is fairly time consuming, taking 15-30 minutes per pack horse at each end of the day. Grooming is required, as is checking for raw skin from harness/packs, and always feet.

The key to travel in your scenario will be to move quietly enough to avoid the zombies, and to find places to camp that are defensible. If you are quiet there will be zero or only a few zombies in earshot. You will need to stand watch at night, and you will need to guard the horses. Camping near natural noise sources (waterfalls, rapids, wind in the trees) and in places that naturally absorb sound (dense forest, box canyons, steep ravines, caves) will have merit. Given the general uncoordination of zombies, rough terrain may be more to your advantage. Most of the above have risks of being trapped too. Perfect campsites are going to be hard to find.

Since zombies are attracted to noise, some of the preps you may want to try:

  • Find air powered rifles. Some were used in WWII as sneak weapons. Not as powerful as a conventional rifle but still deadly, and much much quieter. If one or more of your members has any skill with a bow, raid archery shops for arrows, although a head shot will be tricky. Crossbows are another fairly quiet option.

  • Build proper silencers for conventional rifles. A silencer doesn't make a weapon silent, but it reduces the noise by a lot. Instead of attracting every zombie within a mile, you may only get noticed by ones within 300 yards. Silencers make the rifle heavier, change it's balance, and interfere with the sighting picture. A good silencer is likely to be the size of a can of tennis balls.

  • Noise makers. Having units that can be set with a delay and then make a lot of noise for a few minutes may be the trick to getting away. Such devices should be rugged, and have timers for how long to make noise. Some may be programmable to turn on and off repeatedly.

  • Poisons. Stop by a gold mine and get bulk cyanide. Zombies have some sort of metabolism. Cyanide binds to hemoglobin rendering the blood supply useless. A dead horse slathered with a paste of cyanide may kill off the immediate crowd.

  • Gasoline flame bombs -- set as booby traps. Quarter stick of dynamite in a milk jug full of gasoline might ruin a zombies day.

  • snares. That shuffling pace lends itself to snares. Part of your defence perimeter is lines with slip loops a couple inches above the ground. It won't kill them, but it you catch them they have to take time to untangle themselves. Given the number of missing fingers this will take time. Following zombies will trip and fall over the snared ones. The effect will be to smear a mass attack over time, allow you shotgun reloading time between waves.

Programmable noisemakers may be used to wear out a bunch of zombies. Set up two 500 meters apart. One goes off for 5 minutes. Zombies stream toward it. 5 minute silence. Zombies start to disburse. 2nd one goes off, zombies stream toward it. With the right spacing and timing, you can keep them sloshing back and forth like a wave in a kiddy pool. Eventually they run out of energy.

Having one or more zombie dogs will be useful. These are dogs that are trained to detect the faint trace of the undead that they leave behind. The dog is trained to figure out which way the zombie was traveling, and silently indicates which way.

If zombies have need of water, then traveling sections of land that are dry for miles may be effective. Load up on enough water for a night when you can, and camp on a dry ridgeline. This may allow a much smaller watch to be kept and give everyone more time to rest.

This will require extra horses. Water is heavy. You will need several gallons of water per horse.

  • $\begingroup$ 2mph is probably to slow, the risk of being heard by a group of zombies in front of you because a herd of zombies chasing after you make a lot of noise and you would never out run them. You would also have no protection from raiders. $\endgroup$
    – cybernard
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ All depends on the population density of zombies. In Western North America, population now is typically about 2-3 people per square mile. Non-consolidated zombies are easy to deal with. Consolidated groups are sparse enough to be scouted. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:16

A travel trailer that can be attached to a truck or mounted on a track bed.
For example Man TGL with 6 tonnes loaded burn around 25 litres for 100 km. It have have fuel tank that can take 400 litres. So on one tank you can go 1600 km.
A travel trailer can be detached and truck can have more km/l while still having place for two people to sleep, eat and store things.

MAN trucks are widely available in Europe in ALL versions. So you can easily adapt extra functions like windlass (from firetrucks), rams, communication arrays or medical shelf, there is something for every need so you can easily switch, add or remove needed items.

For extra need I would suggest using minibikes. They are light, fast, have small l/km and you can store 4 of them at the back of the cabin.

Using trains or railroads is not very smart. One train wagon can weight to 40 tons. Try to remove 8 of them. It would be very, very time and resource consuming. Especially when all the utility trains use diesel fuel. Which you can burn in your truck.


I'll offer a completely immediate and ready-to-use solution, because effort is nice but no-effort is nicer. I assume you have useable roads, otherwise I strongly suggest your

I will single a particular vehicle out, but really the point is it's hybrid and rather common. It's an MPV for size, you might choose an SUV instead if available, or you could get away with a convoy of compacts. There are other brands, other models. If your survivors have internet access, they can check all these vehicles for size, consumption, and popularity. Or you could just conjure up a fake model.

#NotAnAd, but I will take checks if you offer them.

Aim for a Toyota dealership and pick the most expensive (no reason to pick a cheap one, is there?) Prius+ in stock. Or maybe you just already own one, lucky you. But okay, why a bloody Toyota Prius+?

  • It's a 7-seater. You can fit 10 people. Not much room for supplies beyond some MREs and first aid kits, but you can squeeze more if you start removing seats and useless panelling.

  • It's a family vehicle, which usually means great safety rating (unless you removed all the seats but who would do that?), but more importantly that means handy compartments in the front and a roof rack option. If you are lucky, they might even have it installed and the trunk that goes with it

  • It's fuel efficient, which is both nice for the environment and in a zombie apocalypse. If anything, it will make stopping for refuel less frequent and shorter.

  • It's got an alleged range of slightly above 1000 km, which is likely a lie to begin with, and will certainly be less true with 10 people onboard. Still, more than enough range you won't have to stop more than once for each city you visit.

  • No data on battery-only range for an overloaded vehicle (really disappointing), but I would expect 5-10km, maybe 20 in absurdly ideal conditions. But it's enough range to pass through some heavily zombified areas running all electric, aka silent.

  • It's got a GPS and the radio. GPS are great for navigation (not that a gool ol' map can't do the job), and radio is great for picking up signals like "hello, this is Radio Safety where we tell you where it's safe to go." There's probably a USB port to recharge your smartphone too, how convenient.

  • It's a common vehicle, meaning you can always find a fresh one if you have to. You might even have the luxury of picking the color you want.

Now the caveats:

  • It's a Prius. It's not armoured nor combat ready. You'll be fine if you drive around zombies, not so much if you drive into trouble.

  • It'll work on dirt roads, but, and particularly since it's overloaded, don't ever get close to muddy areas. You'll have to stick to roads, but the good news is only you decide how clogged the roads (or kerbs) are.

  • Any global warming denier might shoot you in the face out of principle for driving an hybrid, but I surmise this is a rather low risk.

Additionally, and that's true for any vehicle, if you have internet access and a smartphone, there might be a Waze-like app but with a zombie horde signalement option. If there isn't it might still signal law enforcement or safe heavens (provided other survivors use it and don't want to kill you).

  • $\begingroup$ Wish I could give another +1 for Waze zombie warning. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 21:58

I don't know why anyone hasn't suggested it but the best vehicle would be an armoured car like the ones used by banks.

It's already lightly armoured and comes with run flat tyres. It's got a powerful engine and is quite capable of pushing abandoned vehicles off the road and just driving over zombies without taking any damage. It's diesel so fuel is common and could be run on cooking oil in a pinch

They're also common enough that survivors could easily find one which I think is the key. Sure other vehicles might be better but they are not common and easily found. Any city will have several depots with them and they could be found on motorways or small towns if they were making a delivery at the time.

You could use it as is or you could make some simple modifications like a roof hatch, gun ports and a plow to clear the road

The other thing is that you'd take two vehicles. If something happens to the first vehicle, you have a recovery vehicle or everyone could keep going in the second in a pinch. It would also allow you to refuel more easily. The first vehicle parks at the fuel stop and shuts down and keep quiet. The second vehicle draws the zombies away by honking the horn. Once safe they can refuel in peace

  • $\begingroup$ A catch is that such a vehicle primarily designed to not being able to steal. So that could prove tricky... but would make for a good story. That aside, it shares the problems of most of the other road vehicle suggestions: in case of a zombie apocalypse, you won't get away with merely pushing the odd abandoned vehicle off the road. Rather, most of the roads anywhere near urban areas will be completely jammed with hundreds of cars. Getting through that with anything lighter than a bulldozer is hopeless. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ Armouring could be a drawback actually. You would have to pay for it with abysmal fuel efficiency in a situation where fuel is scarce. Also, in situations when that armour would be useful you'd need much more than just that $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ They don't need better armour. The OP stated it was in Europe which means hunting rifles and pistols of which the armour is more than sufficient. If they have military weapons, there isn't much you can drive that will help. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ By 'more' I don't mean armour. I mean logistics, training, recon and ton of other specialised knowledge. Group that controls the territory will stop them, group with superior mobility will stop them, etc. Armour would protect from potshots, which is required, but actual armoured vehicle might be an overkill. Here they are built to hold 5.45x39, but if the story takes place where they are basically reinforced vans then my point is moot. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 14:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just wonder why everyone mentioned running your diesel on cooking oil. Do you know how much more common petroleum are than cooking oil. LOL good luck finding even a 1/4 tank of fry oil.... $\endgroup$
    – DJSpud
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 16:58

I think one of these Iveco or Kamaz heavy trucks would be the ideal platform. They have huge fuel tanks and can go pretty much anywhere. Absolute units.


  • $\begingroup$ Didn't see one of them before - I guess they are pretty rare, aren't they ? $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ Large fuel tanks are quite common on long distance lorries. You can drive them all day and the gas gauge hardly moves. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @LMD Racing ones or the platform in general? Those in the video are built specifically for that race in a separate department so they differ considerably from stock ones. Still, the platform is robust and versatile, so KAMAZ ones are everywhere here. I think you can find them around eastern Europe, in western Europe you'll have IVECOs or maybe some other brand. You can find stock vehicles like this or this. By the way, racing ones have plenty of space in the back too, but they are one-of-a-kind beasts. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 15:33

Rather than focusing on the vehicle (the road-rail option seems like the clear winner there, especially if you pair a truck with a road-rail back-hoe or JCB for defense and heavy removals), I'll look at modifications.

It looks like there are a few main areas of risk that we'll want to avoid or evade.

  1. The car chase. This is already handled multiple ways, by going off-road, or onto rail, or using the tank-like abilities of the JCB. Realistically, this would never be a thing in a post-apoc world, but it makes for a good narrative. In reality, you'd have ambushes. So you wouldn't chase someone because they might be ambush-bait. Chases are only worthwhile if you know there are unlikely to be ambushes to be led into, you know you outgun your quarry, and you know you can outrun them, and you know they are carrying something worth the expenditure of your resources to get, and you know you can get that by chasing them, without destroying the prize. Given how unlikely all these things are, why would any gang even equip themselves for the possibility?

  2. Ambushes/Checkpoints. Avoiding roads, and having a hardened battering-ram/shield vehicle to either force a path through or shield the other vehicle's u-turn seem like the best plans here. A rail ambush generally relies on derailment being a show-stopper, so road-rail cars should cope better than most against these. However, setting the points to divert into a cutting might still work if the drivers are not careful - and well-timed point-switching can also split the convoy.

  3. A breakdown or crash. Multiple vehicles reduces this problem slightly, in that one may be abandoned, at a high cost, but unless every vehicle can take 10 people, there's a limit to the attrition you can handle there. Having a defensive barrier to protect the repairing engineers may buy valuable time. Bring cutting and welding tools, and spare wheels, because your armor WILL get smashed into the wheels, grinding you to a halt, and meaning you need to quickly cut the armor away, replace the wheel, and get moving again. If the axle is also damaged, you'll need to give up on the vehicle. Protective skirts around the vehicle are a good idea anyway, for protection during any repairs that need doing under the vehicle, and protection against having the wheels shot out. However, they will reduce ground clearance, and risk being bent into the wheels in a collision.

  4. Bogging down or sinking. Inflatable pontoons attached to the vehicles might be good for this, allowing the vehicle to become a raft. But this is likely to be prohibitive in terms of prep-time and power requirements and pump equipment, compared to the likelihood of the risk. However, it might make a good "hail mary" to just bolt a bunch of self-inflating life-rafts to the side of the vehicle, with the trigger strings pullable from inside. Almost certainly not useful for flotation, but they might be. And they might help right the vehicle if it tipped, smother a fire, knock off boarders, provide a little temporary collision padding, and more. But for the most part, a JCB to dig them out works better against mud, while rivers will just have to be detoured or crossed at bridges or fords. For this, metal pipe to lift the air intake and the exhaust up to the roof will at least prevent the engine getting swamped while fording, at the expense of fuel economy.

  5. Foraging. Fuel will be the main one, but if stocks were low before the trip then medical and food/drink supplies may need to be refreshed too. A giant fuel tank could be brought along but is also a liability and may need to be abandoned. In all cases, the best protection is to not expose themselves. Since gas pumps are very unlikely to work (they need power, a telecomms infrastructure for the card, etc), the most useful improvement for foraging fuel would be a giant pull-along tank. Alternatively, or ideally in addition, they'd craft themselves internal access to the gas cap, a fuel pump, and a trap door in the floor with protective skirts, so that they could go down, open the fuel manhole in the ground, and pump it out into their own tank, without exposing themselves. Foraging needs the ability to jump out and back in fast. It is likely that there'll be a situation where people will need to cling to the outside until they've reached a spot where it's safe to let them in. Also, during car chases, stuff might need doing outside the vehicle. Both of these need handholds. Gun ports can double as handholds, which also prevents them being used by bad guys (they get their fingers machete'd off if they try! Or the gun ports can simply be closed).

  6. Cities. 5-6 of them at 400km increments means you're driving 2000km. Every one of them will have gangs, blocked streets, and other problems that will make driving the convoy through very hard. Circumnavigating by ring roads is ideal, but not always possible, especially if you want some cool landmarks in your story, perhaps because they have to rescue someone in the middle of the city. Even if they don't penetrate city center, EU cities seem to have more built-up urban sprawl than US (or at least, TX) cities, so the same problems may be encountered even in the outskirts.

  7. Tires. One of the major advantages of the rail system is that tires become a backup rather than the required method of driving. On roads, raiders will set traps with roadblocks, stinger systems, caltrops, and so on. Sure, you can't steer without road wheels, but at least you have more options than "stop dead and change the tire". Still, some system of fast-changing the tires would be good - run-flat tires would be ideal, but if they're just making what they can from what they can scavenge, then at least power-tools to change the wheel fast (with hand tools in case the power fails). Someone can possibly crouch in the JCB front bucket to change the wheel and be protected from most light arms fire, but not from zombies.

Any of these risks may result in asset abandonment. When abandoning an asset, it's traditional in stories to never refresh that asset. This drives the narrative forward, but often just seems silly to the reader, and is a missed opportunity for further adventures. If you lose your fuel tank and you're not far in, then getting a new large fuel tank seems like a valid subgoal, and adds a diversion and interest to the story. If you lose your backup vehicle, then you no longer have a backup - getting a new one seems a valid subgoal. And so on.

Also: I say "gangs". These are super unlikely to be the kind of Mad Max punk gangs that people imagine in the post-holocaust world. Instead, they'll be communities of people who are out to survive at any cost.

Their turf will be heavily armed and armored to defend their protected resources.

Their foragers will roam out to scavenge, but they will avoid non-cooperative contact with other forces unless they have to.

Perhaps both are after a resource that they must have; or the encroaching people pose a risk to their defenses, perhaps by having a JCB that's moving their roadblocks out the way; or the encroaching people have something they need to survive, such as decent escape vehicles.

For the most part, though, it is simply not worth investing in potentially deadly combat when there is so much scavengeable stuff where people won't be shooting at you.

I feel that the default for two groups of survivors meeting in Europe will generally be cautious cooperation, preferably at a distance; I believe in the US competition might be an equally likely outcome, since a competition-based, zero-sum-game worldview is much more common here. So, in Europe, people will hail each other, shout or signal warnings about activity seen, and so on. They'll leave signs for other survivors, and make efforts to make contact, albeit silently.

So the last modification I'd suggest, is as many communications methods as possible. Walkie talkies (with chargers!). A ham radio or at least a CB. Flags. Flashlights. A morse code book. Information is king.

In that light, one of the best tradables (as well as very useful for survival) will be useful ebooks on survival, and readers for it, and chargers for them.


Assuming your group can get their hands on one, I would consider an infrantry fighting vehicle such as a Bradley.

  • They can hold up to nine
  • They can handle rugged terrain
  • They use diesel which is almost as easy to find as gasoline and can be stored for slightly longer.
  • Their arms and armor will be very helpful against the undead, or antagonistic survivors.

There are a few disadvantages:

  • Most IFVs, including the Bradley, are wide enough that it would be problematic to drive them on roads that might be blocked by abandoned cars.
  • They won't have many of the creatures comforts of most other modern vehicles.
  • The gas mileage is horrible.

Even so, those disadvantages are probably outweighed by the advantages in a zombie apocalypse, especially if most of the area you need to cross is relatively flat off-road region.


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