Archive for the ‘The Survival Camper’ Category
My friend and I went up to the mountains of Upstate New York on a grid down training scenario where we had to grab everything we could within minutes of becoming overrun and bug out to a new location. The idea of the shtf training scenario is to become better prepared for a potential future need to bug out in a hurry.
I prepared for a few days ahead of time by building a truck camper in the bed of my truck with the help of some friends. I had an old camper top for the bed of my truck and some old camper parts from a camper I had gutted out years ago. Using old recycled parts I built myself a decent truck camper for bugging out.
Previously I have used my slide in survival truck camper for bug out training but with the rising gas prices I cannot afford to use the old truck camper anymore for training purposes. The camper weighs over 2,000 pounds fully loaded.
My new homemade truck camper has a removable bed, shelf, bench, folding table, composting toilet, a kitchen sink with running water, solar power and more. It has all the comforts of a standard camper except that its way smaller and weighs very little. This means it costs a lot less on gas. Another important advantage of the small homemade bug out camper is that since it weighs so much less and has a much lower profile I can take it places where I cannot take the full slide in truck camper.
The place we were headed is untouched woodlands near the top of a mountain. It is rough terrain and I needed to travel light.
I loaded all the gear I felt that two people could need for long term survival out in the mountains. Spare clothes, winter clothes, hand saws, food, cooking utensils, pots and pans, tools, emergency truck repair supplies and parts, oil lamps, alcohol burner, and more.
I also have a brand new Mr Beams LED lantern with a USB charging port on it to charge your cell phone in the field. For cooking I have a Silverfire Hunter biomass rocket stove to test out in the field. This was to be my only cooking source.
My friend finally arrived out of New York City around 4:30 pm. This would simulate a true bug out scenario where I had half a day to prepare while waiting for my friend to arrive from the city. It takes a long time to get out of the city when the grid is down. I know first hand. Once when it rained it took me 5 hours to get out of the city for a normal 1.5 hour drive.
Another point of this trip is to build a cottage for my friend. He has owned the property for 15 years and never started his dream cottage. We were finally going to start building it. That is another reason for not taking the huge truck camper. Yes you can remove it from the truck but in the soft soil and rough terrain of his property it is dangerous to remove the truck camper from the truck. With my homemade truck camper you can just remove the contents in five minutes and be on the road.
It took us about two and a half more hours to get to his property. It was pitch black by the time we got to the mountains. The roads are treacherous with steep inclines and very sharp turns around jutting rock walls. The rocks literally poke out over the road in places and you crawl around the turns at an idle.
We got to camp and unloaded the truck after dark. The Mr Beams LED lantern came in handy for this. We hung it on the side of a pine tree to provide light while we worked. We set up a huge tarp in the trees and used stakes and ropes to string it out as a canopy for our outdoor living area. All of our gear went under the tarp for the night.
The brand new Silverfire biomass stove was pulled out for the first time and used to brew up a pot of coffee to warm us up on the cold night. It only takes a handful of twigs and provides a very strong heat source for cooking.
After coffee we made our beds in the back of the truck for the night and settled in. I used my power station that I had built into the truck camper to answer some emails and messages with my computer. My cell phone provides internet. The cell phone was the only thing that would not really work in a true grid down scenario but I have my work to do and live goes on outside the training field with or without you.
The grid down bug out scenario continues…
I have had a fiberglass camper top for the bed of my truck for about two years now and always wanted to make a camper out of it. Now with a survival trip into the mountains coming up and no shelter where I am staying the time has come. A couple friends and I made a fully loaded survival truck camper in just two days.
I started out with the camper top. I got this for free two years ago off the internet classifieds. I used it from time to time for hauling stuff in my truck on rainy days but its been sitting on blocks for the past year now. This camper shell has sliding glass windows and bug screens. It has access to the cab through another sliding glass window. There are many windows, a raised roof area so you can sit up and also skylights to allow more light to enter during the day.
The camper top has a standard RV light fixture on the ceiling and the wires were just hanging down from the side of the shell.
After mounting the camper top on the bed of my 1987 GMC High Sierra 2500 4×4 truck I sat inside and checked out the space I had to get an idea what I could fit inside my new camper. I wanted a bed and a shelf for sure. That was a given. So I got measuring and came up with the idea of a two piece bed that slides together and uses the wheel well for support on one side. A single screw holds the two pieces together during travel to prevent them from sliding all over. Big Joe gets most of the credit for building the bed.
Then I built a shelf that spans the whole front of the camper from one side to the other. This is a simple drop in shelf that I can move around or remove as needed.
But I did not stop there. I wanted to have my battery topped off at all times so I used an old solar charge controller I had laying around and connected it to the batteries with a 5 watt solar panel I also had left over from an old project. Now I have a solar charged water on demand camp sink. I love it.
So far the total cost of the survival truck camper equals two dollars for the silicone hose. The rest of the materials I got for free or had laying around.
The composting toilet uses the seat off my old camper toilet. I replaced the sink in the camper long ago with a composting toilet and this old RV toilet was sitting out back. I took off the seat and lid and the guys helped me build a frame for my new truck camper composting toilet. A 5 gallon bucket slides easily underneath to catch your business. The toilet slides into the back side of the truck bed underneath the shelf during transportation or stowage.
After sitting back and enjoying the progress of our labors I came up with the idea of a second bench on the other wheel well for a guest to sit at. Big Joe whipped that up while I worked on an electrical system for the survival bug out shelter. I wanted to have power on demand for running lights, cell phone or other devices while out in the woods. I am not a minimalist survivor and never claimed to be. I like my comforts. We live in the 21st century and I will not head back into the stone ages in a grid down or shtf situation.
I have two old truck batteries I used for the main source of power. After connecting them up in parallel I also connected a 20 amp solar charge controller I had extra. This is connected to a 40 watt solar panel I bought used for only $20. In the meantime Joe Guiver hooked up the overhead wiring so I would have light inside my new homemade camper.
Now, not counting the value of things I already had on hand, I spent about 22 dollars for some battery terminals and the silicone hoses. I will total up the value of everything later counting what I had spent for things I already had on hand. I will also compare with full retail price in case you do not have these items on hand.
To hold things all together neatly I used a piece of scrap wood for an electronic control panels. This holds my solar charge controller, fuse block, negative battery terminal strip and also I added a cigarette lighter socket to power any accessories. It was looking very good.
I was sitting in the new camper with Big Joe and we came up with the idea of a table. A folding table that sits in between the two benches and can fold away when not in use. To allow for leg room to get in and out of the camper the table only has tree legs. Two on the back side and one on the front. This allows us to easily slip into the bed of the truck and sit at the table. The table sits three men comfortably for playing a game of cards or a meal after a day in the woods.
Now I have a fully decked out survival truck camper for shtf or just for fun.
The total cost I paid during the project was only about $22. The rest of the materials I had on hand.
Here is a list of materials used.
Truck camper top – free
Scrap lumber – free
Bamper sink from a water damaged camper – free
2 silicone hoses from the dollar store – $2
Used windshield water pump from a dead vehicle – free
Toggle switch I had laying around – free
Old truck batteries – free
4 battery terminals $5 each – $20
Scrap automotive wiring – free
Old jumper cables for battery connections – free
Misc screws I had on hand – free
20 amp solar charge controller – $29
1 amp solar charge controller – $5
Fuse block – $5
Copper tubing bus bar – free
Cigarette lighter socket – $7
40 watt solar panel, used – $20
5 watt solar panel – $15
two 5 gallon buckets – free
two 5 gallon water tanks, used $2 each – $4
Two recycled hinges – free
My total cost is just over $100 to build a fully loaded survival truck camper. Your price will vary depending on what you may already have on hand. You can often find scrap wood at the lumber yard at a huge discount. I had most of the items laying around already but they originally came from ebay. The automotive battery terminals are from the local auto parts store.
You can ask at the local junk yard if you can get the windshield washer pump and hoses to save on your own costs.
Some friends and I just spent a weekend in the survival truck camper. It is early December in Upstate NY so it is very cold at night, down into the 20s sometimes. During the day it varies between 30 to 40 degrees. But sleeping in a survival shelter at night can be quite an experience.
The survival shelter is a slide in truck camper that rides on top of a 4×4 GMC truck. The truck handles the camper quite well in most situations. The camper has all the basic needs for survival and then some. It came with no fridge or heater, so there is more storage space for survival gear.
We used oil lamps for light and some heat during the day and early evenings. It was mostly cloudy out so we used the lanterns almost the whole weekend. It helps keep it about 50 degrees inside with two oil lamps going. In the photo above you can see two of my friends sitting at the table and the two oil lamps we used for light and heat.
During the night we left an oil lamp on low as a night light and we tried out my second hand propane heater. This is a Mr Heater Buddy I got for $10 at a garage sale. You can screw in a one pound can or attach a hose to a 20 lb cylinder. I wanted to see how long it lasted on a can, so we screwed in a one pounder and went to bed. The heater was left on low at about 11pm.
Some time in the middle of the night it cold cold. The heat had gone out and it was about 29 outside. The heater only lasts a few hours on a one pounder on low. That is not good.
When we got up in the morning, it was in the high 40s inside. Not too bad considering that only our body heat and the little oil lamp kept it warm.
The moral of the story is that a smaller survival shelter is easier to keep warm in the winter. The smaller space and the amount of gear we have stashed in the camper help maintain the warmth even through the night.
In a real survival situation there would be no propane for heat. We would use homemade oil for our lamps and DIY alcohol for our heating stoves. See how to make the DIY Alcohol Heater we used last time in a blizzard.
When the SHTF and you need to bug out and head for the wilderness, you need a good survival shelter with you. Some people plan to bug out on food with just the clothes on their back. Others plan to get out of Dodge with a backpack and a rifle. I would strongly suggest some sort of permanent, hard shelter for long term survival. This is the best survival shelter in the world.
A slide in truck camper is the ultimate survival shelter you can have. Read on to see why.
If you have just a backpack and a tent, you will have some miserable wet and cold nights in the future. And a tent wears out pretty fast when its used every single day. You may also get tired of carrying it all over the world on your back. If you find some sort of permanent long term camp, then a tent will be useless after a short time. Winter in a tent is fun for a night, but miserable for long term survival.
Some people plan to make a log cabin out in the forest. This is long, hard back breaking work. Some people have a motor home, others have a tow behind camper of some kind. There are problems with each one of these.
A motorhome or RV with its on motor is prone to break downs on the road. And most motor homes are really heavy and use a lot of gas. A motor home requires extra registration, insurance and plates, which add costs during normal life. Forget having a popup camper. They have canvas sides and can be very cold in winter. Popup campers are also not at all durable due to the canvas leaking or getting punctured sometimes.
A tow behind trailer requires extra registration and plates in order to make it legal.
All of the above mentioned campers also need extra tires and other various parts.
A truck camper on the other hand is the perfect long term survival shelter. Due to its permanent hard walls and insulation, it is warmer in the winter. Due to its smaller size it is easier to keep warm in winter as well. A truck camper needs no registration, plates or insurance. There are no tires or spare parts needed for repairs.
A truck camper is rugged and durable for long term survival. A truck camper is made to take the beating of riding in the bed of a standard pickup truck going down the road or driving off road in the woods. Slide in truck campers have enough room for 4 to 6 people to sleep. They have all the comforts of home, but in a smaller package. You can get some deluxe models that have indoor and outdoor showers, toilet, air conditioning, stove and oven, double kitchen sink and everything else a larger full sized camper has. But a truck camper sits on the bed of your truck.
See the video review:
If you are bugging out a truck camper sitting on top of a 4 wheel drive pickup truck is the best bug out combination you can have. You can go literally anywhere an off road truck could go. You cannot go off roading with a normal RV or tow behind camper.
Here is a look inside the 79 Coachmen slide in truck camper that has become The Do It Yourself World survival camper. This was an old truck camper that was picked up for free from the classifieds online. After only $100 in repairs, it is now a bug out shelter for SHTF situations.
The old camper was partially gutted before, making it the perfect survival camper. The fridge and heater had previously been removed. This actually a good thing. Who needs a propane heater and fridge in a bug out situation anyway? You will eventually run out of propane and there is little or no electricity in the mountains after a major collapse so these items will only take up space later. For now, having the fridge and propane heater removed gives us a lot more space for storage of important survival gear and food.
The propane stove has been left in for now. It is nice on outings and training or camping weekends with the survival camper to cook on the gas stove. There is a huge supply of full 20 lb propane bottles waiting to go with us when we bug out. When used sparingly, these bottles can be used for quite a few years of heating water or cooking. There will be rainy days when a camp fire outside is just not nice at all and having the ability to cook indoors will be good. Again, a 20 lb bottle can last a very long time is only used on rainy days. One bottle can last many months. When using a propane fridge and heater though forget it. The propane would last a week at best. Save your propane for cooking only, and that only on bad weather days.
The original electrical control and inverter box was removed to allow for even more storage space. This camper will never again be hooked up on a campsite power cable so that was just more space freed up. A fuse box was added for 12 volt wiring and LED light bulbs were installed to preserve power. A single homemade solar panel and a deep cycle battery provides the electricity needed for lights.
Above is a peek inside the door of the old slide in truck camper. (Click on any image for a larger view). You can see that is has quite a bit of room inside, considering that the whole thing sits on the bed of a full sized pickup truck. The door on the left is a bathroom with storage and the door on the right is a closet full of clothing. Yes, this survival camper is fully loaded with clothing. When the SHTF you will have no time to run back inside the house to get more clothes and pack your bags. Be prepared.
Above you can see where the original fridge and heater were. The heater was below the fridge. Now it is storage space. Eventually a wood stove will be installed where the fridge was. When you line the walls with masonry such as bricks, it will absorb the heat and protect the walls from getting hot. After the fire goes out at night, the masonry will still radiate the heat into your camper. The space where the original propane camper heater was is now the battery compartment. This area has room for 4 deep cycle golf cart batteries. That would be enough reserve energy for weeks of power for your LED lighting and a laptop.
When you enter, on your left is the dining area. The table folds down and becomes a double bed. Two adults could sleep there in a pinch. Under the seat cushions is a huge amount of storage. Board games, spare equipment and tools and other various items are stored down there. Dont forget to take board games, cards and entertainment with you on your survival trip.
Above you can see the storage area that is just above the dining room. This is a huge amount of storage where our fishing gear, spare survival gear and extra bedding are kept. This whole wall also drops down and becomes yet another bed if you want. Inside the cabinets is a window. Sort of a strange place for a bed considering that you need to remove all of your stored gear, but they certainly thought of packing a lot of options into this little camper. With this bed, the dining table bed and the queen sized bed, they claim that this camper sleeps six adults. It would be very cozy if you know what I mean.
Above is a better view of the storage above the dining area. An old aluminum ladder was placed on the bed frame up there to provide space to hang jacket or other items.
Here is the kitchen area of the slide in truck camper. This is fully equipped with a three burner propane stove and a sink which converts in to a work space when you put the board on top. There was only cold running water provided in this model of camper which is fine for a survival camper. The tank is a 25 or 30 gallon fresh water tank with a 12 volt RV water pump. This can still be used when hooked up to batteries.
There is plenty of storage above and below the kitchen area. Above are all the pots, pans and dishes. Below are the silverware and utensils in the drawers. Under the sink and stove are all the camp stoves, oil lamps and tons of spare fuel for all. There is enough camp gas and lamp oil for a few years of use.
Above you can see the cab over bed in the slide in truck camper. This is a huge queen or king sized bedroom area. The original mattress is long gone, so I put a couple sailboat pads down there. They are rugged and should provide many years of use. And they allow for a lot of storage space up there. You could sleep 3 people up there if needed. On the back wall, above the bed is a long shelf that keeps all the fishing poles and some extra curtains and bedding.
The cab over bedroom is so huge that there is plenty of storage space at the foot of the bed. There were originally two storage compartments up here, one at the foot and one at the head of the bed. These were removed during repairs due to mold. A large sized plastic container keeps bedding and extra clothing fresh and safe from pests.
There is even more space in this camper, such as the propane bottle storage area, the black water tank area and even storage around the fresh water tank.
Later the toilet will be removed in order to provide more storage space. A composting toilet will be used instead of the 12 volt recirculating RV toilet that is currently in there. By removing the toilet and black water tank there will be more room for food and supplies.
Here is a video of me getting the old survival truck camper ready for a survival training weekend.
Keep watching our Youtube channel for a fully detailed video of all the contents of our Survival Truck Camper.