Posts Tagged ‘shtf camper’
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.
So far the cost of the whole project was zero dollars. Absolutely nothing. I had the camper top for free and used wood I had received for free as well. There are often many things out there just for the asking. People are often happy to clean out their garage or yard.
After trying out the shelf and the bed I sat thinking about other ideas to deck out my new homemade survival truck camper. I came up with a composting toilet and a sink with running water. But I wanted a sink that I could use while sitting comfortably in a camp chair to prevent back breaking bending over all the time while working.
Big Joe and Joe Guiver helped me build the toilet and sink. We ended up with a sink from an old camper bolted to a homemade frame with a car windshield washer pump to provide water pressure. A silicone hose leads from a 5 gallon tank of water, through the water pump and up through the faucet. Water comes right out the faucet. A toggle switch on the side of the sink provides the on off control for the running water. A 5 gallon bucket catches water coming out of the drain which can be used for watering a garden.
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.
A slide in truck camper makes the ultimate survival vehicle. It can be mounted and deployed in minutes and can be removed as needed. You can have your truck free to get supplies when needed without breaking camp as you would with an RV or motorhome. With a larger camper trailer you may not be able to maneuver into rugged terrain as you can with a 4 wheel drive truck and a slide in camper. You can make sharper turns and have no problem backing up as you would with a normal trailer or pull behind camper.
A truck camper also requires less space when you are in the field and can fit into tigher places than a huge motorhome or camper trailer. And you can jack it up to keep it higher off the ground to keep pests out better.
Regardless which type of bug out vehicle and shelter you choose, it should be fully stocked and ready to roll at a moment’s notice. It does you no good at all when you have prepared for years but miss the boat, so to say, when the time comes to roll out in an emergency. Getting out on the highway in a hurry is of utmost importance in order to beat the traffic and plugged up roads.
A truck camper has everything you need for comfort, such as sleeping space for 6 adults, kitchen, fridge, bathroom, closets, fresh water tanks with running water (if you have solar), and a lot of storage. Truck campers come in a couple different sizes. Some are about 12 x 8 feet and some are 16 x 8 feet (and some in between). The larger ones are the deluxe models with a huge queen or king sized bed in a large cab over bedroom area. The larger models usually come with hot water, flushing toilet and at least one shower, sometimes an outdoor shower as well. Mine had none of the above because someone had removed it before I got it.
The typical camper fridge can run off propane, 12 volts DC or 110 volts AC. They can run off solar, if you have enough panels. I am a firm believer in comforts in a survival situation. If you can take it with you without any great inconvenience, then take it.
But one of the most important facts about a smaller truck camper over a larger camper trailer is heat. It takes a lot less energy to heat up a smaller room. Eventually you will need to find a way to use wood for heat. Propane, kerosene or other fuels will run out eventually. With a truck camper it will run out later than with a larger space. But it will run out. It also takes a lot less wood to heat a smaller space. A small, homemade rocket stove (How To Make A Rocket Stove) will work fine.
Back to comfort in a survival situation. I am not one of those gung ho survivalists who will run out with nothing but the clothes on his back and a knife in his teeth. One thing the Army taught me is to take comforts with you when you can. I learned the hard way. Go off into the forest in a winter rain storm with no protective gear and you know what I mean.
Of course, in a survival situation all of our normal creature comforts will eventually run out. We will run out of gas for our vehicles, fuel for our heater and stoves, toilet paper and so on. On that note, take these things with you when you bug out. You will run out, yes. But you will make the transition that much less painful. A bug out situation is going to be uncomfortable and stressful. Make it less so at first. You will have enough to deal with adjusting to your new life.
Survival Shelter Contents
Your survival shelter or bug out vehicle should be packed with everything you need for life in the wilderness. You will need clothes, shoes, underwear, socks and in northern climates, coat, scarf and gloves. You need cooking utensils, pots and pans. Dishes and silverware. Also take laundry detergent, shampoo and dish soap or learn how to make it all yourself. Have a look around you and see what you use every day. Pack it in the survival shelter. If you need eye glasses to see, get an extra pair or two and pack them away.
I have my fishing gear, camping gear, hunting gear, survival gear and everything one needs for day to day living packed into my shtf truck camper. It is all ready to go an any time. All except for fresh water and food. Unless you are parked in a cool dry place, then food will spoil in the camper with time. I keep my food stored right by the camper, packed and sealed in a cool storage place. I will be digging a sort of root cellar this summer to keep food in, ready to load up. I am trying to have only self dried, vacuum sealed foods for light weight and space conservation. Some cans of food and bags of grain go along as well. As I preserve more food, I take other, heavier items out of storage and use it. For fresh water, I have iodone tablets packed away and a ton of coffee filters to filter out any larger debris from water. I will be making a solar distiller soon as well to purify water.
I use the survival camper as storage for all of my outdoor and survival gear. Instead of buying two of everything or having half of your survival gear in the house (useless for bugging out) because you use it all the time, I have it all in the survival shelter. When I want to use something, I take it out and put it back in the camper when I am done with it. Want to go on a hike, get the backpack out of the survival camper and go hiking. Put it back when you are done. Want to go fishing, get your fishing gear out of the camper and put it back when done. Bow hunting season, use it and put it back.
See The Survival Camper Packing List for details on what I suggest you take along.
When you use your survival shelter like this, you will also become familiar with where everything is. That way in an emergency you do not need to go searching around for stuff.
I do not eat much meat, but am fully capable of hunting if needed. Same with fishing. Even the most dedicated vegetarian will look at a squirrel and lick his lips in the dead of winter when all the vegetation is gone. Learn how to provide your own food if needed. Do not go out there unprepared. See the movie “Into The Wild” for a bit of an idea what happens if you go out unprepared.
I have multiple cans of propane for cooking on the stove. It will last me months. I have multiple cans of Coleman camping gas and alcohol as well as various types of camp stoves in the survival camper. If used sparingly, I have enough fuel for years of cooking. Added to a homemade solar oven, this will be extended even more. This will help ease into a survival situation with less stress. I have a bunch of different types of candles put away. Oil lamps and lamp oil. These are nice comforts that will make a lot of difference on moral. Use them sparingly and they can last years.
Sure, you can wipe with leaves and tree bark, but I have a stockpile of toilet paper on board. I can make a roll last two months, alone. Practice using your survival gear sparingly and when you get out there, it will be like an extended vacation.
Here is a video of the inside of my survival truck camper:
Since my survival camper already had half of its power hungry appliances stripped out, I decided to go all the way and remove the rest of the 120 volt junk. The camper had a huge circuit breaker box and a very heavy, large power inverter. The power inverter converted the 120 volt mains power to 12 volts to run the internal camper electronics and lights. All the lights in the camper are already 12 volt. The water pump for the sink and the toilet are also 12 volts. When you plug the camper in at a campsite, the voltage is converted to 12 volts inside the camper.
I will not be using this camper at a campsite. And if I ever do decide to visit a normal campsite, I plan to run purely off solar power anyway. The optimum bug out camper should be fully self sufficient. It should not rely on outside power sources.
In the photo below you can see the original power control box. It was behind a door, just inside the entry door of the camper. This area will be used for more storage space. You can see some wires attached to the power inverter. I have been experimenting with hooking up a solar panel into the original power box. But the inverter was such a power hungry device that I decided to remove it. Over a period of days it killed my small test battery that I was using. It was just a small 12 volt 7 AH battery I was using to test the lights and electronics in the camper. Even with a small 5 watt solar panel I had hooked up, the inverter killed the battery.
I am using the original camper heater space for a battery compartment and new electronics box. The new battery box is large enough to hold 4 deep cycle batteries and all the necessary electronics. All of the original wiring ran below the sink and through the heater area anyway. It was not problem to simply pull the wires back out and into the new battery box compartment.
Below is the photo after I removed the original circuit breakers from the existing power control box.
Then I removed the power inverter and freed up the rest of the space. You can see all the wires hanging out. These will now be routed back through the wall and into the original heater space, which is now the new battery box.
Next I hooked up a fuse box and started to hook up the solar power charge controller in the new battery box. In the photo below you can see the fuse box and the charge controller. The only thing hooked up at this point is the wire to the camper lighting.
Then I took my deep cycle battery and placed it into the new battery compartment. You can see in the photo below that there is plenty of space for 4 batteries and all the control electronics. I temporarily used aligator clips to mount the battery into the new fuse box and hooked up my little test 5 watt solar panel.
Later I will be fixing up all the wiring to make it more permanent. I will also be hooking up the solar charge controller. The large 89 Watt solar panel will be removable for traveling. There will be a quick disconnect cable leading into the battery compartment. This way the solar panel can be mounted anywhere for better positioning in direct sunlight. I can park the survival camper in the shade, but put the solar panels out in the sun.
Anyway, it works for now. I have light.