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Friday, October 2, 2015

tent or van?


TENT OR VAN?

Let’s face it, most of you are reading along every day, praising Baby Jesus himself for gracing you with my presence, nodding along at all the wisdom I disseminate, and then doing very little about it.  The wife watching your prepping like a hawk, hyperaware of any possible deviation.  You would love to leave your job but are seven to ten years away from retirement and as much as it blows to suck the corn out of your bosses ass, doing the shucking and jiving po’ ol’ negro routine, since I ain’t giving you a money back guarantee on my Collapse Imminent prediction you are going to do the safe thing and keep your present employment.  You have kids living nearby and while the ingrate Spawn Of The Milkman only ever want money from you it is still nice to be around them on a regular basis.  In short, you have just decided to roll the dice on the collapse timing.  Hey, I don’t judge- I did the exact same thing myself for a few years.  I mean, I have Baby Jesus on my side so I kind of had an unfair advantage, but I understand.  So, you make do with where you are now and one of your considerations is bugging out since your suburban home is a sauna in the summer and an icebox in the winter, once the electricity goes out.  I don’t know if that is the best choice, but I don’t know your circumstances.  You might be right downwind from a nuke plant or next door to a super maximum prison.  As we were just talking about vans being metal tents, after I did an article on Apocalypse Camping, I got to thinking on the issue. 

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Vans are indeed a wonderful improvement over a fabric tent.  They keep out predators, they are mobile and more likely than not they are already being used as transportation to work so it is “free” in one regard.  When I was living in Oklahoma renting a mobile home lot I felt safe and secure with my old  $500 Chevy truck with shell and a gym membership.  I had a place to live and bath if I was ever unemployed.  Another great thing with vans is that since the full size V-8 types were gas pigs you can usually buy them dirt cheap.  Even ones with shot engines that you can drop the engine and tow behind another car as a small RV living space.  If you don’t drive it but once a week to the store, it can be a driveway storage shed.  Of course, they also come with their own issues.  They are expensive compared to tents, if you don’t already own one.  They are expensive on a monthly basis with insurance and tags.  They are limited to the road.  And most importantly, you can’t count on the past in our future.  Imported oil can always stop.  TSA can always close down any road. 

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Yet despite that, I’d still advocate a van.  I wouldn’t sleep at night knowing a set of claws or a small Wal-Mart $1 folding knife can remove the tent wall barrier.  A tent keeps out some rain and keeps in heat when you don’t need it.  It is barely more than a room to escape most insects and change in privacy.  Yes, I’m a bit prejudiced, disliking the things from my military days.  But they offer little if anything as shelter.  They are psychological more than anything else.  The van has its issues ( I wouldn’t recommend a passenger car which is much sadder and pathetic as shelter ) but it is also somewhat camouflage.  Everyone is used to seeing cars.  Hikers, not so much.  You’ll just need to plan your early escape prior to road closures and gas shortages more intelligently.  If you can’t go with a van, don’t rely on a tent.  Construct primitive shelters with materials on hand, with some plastic sheeting to help with waterproofing.  It is cheaper, blends in, has insulation and can be abandoned immediately and replaced easily.

END
 
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28 comments:

  1. I agree about the van idea- better still is a 4x4 pickup truck with camper. Some vans do have all wheel drive so those too would be an alternative.
    I broke the spouse to using a bucket to restroom in by going camping in a tent.
    Spouse never again wants to be in a tent (much preferring the camper), but is still willing to use the bucket so what does THAT say about tents and getting along with the spouse? Mind you, tents can go where vans cant- deep woods, tiny walking trails, high mountains, etc. But these places are uninhabited for a good reason too. simple tools and a tin snip and you can disassemble a van using the parts to build a cabin. A tent at best can be a temporary roof on a cabin- lifespan measured in months. Tents are cheaper, but upgrading to a van or other hard sided structure would be a priority.

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    1. Here in cowboy country trucks go for a premium. Van still a better bet financially. A camper is almost a house, camping wise. Van pulling a camper?

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    2. Big Cargo Van (all wheel drive) pulling a camper gives you the best of both worlds PLUS having 2 habitable structures.
      Of course that is probably more money than most have available all at once, but you can get one at a time....

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    3. And if you can play on most peoples moronic tendency to value form over function you can avoid the expensive eye candy and get ugly functional for cheap.

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    4. We talking about bugging our or living cheap? Both? Back in 2010 I bought a couple acres in Northern Middle Tennessee. Full of hardwood timber. Power and Water were "available" but not installed. There wasn't a clear spot on it. I chose this area for two reasons. My daughter had moved up to the area from Nashville because she had married a soldier stationed at Ft. Campbell and when I called the county about what permits I would need they said only the state mandated Electrical and Septic. I had just gotten out of the Army after a second stint. (As my Papa would tell me many a time, "Boy you need your head examined.") I was tired of working in IT. I wanted to do something else. (This is my curse, wanting to do something else every so often.) To make a long story short about how I worked around the system, through the holes that are in any sets of rules, (I can elaborate if there is interest.) I got power and water hooked up without septic inspection. My wife and I were looking at FEMA trailers that were deployed for Katrina. We saw them on a Govt auction site. They were all down in Jackson MS at the time. The site encouraged inspection. So we drove down and inspected all of them. Probably a 100 or so. We made a list of our top ten, with a 1 to 5 star rating on what shape they were in. They auctioned them of at staggered times, so we could move on if outbid on one, etc. Anyhow we got our second choice for $3250. Barely lived in. Clean and neat. It was a "Park Model". No holding tanks regular commode and regular refrigerator. I went to an auction and bought a 2 wheal drive F250 and went and drug it home. I had made a place to park it and I set her up. Sold the F250 for about what I bought it for at the same auction house. This was in October. Lived there for seven months. I got the money to build a cabin on it and sold the Camper for $3500. Hard finding work in boonville and got a good paying IT job down in Nashville. Well I lost my way and bought a real nice house in suburbia and the cabin has been dried in for over three years, with no further progress. (That was the short version BTW ;) Reading Lord Bison has made my urges to do the right thing kick back in gear. My mind is always thinking about bugging home/out and living cheap, but prosperity clouded my judgement. Before the cabin was built and I got the camper I went through various scenarios in my head. Earth bag and straw bale. Got real serious about the straw bale method. Bought DVDs and book from Andrew at strawbale.com. Another idea I had come up with was around here, there are these buildings that are really just sheds, but well done. They can be rent to own and they will set up. I know of several business that use them and one person who drive a school bus living in one. They have various sizes. I thought about what I call the "Frito Lay" van. Especially an older one with a diesel 4BT Cummings (I'm partial to diesel for several reasons.) Put a large enough battery bank and connect it to the vehicle alternator through an isolator and they would charge while driving. Inverter for AC stuff. No 4x4 though, which is helpful in bug out.

      There was mention of living in a car, and while I agree it would be miserable, it might work a bit better if you got a car that the back seats folded down and you can see into the trunk. I have a Chevy Malibu that does this and my 6'2" frame fits. The seat is a bit wonky for sleeping, but if I just took the folded seat out and had a foam pad like for boat cushions or camper cushions, that would help. Move the passenger seat all of the way up and it works OK. Some curtains around the back seat space to keep people from seeing you and you are in business. Gym membership or in my case my last employer had a workout room and showers in the building.

      Anyhow I've rambled enough.

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    5. We were talking about bugging out and then the most practical thing to live in, although the discussion went all over the place.

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  2. I was a teenager in the late 70's and owned a E150 van. Used it as a mobile sin bin until the first wife arrived but after we married it became our paid for RV. We would go places and stay for days on almost no money. Just keep moving around before the po po was alerted or a business owner ran you off. Spent lots of cheap vacations at the coast by buying three day passes on fishing piers. Got a round the clock parking pass and usually a fresh water shower, cold but that was good in the summer. Not sure I could do that now in my advancing years with neck and spine problems but I'd much rather be in the tin tee-pee than a floppy ass tent. The few times we got a paid camping spot we used a tarp over the back doors like a covered porch. Don't forget the bug screens and DEET.

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    1. I started out with the VW vans, being cheap and plentiful in Cali. $800 in 1989. Loved that darn thing, but we got pregnant before we could think about hitting the road. Too bad, but I think that was Baby Jesus saving me from joining the Guard ( working two days a month for camping money ) and getting sent to Iraq.

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  3. Sir Lord BaltimoreOctober 2, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    Lord Bison,

    Just wanted to say I have really liked alot of the articles you have been publishing as of late. Especially digging the Newsletter. That lady and city life are doing you some good. A lot of what you speak of seems to be more practical for the average schlub.

    Thanks from your liege,

    Sir Lord Baltmore

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    Replies
    1. I think being surrounded by asshattery has given me more understanding of the trapped than I used to have.

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  4. Not only do we have a real nice wall tent, we have a 10 by 20 frame canopy to go over it, with green tennis court screen to surround the whole thing. The tent has porti-poti, kitchen counter with sink, Coleman multi-fuel stove and small refrigerator , folding cots with two air mattresses on each single bed ,wall to Wall carpet and a wood cook stove. A thousand watt Honda generator too for lighting and refrigeration.
    All this is stored at all times ready to go in an enclosed box trailer, which has 12 of the Harbor Freight solar panels attached and wired to two large deep cycle batteries. The trailer also has a fifty gallon water tank with pump. All electronics are kept in a Faraday container, charge controllers , generator, hand held radios, GPS, etc. Stocked with a months worth of food for two.
    That's the tent set up lol, in a general way described.
    Then we have two complete back packs always ready with provisions and equipment for indefinite survival.....
    Then we have the class C motorhome, a 76 year so it's EMP proof . Needless to say it is kept fully stocked for long term use and a two year supply of food.

    Finally ,to get back to your article....yes we have an old beater van too lol.
    The van and backpacks are kept ready to go at all times with that box trailer attached. Gassed, watered etc. At the house. At which we have no room because of all the preps lol.

    The motorhome is kept out at the BOL.

    Of course we've been -prepper since way before there was such a word, as you know.
    Bottom line, it is best to cover all bases because one does not know where ya might end up. So start prepping ! It all can be done frugally too. Ours is pretty extensive , but remember we've been doing this since Jim the fair haired was just a youngster. Rarely do we catch him giving bad advise !
    Heed Bison advice, and start simply then build upon it. Never stop buying the basics ! Given long enough, it can be just recycled through the chickens and goats if it gets too old for you.

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    1. Too many preps? Never! Just money NOT wasted.

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    2. Recent article on motorhome/RV. Notable not so much for the RV idea, but rather what else it recommends.

      How to live on $500 a month
      https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/10/bill-bonner/could-you-live-on-500-a-month/
      via the ever quirky news source Wendy McElroy
      http://wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.6742

      Rantoul

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    3. This past year certainly proved that preps are a wise investment !
      Without the preps and the many generous contributions from you Jim and others, life would have been tougher for certain.....
      My description of equipment preps, by no means is me beating my chest on how well we're set up. Rather it is an example of living and prepping as you describe, spread out over a long period.

      Just wish I had your hair too....
      Rob

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    4. Rantoul-cheap living advice from Bonner? What is next? Lessons in manners and morality from my ex-wives?
      *
      Spud-I'll envy your depth of preps, you envy my hair. Fair?

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    5. Ouch. I certainly deserved that. My apologies. Seemed like a good idea late at night, not so much in the light of day.

      Rantoul

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  5. If you're not commuting with it, a box van or a step van can often be found at a good price, and even the shorter ones offer up a lot more space than a regular passenger van. Some of the box vans have a door from the cab to the back.

    I read an article one time about a guy that took an old box van, and turned it into an apartment. You would need one or more of the roof vents with the built in fans for ventilation, and perhaps a few solar panels to top it off. It would be totally stealth, and you can conceivably park it in front of any business without it standing out. Maybe slap a few of those magnetic business signs on the side, with some sort of generic name that would make it a versatile fit anywhere. You can then save all that rent money to buy some junk land, or put it into preps on your existing land.

    “If you can’t go with a van, don’t rely on a tent.  Construct primitive shelters with materials on hand, with some plastic sheeting to help with waterproofing.”

    It would probably also be a good idea to pick up one of those G.I. ponchos with the liner. This will give you a quick one man bivy shelter with insulation to start off with.

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    1. The Hippie Bread Van I own had been converted to an RV. We lived in that for several months, but it was during the summer so +10 degrees even under a tree. And the guy was a midget with a real short bed so I never slept comfortably. It is better off as a storage shed.

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    2. “The Hippie Bread Van I own had been converted to an RV. We lived in that for several months, but it was during the summer so +10 degrees even under a tree.“

      Yeah, that's the one drawback about them Jim. The metal conducts the heat and cold very well. What's nice about the larger step and box vans though, is that it would be very easy to frame the interior with timbers, and insulate them. You wouldn't even have to frame them on 16” centers as you would ordinary construction, since you already have the structural integrity in place. You just need enough framing for some place to stuff the insulation. It would be real easy to do.

      If you never needed to move it, you can just get one that it isn't running for cheap, and tow it out to your property. Or get one of those shipping containers and do the same thing. I've seen those shipping containers turned into fully self contained apartments, with solar panels across the roof. If portability is not needed, then you have to weigh the costs between these options, or simply building a shed.




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    3. One option I explored, before I got down to serious business going underground, was gluing squishy foam to the walls and ceiling with just the floor using wood and fiberglass. Upholstery shops sell six inch thick foam pads for something like $30 for a big slab.

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  6. It does not have to be an either/or choice. There's the option of van / tent combination with something like this: https://us.napieroutdoors.com/store/catalogue/details/1/product_id:4/

    A bit on the pricey side (at least compared to a WalMart crap hut) but still an option to consider...

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    1. Not bad. Security plus room and sunshine. Not a bad price, considering.

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  7. Don't forget the ever reliable motor scoot. My Yamaha 225 dual sport can carry a sizable amount of gear and go on hiking trails with ease. All you really need is a 50-90 cc bike which would get even better mpg. Use it to bug out to your previously stocked location. It will keep going when traffic is stalled in a deadlock.

    I'm 69 almost 70 and I have no problem with them. Remember they will have no problem squeezing through 30 inches clearance between trees or blocked roads.

    Wade in NW Florida

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    1. But you are still reliant on tents. Here, we talk about best camping shelter, not best bug-out vehicle. A van is a terrible bug-out vehicle, so we are talking about picking one over the other.

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    2. I like the Herrod thoughts above. The motorbike is there to get you out of Dodge with the minimal gear to your desitination (which hopefully already have shelter provided for. More nimble than even a four or three wheeled vehicle - basically needs only a single track.

      What I don't like about motorcycles - you have to focus on your path. You are oblivious to what is going on around you for the most part. So if you are gaining on someone in front of you, they have time to hide out and let you pass by, OR take measures to take you out for your stuff.

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  8. you might want to check out www.cheaprvliving.com. lots of info on van living (and other vehicles)

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  9. Yeah, make it a CHEVY VAN

    I gave a girl a ride in my wagon
    She crawled in and took control
    She was tired 'cause her mind was a-draggin'
    I said, get some sleep and dream of rock and roll

    'Cause like a princess she was layin' there
    Moonlight dancin' off her hair
    She woke up and took me by the hand
    She's gonna love me in my Chevy van
    And that's all right with me

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  10. The plain vanilla white 'work van' blends in almost everywhere. A roof rack with tube storage tubes for additional carrying capacity or hangin a tarp off the side in bad weather. Definitely has some good points.

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