Weekend camper and bugout shelter ideas… – survivalist forum

3) The right amount and type of visibility. You want to be able to see what is going on outside, when inside. But most commercial camping units have almost as many windows as some full size houses. You want windows. You want very, very good windows to avoid water leaks and air leaks, even after thousands of miles of being on the road. And they should insulated well.

But place them where they do the most good for both security viewing, and pleasure viewing, and still reduce the ability for anyone to see inside. Even just a shadow that can be used as an aiming point. I much prefer several narrow windows, from about halfway up to somewhat under the roof line. Easier to cover if needed (broken or just concealment), more energy efficient, and very important to me, easier installation without weakening the structure so much.

4) Tankage. Needs to be plenty of it, but it needs to be surrounded on all six sides with insulation, with enough space between the tanks and the insulation to have warm air moving around them to prevent freezing in harsh conditions and when stored. This can be tough. But it can be done without giving up too awful much. They also need to be easy to fill and to empty.

5) Fuel. The tanks will not usually need insulation, but they do need to be protected from impacts, and as out of sight as possible, while still keeping the ability to easily fill and empty, and in some cases remove and return. Decide if you want a mono-fuel system or multiple types. All propane, all diesel, part propane & part diesel… and do you want any gasoline storage. The generator, if you incorporate one, will have a major part of that decision. Do any, and all, of them safely, especially the gasoline.

6) Power. There is some debate on solar panel installation. Fixed flat, fixed sloped, movable sloped, demountable with stands, and so on. Decide what is best for you. And then, when you do the installation, make sure the underlying structure is designed for that installation. Have solid mounting surfaces where panel mounts need to be attached, not unsupported foam or sheet metal.

Another factor will be what type of appliances, if any, you will want. Lots of electric appliances (ice maker, lights, microwave, air-fryer, insta-pot, toaster, etc.)? Or mostly propane (heater, hot water heater, cook top burner(s), baking oven, etc.)? Perhaps diesel or kerosene units like some boats/ships use? Decide, and plan capacities accordingly.

Personally, I used to be able to sleep anywhere. I still can, but the quality of the sleep and how I feel the next morning are much less when I do that they used to be. My preferred accommodations, as I have no significant other, is twin size or even 30” bunk beds. And depending on need and several other factors, they might fold up/down, be fixed, or be fixed with storage below/above. Two or three tiers. Do use very good mattresses and pillows.

8) Refrigeration. Do you want it at all? How much? AC only? DC? DC/Propane/AC combo? Ice chests? Ice chests with low draw ice maker? There are quite a few ways to deal with refrigeration. Nicest is the upright AC/DC/propane unit. Personally, I like the combo chest units similar to an ice chest, but with refrigeration units installed, either conventional or Peltier chip. If installed on wheels, or on a roll out shelf, they can be out of the way when not being accessed. And what I have found to work well when space is at a premium, and electrical power somewhat limited, is a countertop ice maker and very high quality ice chests. Yes, some electrical use, but not all that much, considering what you are getting for it. And go for the ‘clear ice’ ice makers, even though more expensive, as the ice they make is both harder, and colder, which makes it last much longer.

But what water facilities. A decent one or two bowl kitchen sink. A flush toilet? A tub/shower, tub only, shower only, ‘wet’ bathroom, dry bathroom, separate hand washing sink And the list can go on. At minimum I would want a decent size single bowl sink, a deep one, and an enclosed shower of decent turn-around size. I do not see the need for a basin, unless, perhaps, small children are involved, or chronically ill that can be infectious, where immediate handwashing is mandatory. A toilet can be a flush toilet, plumbed in, in a ‘wet’ bathroom where the shower is the room, and toilet is in there as part of it. The toilet gets wet when the shower is used.

a) It is possible to have the propane system hooked up so not only can a person use the built in tank if there is one, or the portable tank if that is what is used, but both. And an outlet can be added so an outside cooker, such as a grill, can be used without it having its own tank. This system gives a great deal of flexibility. Say, a 150- to 300-gallon tank under the frame, a pair of 40-gallon tanks on the tongue of the trailer, and a couple of 100-pound portable tanks on a rack at the back of the trailer, or in the tow vehicle. Use the 100-pound whenever possible, as they can be filled easily with no one the wiser as too how much you have, and the frame mounted and tongue mounted tanks could be in reserve in case resupply was not likely for a while.

b) While a unit like this will need to be fairly small, do consider using tandem axles, even if a heavy single axle would work. Ditto on three axles even if tandem would work. The axles can be slightly lighter than what the lower number of axles would have to be, but you do not want them much lower. Two axles the same as what a single axle would need, and three axles the same as what a tandem set would use, are better.

The primary thing here is not weight capacity. It is stopping power. Unless the trailer is really tiny, it add a great deal of strain to the brakes of a tow vehicle, even if the trailer has brakes. Which it should. But under hard use, four brakes are better than two, and six better than four. They will stay cooler, plus with the extra two tires on the ground, there will be better traction to help slow and stop the vehicle.

c) Normally, I do not like folding trailers. Any variation. I do not even like slide-outs, despite their space advantages. But I am, personally, considering building a folding trailer. Not in the conventional sense, however. This one will have the ‘utility core’ in the center of the trailer side to side, over the axles. The interior space will be very limited when folded. I think I can arrange it so the chemical toilet can be used in privacy, but that would be about it.

Thinkin’ of a trailer I can stay in on weekend trips ("KOA" or backwoods primitive) but also suitable as an emergency shelter. Want to keep it small/lite enough that it does not impose a major drain on diesel economy. Ideally I would add solar panels, batteries, generator, frig, stove, etc. Realistically, I want to sleep, eat, shower, and cr@p inside where it’s warm and dry (or cool). When I look at the commercial campers my first thought is they are trying to recreate home. I can cook on a camp stove but would I consider a small modern Franklin type wood stove for cooking and heating? I rarely cr@p and shower concurrently, so that space could be used more efficiently especially with a portable camp shower type set up. (Some activities could be moved outside as weather permits.)

By using a cargo trailer it would be multi use and wouldn’t stand out too much if I attempt to "stealth" camp. I feel most campers with their built in fixtures waste a lot of space and force you to use it as it is and prevents being able to use the camper as a cargo trailer. A cargo trailer is usually quite a bit lighter than an ultralite camper of the same size and is probably more aerodynamic so it may be easier on fuel and can maybe be pulled by a smaller vehicle if it has breaks.