This week we asked our readers how they prepared their truck camper rigs for a surprise natural or man man emergency situation that required their immediate evacuation.
This is common sense for the prepper community, but we believe it’s also a good idea for anyone who might face a flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, or ice storm. We don’t need to get into to the potential of man made emergencies. They’re on the news, all too often.
This week’s question of the week was, “Do you keep your truck camper ready to go in case of an emergency situation?” Here are the bug out vehicle survival tips from fellow TCM readers:
“We keep the camper on the truck at all times, keep water in a spare tank, which is sanitized and changed regularly. We have gas on the bumper for the generator that stays on the back tray. All we needed to add is food, water in the main tank, some clothes, the dogs, and us.
The fuel tank on the dually always full and we run it every couple weeks. The camper stays plugged in so the battery is always charged. Depending on the circumstances, guns or extra guns are real handy. I hope we never need to bug out, but we can if need be.” – Cheryl Nelson, 2004 Chevy 3500, 1990 Shadow Cruiser 9.5
“Yes, it’s fully loaded and with full fuel tanks. We need to get some food and add water. The camper is plugged in and the batteries are fully charged.” – Joseph, 2001 Dodge 3500, 1998 Bigfoot 9′ 6″ 2500 series
“Spring through fall, it’s ready to go. In the winter, it’s stored inside a facility I don’t own. I hate not having the option to bug out if needed.” – Scott Ridgway, 2003 Dodge 2500, 2012 Lance 1050S
“Yes! We live in south Texas and use our truck camper monthly. This year the wife surprised me with a Jeep for my run-around vehicle and the truck is now mostly dedicated to truck camper use.
Because we are out so regularly during the year we are able to stay on top of things that go wrong. Also, having owned it for seven years we have made many mods and replaced various components that have failed with improved or better quality parts. That said, the quality of Arctic Fox is very high and, in spite of how much use it, is in excellent condition. We are prepared!” – Pryor Donald, 2015 Ford F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1150
“We try to keep the camper prepped and ready to load and go. In the late spring/summer we try to keep it on the truck all the time. I live in a dreaded HOA managed subdivision and receive nasty grams sometimes because I have had my truck camper/topper (their words) in the neighborhood for an extended period of time. So, the best I can do is keep the camper ready to go and just load it up. The upside to not being able to keep it on the truck all the time is that I get more practice unloading and loading.” – Pam Conner, 2015 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1150
“We use our truck for other purposes so the camper does not stay on it. However, if needed, we can have it loaded on the truck and ready to go as fast as provisions and clothes can be put in. I charge the battery approximately once a month while it’s not in use.” – Allen Brummel, 2008 Dodge Ram, 2008 Northstar TC650
“We live on a farm and, because of that, we look at things a little differently than many. We are prepared with a generator, have wood heat, and a self-contained water and sewer system.
That preparedness does shift over to other parts of our life. Our trucks are always full (or nearly full) of fuel. We always have some cash on hand and extra food in the pantry. It’s only natural for us to have the camper ready to be used as living quarters if needed to flee this area if needed.
So, not to sound like doom and gloomers, we think it should be called being prepared. In Canada they say we need to look after ourselves for the first 72 hours in the event of a disaster. Shoot for more like a week. It’s a great way to be responsible and to look after your family. It’s just another reason for having the mobility and flexibility of a truck camper and four wheel drive truck combination. Watch out for zombies!” – Wes Hargreaves, 2016 Ford F-450, 2006 Snowbird 108DS
“We do not always keep the camper on the truck, but the camper is always stocked and it takes about ten minutes to set it on and be gone. Prepped means ready, not paranoid, and not scared. We have the propane full, generator full, spare gas, and the truck full of fuel. We keep any and all repairs done, and we have a plan. We do not look to someone else when the need arises be ready.” – Tom Elliott, 2007 Ram 2500, 1999 Lance 835 Lite
“Not really. I have a safe room in my house that seems to be a better idea for an emergency. Most likely in our area, it will be tornadoes.” – Robert Mayton, 2014 Ford F450, 2015 Lance 1172
“Yes, to a point. I do take the camper off the truck in late November and store it until late March. During this period of the year it would take me a few hours to be able to leave. Otherwise, I could go in about an hour. Since I am a celiac, a major emergency preparation for me is to have homemade gluten free flour mixtures ready and in single containers.
My camper has two can cupboards in the kitchen area and shallow shelves. One can cupboard is deep, which is a perfect place for plastic jars. I put a colored sticker on every jar and I have a plasticized sheet with recipes for each colored sticker. These are always in the camper. I have two boxes of staples that I keep in the basement for the camper that has baking powder, gluten free pasta, rice cakes, rice, canned beans, spices, etc. Those can be easily popped into the camper and left under the table to be unpacked into the cupboards when time isn’t so pressing. There is also another box with bedding, tea towels, etc.
Cutlery, dishes, matches, and flashlights are always in the camper. I found plastic containers that allow me to fit twelve of them into my camper’s freezer. Whenever I cook a casserole, sauce, soup, and stew I freeze a portion in one of these containers. So whenever I decide to leave I have two weeks of suppers or more ready to carry out. Grabbing my clothes would be quick.
All of the above are really in order me to go camping whenever the whim strikes, but I do like knowing that being ready allows me to use the camper in an emergency.
When my Dad’s health was declining rapidly last year, I was between campers and so stayed in a hotel in Toronto. That was 45 minutes minimum; one subway, one bus and one streetcar away from the hospital with a huge struggle to find gluten free food. Each night when I was exhausted, I found myself standing in the cold waiting for a bus. I regretted not being situated right in the hospital parking lot able to grab a few hours sleep or fix a meal. I was determined then to never again be unprepared.” – Michele McLeod, 2013 Ford F150HD, 2000 Travel Hawk 9.5
“It is loaded except for water. Our house is on a well, with a generator backup power. The camper is in a dry, heated/air conditioned shop and serves as an extra apartment if needed. We can be out of here in an hour. But, we live remote and this is our SHTF location. We pull a 16-foot cargo trailer with a Tracker inside, plus extra stuff including lots of extra water, if needed. Are we prepped? We’re pretty good, but not fanatical.” – Bob Nelson, 2015 GMC Sierra 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1140
“I have my camper lightly equipped including some clothes. It is winterized with trickle charged batteries, full propane (have extra full cylinders), most cooking utensils, dry breakfast food, blankets and tools. It is stored in an enclosed building with enough room to load on my truck out of the weather or I keep it on an old truck.” – Ed Graf, 2006 Dodge 2500, 2014 Arctic Fox 865
“Our camper is always cleaned, and packed. In addition to the standards of full propane, and cleaned and treated black and gray water tanks, we carry some fresh water in the fresh water tank. We also have a case of bottled drinking water. We have a solar charger system on the roof to keep the batteries charged.
Cleaning supplies for the camper, our clothes, and us (toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.) are always packed. There is also rain gear, shorts, T-shirts, sweat wear, underwear, an extra pair of older shoes, and a coat with gloves.
We also keep an Emergency Box packed in the house. This contains dry and canned food items for about three days. Because we have a dog, his food is also in the Emergency Box. A self-powered radio (one that can charge the cell phones) is also in this box.
The only other things that we must have are our medicine. Of course, if time permits we would bring more clothing and food. Our truck is usually parked under the camper, so lowering and latching the two together takes only a short time. We have never needed to be on the road in such a hurry, but we could be ready and on the road in thirty minutes if there was a need.” – Cherie Cunningham, 2003 Ford 250, Lance 5500
“We keep the camper on the truck, parked inside our heated garage/workshop. The truck has full diesel and the propane is full or nearly full. The camper has some non-perishable food supplies, pots, pans, dishes, all the bedding, towels and other basic supplies always loaded in it.
The cassette toilet is always ready to go. We generally drain the 30 gallon fresh water tank if we are parking it at home for a long time. The refrigerator is usually not turned on, but since we have a compressor refrigerator, it doesn’t take very long to get it cold (probably less then an hour). We even keep some clothes packed in the camper.
If we need to leave on short notice, we first plug in the refrigerator, and then load fresh water, food, clothes, a road atlas, and a few tools. Oh, and I almost forgot, the cat and his litter box.” – Buzz and Sherri Merchlewitz, 1998 Dodge Ram 2500, 2015 Hallmark Ute
“We keep the camper on the truck, and the truck ready to roll. We keep the camper stocked with dishes, utensils, matches, etc., and we can load it with food, pets, and miscellaneous items in minutes.” – Marlin Marx, 1999 GMC Sierra 2500, 1977 Trek 10 1/2 foot
“The camper batteries are charged, and propane tanks are full or nearly full. All of the household items are clean and ready to go. Food is readily available to load on short notice. The truck is also ready with a full tank of fuel.” – Dave Riddle, 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, 2006 Host Tahoe
“We have a 2014 Northern Lite 10-2 CDSE. I think I’m like many others. We keep food, clothing, medical supplies, and personal protection.” – Jim Furubotten
“Yes, we do keep it ready to go. All we would need to head out for a week would be food and daily clothing.” – Bruce and Kathy Allison, 2000 Ford F350, 2012 Adventurer 910 FBS
“We don’t. We live in our own home and have a HOA which does not allow residents to store their RVs in their driveways or on the street in front of their homes. Additionally, the city supposedly does not allow RVs to park on the street in residential areas, although enforcement appears to be lax in some neighborhoods.
The camper’s height prevents us from keeping it in the garage. We are retired, so we are talking about selling the house and taking the camper on the road for a year to see the country. Then, we’ll buy that comfy little place in paradise, paid off, with room to store the camper, and all will be hunky-dorey.” – John and Terri Tully, 2014 Ram, 2015 Lance 855s
“Not really, but it is in storage this winter and could be ready to go in three to four hours, not including provisioning. Because of our location in the Midwest, the only natural threat would be a severe windstorm or a tornado as we are on high ground in a rural area. In the advent of a national emergency we could be in Canada in under eighteen hours via secondary highways.” – Jon Hunstock, 2008 Ford F250, 2014 Northstar Arrow U
“I keep items put away so that packing up is minimal. The only thing we have to add is clothing and perishable food. In the warm weather, we keep even canned goods on hand. Propane is always full, and the battery always charged. Everything we need to operate the camper is kept in the camper.
Items that freeze in the winter are kept in the house on a separate shelf in a closet. They are ready to be returned to the camper and there is no having to figure out what needs to be packed, like soaps, first aid, and chemicals. The camper only takes ten minutes to actually load onto the truck, so the whole camper can be ready to go in under an hour if need be.” – Shelley Pike, 2009 Ford F350, 2006 Lance 960
“No, I don’t, but I don’t think it would take me long to get it ready.” – John Bull, 2004 Dodge 3500, 2015 Arctic Fox 990
“No, but give me four hours and I could be ready to go.” – Matt Reinker, 2006 Chevy 1500, 2007 Northstar TC650
“We have full LP as well as all bedding in the camper always. My truck is always at least three-quarters full and I have a sixty-five gallon diesel tank. I check everything monthly, such as the generator to make certain I will have no problems. I lubricate all fittings that move so that I will have no surprises during an emergency. We have food stored in our home just for the camper and we also have long lasting food from Thrive. Thrive food is in containers and only need water to immerse in prior to eating.” – Donald Fox, 2015 Ford F-450, 2016 Lance 1172
“Not really, but we never had a bomb shelter either.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250 SD, 1999 Lance 920
“Great question! Our camper is on the truck with full diesel and propane. Everything that won’t freeze is in it and the bed is made. The rest of the camper gear is in several bins in the basement ready to load.
Quite a few years ago there was a train derailment that had a cloud of Benzyne and other chemicals moving through the area. If that happens again, I want to be comfortable wherever I am in my camper.
I am the EC for one of our local counties (emergency communications) and the camper doubles as a mobile communications rig if we need it. When the camper is in storage I jack up the back of the truck a couple of inches to take the extra weight off of the suspension. It only takes seconds to lower it if needed.” – Dave Miller, 2015 Ford 350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E
“The truck is stocked with clothing, bedding, and towels. We have plenty of paper products and trash bags. We are always ready to go. We just need to add water and food supplies.” – George Randall, 2012 Ford F350, 2016 Arctic Fox (coming shortly)
“Since my rig is my permanent residence, it’s pretty much ready to go. All I need to do is fill the fresh water tank and hook up my utility trailer. The trailer has a small generator with gas cans, and three combat medical bags with the necessities.
I was a certified nurses assistant for twelve years. I have extra blankets, clothes (winter and summer) some bottled water, tools, a case of MREs (extra food in the event of extended stay), and a couple of fire extinguishers packed in the trailer. The camper itself has all the everyday living necessities with at least two weeks of food. All weapons are loaded and in their place with extra ammunition. Then, I gather up my nine cats and go.” – DuWayne Hermann, 1996 Ford F150, 1993 Fleetwood Elkhorn
“The camper is on the truck full-time and ready to go at almost a moment’s notice. I keep a battery tender on the truck and camper’s batteries, so everything is charged and ready to go. I would just have to add water and grab a few of the totes of food we keep in the pantry stocked and ready to go.
Living in Las Vegas, Nevada with the temperatures in the 100+ for four to five months a year, the heat would really shorten the life of long term food storage if it was left in the camper. To get around this, we keep them stocked and ready to go in plastic storage bins and store them inside the house in climate control.
Propane and fuel in the truck is topped off as soon as we get back. If we needed to leave, we could fill the water, grab the seventy-two hour kits, Honda 2000 generator, and the food totes and be out the driveway in ten minutes at the most.” – Neal Haymore, 1990 Ford F250, 1997 Four Wheel Camper Grandby
“Yes, the camper is ready at all times. It’s not on the truck, but can be loaded in less than 20 minutes. We have a go bag ready at all times.” – Mark Peters, 2008 Ford F450, 2015 Lance 1172
“Yes, the truck camper is ready. All usual supplies are stored, propane is full, and the batteries are on a solar maintainer. I do not keep water stored, but that only takes a few minutes to fill. I have two bug out boxes ready to load that have other emergency supplies. Since I already live in a rural area, I consider wildfire as my most serious urgent threat requiring immediate evacuation as opposed to hunkering down.” – Bill Peters, 2013 Chevy Silverado, 2013 Four Wheel Camper Hawk
“We keep the snow and ice off and away from it. The propane tanks are full, the heat is on at 5 Celsius, and a spare propane tank is stored under the table next to a portable BBQ. We get our water from a cistern, so it’s available at a moment’s notice. We have a week’s supply of food and lots of coffee and tea stored. So it’s grab the water and clothes, load the camper and go.” – John Desjardins, 2008 GMG Sierra 2500 HD, 2002 9.8’ Globetrotter
“Yes and no. Where we live, shelter in place is probably best. We have food, propane, kerosene, a generator, and good fields of fire (for those that fear the Apocalypse or zombies or whatever).
I do keep the camper stocked with a few days of food, a couple of days of knock around clothes (jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirt, socks, and underwear), so that we can jump in on short notice to go camping. It sleeps in the carport so it is easy to put on and take off with out worrying about snow piles or ice.
Cooking gear, an electric heater, and generally full propane for the furnace or cooking is standard all year. Water has to be added. In warmer weather, all I generally have to grab is the specific clothing I want. I keep a case of water in the camper when it won’t freeze. If we lived in a big city, hurricane or tornado zone, then we would consider it to be a bug out vehicle at all times.” – Kevin Jenckes, 1996 Ford F-250, 2006 Northstar 850SC
“Yes. We try to keep our truck camper ready to go. It can be on the truck and loaded in less than an hour. Other than being winterized and no water in the tanks during winter, it can be used immediately. The battery is on a conditioner and is in the camper.
Our plan is to be able to throw our go bags and a few other items in the truck, load the camper and go. I keep the tie downs and turnbuckles in the camper so they are ready at hand.
Great question! We are always looking for ways to improve, so I look forward to how others have answered this question.” – Norm Cushard, 2005 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2016 Palomino HS-8801
“Since I use the rig as my daily driver, lunchroom at work, and occasional overnight accommodation in addition adventure trips, it is nearly always stocked and ready to go for a week or so off grid. It served me very well in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I have backup food and propane aboard and water hasn’t been a problem to find if I’m low.” – Larry Bluhm, 2004 Dodge 2500, 2011 Northstar Laredo SC
“I live in hurricane prone coastal Florida. During the summer the propane and diesel tanks are always full. Evacuation plans are made well in advance. I keep everything I would at home packed including first aid, medications, pet food, canned and dehydrated foods. Everything gets rotated and used after the season ends. All that’s left is to grab the cell and the dogs and roll. Stay safe!” – Gary Usher, 2015 Ford F350, 2015 Lance 1172
“We keep it charged and the propane tank full. But, it sits on blocks in the side yard. In an emergency I could have it loaded and ready to go in less than two hours.” – Tom Bushman, 2015 Ford F350, 2009 Lance 1040
“It has enough food, clothing, and propane to get on the road within one hour of when the decision to go was made.” – Jay Knight, 2009 Chevy 2500, 2015 Northstar Adventurer
“We have a water filter, water purification tablets, five gallon water container, waterproof match holder with matches, compass, fishing kit, first aid kit, clothing, shoes, canned food, and several pouches of dehydrated food.” – Nancy Meiners, 1996 Ford F350, 2014 Lance 1050s
“One hour and we’re ready to go.” – Mike Pascucci, 2011 Chevy 3500, 2012 Adventure 86fb
“I alternate my fresh water every month. I have Mountain House brand dried foods and duffels ready to take at a moment’s notice.” – Bob Meigs, 2011 Dodge Ram 1500, 2012 Four Wheel Camper Raven
“I have the camper on most all the time, propane and water full or close to full, and dry foods for two weeks or so. The truck always has half a tank of gas or more. I can be ready to bug out in 30 minutes or less!” – Michael L Sasse, 2013 Toyota Tacoma, 2014 Four Wheel Camper Eagle
“I keep the propane tanks topped off, batteries charged, water during the warmer months, basic food supplies (minus refrigerator/freezer stuff), bedding, basic clothing, survival gear and a gassed up generator ready to go.” – Allen Jedlicki, 2012 GMC Sierra 2500HD, 2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
“We ready to go within half an hour. We have freeze dried food for three weeks, comms, firearms, a small library of reference material (combination of hard copy and digital), cash, water filter, copies of important family documents (hard and digital), and an expanded medical supply kit.” – Bob Walker, 2011 F250 Super Duty diesel, 2008 Lance 8 footer
“We keep our truck camper ready to go, other than food items that can spoil. But, we don’t keep it that way in preparation of an emergency situation. We keep it that way simply because it is more convenient. We just keep everything stored in the camper so that we don’t have to spend much time when we’re getting ready to go camping on the weekends. We can throw milk, bread, butter, and beer in the refrigerator and hit the road – but none of those preparations are with the fear or worry that an emergency situation could arise.” – David Miller, 2012 GMC 2500HD, Travel Lite SBRX890
“Yes. Other than being winterized, the batteries are always charged, the propane full, and all the basics are onboard. We have preps that can be loaded easily, so we could be ready to go quickly. I have even had an article published on Survival Blog on how a truck camper is a great bug out vehicle.” – Wade and Becky Johnson, 2004 Ford F350, 2004 Lance 1130
“Yes, it is ready to go in case of an emergency. Even though is was ordered as a shell model, I have a stove, lanterns, heater, sleeping bags, propane, first aid, water, dry food, kitchen stuff and a topped off battery at all times. All I need is fresh food and some clothes and I’m ready to bug out.” – Tom Waters, 2003 Dodge 2500, 2014 FWC Grandby Shell
“I don’t have a truck camper, but I found this interesting YouTube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLyprC4PDf0” – Carmin Olivier
“The propane is filled and the batteries are charged. Perishable foods are removed but other than that, it is left stocked with our normal gear. We don’t winterize the camper. We leave a small oil filled heater in the unit and keep it around 40 degrees. We live in Anchorage, Alaska. We could be loaded and pulling out of the driveway in less than an hour.” – John Hood, 2012 Ford F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1140
“Yes. Twelve tornadoes hit Dallas a few days ago blocks from my house. My rig is always packed and plugged in. The refrigerator is always cold. I could go out for groceries and come home months later, living comfortably. It’s a good feeling.” – Janet Carter, 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Sun-Lite 6’
“Absolutely. We live in an area where fire is a concern at pretty much any time of the year. We try to keep the camper topped with water, holding tanks empty, and the truck filled with gas. In our 40 years of living in the area we’ve only had one close call in the 2003 fires, and that was enough to keep us on our toes!” – Joe McGerald, 1991 Ford F350, 1995 Lance 880
“I keep the rig full of fuel, propane, batteries charged, all bedding, dishes and cooking stuff. The camper is on the truck year round in an unheated building. The truck also contains maps; both provincial and back road maps. I also carry tire chains, heavy tow strap, axes, shovel and hand tools.
In an emergency, I would need food and water. Being that temperatures are below freezing about five months of the year where I live, I can’t keep water or food in the rig. Also, food draws mice looking for a meal.
I expect the rig could be on the road and livable in half an hour. Adding water would be the biggest time consumer in cold weather. I would grab a few jugs of water and go if time was in short supply.” – John Hallett, 2011 Dodge 3500, 2013 Bigfoot 9.6
“We keep a minimum of four two-way radios and a CB radio.” – Mike Tully, 2002 Ford F250, 1992 Lance
“I keep a full tank of diesel, three-quarters of a tank of clean water, and a full propane tank. The batteries are fully charged, two one gallon drinking water containers, and enough dry food and coffee to last a week.” – Ron Oh, 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, 2014 Hallmark Ute
“We always try to keep the rig ready to go with two weeks of supplies in the camper, with the exception of the refrigerator, electronics, and medications. But, it’s not always on the truck. We got the truck camper RV setup so the truck is used for many truck things. It loads onto the truck in fifteen minutes. During a tornado alert, our shelter is our destination instead of the clogged roads.” – Russ and Gretchen Berquam, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1140
“I keep my camper indoors, in the barn. Living in northern Michigan, there is a lot of snow and cold temperatures. At times the power may go out. If so, I live in camper with a generator outside. It works very well until power comes back on. All my summer supplies are kept in camper for except food.” – Charlie Young, 2005 GMC HD, 2012 Riverside 865
“I have dried food, salt, water, tarp, tools, chainsaw, axe, and firearms.” – Debbie, 2008 Ford F350, 2009 Northern Lite QSE11
“We have two military cold weather sleeping bags, two summer sleeping bags, roof mounted solar panels, Honda 2000i generator, extra fuel and water cans. I also carry a Ham Radio, GPS, water purifier, large medical back pack, long term freeze dried and canned foods. I pack a get home bag in case vehicle becomes inoperable, self defense items (because you just never know), extra lighting, rechargeable batteries, a jumper pack, full sets of clothes and underwear, hiking boots, jackets, thermal underwear, an auxiliary Mr. Buddy heater, and numerous other bug out items.” – Sonny Morrison, 1999 Ford F250, 1997 Lance 9.6
“Our cell is fixed on the vehicle, and parked very close to home. Every seven days, we stroll about 20 to 30 kilometer. It is always full of water, fuel, and food cans. At any time we could escape or initiate a trip. This gives us peace of mind.” – Frederic Amorós Le-Roux, 2011 Toyota Hilux,2011 PSI – AZALAÏ Fix Cell
“Both the truck and camper are ready to go minus water and food. But, they are not together. I enjoy having a truck when needed. It would take a couple of hours to get everything going. So, not it’s not ready.” – Hiatt Crawford, 2015 Chevy 3500, 2014 Arctic Fox 990
“I actually do keep it ready to travel on short notice. It’s stored on the truck and hooked up to power with some non-perishable foods and about three gallons of water. I have a few changes of clothes in the camper. The truck is full of gas and I have several gallons of gas stored. I also have a small generator that I will take with me. If needed, I could be out and gone in about a hour.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800 SBX
“I keep tools, a shovel, water (bottles and a 6 gallon can), instant foods and beverages like tea, coffee, and cocoa in the camper. I have canned soups and meals like stew and chile, and rice and beans (in plastic containers). Pots, pans, and dishes are always loaded. I also keep fishing equipment and can easily load my firearms and ammo. We can be ready to go in about an hour.” – Harry Palmer, 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, 2008 Lance 915