Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why an RV for Prepping?

I probably should have started my RV related posts with this one, but it just didn't “gel” until this week. I'm a simple man, and what I write has to make sense to me before I'll publish it. This part of my journey just wasn't ready to be written before now.

As I think I've mentioned before, I've been camping since I was in diapers - mom actually used to change our diapers at the campgrounds we visited back in the early 1960's. I've spent weeks at a time living out of everything from a sleeping bag with a cover to a Class C motorhome (my recent purchase is my first experience with a Class A). There isn't a whole lot of mystery to living in the outdoors for me any more; I've been through most of what can go wrong at least once in the last 50-odd years. Here are a few of the reasons I recommend looking at an RV from a prepper's viewpoint.

An RV is mobile by definition. Being able to hook up to a camper or hop into a motorhome and drive away from a natural or man-made disaster is one of the key selling points for a prepper. My Class A is fine for paved roads and well-maintained gravel roads, but I wouldn't care to take it too far down unimproved (dirt) roads or off-road. A tow-behind trailer hooked to a 4WD truck could get to more remote locations, and offers more options once you've arrived.

Being able to put distance between you and a crisis situation is important to surviving most emergencies. Hurricane coming ashore? Get your butt to higher ground. Riots making life difficult in your city? Go far enough away that the looters won't find you. One of the bumper stickers I saw on an RV the other day said, “One of the joys of living in an RV is that family can't visit a moving target”.

One of the down sides to RV's is that their mileage sucks. My F250 with a 5.3L engine gets a miserable 15 MPG, but my 32 foot Class A with a Ford 7.5L (460 cubic inch) engine will be lucky to get 10 MGPG. Larger Class As with a diesel engine are on par with city buses and semis, 4-8 MPG. This is why most RVs have at least 50 gallons of fuel tanks installed - to get you a few hundred miles between fill-ups that make your wallet cry.

Living out of a pop-up or turtle camper is cramped, but it beats the snot out of sleeping on the ground. I went with a full Class A because of my wife's medical needs and the fact that I prefer to sleep where bugs have a hard time getting into bed with me. Having a supply of fresh water and a way of cooking food makes life easier to bear, regardless of what else is falling apart. Being able to carry our computers and TV with us is a good way to beat boredom, and I'll have plenty of power for the various radio systems that are going to be installed.

While I don't live in tornado alley, I have friends who do. We might see a twister or two each summer, but they rarely come within 20 miles of my house. Once I get my RV back into shape, it will probably be stored for most of the year at a secure storage lot about 30 miles away, just in case I need to use it if my house were to be destroyed. On the odd chance that fire or a tornado were to hit my family or friends, I have mobile housing that I can offer them until they get their house back together. A medium to large RV would also make a good guest house for visitors (mother-in-law housing), giving them a bit of privacy and control over their lives that may be lacking after a disaster.

If you're looking for the bare essentials to self-sufficiency, an RV will meet most of your demands. Since they carry their own water, fuel, and electrical generator while providing shelter and storage, they are close to being self-contained; food is about the only thing that they can't provide, but parking one next to a large garden would cover most of that. If you're looking at adding solar panels to your house or bug-out location, setting up a smaller system on an RV will let you work out the little problems before you make a major investment in equipment.

Do you have family that is new to prepping? Children or a new SO that don't have a firm grasp of what it means to prepare for emergencies? Traveling in an RV will teach them some very important lessons, like how to get by with a limited wardrobe and how to live in close quarters with other human beings without killing each other. Since most of us are going to be storing an RV for months at a time, you'll get to practice winterizing and fuel storage every year. Meal preparation on a small stove using food that has been stored in the RV will be good practice for once you get to your bug-out location and start living off of the long-term storage food you've got cached, and taking a shower with a limited water supply is always a good skill to have. If you've ever thought about the “small house” fad that's been going on for the last few years, consider that most RV's have less than 300 square feet of floor space and still manage to feel comfortable.

I'm getting close to retirement and I've got vacation time to burn, so I got an RV to use while visiting friends and family that are scattered around the USA.  I don't fly any more due to the TSA and various other political policies, so I thought I should at least be comfortable while we're driving around the country. I'll have more articles about my project RV as I start working through the issues that it has - I bought it cheap knowing that it needs a lot of work, and this way I'll get to know it better than someone who just signed the loan paperwork and drove a new one off of the lot. Being able to repair or bypass things is a large part of me being a prepper, so this is both practice and an education for me.

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