Survivalist Truck Dweller
By Trooper Dan
Some people are attracted to survivalism and preparedness, while others are repulsed by it. Whatever your reaction is, there are a lot of terrific ideas here that we can all learn from–if we keep an open mind. Questions and comments from readers are in italics.
I have been living in my truck for about 6 months due to a job loss in Ohio, where I’m from. I live in South Florida now and I am living in my BOV (Bug Out Vehicle). As an outdoor enthusiast this is easy for me to do, but I think this is a sign of things to come and we will be seeing people living in tents and vehicles everywhere (remember “hoover towns”?). The “mobile homelessness” is so bad that the cops don’t even stop people from doing it anymore. I am very careful in how I live so that I don’t look homeless. I’m just an average guy that has fallen victim to the current economic downturn. Basically I feel like I am camping and I do not consider myself homeless. It’s a sad fact that I have seen entire families living out of their vehicle who are ill equipped and not accustomed to such inconveniences. I take my showers on the beach, and I surf quite often. I am very close to getting a job at a campground in the Keys (they let you live there for free); even though it is minimum wage it seems to be the most promising option right now.
How much does it cost you to live?
Well, the key to frugal living is reducing costs. I do not smoke or drink beer and I don’t drive anywhere when I don’t have to. I live within walking distance of the beach and guess how much my total bills were last month? It was somewhere around $50 for my cell phone bill, and that’s it. Imagine, some people here spend $1,400 a month just for an apartment! I spend much of my money on food; I eat like a king and have fresh, healthy foods every single day. Believe me, I am not suffering. I will take some more recent photos and add more details soon.
Dan…how do you bypass ‘legalities,’ like if you have a firearm, etc.
I have with me my compound bow with 15 arrows, I was going to bring my AR-7 survival rifle. I figured that I really have nothing to hide but the Florida police are asses and I want to avoid pork interference, so I left it at home. I do have 2500 rounds of .22 ammo under the rear seat (for trade, etc.). I also have a 500,000 volt stun gun and two 4oz. cans of pepper spray. Of course I have my everyday-carry knives, a hatchet, saws, and machetes. Everything I have is very legal.
What is the 1 thing you have with you that you find most useful? What is the 1 thing that you wish you had with you?
1.My laptop, because it keeps me connected to the civilized world, I run it off of a deep cycle battery w/a solar panel, I get high- speed WIFI internet where I park..LOL.
2. A hand crank radio. I have been putting off buying one, but it would be handy to listen to NPR and get current news reports. I do have a hand-held scanner that picks up weather, police, air, sea, and short wave. I use it most often for weather reports.
Is it wrong that I am jealous of you? Do you want to trade? You can have my bills and headaches and I will live in your truck.
It is nice to wake up every morning with a clear conscience. After living like this I could never imagine going back to the bill paying life. I did it and I hated it! I also don’t own a TV. Don’t miss that either. I feel liberated and actually happy without MSN, and CNN constantly talking doom and gloom, not to mention the subliminal mind control they use. I think it is hilarious that you guys envy me. Everyone else thinks its a crummy despicable way to live. I used to care what people think so I would watch my surroundings carefully to see if there was anyone around watching me getting in and out of my truck. But it doesn’t seem to matter here. The cops don’t care and the neighbors don’t care. I’m like a neighborhood pet. In fact, I hardly ever move my truck, it usually just stays in the same space for a week or more. I don’t see why some people want conspicuous military type vehicles that really scream, “I’m prepared come get me!!!” I’m really into the whole “urban camouflage” thing. Best of all, because I drive something old, no-one wants to break into it.
In the spring I hope to sell some things up north and buy a 4×4 Toyota and put the same cap on it. I will also add a Yakima Skybox, a rooftop cargo carrier, and a hitch mounted motorcycle rack. I want to put an enduro on the back. Something like this picture, except I would have something lighter like a Yamaha yz450f with a street kit. It would weigh 250 lbs. versus 45 lbs. with what this guy has.
How do you go about your meat storage? Long term or short term?
Remember, I have no refrigeration. There is a Publix grocery store two blocks away so I just walk there and get fresh food. This is how long I generally keep things:
- raw meat-2-3 days
- hotdogs-2-3 days
- eggs- 2 weeks+
- cheese-1-3 days
- REAL butter -month or more
- katsup, mayonesa, jelly, -months
- bread, bananas, Prunes, fresh fruit last a long time.
- 100% fruit juices last 3 days
- apple juice lasts a mysterious while, up to 2 weeks
- canned food- nuff said
Remember just one rule with food, if it smells bad, don’t eat it!
The humidity at night in Florida is unbearable sometimes. How do you cope?
I have two screened sliding windows in my truck that are very efficient. Luckily, where I park I get a constant steady breeze from the east. I am thinking about hunting down some of those cowl vents for use on sailboats for even more ventilation.
Why not live in a van?
I had been toying around with the idea of living in a vehicle for some time, and I used to own a nice conversion van for this purpose. But I soon came to realize that I was spending more money on gas than an apartment would cost me! So I ended up selling it and then I got this Toyota with a 22re engine instead. I get about 27 mpg so its like having your cake and eating it too. I bought the cap off Craigslist for $150, a sweet deal considering a new one was $1,400! The Yakima rack setup was $70, also off Craigslist. Here are a few helpful things I would like to add:
- Limo tint from Lowes.. $16
- privacy curtains
- hobo sandwich cooker
- cast iron pan
- single burner propane stove
- Garmin 200w GPS, very, very helpful
- wshtf gear…duh
At any given time I am far more prepared than most people anywhere. I can’t wait till people turn on the faucet and no water comes out, they will be like, WTF? No fresh water on this island. I have looked, and the only “fresh” water to be found is in swimming pools, everything else, even estuaries, are contaminated with salt water and who knows what else. I could just imagine the idiots running around the first three days of wshtf looking for water, there will be unfathomable paranoia and madness. I keep 5 gallons of back-up water with two or three 24-packs of water on hand all the time. I also keep about $200 worth of canned food in the black and blue boxes, along with some grains. Unfortunately, weight is a major consideration so my mobile stores are modest.
The only thing I would like to add is 4 jerry-cans of extra gas, which is coming in the near future. I have figured all you need for wshtf is ample food, water, and fuel. What more do you need? Oh yeah… GUNS. I do wish I had brought a few with me. I would consider buying a .22 handgun maybe a MKII, or a Walther. And For the record I am one of the guys that thinks that a .22 is a defensive caliber.
I have a super cache back in Ohio in my cabin. Below is my most recent pic. It is now finished. I ran out of money before I got to the inside, so it is bare. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a wood stove, so there is no heat. I stayed there over the summer until it got too cold. Everyday I would take a bath in the pond off the dock. I actually slept on the 2nd floor long before it was finished. Ever read Thoreau’s Walden? It felt something like that.
A recipe from some Colombians I know…
- 2 eggs
- olive oil/butter
- 2 green chilies
- 2 hotdogs/ kielbasa
- spices, minced garlic
- makes a delicious treat!
UPGRADES! Today I went to my local west marine and bought a 12-volt led light that has a red and white option, it costs $20 and the red light is stealthy.
Have you had problems with the police?
I have had no problems with police or neighbors anywhere, even when I was staying in Ohio, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania. The trick is to blend in and be camouflaged with your surroundings. If I can, I park with the front of the truck out to hide my rear plate so no one wonders why an out of state vehicle is parked there. So far, I have never been questioned by anyone. Notice the urban camouflage stickers on the back of my truck. They give the impression that I’m a reputable citizen. Of course I follow through with that impression by being helpful and kind to the neighbors, I even invite them to eat with me sometimes. That is also my chain and padlock for high crime areas, so my stuff is always safe. All of my windows are limo tint, even putting your hands against the glass you can’t see in.
What’s in the two grey boxes?
- gas mask
- assorted teas
- lithium grease
- spare bicycle tube
- bow drill setup
- Katadin water filter
- dozens of lighters
- duty belt
- Ontario RAT II
- Ka-bar Kukri
- Germ x
- bug spray
- industrial size dish soap
- hot sauces
- mouth wash
- 8 tubes of toothpaste
What are you using for a bed?
I used some of that interlocking padding at Lowes (cut to fit) for a base.
The blue sleeping mats I got at Walmart for $12 each. I have never had a better nights sleep anywhere…
Okay, bear with me guys, I have excellent news. I GOT THE JOB!!! I now live here at my own “tent” site (picture below) with water. And the owner wants to get rid of this boat and asked me if I wanted it… No joke, He just gave me a 16ft catamaran, including dock space to keep it! This is like a dream come true, things are really starting to turn around for me.
Well the pay is minimum wage, which is around $7, but it includes all the amenities (jacuzzi/pool/hot showers/running water) and NO BILLS. I am thankful to have a job during these tough economic times. I know people who are less fortunate. I have figured out that nowadays (as I write this) while it may not be impossible to find a job it’s ten times harder.
What do you do for showers?
The shower question is a funny topic, yes the showers on the beach are public and have only cold water but also have mirrors, private stalls, sink, etc. (usually found at public beaches). There have been many times I have snuck into an apartment complex to use the shower/pool (I like to refer to it as “stealing showers”). Once again I blend in by acting like I belong there and so far I have never been stopped or questioned. I also use friends’ showers, depending on how well I know them and how much they know about my situation. Most of the time I just go swimming or surfing in the ocean for a while, rinse off, and wash my hair. I feel very clean afterwards.
How do you cook?
I do ALL of my cooking in my truck, it is not too hard, and no one knows I am cooking. I have never cooked at the beach or on my tailgate, etc. If I have to do any industrial re-organizing or cooking, I usually go to Walmart and park way in the back. When you live in a vehicle you end up noticing subtle nuances that indicate other people that live in their vehicles also. I have seen people that live in cars, trucks, conversion vans, step vans, box trucks, VW Vanagons, minivans, and SUVs. With enough innovation you could live in just about anything I suppose. I have even studied the ACTUAL homeless people, that sleep on the dunes, behind dumpsters, etc. They go to shelters and churches to get hand-outs. I must stress that I have never taken a handout and I have never been to any of those places. Part of keeping a low profile is to steer clear of all homeless people, you do not need them to know who you are or anything about your situation!
Where are you located? Is there much crime? Do you carry a weapon?
My previous position was top secret but now I will declassify that info, since I am not there anymore, it was Pompano Beach, Florida. My new position is secret and I will only disclose that it is in the Florida Keys. As for crime, it is “area specific.” I felt very safe in Pompano, Hollywood Beach, and New Smyrna. Don’t park in the ghetto, use your common sense.
I don’t really feel the need for a CCP (Concealed Carry Permit). I usually carry my stun gun, knife, or pepper spray (or all three!) . Thus far I have only met nice decent people. I haven’t had to hose or taze anyone yet, but I would not hesitate to do so if I had to. It is interesting that as humans we have no natural defenses, only our intelligence to carry tools to protect ourselves.
I did check out the laws on stun and pepper-spray. They are 100% legal in Florida as long as its for “personal defense,” and only stun guns that don’t fire a projectile (i.e., tasers). Believe me I don’t want to be caught with anything illegal.
I think the Keys would be an excellent place to be if wshtf. We won’t have massive, roving hoards of hungry and angry gangs here. Although there is only one road, why would someone have to leave in wshtf anyways? Statistically speaking, I don’t think its going to be much of a terrorist hazard (biological,nuclear, or otherwise). In the future if all power/water is lost we will be set back hundreds of years anyways. That’s why I’m getting used to it now.
And with my new catamaran, if wshtf, I could “bug out” to many of the outlying Keys that are uninhabited. Even if I didn’t have aboat, many of the boats kept down here will be lonely and would be EASY to commandeer because most of the owners don’t live around here anyways. The next modest prep for me is to get some nautical charts of the area. The catamaran might need a new sail which is $300, and some rudder work, so I’m not sure yet then when its going to be 100% seaworthy. Then, maybe in a month or so, I can be exploring the outlying islands. I do have many compasses and a hand-held Garmin 60cs, life vest..etc.
The one biggest problem is getting fresh water, I am seriously considering getting one of these desalinates, but they are $600!
What vehicle would you recommend that is bigger than your truck?
If it wasn’t for the urban camo aspect I would choose a Toyota escaper..
- affordable- around 3000 to 6000 dollars
- 6cyl engine around 23 mpg.
- Legendary Toyota dependability.
- fits in a parking space.
- Roomy and has shower kitchen etc.
- Not four wheel drive
- Obviously a camper (not stealthy)
- Only were made in the late 80s
Or you could retrofit a Toyota box truck, but still no 4 wheel drive. And it is obviously a box truck. So it will be hard to blend into a residential area. How many people do you know that their daily driver is a box truck or RV?
My first day at work was today and it went well. They have been training me on the campground computer software, and it is hard to digest all of this information in one day. Thanks for all the support!