DIY Cargo Trailer to Traveling Shelter
A quick search on Craigslist pulled up 20 cargo trailers with in miles of my home. These trailers ranged in price from $1100 to $4500. Materials needed for a down and dirty cargo trailer to mobile emergency shelter with a little work could easily be completed for as little $1700. This could be a great option for families on a budget. These trailers are light enough to be pulled by just about anything larger than a Toyota Prius and they are usually very well built since they were originally designed to carry heavy loads and commercial cargo.
Things you should consider when converting a trailer:
- Match the trailer size to your family needs. For example a family of 2 may be able to get away with an 8′ trailer, where a family of 5 would need something in the 12-14′ and tandem axle size.
- Insulation: If you live or plan on travelling to colder climates, invest in high density foam insulation before you began framing out cabinets and bunk beds. It will make an enormous difference in comfort.
- Find a small wood stove. Pot belly stoves work great. Cement board works great for a hearth and panel.
- Plumbing: Hand pump water and manually operated systems are best. Remember, your not building an RV to plug in to a full electric campsite. You won’t have electricity. In the pictures above you can see a bucket under the sink. I recommend using a valve to allow water to be stored in containers and recycled since you don’t knowingly waste water. This could prove to be very important at some point.
- In your spare parts kits always make sure you have necessary tools to work on the trailer and a spare set of axle bearing, grease, seals, jack, and spare tire and rim obviously.
DIY Roof Top Shelter
Roof Top Tenting has become very popular for back packers and hikers. These versatile shelters allow you to pack up and go at a moments notice. No set up required since the shelter is with you, ready to open and crawl in for a good night’s rest. The only drawback to buying one pre-made is cost. For a 2 person tent they range in cost from $1100- $1700 plus $150 shipping on average. We found that you can easily build one if you have the time for around $400 and it won’t be the ultra-thin vinyl you’ll get with a manufactured unit.
Pros: Low cost portable shelter. Easy to set up and take down, portable, and gets occupants off the ground.
Cons: Small, limited to 2 occupants usually although some commercially available rooftop tents can support more people. Can’t use wood source heat.
DIY Cargo Van to Traveling Shelter
Cargo vans can be a great BOV. These vehicles are built on large robust truck bodies and one can usually find high mileage cargo vans that have been maintained very well since these vehicles are typically used by commercial service companies that have a huge incentives to keep them in good working order. With a quick search of craigslist, we found vehicles ranging from $800-$10,000 in varying conditions. Many of these vehicles already had metal shelving and wood or rubberized floors ready to be altered for the perfect BOV for those on a budget. The addition of a wood stove makes for a great campsite home base. These van come in various sizes ranging from compact vans to 1 ton walk up box vans that could easily sleep 8 people with some creative, submarine berthing area, style bunk beds. Solar panels for both electric power and battery storage as well as solar thermal panels for domestic hot water productions could be added. With a couple tilt up 200 watt solar panels and the addition of a 75 watt HAM Radio could be incorporated into your van to keep in touch with the world as you travel around. We aren’t the only ones the think about using full size cargo vans as a rolling shelter. Airstream is a maker of high end RVs ranging in the $125,000 and up, and they make amazing luxury travelling homes for people with money to burn.
DIY Motorcycle BOV
If you’re flying solo or just you and a partner, a motorcycle set up with large panniers or a small trailer could be the perfect BOV. Not only do motorcycles get much better gas mileage than any other option above, they also allow for off-road and on-road travel. A good quality motorcycle can be acquired for less than $5000 and top off at more than $20,000 for a top of the line BMW cross country motorcycle that can take on any terrain with ease. Many larger motorcycles also have the availability for trailer kits and accessories that would allow you to not only travel quickly to your destination on very little fuel, but also provide you with shelter via a pop-up tent trailers or just simply storage for tents and supplies. Motorcycles have many advantages over larger more cumbersome vehicles such as ease of servicing. Motorcycles chains, tires, and just simple maintenance are all easily performed in an emergency with minimal tools and parts. The option of run flat tires or just simply patching a tire can be performed with very little mechanical skill. Some disadvantages include, exposure to the elements and difficulty traveling in colder environments.
M35 6×6 Multi Fuel Vehicle
Affectionately named the “Deuce and a Half” from WWII, the M35 is a versatile vehicle. By it’s design as a utility truck it began life serving in the military and included everything from troop transport, water vehicles, snow plows, to armed combat vehicles. These trucks can literally run on any fuel available. They are certified to operate on diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, heating oil, and gasoline. These trucks are not for the light hearted conversion enthusiast, but M35’s and it’s cousin with a slightly shorter wheelbase M34, can be purchased at surplus for pennies on the dollar from their original cost to the government. Since M35’s are 6 wheel drive and you can take them just about anywhere, including places you may not want to go. They aren’t very fast, and they don’t get very good mileage, but if you carry enough fuel, and don’t mind how long it takes you, you may just need this vehicle when the SHTF.
Written by RAG