Is Your Truck Camper Ready to Bug Out?

We often hear and read the refrain that 2020 can’t get over soon enough. We agree. By American standards it was historically bad, with a worldwide pandemic and state-wide shutdowns, riots, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding taking place. While it’s true that 2020 has been bad, it’s also possible that things can get worse before they get better. The under-currents and signs are all around us. We all need to be prepared for what may come because the government might not be there to help when you need it. Depending on the disaster or emergency, it may take days, weeks, or months before help from city, state, and federal agencies can arrive. Because of this we need to have a sufficient supply of food and water in our homes and other essentials. Hopefully, when trouble happens we’ll be able to shelter in place in our homes, but we all need to have a way to bug out, too, if forced out.

Countless articles and videos have been published on the best bug out vehicle. We’ve even published a few here at Truck Camper Adventure. We believe the 4×4 truck camper is the best vehicle to bug out in. Not only can you live comfortably in a truck camper, but you can also get far off the beaten path in one, far away from others who may be seeking similar surroundings. Today’s truck camper has everything you need to live comfortably off-grid, including a roof, a bed, a kitchen, a refrigerator, a place to eat, and in most cases, a bathroom. Couple all of these amenities with a limitless source of power from solar power, food, and a way to harvest fresh water, and you truly have a way to sustain yourself for several days, weeks, and if needed, months at a time—but only if you’re ready.

Truck Camper Readiness

What things should you do to get your truck camper ready? First, your truck should be fueled up and ready to go and your camper mounted. Fuel is needed to get out of harm’s way, the more the better. If you have an extra fuel tank in your truck or fuel canisters, fill them up too and keep them rotated. Second, fill-up your camper’s fresh water holding tank and stock up on drinking water if you have the space. Third, have a two-week supply of food at a minimum in your rig. Canned goods are convenient, but also heavy, which is why we recommend hauling a few large bags of rice and beans and fishing tackle. Fourth, make sure you have the essentials and other items that you need to live like prescribed medicines and vitamins. And fifth, ensure you have an adequate supply of clothing, hats, and blankets. Ensure you have warm and cold weather clothing to handle various climates and seasons. Another option, of course, is to keep your camper stocked seasonally with the right clothing, but it’s easy to forget to do this, which is why we keep both warm weather and cold weather clothing in our camper at all times.

Bug Out Essentials

Your truck camper already provides many essentials needed to survive, including shelter and a place to sleep, but you’ll need a few other items as well some of which we’ve already touched on. Though not an exhaustive list, it provides the absolute essentials needed to get by in an emergency. For additional emergency preparedness items, click here.

1. Water

Safe drinking water is critical. You can only live three days without it. Your supply of drinking water will go fast without a way to replenish it. Local sources of potable water include places like Flying J’s; rest stops; city, county, and state parks; churches; ranger stations; campgrounds; and RV parks. Natural sources, such as lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, can be used too, but will probably need some kind of filtration beforehand to be safe. When shopping for a water filtration system for your camper, make sure it can filter water at the .2 micron level. A basic charcoal filter like those sold at Walmart and Camping World aren’t good enough to filter out harmful bacteria, parasites, chemicals, cysts, and diseases. In addition, make sure you have a portable 12 volt pump and strainer on-hand to pump water from fresh water sources like reservoirs, lakes, and rivers. If you have the room, carry a container or two to collect rainwater run-off from the roof of your camper. Don’t laugh. The rain gutters on the roof of your camper can collect a surprising amount of water. Every little bit helps.

An inline filtration system consisting of two or three canisters filtering all of the water coming into your camper is one way to do it. But another much easier option is to filter your drinking water only. This can be done either through a filtration canister mounted underneath your kitchen sink or by using a portable gravity fed system. We have a Doulton GSS2 Gravity Filtration System that we use in our camper, but other systems like those made by Berkey are excellent too. If you can’t find one these another great option is to get something portable like the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. The LifeStraw filters up to 1,000 gallons of contaminated water and removes a minimum 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria, 99.9 percent of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters up to .2 microns, which is what you want.

2. Self Defense

Self defense is important, you never know when you’re going to need to protect yourself. The rioting that took place in many parts of the country provides ample proof of that. Being on the road or camping out in a bug out location (see below) can put you in harm’s way including from animals like bears, cougars, and moose. A crossbow or firearm is an excellent way to defend yourself and keep food on the table. Some have an aversion to firearms and that’s okay. A canister of mace or bear spray can be an excellent deterrent against humans and bears, but is limited in range. The same applies to weapons like knives and machetes. Handguns are an excellent way to defend yourself and your loved ones too. If you decide to go that route rather than a canister of mace or bear spray, keep one handy in your truck and camper along with plenty of ammo, but be mindful of state conceal carry laws and permits. Some states are very strict.

3. Solar Power

We’ve written exhaustively about solar power and the numerous benefits it provides for your truck camper. What more can we say but to get it. Yes, a generator is nice to have, but it’s dependent on a fossil fuel to run. What if the fuel runs out or can’t be transported? This is one reason why we’re such strong advocates of solar power. Yes, it quiet and doesn’t emit harmful fumes, which are important considerations for boondocking, but it’s also a limitless source of power to keep your food cold and run critical electronics like radios (see below) and CPAP machines. The best way to get solar power quick is to outfit your truck camper with a portable solar power system like this 100-watt portable panel made by Renogy. A larger, roof-top system is obviously better, but if you need something in a hurry, this is the best way to do it. Oh, and solar power is a great way to cook too by using the rays of the sun directly. We have a solar oven in standby just in case we need it.

4. Communication

Communication is another essential for survival. Most of us rely on our cell phones for communication, and rightly so, it’s a terrific way to stay in touch and get help. But your cellular system is dependent on the electrical grid and a system of backup generators with a limited amount of fuel. What if your network or nearby towers go down? What if your bug out destination is beyond cell phone range and you need help? It’s best to have a backup means of communication on-hand like a shortwave radio or a portable hand-held satellite communicator like the Garmin InReach just in case you need it. Getting a HAM radio license has never been easier. Now you can take the test online, and better yet, you no longer need to know Morse Code, though everyone should know a few Morse Code emergency basics like SOS (… – – – …) for flashing light and radio.

Where to Bug Out?

Most who are bugging out will relocate to a hotel/motel. Finding a vacancy will be difficult. With a stealthy, nimble truck camper, you shouldn’t have that problem, which is why honing your boondocking skills is so important. The best place to bug out is a piece of property that you already own located far from large cities and other “targets of interest.” This is the best way to ensure safety and solitude from others. If you don’t have a piece of property, other options exist like deer camps for hunters, property owned by friends or family, lake or river cabins for fishermen, and, of course, public land (national forests, wildlife refuges, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Land Management property). Boondocking on public land, however, can be a hit or miss affair. Avoiding crowds is what you should strive for, which is why having a truck camper is so great, but this isn’t always possible because others have truck campers and overland vehicles too like Jeeps. If possible, camp with family and friends, the more the better. Strength is in numbers.

Interested in buying a piece of property somewhere in the United States? We recommend getting a copy of Joel Skousen’s excellent Strategic Relocation. Unlike other books and guides, which focus on things like resorts, schools, and golf courses, Skousen’s book provides relocation recommendations based upon vitals like military target areas, proclivity for national disasters, weather, pollution, terrain, laws and politics, and population densities. The book is wonderfully illustrated with color maps by state showing terrain, public and private land use, and military target areas and regional maps outlining the best general retreat areas. An excellent resource regardless of your politics.

Final Thoughts

This article was written to help you prepare not to instill fear. Being prepared physically, emotionally, and spiritually is the smart thing to do. Those who are prepared have greater confidence in and less fear about the future. If you live in your truck camper full-time, then you already have a head start on bugging out and may need only a few small things. For those with homes, hopefully you’ve been able to modify your truck camper to use off-grid and have been able boondock in it. Practice makes perfect. There’s no better way to become proficient at living off-grid in your truck and camper than actually doing it. Today’s truck camper helps you do that without having to rely on government help and staying in hotels. And with COVID-19 hotspots still out there, you’ll be safer too.

About Mello Mike 900 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.


  1. WOW… Advocating to bring a hand gun camping. This is NOT the America I live in. I am so disappointed in this website to promote violence and to suggest carrying a hand gun. I enjoy truck camper camping amongst others who enjoy the great outdoors, which I have done for 53 years.

    • We do not promote violence in any form. Quite the contrary, we despise it. We do, however, believe that everyone has a right to defend themselves from those who would do us harm, whether it is a bear, a cougar, a moose, or a threatening person.

    • Tracy, may I address your concerns?
      This article was not a call to violence but rather to a attitude of preparedness. Unfortunately, it is the America we live in. The primary theme in the article was not about recreational camping but the bug-out scenario which can come from numerous natural or man caused catastrophes. In this past few months we have seen a disheartening breakdown in our society where many have demonstrated a complete willingness to do violence against people who are completely innocent of any wrong doing against the perpetuators. While I wish this was not true and pray that we will return to being a civil society, I am a realist and am convinced that in the scenarios where a bug-out is necessary the need to be able to protect yourself and your family will become paramount. If I have to bug-out it will be in part from my desire to avoid violence but I will be prepared to meet force with force, deadly force if necessary.
      Now having said that, I suggest that for most people a handgun is not the best choice because of the skill necessary to use it effectively especially as distance increases and/or against a determined assailant. I was trained in the Marine Corps, have decades of competitive experience, shoot thousands of rounds each year and hunt extensively with a handgun. There are still situations I would prefer a rifle. We often suggest that the convenience of a handgun makes it more readily available until we can gain access to our rifle in a life and death situation.
      Not only that but many states make handgun ownership and possession quite difficult yet most of those same states have less legal restrictions on owning, possessing and transporting some types of long guns. While some “experts” suggest the shotgun as the ideal defense tool I contend that a carbine whether in a semi-auto or a lever action is generally a better choice for most people. The semi-auto sport rifle, pistol caliber carbine and lever action rifles are easy to load and shoot. The learning curve to an acceptable level of proficiency can be fun filled even for those who have never had an interest in firearms.
      Now to your particular concern about bringing a handgun camping. Recreational shooting is a great relaxing activity and welcome in most of the places I enjoy camping like the BLM or US Forest. In fact, the camper in the back of my truck is a welcome part of the hunting trip even when it is only a day outing to a local state forest or wildlife management area. It is a shelter in inclement weather, has a comfortable bed to rest in, a refrigerator, stove and a place place to sit and take a load off. Oh, and I love not having to venture out in the middle of the night for a bathroom break while the Minnesota mosquitos are having a family reunion.

  2. Most things make sense if you live in warmer states like Arizona, but if live north during the winter your truck camper is most likely winterized, water drained and antifreeze in all the lines plus most of the food taken out so not encourage mice. My truck camper is covered and off the truck for winter.

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