Prepping and Surviving in an RV

Millions of people around the world use RVs or Motorhomes or even day-vans for a variety of reasons.

rv in camping location

They provide some of the comforts a house provides, heat, an oven, table, comfy chairs and a bed to name a few.

Preppers will modify an RV for their Bug-Out Vehicles for the same reason, as comfort is king!

You can even get trailers for RVs like Winnebagos to tow other vehicles or find an RV that stores a vehicle onboard hidden away.

As preppers, we have to know what to store in there, we also have to understand safe stops might be hard to find, so make our own.

The Vehicle: RV and What is Out There And What are their Pros and Cons?

What is an RV? It stands for Recreational Vehicle, in some countries they call it a Motorhome.

They are usually single-story houses on wheels if you will. They contain a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, some are more than two berths and so have extra sleeping areas, and some require the vehicle to expand to create more space.

Some are purpose-built RVs like Winnebagos, and some are normal vans with folding bed-chairs in them along with a few storage cabinets; they are referred to as day-vans.

They are not as comfy long-term but will do the job, especially if you’re using them as shelters in a safe location where they work well enough for two people.

You can purchase some great RVs, some need towing and some can tow as they are a vehicle.

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SportTreck Touring Edition

I have seen the 2022 designs and they are modern and nice, with much of the comforts found in a home, the floor plans differ depending on what you want. This can be towed by most vehicles.

Pros Cons
A separate unit for your vehicle You have to attach it to your vehicles
Lots of room to store supplies The possibility of Jackknife
Separate Vehicle for supply runs The possibility of losing your trailer/caravan

The Hellwig Rule Breaker

This is a camper that becomes part of the vehicle, some are a Nissan Titan XD.

Pros Cons
Attached to the vehicle Less room to store supplies
The ability to tow smaller vehicles Only two people can sleep in the vehicle
Makes a great long-distance scout car If the vehicle is taken you lose your shelter

Motorised Motorhomes

Winnebago

This is possibly the most famous of any motorhome, the one I found is the 2020 Journey (Class A) and diesel. It is a cozy-looking vehicle that can store much of your prep supplies.

The RV is smart with everything controlled via the onboard touchscreen or your phone. They also do an EKKO which is also nice.

Both have the same pros and cons, one might have a unique pro and con, and this will be labeled.

Pros Cons
Both are a complete unit that gives access to the steering wheel If either is taken you have nothing
Both can sleep more than two people Little space to move around
Lots of storage for supplies You need to tow other vehicles
Both can two smaller vehicles Tire changing has more steps
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Laika Kosmo F510

The Laika Kosmo F510 is not as big as the Journey but offers spacious overhead storage, above the driver is a sleeping area as well as in the back.

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Dembell Land

If you have the money for a Dembell Land that will be perfect. Lots of room for a family and supplies and carries a small vehicle, the downside is to drive it now you need a licence to drive a bus.

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Terra Wind RV

If you have the money a floating RV is what you need. A flood won’t stop you from surviving in This beauty.

Lots of space to store all your preps and comes with a built-in dock for jet skis, the only downside is the dock looks easy to access and you couldn’t tow a vehicle. Again you will have a bus licence to drive this.

Thor Motor Coach

This is a diesel 4×4. This will sleep up to six people and it also has lots of space for supplies.

Being both diesel and 4×4 you should be okay to travel most terrain and with old chip fat extend the diesel you use.

The windows are tinted for helping with harsh light and security. The roof looks good for additional supplies storage and as a lookout post.

This also comes with a pre-wired solar panel, which you can wire in a wind turbine for extra power as well as a portable generator.

Driving an RV

When it comes to driving one, it can be tricky to maneuver at first, a trick many uses are cameras and sensors, they allow you a full 360° view of the vehicle and tell you how close you are to objects, like curbs or posts.

Depending on the weight or category you may need a new licence.

In the USA, if the RV is over 26,000 pounds you need a new licence. Anything under that is covered by a regular licence in all 50 states.

In the UK, you will need to know what category the vehicle falls into as well as your age. To do this you find out the MAM or Maximum Authorised Mass.

Anything under 3.5 tonnes is drivable on a full licence. Anything between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes needs a Category C1.

Anything above 7.5 tonnes you need a Category C licence. All standard UK full licences are Category B.

However, during times when the law is voided, you can drive unrestricted by license.

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Prepping a Van as an RV

Yes, you can do this, some find it cheaper to do this, however you sacrifice a lot of comforts.

Many commercial vans are modified to do this. You may not get the same amount of room as a motorhome or RV, however many can have roof sleeper boxes attached to accommodate one to two more people.

You will most likely fit a folding bed chair and a few cupboards for storage and for your leisure battery or batteries.

They make good scavenger vehicles though as they can store a lot when you sacrifice the bed, they will normally sleep two people at least unless you attach a sleeper box to the roof, then up to four people can sleep in the van.

That is why many will use converted vans just for overnight trips.

Some people carriers can do the same job, however, they will sleep only two people and you have lost space for supplies.

Some Pick-ups can have caravan attachments, but you lose the safety of being able to get to the steering wheel quickly, like in a Winnebago for example.

If you can get a Winnebago or a similar motorhome then that is the best bug-out vehicle, you can have a secondary small vehicle or vehicle as a scout and for quick supply runs, which you can tow on a special trailer, or if you are lucky store within the RV.

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How Long Can You Survive In An RV?

The short answer is: a long time, depending on how well you maintain the vehicle.

The long answer is: it depends on your various fuel supplies and how good you are at fixing the vehicle as it will degrade over time.

As long as you can take the measures to combat dampness, rust and mould you should have a habitable vehicle for a long time.

RVs have a freshwater tank that has around a 60-litre or 13.198 gallons capacity.

One person is advised to drink 2 litres or 0.44 gallons a day, so a full tank will last one person 30 days, however, that projection decreases when you need to use water to make a meal.

If you do two meals a day you will use some of your water supply, you should estimate about a ten-day supply for one person to be safe, however, you can stretch this with bottled or containerized water, like in a water jerry can.

You can also replace the factory tank with larger freshwater tanks, you can get ones that are about 120 litres or 26.396 gallons.

You can also replace the factory-installed waste water tank with a larger one so you spend less time emptying and cleaning it.

If you use the cupboards wisely then you can store at least a month’s worth of food in MRE or ration packs or dehydrated or tinned form when stored properly.

The fridge should also work as long as the leisure battery is operational, allowing the storage items that need to be chilled.

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Stockpiling Food

How much can you stockpile? The answer is a lot. You have all those cupboards that you can fill with MRE’s, ration packs, and tinned foods.

One MRE ration pack is equal to a meal. One person would most likely eat two once a day.

Each cupboard, minus your camping plates and bowls, will be able to hold at least two 24-hour boxes, which is equal to a daily meal intake.

Then your RV should hold a month’s worth without including the wardrobes or fridge/freezer, this will give you about 39 days of food, which you can use when having to scout.

You can also stock emergency food buckets around the RV and when bulk ordered they can last between 6-12 months for one person.

Some cupboards will only hold one bucket at best, it is best to stock up on tins as well.

One shelf of a cupboard could hold 27 tins, so the whole cupboard could hold 108 days of tinned food, the equivalent of over 3 months worth of food for one person.

Hunting and fishing will help reduce the need for a ration pouch, if you can preserve the meat then you have a longer survival time than those boxes and buckets.

This is useful as it will get you past the chaos that unprepared people will cause because they went three days without a meal.

The timeframe to stock is on you, food is one of the most important preps and so, depending on your way of prepping it could take you one to six months to fill the cupboards with rations boxes and stored buckets.

Water in the RV

The RV will have its water tank and that can be anywhere between 60 litres or 13.198 gallons, it’s enough for one person for about ten days.

You can store water almost anywhere in the RV. This is the most important prep you can have.

Water when sold in shops comes in bottles, some small, some large and some that need a water dispenser. The large bottles take up less space when being stored.

However, you can buy camping water containers, some look like jerry cans, some have taps, and others have wheels.

These are going to be a better way to store water as the jerry cans can store stacked, while containing 25 litres or 5.499 gallons of fresh water.

You will also need to ensure a good supply of ways to purify water, purification tablets are good, and you can get purification straws that allow you to drink from a body of water, these are easily stored in your pack or small cupboards in the RV.

You can also boil the water first, this will remove much of the toxins in the water.

Activated charcoal is also good, as it is useful in other ways. A must for your bug-out vehicle.

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RV Modifications

A larger capacity freshwater tank and wastewater tank are a must if there is room, you can not survive long without a good fresh and clean water supply, and you will last around a week without water.

This allows for you to have a reserve freshwater supply that will last around ten days when working off bottled water as well.

Some basic modifications I would suggest are special tires that will not puncture or will run flat when attacked.

You will have to reduce your speed to about 90 km/h or 56mph and your distance will be greatly reduced to about 16km or 10 miles, but the trade-off is worth it as you will be able to carry on your journey for a little while.

Another idea would be a security system. This will protect your RV from unwanted attention and them trying to break in, especially if it catches attention.

Armour is another idea, armouring the weak points will greatly improve the longevity of the vehicle, like the fuel tank, protecting the windows is also a good idea.

You could modify the roof with a hatch and set of pulldown ladders as this will allow you to use the roof for various purposes like a lookout.

You can modify the bed/seat furniture and turn it into a hidden safe to store extra supplies, gear and weapons with hidden draws or a large safe, this will help keep the cupboards free for other things, like a surge protection unit.

The addition of a battery bank would also be a good idea, the more power you can store the better your chances and you can use some electronic items like radios.

A larger fuel tank would also be a good idea. It will not only increase the projected range but compensate for the weight of the modifications.

A large inferred concealment tent stored on the roof is a good idea. This will unfold at night to cover the RV allowing no heat and light to escape and help conceal your location.

I can go on and on about RV modifications, however at the end of the day the choice is yours, all I am doing is giving you ideas from what I have seen and would like to include in my build.

Some preppers will attach floodlights to their RV. This is a good idea as lighting up an area with bright lights will aid in defence, you can get ones that are linked to a remote or fob, ones that you can either pick which light around the RV or choose to have them all on is a bonus.

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Energy Production

If you can get a hybrid RV then that would be a bonus as you can keep the motor battery charged with solar energy and you can attach dynamos to the wheels to produce even more energy.

Solar panels would be a good idea as this will help reduce the fuel consumption to heat water for a shower, as well as help charge electrical devices among other things.

You will have to install surge protection, this will ensure your vehicle does not fall prey to EMPs or overcharging of the battery bank.

You can store a generator onboard, this will help produce more power, however, this will eat into your fuel supply.

Yes, you can get wind turbines for your RV, another bonus for charging your batteries.

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Basic RV Maintenance

To keep the vehicle running and inhabitable for as long as possible, learning how to repair the vehicle is a must, from changing a bulb to fixing the engine is something you should know.

Just like you need to keep an eye on the engine water and oil in your everyday vehicle, so too must you do it for your RV or suffer a breakdown, which in a bug-out situation is a nightmare.

Cleaning the Water System

Cleaning the freshwater system is a must, you do not need to end up ill because you did not clean the tank or piping. This needs to be done once a year or if you scavenge one.

You can do this with chlorine bleach and freshwater, you can do the same with the wastewater to stop a build-up of smells and bacteria that might find their way into the RV.

Maintenance Information

Creating a folder with all the maintenance information you need would be a good idea.

It should detail what modifications you have made, how they need to be maintained, and how to maintain the vehicle in general, this should be readily available, along with a tool kit to help maintain the vehicle.

Damage Checks

You should also make it a habit to check the vehicle over each morning and note any damage or unusual markings you find, after a full sweep of the area.

This will help further the familiarization of your vehicle to ensure nothing has been added or taken, which is vital for your survival.

Regular Cleaning

Keeping the vehicle as clean as possible is also a good idea, especially the inside, this will reduce the chances of anything growing or infesting your RV and boost morale.

The toilet will need a good clean almost every day as this will stop bacteria and smells, especially when you have no choice but to use the onboard facilities.

To maintain your toilet you will need to use a blue and pink solution, one is the fluid and the other is the rinse. You will have to add fresh water to it, which eats into your water supply.

You can get a deep cleaning acid wash that will help kill bacteria, which you can use once a week.

A mould lichen and algae remover is also a good idea. You start growing those and it gets everywhere, again you can use this once a week.

A supply of hand gel is a must, this will stop the spread of bacteria that can cause you to fall sick.

Keeping the shower clean is also important so stocking up on shower head cleaner is a must, as if you can’t keep that clean you’ll find it hard to be clean.

Regular Inventory Checks

Also, a good supply of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and shampoo is a must. You can learn to make toothpaste, which I may do in an article for another time.

You can get body and hair wash which will do a good job and will take up less space and some can also be used as washing up liquid.

A clean sink and pipes mean a happy survival. Stockpile cleaning solutions for those as well.

Know Your RV

Learning how to change an RV tire is also a must. If you can not you might need to abandon your RV and that is not good when trying to survive.

As for fuel, Diesel is better as you can locate other diesel sources like red diesel, though normally banned to normal motorists, you should be able to find sources when in an apocalyptic situation though.

Remember red diesel is illegal in some vehicles and should not be in your vehicle unless the law is voided.

Old chip fat will be important as it will help reduce the diesel used, although illegal normally, you can do this in an apocalyptic situation, this too is illegal and should not be in your vehicle unless the law is void.

Also, know if you can refill the distilled water of your leisure batteries, this is simple as boiling a kettle, letting it cool, and pouring it into the circular holes using a funnel.

If that doesn’t work the battery will need a jump start using a charger, if that does not take then you will have to replace the battery.

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Making An RV Feel Like Home

There are lots of ways to do this from curtains to wallpaper. Modifying the inside is important as you do not want to feel trapped when the situation arises where you’re unable to leave your RV.

The important thing for wallpaper and curtains is they can be easily cleaned and repaired, replaced, or regularly changed when the time arrives.

You can get washable wallpaper and that will go a long way, especially if you are a messy cook.

As for curtains, I would have three sets for every window that can take them, with the windscreen having a pull-down blind.

I would have three sets of bedding per bed, that way I can wash them once a week to maintain my and my family’s mental health and wellbeing.

If you’re looking to put up shelves or other wall hanging items get advice about the RV internal wall first as you need to maintain the structure as best as possible.

A manual washing machine is very helpful. Washing clothes is a mundane task that we must likely opt out of and let a washing machine do.

A hand turn one is small enough to store, you have to remember that it will take from your freshwater supply.

You will also need to have all the washing supplies, such as powder and conditioner stored, but it’s a task that can save your well-being and mental health.

Having games that do not require electricity is a great bonus for your bug-out vehicle prep.

They offer hours of entertainment and for the young children a fun education, past the various prep, education, and entertaining books you might have tucked away for their education, as you might now have the power spare to play their favorite DVD movie or series.

Final Thoughts

An RV like a Winnebago is a great bug-out vehicle once you have modified it to your needs, like green sources of energy, surge protection, and making it feel like a home.

Towing a bike of some kind or small car allows you to scout areas and bring back supplies, this will allow you to conserve the diesel of your motorhome. Knowing how to maintain the motorhome is vital for survival.

Remember: The prepared survive and the wise thrive.

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