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Thread: Weekend vhicle shelter test

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    Weekend vhicle shelter test

    Now those of you who live in our warmer climes won’t get much from this one, but maybe a few from the colder areas just might. The particulars of how and why are irrelevant, but after a long discussion of the viability of an automobile as a semi-permanent alternative to a tent as a shelter, a friend of mine challenged me to live in my car from about dinner time on a Friday to Sunday morning at 10 AM, or about 29 hours. I was to use nothing but what my vehicle carries in it for a winter emergency kit, and the things I carry into it on an everyday basis. No added food or drink was to be allowed. He obviously thought that this would be a challenge, I on the other hand thought it would be at worst perhaps a bit boring. I was not limited to sitting there all day long, I could go about normal daily outdoors activities but forgo any indoors activities.

    In this exercise I am probably better prepared than most as my semi-retirement gig is a special needs school bus driver. I spend from about 5:30 AM to 5 PM either at the bus yard sitting in my car or driving the bus, approx. 6 hours of this is spent pre-tripping and driving the bus the rest is spent in the car with it normally off. I do this because I dislike the seating in the garage, and driving back and forth to home would be way to expensive. My car is set up for my comfort, limited meals and also has an extensive emergency kit, in effect for about 5 plus hours a day I live in my vehicle. I often run the car for maybe 10 minutes each break, or 30 minutes total for 3 breaks to take off the initial edge while I eat something quick.

    To make it a bit challenging I did this over a weekend in Christmas break, in the midst of a cold snap where the high temps were in single digits and the lows down to close to minus double digits. Overall, I have to say I was right, the experience helped me work out some things with my car and GHB kits but nothing serious. The first thing I did was prepare to spend a long cold night, I started up one of two Zippo handwarmers I keep and use almost daily. Then put two of the frozen water bottles from my supplies in to thaw. I had several thawed bottles in my lunch bag. I took off my boots and put on wool boot pacs liners from the two pair in my emergency stores, for “slippers” which are warmer and less constrictive than my boots for long periods. To keep this from being too long will just mention things I had available to use.

    Available for use are 2 different weight coats, in addition to the wool shirt jack I normally wear and two different vests along with several weight gloves and hats including a wool navy watch cap. I have a quilt I usually wrap up in during the day along with a warm neck pillow. But also in my emergency kit are several wool blankets and two dual density “space blankets” which reflect back heat. I have a canteen kit which can be used to melt water if needs be and various other tools and emergency items.

    Food items vary according to desires but currently my “snacks”, breakfast and lunch items include a box of mini slimjims, bags of various jerky’s, oatmeal cookies, dry cereal, peanuts, fruit snacks and fruit “leather” along with a large bag of Hershey miniatures’ for a treat. A case of water bottles is available as is instant coffee and a plug-in water heater coil for coffee in my canteen cup.

    Entertainment includes a bag of reading material, cell phone charger and a plug in mini DVD player with movies. Yes, before anyone says it my car is indeed full, but, it is that way for a reason, it is lived in 5 days a week. Sleeping is usually done in the front seat just reclined but for this I pulled down the back seats and used the larger more open space. Lighting after dark is provided by small LED pushbutton puck lights.

    Overall it was a very successful weekend. Cold, yes, a bit but overall, I was very comfortable. The water thawing worked but was slower than I had planned, adding the second hand warmer would have speeded things up a lot. And a warm meal would have been nice, that will be remedied with some MREs.
    Last edited by lee1959; January 14th, 2018 at 03:16 PM.

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    Actually was about 41 hours total.

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    Unrepentant chocoholic ShooterGranny's Avatar
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    Having spent 3 1/2 days two winters ago without electricity, but with a propane fireplace that heated the loft room only, and having eaten cold stuff out of cans, and having all of our clothes available was awful! I admire you for your experiment and for having a vehicle that is so well stocked for emergency living, but at our ages that is more than we can even think of doing.

    Oh yeah, congratulations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShooterGranny View Post
    Having spent 3 1/2 days two winters ago without electricity, but with a propane fireplace that heated the loft room only, and having eaten cold stuff out of cans, and having all of our clothes available was awful! I admire you for your experiment and for having a vehicle that is so well stocked for emergency living, but at our ages that is more than we can even think of doing.

    Oh yeah, congratulations.
    TY, like I said,I am probably better prepared for such an exercise because I spend so much time in the vehicle and this set up has evolved over the past 7 years of working this gig. I think more than anything the whole thing proves that given an emergency one could live in a vehicle with relative comforts with just a minimum of thought and planning with things most of us have available.

    We lost our furnace this winter the Thursday before New Year and got it back the Wens after and it was below zero those days, so I quite understand your situation. Us, myself included, getting older means we simply havre to work smarter and make allowances in out plans. Never give up sweet lady...

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    Quote Originally Posted by lee1959 View Post
    ... after a long discussion of the viability of an automobile as a semi-permanent alternative to a tent as a shelter, a friend of mine challenged me to live in my car from about dinner time on a Friday to Sunday morning at 10 AM ... to use nothing but what my vehicle carries in it for a winter emergency kit, and the things I carry into it on an everyday basis. No added food or drink was to be allowed.
    Excellent test, such occasional challenges. Puts things into perspective, once forced to rely on just those things you've already considered as tools and supplies.

    We used to do these sorts of weekender tests with the camping gear. Force all the situations you imagine you'd want to survive, then deal with it. All done out in the fields or country within a few miles from home, so that there'd be little true danger of going totally without if blowing the "testing." Great prep step, to ensure that the intended gear actually did cover all the eventualities one was planning for.

    IMO, it makes great sense to include in one's "normal, everyday" emergency prep supplies those things that'll help survive lack of water, lack of food, lack of temperature control, getting soaking wet, getting frozen, minor medical emergencies, communications and the need to signal people at distance, along with handling the basic automotive failures that might occur. The combination of supplies would vary from place to place, depending on what's likely to occur. Obviously, what's needed in upstate NY during wintertime isn't the same as southern FLA, and so on.

    Kudos on doing the actual testing yourself. Can be eye-opening for many folks.

    Multiple blankets and heating items; fire tools; essential automotive tools; alternative communications supplies and means; sufficient water and food for several days and a means of carrying both efficiently over great distances.

    I've always thought a wonderful device for the "emergency" kit in a car would be a manual means of recharging the battery. Say, a hand-leg cranked dynamo charging setup. They've got them for radios, or built-in to radios. Haven't seen one for vehicles. It'd take awhile, sure, but it would be vastly better than being stuck in an ugly spot without means of getting the car going ... all for the price of a ~<$25 charging thingy. Utility similar to, say, the spray cans of goop that can seal up a tire's puncture from within, at least temporarily.
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    I think some type of backup power is an excellent idea. I got to admit when I read it I had this mental picture of some guy with one of those shake flashlights hooked up to his car battery, now THAt would give you a strong dominant hand .

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    By coincidence my wife and I were discussing this (with the latest storm that went through) and I found I was missing food items.

    Boy, I'll miss her.
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    I miss my Peterbilt. Topped off with some Go Go Juice and I could do a weekend in there easy, when the zombies come im heading straight to the local big rig dealership.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lee1959 View Post
    I think some type of backup power is an excellent idea. I got to admit when I read it I had this mental picture of some guy with one of those shake flashlights hooked up to his car battery, now THAT would give you a strong dominant hand .
    No Kidding!!!

    I need to do one of these the Grid has gone down and what do I do NOW??
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Rabbit212 View Post
    I miss my Peterbilt. Topped off with some Go Go Juice and I could do a weekend in there easy, when the zombies come im heading straight to the local big rig dealership.
    When I went to CDL Driving School (1995-1996) at the school I went to they had at least 2 PETERBUILT TRACTORS. Needless to say I have and WILL HAVE a thing for the Peterbuilt till the DAY I DIE.
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    I like the ideal of a 12v heating coil for liquids. One could make a bowl within a bowl device to heat food.

    It's too bad they don't make vehicles better insulated. I know, lots of glass but still, they could be better.

    Sometimes when I go out of town I'll bring a battery booster. There are many on the market now. It's just a sealed lead acid battery in a portable case that usually has some heavy alligator clips to attach to the car battery posts in an emergency. Mine also has a cig lighter socket and a male/male suicide cord to push or pull current through the accessory outlet. It's good insurance against leaving your lights on, etc. It provides great peace of mind if you're car camping and running a lot of accessories.

    A small solar panel might be handy too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee1959 View Post
    I think some type of backup power is an excellent idea. I got to admit when I read it I had this mental picture of some guy with one of those shake flashlights hooked up to his car battery, now THAt would give you a strong dominant hand .
    Stanley makes their Simple Start (lithium-ion) starter product. And it comes with USB ports for charging devices and whatnot. Claims they're sufficiently powerful to successfully start up a V8 car. Available for $30-35 or so, at "big box" retailers. There are several similar products on the market.

    I've seen the dynamo-type chargers for radios, built-in. And there are some on lighting units. But I've yet to see one that would be large and powerful enough (possibly a dynamo generator charger directly, or possibly to charge monstrous capacitors) that could be used to start a car that had an otherwise dead battery. Something that doesn't require it to be pre-charged and ready to go. Say, something more appropriate for living off the grid for a time, or having gotten stuck "out there" away from "civilization" for awhile. Something not reliant upon solar equipment to function, but instead charged via a simple dynamo setup. Perhaps it's not possible, just yet.

    The Stanley unit (above) might well knock off the various Anker and MaxOak (and similar) portable charger products on the market, at least for vehicles. Given the ability to start up a dead car battery as well as handle simple charging of electronic devices.
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