Preacherman's thoughts on towing.

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Thread: Preacherman's thoughts on towing.

  1. #1
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    Preacherman's thoughts on towing.

    Where the heck did I post last items by Preacherman - I forget. I guess we'll be OK here.

    Anyways - I am sure he will not mind if I share his latest post over here so others can maybe benefit from his deductions post Katrina
    Bugging out and towing things-

    Following on my "Katrina lessons learned" threads, I've been involved in Hurricane Rita relief efforts as well. I've run down to the disaster areas a few times, and seen for myself just how difficult it is to evacuate a family, with essential possessions, using only one's primary vehicle. There is also the problem of finding accommodation along the way, and if relying on government-run shelters, what does one do with one's vehicle? There's usually no place to park it at or near the shelter.

    I've come up with a few basic ideas for bug-out trailers and equipment for a couple, or a family, that can be implemented by anyone, given a reasonable expenditure of money (depending on budget) and a bit of forethought. I'll post them in three different categories, depending on expense.


    1. The Economy Model.

    Buy a small trailer, the kind used to carry a ride-on lawnmower, or something like that. For example, our local Wal-Mart sells these sometimes for about $600-$700, each capable of handling several hundred pounds of cargo. A trailer like this, even fully loaded, won't weigh more than about a thousand pounds, or half a ton, and can be towed by even a compact car. On the trailer, load some Rubbermaid boxes containing food, clothing and personal effects. Add a decent tent (size will depend on the number in your group, but you can get a very large tent, accommodating up to a dozen people, for a very reasonable price if you shop around - see, for example, Springbar, and check out their wall tents as well as more popular models). Ease of use in setting-up the tent is important - you don't want something that will take half-an-hour and six people to set up, and you also want something reasonably weather-proof, in case a storm comes through. Then, add sleeping-bags, camping mattresses, and other necessities, and you're as ready as you can be.

    An important tip: buy two large tarpaulins. One should be laid on the trailer bed, the cargo loaded onto it, and then the ends drawn up to the top of the cargo and secured. The second tarpaulin is then laid over the cargo and secured to the sides and/or bed of the trailer. This provides top and bottom protection for the cargo against rain, snow, mud, etc.

    I think that for under $2,000, including the cost of the trailer, towing hitch, and all supplies mentioned above, you could be pretty well prepared for a week or more away from home. If you shop around and buy a used trailer, etc., the overall cost could fall to $1,000 or so. Of course, one can buy a fully enclosed cargo trailer (as rented by U-haul, for example), but they tend to be expensive... in fact, for the same price as a cargo trailer, one can buy a new camper trailer (see Option 2 below), which is probably a better bug-out choice.

    One disadvantage to this approach is that in colder climates, it won't work very well (unless you buy a tent that can accommodate a stove, and then you have to either carry or find firewood, etc.). Also, you may have difficulty finding a place to safely erect your tent (i.e. too many people, no open or public land available, etc.). However, on a tight budget, this is way better than nothing!


    2. The Camper Model.

    This is similar to the economy model, but instead of using a trailer as a cargo device, it uses a camping pop-up trailer. These are available new for anywhere from $4,000 to well over $10,000, depending on what you want (and often for rather less when purchased used). Many are soft-sided, with canvas fold-out beds; others are hard-sided (e.g. the excellent Aliner range - I used to own one of these, and was very impressed). These trailers will sleep anything from two to six people, depending on size and configuration, and will also act as a cargo hauler, where you can load them with food, water, sleeping-bags, etc. prior to departure. They're often easier to set up than tents, and can be collapsed and moving within a few minutes if necessary.

    These trailers are typically heavier than utility trailers, and so would need a mid-size car, minivan or light pickup as a minimum towing vehicle. However, they seldom run more than 2,500 to 3,000 pounds, so any of these vehicles should cope.

    These trailers are also typically suitable for three-season use only (winter is hard in anything canvas-shelled), unless you're using something like the Aliner with its solid aluminum construction. However, they can be erected almost anywhere, even along the road, unlike a tent, which requires relatively clear ground (you don't worry about sticks and stones under your bed with a camping trailer! ).


    3. The Deluxe Model.

    This uses a proper travel trailer, as opposed to a pop-up camper or utility trailer. One doesn't need a particularly big unit: trailers as small as 13ft., such as the Scamp or Casita models, are light enough to tow behind a mid-size car with ease. Larger ones range up to 30 feet, although the big stuff needs a really big towing vehicle, of course. I've towed an 18ft. travel trailer with a Pontiac Montana minivan, which is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and found it no particular problem. For those with pickup trucks, a truck-bed camper unit might be an alternative (although this obviously reduces the amount of cargo you can load in addition to the camper, unless you tow a utility trailer as in Option 1 to increase your storage capacity).

    Such a trailer gives you very weatherproof accommodation and storage space, cooking facilities, toilet and shower, etc. It also has battery-operated lights, and can accommodate generator power if you can lug one along with you (it's easy to load one in a pickup bed, for example). You can typically store well over 1,000 pounds of cargo in the trailer, and more in your towing vehicle.

    I think this is the way to go for serious bugging-out, as you can live for a month or more in such a trailer, and have secure storage for important documents and other items. It's also a four-season option, with the addition of a furnace or heater, and can run an air-conditioner in summer if power is available. You do have to invest more money in such a vehicle, and have a towing vehicle capable of handling the load, but then, you pay for what you get! You also have to consider the greatly increased gas consumption by the towing vehicle... my Montana minivan typically gets 26+ mpg on the highway at 70, but when towing the aforementioned 18ft. trailer (cruising at 60 in 3rd gear, rather than overdrive, to spare the gearbox), it drops to no more than 11 mpg! Carrying extra fuel becomes very important, as you may not find gas stations with supplies in a bug-out situation.

    This is obviously the most expensive solution, as the trailer and the towing vehicle must be matched. However, buying a used trailer is often much cheaper (eBay is your friend! ), and one's total budget can be held below $15,000 or so for both vehicles with careful purchasing and being willing to wait for the right deal.


    So, there are my thoughts. I've chosen to go with the third option, after what I've experienced with Katrina and Rita. I'm also limited by physical disability, so that some of the lower-end options (requiring more physical exertion) would be a bit beyond me.

    What would you choose?
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    It is a good post but im not sure if anything happens if i will be towing anything

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    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Yeah couple problems with this idea not related to the expense:

    #1. You'd have to travel nice paved roads.

    #2. In disaster/SHTF situations whatever you want to call it, these same roads are all hopelessly clogged.

    I sure wouldn't have want to have been lugging a trailer behind me when Rita hit. The traffic out of Houston was insane.

    My little truck isn't Chevy's top of the line, but I travel over some sorry gravel and dirt roads in it that curve and dip up and down and are full of chuckholes. I'd likely have to take such a route to escape this area if anything ever happened, and I can't do that and tow anything at the same time.

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    Member Array duckhunter's Avatar
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    I guess if I had decided to "bug out" instead of "bug in," I would tow a trailer if at all feasible. My (practical) ideal would be a small 18-20 ft toy hauler with an ATV inside and a canoe or small jon strapped to the top. Best of both worlds, camper for 3-4 plus equipment and secondary transportation. Throw a small diesel generator in the back of the pickup and you're set.

    Please PM me if you're interested in donating to the duckhunter BOT fund. Or the ATV fund. Or the diesel generator fund. I'm also going to need a bigger garage for the trailer. Come on guys, this stuff ain't cheap...
    "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final." - Bill Jordan

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    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    Well, since you guys brought it up, here is my partially complete bug out trailer on a budget.

    It is the business end of my old work truck, which was a 1991 s10 with a utility topper on it. Now it is a pickup bed trailer, with a nice utility topper on it. There are two weather tight, lockable, side compartments, which have shelves in them and will hold a bunch of stuff.

    I have a metal lockable tool box on the front with a battery tray, for a deep cycle boat battery and a power inverter. (which I have not had time to hook up yet.) The gas tank is still mounted on the frame and the wire from the electric fuel pump would be simple to hook up to a switch inside that tool box. In the mean time the fuel line is crimped off and awaiting a ball type valve to keep it from venting, leaking, and mud dobbers from filling it with crud. If nothing else it would be a nifty way to gas up the mowers. In all honesty though I have recently discovered that a 5 gallon fuel can fits in the side compartment like a glove. I could propably get 50 gallons in each side compartment and still have room for other supplies. (not planning that, just giving an illustration.)



    I also have the worlds cutest generator that looks like an overgrown lunch pail. It won't run anything too big, but it has a built in battery charger, and will power fans, small tv, etc while recharging the battery if need be, and will run for quite a while on a half gallon of gas. It also fits snuggly in the side compartment.

    For some reason the topper is insulated. The bed is not, but a small coleman camp stove and some blankets would keep it nice and toasty. A twin size mattress will fit in it with room to spare. It has a dome light in it which I intend to replace with one of those camper type 12v flourescents.


    I really don't like the idea of storing water or any kind of food in it as it is exposed to the elements. If I had a heated garage, it would definately be an option though.
    (O.T. , do you have to worry about MREs freezing?)


    Most of the rest of the supplies I will keep in the house emergency kit. If I really needed to bug out, I could hitch up the trailer, and pull it right up to the door, then load it and be gone in less than an hour. Not too shabby for $350 plus an old trailer I wasn't using.



    I definately would trade it for a nice camper though.

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    GS - a man after my own heart - improvise, adapt and make do - all on a very sensible budget.

    Sounds good to me
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    I have thought more than once, while reading your posts, that you and I seem to think along the same lines.
    I am not sure if that is a good thing for you or not. LOL!

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    Member Array tater_salad's Avatar
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    Just a thought, and it goes along the same lines as those with pickup trucks, make sure there's a way to secure your gear, I mean REALLY secure it. If there are stories out there of people being robbed at rest stops, gas stations etc., make sure that no one has unnecessary or unreasonably easy access to your goods. I would think a hard locking tonneau cover and enclosed trailer would fit that bill well enough that anyone trying to break into it would be delayed long enough that I would notice. If you decide to stop at a motel or something, that's another story though.
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

    Conceal This.

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    Senior Member Array tanksoldier's Avatar
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    Only to the extent that you have to handle them a bit more carefully. If they are handled too roughly while frozen the internal packaging can tear, ruining the preservation... once they unfreeze. The issue heaters in the package are hot enough to defrost and heat the meal even if frozen rock hard, as long as you're not doing it outside in -30 or something. Even then they'll defrost it enough to eat in any teamprature you'd actually be out in.

    [quote](O.T. , do you have to worry about MREs freezing?)]/quote]

    Wife and I are considering buying some type of RV... I'm trying to steer things towards a slide-in for my F250 4X4 turbodiesel for many of the reasons mentioned above, though you can tow trailers over some pretty rough ground as long as the center of gravity isn't too high. You can't go rock crawling or anything, but I've towed military trailers behind a HMMWV over some rough stuff. Might want to look into welding a military style hitch onto something that can go into a standard hitch receiver, then putting a towring on the trailer... much better articulation than a standard ball hitch.

    Hmmm... I might try to find a surplus milspec trailer to carry extra consumables (fuel, water, etc). You can always ditch it if you have to. Hmmm...
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    A bit off topic, but one of my (hopefully near future) projects is a mild off road vehicle.

    Basically a station wagon with 32" off road tires, low gears and a a traction lock diff in the rear. (maybe 4x4 if I can find the parts cheap enough). I also have a winch if I ever get around to figureing out what is wrong with it. My wife cringes every time I mention (the hillbilly suv) At any rate it would be a decent bug out vehicle for a few reasons. Not the least of which is someone would have to be pretty desperate for transportation for them to consider stealing it.

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