So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
Follow by Email
Monday, April 11, 2016
Spot the stealth camper
Let's play: spot the stealth camper. Stealth camping is free camping, sometimes in places where sleeping in your vehicle is not technically allowed.
First we'll do the beginner round. Spot the campers at a Walmart. Not every big box store allows overnight camping. There are even apps that keep track of the ones that do. This is not really stealth camping as it's allowed. Even so there are rules. Keep your vehicle self contained. If you have slide outs keep them in. Do not set up folding chairs and grills out in the parking lot. An overnight camper shouldn't look any different than if someone was parking their RV while they do some shopping.
Spotting big RVs is easy. Let's move onto vans. Vans make pretty good mobile living spaces. They have enough room for basic comfort, yet they fit into a normal parking space. Look for either blackout curtains or panel vans with no side windows at all. Solar panels are a dead giveaway. So are generators hanging off the back on a cargo buddy. These smaller vehicles are more likely to try to stealth camp where not technically allowed.
People living in regular passenger cars often use sun shields in the windows to keep people from looking in. A give away is that often the only people using them are those who are sleeping in their cars. The expert level of car camping belongs to those who can blend in and don't use sun shields or curtains. This level of stealth is not for everyone. The car may just look like it needs a good cleaning, but under those Burger King wrappers is a person in a sleeping bag. Ta Da!
The real pros are those who can stealth camp in a place like Key West. It's a small island and the cops know everyone who belongs on it. If a strange vehicle is parked on a residential street for a few days they will assume someone is urban camping. Cops in small towns play “spot the stealth camper,” at a professional level.
Sometimes they can be fooled by really clever stealth vehicles. I had the pleasure once of looking over a homemade stealth vehicle based on a cube truck. It looked like a regular unmarked delivery truck. Only when camped in the country did the folding stairs, skylights, and side windows pop out. The vehicle was put together like a Swiss watch. All closed up, it looked like any other small delivery truck one would see parked on a city street.
Then there was the guy who had a pickup truck with a cap on the back. It had really good graphics for a phony business. The truck looked like a contractor's pickup, but had a nice camping arrangement inside. The driver went around wearing a yellow hardhat and carried a clipboard.
When playing this game, remember that if you can spot the stealth camper, cops probably can too. That's why I tend to “camp” on private land where it's allowed, or at least ignored.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.