5 Hard-Won Lessons of Urban Van Life

Van covered with graffiti wall for urban van life, not necessarily down by the river. Vanholio.com
"Graffiti van 2" by Sarah Joy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Vanholio's real impressed with Simon Gooder's GoHobo post, "5 Things I Learned About Van Life (While Living in a Van)."

Vanholio don't urban stealth camp much, so he ain't got much to say on the matter. But I know that's what some of you do or wanna do.

Simon's experience has the ring of hard-won truth to it, so listen up! As he says:

Living in a van is not always awesome. But neither is living in a house. Actually, most of the time living in a van is awesome.

GoHobo.co is an outstanding site, filled with good info about all flavors of Alt travel. Check it out!

Also See ...

Adventure Directory (Go Hobo)
/r/vandwellers (Reddit.com)
10 Ways to Shower if You Live in a Van

Greenhouse for Winter Van Life Warmth

Sketch of winter van life greenhouse garage to park van in to live down by the river — sketch by Vanholio!
Ol’ Vanholio was trippin’ ‘round the northern Rockies and got to thinking: What if I wintered here? How would I keep fucking warm? How could van life be more bearable in that cold? My genius idea was parking the van in a greenhouse, down by the river.

Greenhouse Winter Camping Proven Tech

If you’re stuck in a cold place this winter, this idea is damn solid. Ain’t never heard no one do it with for van life, but it’s been done for survival. Even by a guy who lived in a greenhoused tent through the Minnesota winter!

3 Methods for a Van Life Winter Greenhouse

1. Good Greenhouse Method – Go Simple

The most dead simple way’d be to park your van in a regular greenhouse. Don’t know someone with a greenhouse you can park in? You can buy a cheap portable greenhouse. (It’s a little short, but you can modify.)

Another easy option is to make a simple greenhouse tent with a clear, reinforced poly tarp. Hell, if you wanted to go cheap, I saw 4 mil 9x12 poly tarps at the Walmart pain area for $9.87! Duct-tape ‘em together! You could string them on rope or cable between trees, use some poles, or any other way you’d do a homemade tent.

Whatever setup you do, the inside air will be 10-20 degrees warmer on a sunny day (or more). And your van, as a big thermal sink, will be a tad warmer through the night.

2. Better Greenhouse Method – Add Mass

The greenhouse will be collecting all that good radiant sun heat through the day. But you want to keep it. To do that, you need mass. Now, the van itself will heat up and re-radiate some heat through the night.

But you can go a step further by putting black, plastic containers of water in the greenhouse with you. The sun’ll heat up that water in the day, and the water will slowly radiate back heat at night.

And if that’s unrealistic, put a bunch of dark rocks on greenhouse floor around the van. Let them bake up during the day.

A third option is making a south-facing cliff one of your greenhouse walls. That huge rock wall will collect a whole lotta goddamn heat and radiate back at ya through the night. Plus being on the south side of a cliff’ll keep you out of the north wind. Hell, it worked for Anasazi cliff dwellers!

3. Best Greenhouse Method – Add Reflective Wall

Your sharpest option is to make a van-size Kochanski Super Shelter. That’s the picture at top. Your south-facing wall is clear plastic. But your back wall is a reflective tarp. That’ll keep the sun’s radiant energy bouncing around in the greenhouse. It’s like an echo chamber for light.

If it’s super cold or cloudy, you can replace the sun’s radiant warmth with a fire outside the greenhouse. You can see that in the video below.

I’d also put a small reflective tarp, tin foil, or a rock or log wall beside the fire, opposite the greenhouse. That’ll bounce all the heat straight into your greenhouse tent. And do put in some black plastic water jugs or rocks in the greenhouse to keep that heat all night.

Also See ...

Live in a Greenhouse (Insructables)
The 2 Warmest Survival Shelters Anyone Can Easily Make (Survival Gear Authority)
Acclimatize for Warmth in All Weather