Van camping is a great lifestyle, but for this way of living, you’ll need to know what you can and can’t do. Stealth camping is a practice among many campers, and understanding the good and the bad of this type of camping is essential to ensure you stay safe and follow the law. Read on for a better understanding of stealth camping and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of this type of van camping.
What Is Stealth Camping?
When you want to take a tranquil break from driving or need a place to coordinate your next travel plan in peace, stealth camping is ideal. Stealth camping is a type of camping that involves staying in one place while remaining undetected.
You’ll choose a spot that people will overlook or where you can camp without the chance of a disturbance or someone coming up to your van. Try stealth camping when you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the human population and want the silence that comes with your company. Stealth camping is possible in many locations in and out of the city limits to give you options for spending your evening in concealed solitude.
The stealth aspect of stealth camping is essential for the experience. Be discreet and try to stay off everyone’s radar to remain hidden.
As you read on, you’ll find various tips to help you stay in stealth and avoid detection. The benefit of stealth camping is the time you have to yourself and not worrying about someone approaching the van or disturbing your peace. You’ll need to practice discretion to maintain that quiet.
The Legality of Stealth Camping
Although many people practice stealth camping, there are some important notes about the legality of it. Many places across the country don’t allow overnight camping. Residential areas, construction sites, and government buildings are a few examples of places where overnight parking is prohibited.
Stealth camping is typically a harmless act, but many places won’t allow stealth camping or overnight parking to avoid loitering and the threat of stalking. However, there are some places where stealth camping is legal and acceptable despite numerous locations not allowing it.
When Is It Illegal?
Most cases of illegal stealth camping occur in public places where loitering is prohibited, and people aren’t allowed to park for extended periods after dark. Public parking lots of businesses or where construction takes place will often have restrictions against overnight parking, especially when the location is closed for business. Parking along public streets within the city is often illegal. It will lead to your van receiving a ticket and eventually being towed since people aren’t aware of your presence in the van while stealth camping.
Some cities have different reasons for enforcing these laws against van camping and overnight parking besides loitering. Law enforcement may have challenges resolving complaints about people living in their vehicles. The city may also have concerns for the safety of other vehicles, which may have difficulty driving down the road. Firetrucks and ambulances may have less room to drive down some roads if a large van is parked on the side. Regardless of the reason, it’s always important to look into state and city laws before you find your next roost where you can sleep in silence.
When Is It Legal?
Don’t let the prohibited areas of stealth camping stop you from looking for a place; there are plenty of spaces where parking your van is legal. Larger cities will typically enforce laws against stealth camping due to the larger homeless population, which makes small cities the best place to set up for a quiet night. Find a small town where you’ll have numerous places to stealth camp and enjoy less noise pollution from the smaller population.
Stealth camping in local locations will help you achieve your desired solitude without disturbing others. However, try not to stay in one location for more than a few days, even if you parked legally. At least a few people will take note of a camper van with shaded windows, especially when it’s in the same spot for consecutive days.
What You’ll Need To Stealth Camp
To learn everything you need to know about stealth camping, you must know about the proper equipment.
The items you need for yourself and your van will help you stay out of sight and keep your van unnoticed. The necessary items will vary depending on your van’s layout and the level of discretion you want to achieve, but these additions will provide options for improving stealth.
The Right Van
There are numerous vans to use as your camper, but when you want to stealth camp, you’ll need a particular van with specific features that won’t draw attention. Vans with fewer windows are less likely to draw the attention of curious eyes and prevent your van’s exterior from being exposed. Cover the windows on the side of the van by installing outside panels.
Buying a van such as a Sprinter van with only the front windows revealed will also make a good option for your stealth camping needs. Ensure you keep the van well-ventilated by occasionally opening the side doors and windows, and use Sprinter van screens to keep insects out.
Shading for the Windows
The windows are the primary openings that allow you to see outside and others to see the van’s interior. Block people’s view by adding shades to the windows with curtains or window covers. Curtains are a simple way to obscure the view from outside the van while allowing small rays of light inside to let you know the time of day. If you add tints to the windows, comply with local laws regarding tinted windows, and ensure they aren’t prohibited.
Silence is the best way to go unnoticed for days while camping, and soundproofing will help you lessen the noise from inside the van. Place acoustic foam panels along the van’s interior to absorb the noise you make. The padding will also keep the van insulated, which will help during colder nights. Remember that the foam will only dampen the sound; there will still be a little noise if you’re loud enough or blast music through speakers.
Have a Way To Relieve Yourself
Staying in one location for days means you need a way to relieve yourself. Leaving your van may alert people of your presence, and that you live inside the vehicle, so you’ll need to do your business inside. A bottle or container with a lid is an option for bathroom breaks, but you must ensure it stays secure and doesn’t spill over. When you need to dump the waste, ensure it’s in a nearby compost pile or a sewer drain.
Make Sure You Work in the Dark
When you set up for your multiday stealth camping, it’s best to start at night when people are asleep. There’s less chance of someone noticing you during the middle of the night, and if you park in a public parking lot, people won’t pay you much mind.
Stealth camping is an enjoyable activity when you have all the information and supplies you need. Use this guide to learn everything you need to know about stealth camping and help yourself have peaceful days while unnoticed.