Why not everyone should stealth camp

There have been a few recent posts about converting vans to stealth campers. Presumably so people can secretly park & live cheap on the street, or live out of parking lots, etc.

I hope everyone here realizes that you can get yourself into serious trouble camping in places you aren’t supposed to. You could get arrested, told by the sheriff to leave the county forever, or get shot by a local.

It isn’t really that easy to be stealthy. Many people snore a little. Or they turn over in their sleep, go to the bathroom, or engage in romantic activities. All of these things are likely to make noise or cause the van to move in a way that makes it obvious you are inside.

Even if you just park on the street, someone might notice you don’t come out. Especially if you park near their residence or business, they might come at you with a gun or other weapon.

Honestly, I’ve never done most of the things this forum is about. I’ve done tent, bivi, shelter, canoe & kayak camping, non-stealth camping in my vehicle (especially in the winter, but sometimes as I get older in good weather too), in places it was legit, and brief sleeping at rest stops. Once, when I was nearly out of gas, and it was too late at night to find an open gas station in that area, I was forced to stealth camp.

But perhaps if you have a choice, you should avoid stealth camping. There are quite a few places you can camp legally, free or cheap. In some states and localities, you can even sleep at rest stops during the day.

For that matter, perhaps some people here might enjoy expanding their camping horizons a bit. Minimalist tent & bivi camping can be fun, as well as social in groups, especially in good weather. (Winter weather camping creates safety & preperation issues that are discussed in other places.) And vans aren’t the only vehicles that work. Even hatchbacks and station wagons can work, though you have to look into visibility and how much stuff you can carry without obstructing windows. So do camper shells on pickup trucks - though there are neighborhoods they are not legal to park, and they are very obvious if you do stealth camp. The off-road 4wd & overland communities tend to go that direction, because the vehicles tend to be more rugged, and Ford F-series and Chevy Silverado trucks are much more common than other vehicles in rural U.S. communities, so it is much easier to find mechanics there who know how to repair them, and (new & used) parts. I wish I had bought one of those this time around - but that’s another topic. Those things can be extremely important if you drive in remote areas. So is carrying capacity (a lot of vehicles can’t take much extra weight - e.g., water for extended trips, high or pop-up camper shells with room for toilets & showers, deep cycle batteries, etc.), ground clearance if you drive on rough roads or off road, and carrying a full size same type spare tire/wheel, and if you are serious about that, having places to attach a winch, and various other gear to get unstuck. And other things like radio antenna that you can telescope down when driving under low tree branches, and having an interior that you can wash easily. If you carry long stuff like kayaks on roof racks, so is having places to attach tie downs, front and back, and for the roof line not to be too curved, and for there to be a very secure place to attach a roof rack. (On cars and vans without real rain gutters or pick-up rails, even expensive Yakima or Thule roof racks are hard to keep on securely.) Maybe a toe hitch and toe package if you like trailer boats, want to attach extra stuff to the back, or want a trailer for other reasons. Lots of slide out shelving to carry gear under your camping bed. As well as all the things that van campers also worry about.