GFC in a lightning storm?

We skied Mount Saint Helens this week in a weather window. The GFC makes these trips delightful because we can get a good night sleep before, and it’s easy to make dinner when we get down or stay an extra night for a safe drive back.

We chose to stay the night, and a massive thunderstorm rolled over the mountain. After 20 minutes of the lightning getting closer, I started questioning weather the GFC was safe in a thunderstorm. We decided to leave after thunder followed the strikes by 3 seconds. As we we were taking down the tent, I saw two horizontal lightning strikes directly above my head — thunder clapping immediately. It looked really close, maybe a few hundred feet above the trees.

Normally a car is considered “safe-ish” shelter in a lightning storm, but what are your thoughts on staying upstairs in the GFC?

Would the electricity flow though the side rails down into the truck frame via the brackets, or would it jump through the people on its way to ground?

Have you felt safe in the GFC with strikes that close?

Also interested in people’s opinions on this. At least the roof of the GFC’s roof isn’t metal?

Vehicle sits on 4 tires, insulating it from the ground.

Electricity must be grounded in order to complete a circuit. Tires make very poor connections for electrical circuits. It seems like there would be better circuits for the lightning to use than trying to overpower the insulating nature of your tires. That’s not to say it wouldn’t arc that distance, but it just seems less likely, especially if you’re around trees. Maybe in the desert, where the GFC sits up taller than anything around it? Obviously, caution is well warranted in this situation, but if I was forced to place a wager, I’d put my money on being safe inside your vehicle. There is also the aspect of your GFC/vehicle acting like a Faraday cage even if it were to get struck. In that case, as long as you’re not touching anything that’s channeling the lightning, you should remain pretty safe. However, one thing I’m not sure of is whether the panels are honeycomb aluminum or composite. If aluminum, that could channel electricity all over the sleeping platform.

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Hey @Runningbelay - This is a unique question, so I’ll do my best to address any concerns. However, I’m by no means recommending that folks remain in variable weather such as lightning storms if it posses a threat to safety.

  • While our campers are made of aluminum and billet aluminum components, which are conductive materials, the behavior of lightning around the camper can vary.
  • It’s difficult to determine the exact behavior of lightning without detailed analysis, but staying inside a vehicle is generally considered safer than being in an open area during a lightning storm.
  • Our camper’s aluminum components may conduct electricity, but whether the electrical charge would flow through the side rails and brackets or jump through to any occupants is uncertain.
  • To ensure your safety during thunderstorms, it’s recommended to follow official lightning safety guidelines, which often suggest seeking fully enclosed structures with wiring and plumbing.

While it’s entirely up to the individual to make decisions based on the information at hand, safety should be priority one when things get sketchy.

Oh, and @Czukie, the roof is made of honeycomb plascore. Shouts to @PorkChopExpress for some solid info as well.


@chatGPThayne :slight_smile:


I try to minimize my chances of getting struck by lightning while in my GFC by walking away from it with my heavy aluminum tripod, a umbrella and a camera and stand in clearings so I can photograph the lightning.

Has always prevented lightning striking while I was in the tent. YMMV