Too much outdoor stuff? Think temporary

Trent Ernst, Editor


I may be one of the last people in town to discover the joys of temporary sheds, aka “garage in a box.”

I have friends in William’s Lake who actually used these temporary shelters as garages, to keep the snow off their cars.

But a quick drive around town reveals that most people are using these temporary shelters as sheds.

We just picked one up ourselves, and, like most people, it’s more a shed than a garage, in the sense that we are not parking our vehicle in it.

We are, however, using it to keep the snow off our new-to-us tent trailer. We were considering wrapping it with a tarp, but read online that this can lead to mould.

We like our tent trailer, and don’t really want to spend the next few seasons trying to air it out, so we decided that a garage-in-a-box was the perfect solution. And with a sale on at Canadian Tire, it was the perfect time to buy.

There’s a couple dozen options available on the Canadian Tire website, and probably many more if we were to cast our gaze farther afield, but we were destined for Dawson Creek, which limited our options.

The first thing that needs to be decided on is size. They range from ten by ten to the gargantuan 18X20X10. The entry level was too small to fit the tent trailer, so we went for something between the two, in our case, 11X20X8. This is large enough to fit the tent trailer with just enough room on the sides to back in.

As we were loading the garage in a box into the back of our vehicle, I observed. “Usually you put the car into the garage, but today, we’re putting the garage into the car.”

Yeah, the family didn’t find it funny, either.

If you are planning on assembling one of these for the winter, make sure to give yourself the better part of an afternoon. While they aren’t that hard to assemble, there’s lots of pieces, so having someone who is organized to spearhead the project helps. In my case, that’s my wife.

Once you’ve got all the pieces out of the box and organized by part number, it’s time to start assembling. For our portable shelter, there are four metal ribs: one for each end, and two in the middle, which are attached by cross beams. These provide the support for the shelter.

Once these are assembled and connected, vinyl covers are placed at both ends (optional), and a single vinyl sheet forms both the walls and the roof.

There are cheaper versions that only feature a roof, but we wanted something that would keep the snow out, not just off.

We placed our portable shelter at the end of the driveway, tucked into a corner formed by one side of our house and two sides of our fence. One of the issues faced by these types of shelters is they are susceptible to wind. We hope that by protecting it like this, as well as by fastening it securely to the ground, we’ll avoid the whole “hey, look, is that your shed blowing down the street” effect that Tumbler Ridge is prone to.

Once we had the shed assembled and secured, it was time to move everything in. Being lazy and practical, we decided to erect it overtop of the tent trailer, rather than move it, then spend half an hour trying to get it back into place.

But there were other things that could go in. Our canoe, which has spent the last few years leaning against our fence and damaged a couple years back because our then-neighbour nicked it while plowing his driveway, fits nicely on top of the trailer. All the various bric a brac that has collected near our doorway fits nicely inside. The kids bikes, which last year were piled awkwardly on top of the lawn mover in the shed can now lean against the tent trailer.

The biggest issue is wind. You might think the whole image of a portable shed blowing down the street is a joke, but it actually has happened. The solution is to make sure the shed is firmly attached and to not give the wind any points of purchase to get under the shed. In the winter, packing the snow around the edge will keep the wind out.

A close second is snow. A miracle of modern engineering, the load limit on the roof is not very high so it is important to beat the snow off the roof after every snowfall, sometimes multiple times during a particularly heavy snowfall.