Depending on whether your plans call for sheltering in one place or bugging-out, there are a wealth of options for any prepper to buy, build or designed their perfect shelter to survive any given disaster.
Sheltering in place is the most convenient option for anyone. Usually, this means staying at home with a full stockpile of essentials in a comfortable and familiar place, which goes a long way to maintaining the family’s moral.
But many people seek out alternate emergency shelters, and at the options of improved security, isolation or just a place where they can disappear until the worst is over. For those preppers the choices are limited only by their imaginations… and their wallets but that discussion can wait for another time.
For those seeking the ultimate in survival, the experts have gone far beyond simple tents and shacks in the backyard. Today’s shelters have everything you need to survive for a week or a year. These shelters include indoor plumbing, electricity, and solar powered appliances.
ISBUs (Intermodal Steel Building Units)
ISBU’s are modified shipping containers; the large metal connexes used on shipping barges to store cargo. These gained notoriety after hurricane Katrina as sturdy alternatives to FEMA trailers for people left homeless after that disaster.
They offer the ultimate in protection from fire, wind, flood and are now sought after as permanent housing for people rebuilding after tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. What is better suited as a disaster shelter than a large, ready-to-use box of reinforced steel? With a price tag in the $900 range, these structures are not only physically rugged but also affordable.
ISBUs come in standard sizes (think 18 wheelers) and can accommodate the average family of five comfortably. If you want to upgrade your amenities, there are companies that build shelters for preppers exclusively, and will trick out your home with breaker panels, vinyl floor coverings, hidden compartments for storing arms, phone hookups and fully functioning bathrooms. The average cost of these customized units run between $17k and $25k.
Sheltering underground is the disappearing option for those who want to simply be out of sight, out of mind. Underground shelters are made from framed wood, reinforced concrete, and hard plastics.
You can build these yourself, purchase prefabricated units and stick them in the ground or contract companies that specialize in designing and constructing such shelters. Prices for these range as far and wide as do the options you have to choose from.
After reading about cargo containers, you may be tempted to use an ISBU for an underground shelter. They seem like a great choice but these units were just not designed for that purpose. Unfortunately, acid from soil and constant exposure to moisture can cause a below ground shipping container to corrode, warp and buckle causing a potentially dangerous situation.
Many preppers find it more advantageous to go the do-it-yourself route when it comes to emergency shelter plans. There are several steps that you must take to ensure the safety of your bunker.
First, for an underground shelter, make sure it is far enough under the ground to protect you from whatever may come. Make sure to build your shelter outside of flood plains or away from areas like New Orleans, where high water tables make underground shelters infeasible. Make sure your bunker avoids preexisting fuel and electrical lines, which can pose a danger to your structure and your safety. Ensure for proper ventilation and design it with multiple exits should one become blocked by various means.
Building above ground presents fewer concerns or constraints than underground. You have more freedom for design, space and building materials.
If you desire the isolation underground shelters offer, then finding “an out of the way” piece of property would provide the security isolation provides. The market for above ground shelters is wide with build kits, prefab and specialized contractors available.
Bug-Out Campers and Trailers
Should bugging-out be your plan of choice, then campers or trailers are the second best option to sheltering in place. Similar to RVs, these campers and trailers offer both a means of shelter and escape. These can start out as the typical travel trailer or camper and used as a base which is then converted to into a self-contained survival RV.
Another is the “stealth trailer” approach which begins with the purchase of a cargo trailer and the prepper builds up the interior to their needs. On the outside, it looks like a plain box trailer but the inside is fitted with all the accouterments the family needs to survive.
When searching for a candidate RV consider its durability and ease of conversion. There are several modifications you will need to make. First, treat the undercarriage and chassis to prevent rust. Sealing off the roof will prevent leaks and help your shelter to withstand heavy rains and moisture. Insulate your shelter to help keep out the elements. This simple DIY shelter will cost between $2,500 and $7,000 for the camper itself and about $500 for the improvements.
Cargo Van Campers
The cargo van conversion option takes its inspiration from the traditional campers’ favorite, the VW bus. Start by locating an average cargo van and with a few modifications, and you will have a fully mobile shelter on wheels.
The vehicle’s exterior looks like any other run of the mill work truck but inside, it is customized to include a kitchenette, bunk beds, portable toilet and cooler for food storage. Seats can be made to fold down to make it easy to store household goods, supplies, and food. These campers are spacious enough to accommodate your family and keep them safe for weeks until you reach safety.
Bug Out Tents
Bug-out tents vary by design, size and material they’re constructed with but you’re preparing for a disaster that sends you away from home, the choice will be based on how you are traveling. Are you hoofing it on your own two legs with a pack strapped to your back or will you have a vehicle to load up with supplies?
bugging-out range from a simple tarp hung over a rope attached to two trees and staked at the corner, to a one person bivouac tent. To 2-4 person dome tents with room to stand up in. Most pack tents these days employ lightweight poles and fabrics strong enough to handle moderate weather conditions.
Bugging-out with a vehicle allows for larger, more durable tents with decent square footage. These are the treated, canvas (or other durable material) hunting tents with separate rooms that can sleep upwards of 10 people and even accommodate a wood burning stove. Tents such as these also have design features specifically for bugging-out and housing multiple people for extended periods of time.
With a detachable inner-nest feature, these tents offer an added layer of protection from the elements should you find yourself stranded in harsh terrain. Their sturdy frames allow for set up in the rain without causing damage or leakage to the inside of the structure. Made from two layers of Cordura reinforced cone and heavy nylon, these tents are built to take a beating. Their modified feature allows them to extend out to 86 square feet of living space to accommodate more people and supplies.
Today’s shelter markets have grown to such an extent that whatever the prepper in you can dream up is either already for sale or can be built. Whether your disaster plans call for sheltering in place, or bugging out there are innumerable choices designed to keep you and your family safe and secure. Remember when the time to decide comes, be sure your choice is durable and appropriate enough for the region for where you will be seeking shelter.