This article is intended for those that lack the skills or ambition to construct a more complicated shelter. I am one such person, and readily concede to my shortcomings. In my quest to come up with a really simple shelter that anyone could build, I did a little research. Initially, I entered the keywords:
“Emergency shelter made from plastic panels”
I chose these keywords because I remembered the sportsman’s guide having a plastic snap together shelter, that I am now unable to find at their site. I found some interesting shelters. One such shelter was plastic, and folded out in a 180º fashion, much like an accordion (didn’t see it for sale though. “Portable collapsible shelter” and “portable plywood shelter” also yielded some great results (click on images; I used DuckDuckGo).
The initial query led to the link below, in which is featured what looks to be a simple shelter to build, made from Coroplast plastic panels, for under $100. The plans are $15, which isn’t too much to gamble with, and it looks pretty nice. The one in the link below has been exposed to the elements for 5 years now, and is still holding up well. I just might attempt this one, because it looks like something that I might actually be able to pull off.
The link below is for a bicycle towed camper, that looks similar to a teardrop trailer. This is more involved, and I would never attempt to build one, but for the more handy among us, this just might be the ticket. Plans are $20.
There were other shelters at the same site that were better, but they would require someone of more ambition and skills to take on, so not for me.
I recall Thoreau mentioning briefly in his book Walden, a small wooden crate (it was described as looking somewhat like a casket) that was used for storing railroad workers tools. But he was referring to its usage as a possible sleeping chamber, and this sort of stuck with me. One day at work (back when I was still fortunate enough to be employed) a large shipping container came in. This gave me some serious shelter option considerations. This thing was pretty sturdy, and as long as you could weather proof it, it appeared as if it would easily hold up for many years to come. I still haven’t completely abandoned my idea of the shipping container/shelter, and still think that it would probably be the easiest to build. You might even get lucky, and find one for cheap, or even free, and be able to modify it for long term use. There is already plenty of information on how to build these containers online, so no plans required. Of course you would want to modify it slightly from its original shipping container configuration. For example, you would want a slight angle on the roof to allow for moisture run off, as well as to extend the roof at least a few inches past the box on all sides, as a sort of overhang. You would also have to apply roofing. I would just use the stuff that comes in rolls, and that you roll over the roof, as opposed to shingles, because this would be the easiest option. The entrance would also have to have a gutter to divert moisture away from the interior and door jam. In addition, it would be best to place it up on pier blocks, to keep it off the ground. This shipping box will be built so that it will fit into the bed of the truck that I plan on borrowing to haul it out to my property. I would use a thinner plywood so that it wouldn’t be so heavy that I can’t drag it off the truck on my own (Well, that, and so that I could kick my way out of it in an emergency, should the door somehow become blocked).
I’m also considering a custom built shed, that is portable, and can be hauled to the construction site in pieces, and put together quickly and easily, without power tools. It would be designed so that you could take it down just as easily, and bring it with you if the need were to arise. I have not seen any plans for this, and this is something that I might have to figure out on my own.
Finally, I also came across a pretty effective tree tent system (think portable tree house here). These tree tents are reasonably priced, and will offer at least some stealth qualities come PA. They can be placed high in a tree if necessary, and are available in camouflage. I can envision a scenario where with a variety of tree caches, smaller, low-key groups, can survive high up in the trees long enough to wait out any immediate danger.
There are a good many possibilities, but again, using the keywords “Portable collapsible shelter” and “portable plywood shelter”, yielded some good results.
Not sure about how much you can spend for shelter, but how about a mil surplus canvas tent? Maybe using pallets for the floor, Reflectix bubble insulation inside, plus an extra tarp over the top outside for an extra layer of weatherproofing, if you wanted something quick and portable. Maybe top it with a desert-pattern leaf camo equipment net?ReplyDelete
If you get a free shipping container, it'll be trashed most likely. Since it'd be a high-profile shelter, you might as well put a metal roof on it and collect rainwater. Use Simpson Strong Ties on the edges for your 2x4 roof supports. The steel on the top where you would mount your brackets is tough. I used to think you could pre-drill the holes with a drill bit so screws would go in easier. Not so much, you need to weld the supports on. Also, they treat the flooring in the shipping containers with pesticides to keep bugs out while stuff is being transported. You'll want to seal the floor somehow so the pesticide off-gassing doesn't go into your lungs.
My operation is based on shipping containers, from 20 to 40 foot. I have four: living quarters, workshop, and two storage; all on a couple of hundred acres, easily observable by Google Earth, but far from any paved road. It was the best I could do.Delete
Your observations coincide with my experience. Drilling holes in the things was a revelation. Luckly, my wife can weld. Investiment in a good TIG (?) welder was well spent.
I would add one comment: Don't try to bury them more than a few inches below ground. I have one so buried and the top is dangerously stressed. They are not built to handle the distribution of weight of an earthen cover. Maybe a light coat, but not enough to get below ground cooling. The corner posts will take tremendous weight, but not the roof.
Good article. Thanks for reminding me about that corflute shelter. Somewhat Like yourself I'm no handy man.ReplyDelete
Have a look at the British WWII Anderson Bomb shelter for some inspiration. basically half a water tank on its side covered in earth. That'd fit on your truck by the sounds of it. It'd also be stealthy. It also allows for you to dig yourself out in the event of a really bad day
Thanks for the input gents.ReplyDelete
@peace out. Great minds think alike. I’ve had pretty much the same thought with regards to your tent set up. I was thinking an outfitters tent with a stove pipe port. I was also thinking that it would be nice to build a deck to get it off the ground a little, but your pallet suggestion would be far easier and cheaper. This would be affordable and easy. My only concern would be the constant source of heat to stay warm in the winter, though the stoves sold for these tents are really small, and don’t consume much wood, so this idea is something to consider on a more temporary level.
@Dingo. Thanks for the suggestion on the Anderson bomb shelter; I had not heard of them. This is right up my alley; cheap and simple! I was thinking of something along similar lines; meaning something pre-existing that can be modified slightly, and simply buried, or partially buried. I was considering partially burying my Plymouth Voyager (now dead) nose first into the side of a hill. But ultimately, earth sheltered will be a must over the long term, at my high desert retreat, where temps can drop down well below freezing.
Just my two cents. High desert, temps well below freezing is a warm day. Get set up for temps under zero. Not all the time, but often enough. One good thing-you rarely have to worry about wind chill. Seems to be non stop wind the rest of the year, not as much in the winter.Delete
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking Jim, and you already know the area. I know that regardless of whether I build something above ground or not, earth sheltered is a given. I’m not financially well off enough to be able to afford to heat a conventional abode all winter long, and I have no reason to believe that fuel or energy costs will not go up significantly in the upcoming years.Delete
So I will have to pay the price in blood sweat and tears on my end, to come up with an affordable earth sheltered option.
Do you need a copy of the $50 & Up Underground home? It has to be an e-book, but really a resource you should have. Without it I wouldn't have brainstormed mine.Delete
Yeah, I have the PDF already Jim. Ultimately, whatever I go with will have to be butt simple (such as partially burying my Plymouth Voyager, or similar existing object) or it will be a strong, simple box, that I will bury.Delete
That dugout that the crazy dude stayed in, whose video that I posted here once before, looked pretty nice. So if I can produce something like that, that would be the goal. But again, whatever it is, it’s main criteria will have to be simplicity.
My life as a Mojave Desert hermit (The above mentioned crazy dude. The dugout is featured at the 0:56 mark. 7 minutes total).
I remember watching that video when you posted it. The geology of the area that he was in has large stone uplifts (earthquake activity) that are easily eroded by wind and water. That's why it wasn't too hard (relatively speaking-for rock) for that dugout to be built. There are naturally formed caves and habitable hollows all through that area. Can you imagine how much seclusion you could have with the nearest water source four miles away? Nobody would ever find you unless you left a trail.Delete
Here's an idea I've had about not freezing to death in an uninsulated shelter. You'll need a hard/smooth floor that casters can roll on. Build a plywood bed frame with caster wheels as low as possible to the ground. Then you build a super-insulated box, about the size of a coffin, that you could roll your plywood bed frame in. Only one of the narrow ends is open, so you roll yourself in, and only your head sticks out, with the opening sealed by wool blankets. There's just enough room inside to turn over from your back to side if necessary, and when you want to get out in the morning, bring your fingers up by your head, pull/push, and roll yourself out from the coffin like pulling yourself out from under your vehicle with a creeper. This way, if you're freezing, you don't have the awkward problem of loading up wool blankets on yourself until you're suffocating and your feet are torqued with pain. Just have a normal amount of blankets, the heat that escapes the blankets is caught within the coffin which is much warmer than the rest of your shelter, and only your head is exposed (neck gaiter and beanie cap) so you have enough oxygen to breath. The only possible drawback would be if you were claustrophobic, or you had trouble creating a smooth floor for the caster wheels, or you didn't have 12' of floor space to operate the bed system. Of course the top of the coffin can be used as a warm-weather bed, or a table, or work space or storage space.
Whatever you end up with for shelter, you must have a strict mouse-control plan so they don't get in your shelter and leave their hantavirus-laced poo and pee behind for you to breathe.
That is a darn good idea! I'm a bit jealous.Delete
“Can you imagine how much seclusion you could have with the nearest water source four miles away?”Delete
Thanks for the input; much appreciated. I believe that our good blog host has mentioned that my junk land (I haven’t actually been there yet) is about 5 miles of rough 4x4 roads from water and power. Most would see it as a disadvantage, but I don’t, and found comfort in your comment.
Or a low boy trailer as the platform. Anything that gets the floor off grade and out of the dirt - mud. Much easier to level too.Delete
A pickup bed trailer camper could work too. Install it on a pickup bed trailer to your vehicle does not carry it all the time. Not a bad bug-out vehicle option, use the carry vehicle to carry out extra materials AND your shelter.
Long ago I suggested a van with engine pulled as the towed BOV, in a similar role of home and hauler of material. A cab over in a truck bed would be much nicer and better designed living space.Delete
We don’t use any additional cover over our canvas tents, canvas needs to breathe or it soaks up moisture and then you have condensation problems. Especially in cold climates. Imagine it raining in your tent when the soaked canvas thaws out and it starts dripping everywhere. RSL/WIReplyDelete
RSL/WI,thanks for the heads up. I was actually thinking of using an additional cover if I went with the tent option, but it was mostly to keep the sun from destroying it, since I deal with intense sunlight and heat where I live, in the summer. But I would have removed it by winter.Delete
That tree tent is pretty neat and would work in warm weather. I'm guessing in cold weather, you had better have a good sleeping bag w/ sleeping pad, as the contact with floor would be damn cold.ReplyDelete
I'm sure others have seen that trampoline with teepee structure on top in somebody's backyard. That was very cool.
Thanks for those links to Coroplast DIY - pretty inventive stuff.
We once built a backyard garden cover that might work for a DIY shelter. About 8' x 12' footprint. Drive 1" steel pipe into the ground. Insert 3/4" PVC into one of the sleeves and the opposite end across the way to another sleeve, forming a hoop frame. Repeat every 3 feet. You end up with a quonset hut shape.ReplyDelete
So I was thinking doing the same but on a platform about same dimensions. Install a short plywood wall around bottom perimeter. Install same pipe along the plywood wall, using conduit straps to hold it in place. Then place cover over the hoops - you end up with a 'covered wagon' sort of shelter.
If high enough, a wooden picnic table can be used as a ladder to climb into this. Net material for dry warm weather. Switch to a closed tarp for colder or wet times. Use the bottom framing for off ground storage.
For a larger budget, building this under an aluminum carport would be even better for permanent sun and rain protection.
I wonder if you could use that covered frame to do a ferrocement structure? Starting at the bottom would seem to strengthen it enough if you do it over several days. Course, no experience here.Delete
If you switch out the PVC support for 1/4" rebar - very possible. I'm not a structural engineer, but those round hoop structures support themselves very well. I don't think it would last on top of the platform though.Delete
Duh! Why didn't I think of rebar? Nothing to see here, move along.Delete
Thanks to everyone for all the replies. I almost missed a few of the later posts, not taking into account that some of the minions are a few days behind in reading the articles.ReplyDelete
If you’re one of those lucky individuals that doesn’t have a bladder such as mine, and can just climb into a good sleeping bag and sleep uninterrupted, shelter options become much less critical.