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.