By Erin Donaldson
It’s time! The event has happened, your bug out bags are packed and loaded into your bug out vehicle, be it 4-wheel, 2-wheel, 4 legged, or 2 legged. Where are you going to go? Often preppers talk about “bugging out” but how many of us actually have somewhere to go? Whether you are on a limited budget or willing to invest, here are a few options which will ensure you have a safe refuge in difficult times. Storage containers are a fast and easy way to create your bug-out cabin because they can fairly easily be transported into any area with a good enough road and space to maneuver. Be sure to create a solid base using gravel with concrete feet or cinderblocks for the corners, or a concrete slab. This will prevent ground moisture from seeping upward and drain away. Most of the pictures should be pretty self-explanatory in this sense.
This is probably what many of us picture when we imagine a storage container cabin. Something extremely basic, rough, and barely sufficient. In a pinch it will do. This cabin features a 20 foot storage unit set up on blocks, a woodstove made from recycled materials, a water tank and a portable potty hut. You can buy a pre-fabricated “office” storage unit or make your own. Your biggest hurdle if you are in a harsh climate like Alaska, or Iceland where the photo was taken, is going to be proper insulation. Straw bales can be stuffed underneath and foam sprayed into the walls if you are on a tight budget. Be sure you cover your water tank and/or include a heating element to prevent freezing. A port-a-potty, composting toilet or a simple bucket with toilet seat will do. The minimalist dream hut.
If you are still pretty simple, but want just a bit more luxury, try this idea! You can still keep it simple, but include some extra elements which will get you a bit further aesthetically. In this cabin, they cut an entire side off, then replaced it with sliding glass panels which can be fully opened for deck access. In snowy climates a deck will make it easier to shovel snow in winter, and give you a space to work with in summer. Don’t forget to use double paned insulated windows with UV protection! The storage cabinets are invaluable for keeping your food and supplies organized. For additional space, use a fold down bed system which can be folded up to allow for a table space in the daytime. Bathroom facilities aren’t shown here but a rainwater catch tank would be pretty simple to set up along with a composting toilet hut constructed a short distance from your safe refuge.
Weather Resistant Cabin
This concept is great for larger groups. Remember, there’s strength in numbers. 3 twenty foot containers side, by side with large doors intact. If you want to be able to close things off against severe weather, or a golden horde, then this idea might be the tangible solution to your bug out plan. Just be sure you have a back door escape hatch and a window to see out of. If you are planning for a family or small group then the walls can be cut for doors and individual rooms can be set up for storage, meeting/eating area, sitting area and sleeping quarters.
Here is the same cabin with the doors open.
If you live in a climate with milder weather, you can create a covered outdoor space while keeping indoor space to a minimum. Just remember, a storage container will collapse very easily with too much top pressure, so be sure to plan for ceiling reinforcement when planning your top deck. Plus, you will have the advantage of seeing farther from your lookout. The disadvantage to this plan is that a structure like this one is a bit of an attention catcher. Consider solid deck walls to create a more defensible position, something which cannot be penetrated by bullets. Be sure to have a storm door option to close off the large windows in the event of a golden horde, or hurricanes around coastal areas.
Fortified Container Cabin
This is a good plan when considering bug out options. A cabin that can be made to look like a container left out in the woods. All the amenities you could possibly need on the inside, with a nondescript exterior which is easy to close up when not in use. The fold down deck will give you outdoor seating space too. The disadvantage would be the lack of ability to see out once you close the doors. Plan for a peep hole and a turret or slot which can be used for self-defense if attacked from the outside. It’s important to always have a plan B. No matter how defensible or remote your position may be, in an extreme situation where you have to evacuate, you should always have a way out. Never back yourself into a corner like what happened at the Malheur Refuge in Oregon with Ammon Bundy and his group.
A Modern Look:
Our next cabin is quite the deluxe space, but again leaving good fortification options and defense. You won’t be able to hide in plain sight like the previous cabin but you will be able to close the side for protection against storm, attacks and absence. For interior options, shop around on “tiny home” websites to find innovative space saver ideas.
This is a much more casual space but a fun idea concept. A pool deck which can be integrated with a self-standing pool or even Jacuzzi. In the event of a crisis the pool can be used as a storage tank for water. Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) can be added to water to purify it in a safer non-chlorine way which will actually oxygenate the water and make it healthier to drink because it will help to oxygenate the body. Add 1/8th cup of H2O2 per gallon of water. Be sure to have a way to cover it in this type of bug-out situation to prevent extra dust and leaves etc. The roof is probably one of the better features in this plan because a flat roof can allow for snow buildup which can compromise roof integrity. Any type of slope or cover is your best option when planning a bug-out container cabin.
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Great info. Where are the best places to purchase one or any of these options?
You can’t purchase them ready-made. These are all DIY projects from shipping containers (one container costs $500 – $2000)
here in tx, they say the best prices for them were in graham, tx
The comment about the container can collapse easily is a bit misleading. These shipping containers usually have around 40,000 pounds or more in them and then are stacked one on top of another, 6-10 high ! Follow normal building load distribution and it last a lifetime.
Saltysam, When I was researching for this article and another one I did about containers I learned that the strength is in the corner structures. So the corners are designed to support weight but not the middle part of the container. If you bury a container for example (for a bunker), you must reinforce the roof because while it has lots of strength at the corners the middle will collapse under only a couple inches of soil. This is a disadvantage which must be compensated for in ANY container construction project. However with some cross bracing you can quickly remedy the issue.
I don’t have a web address but there are companies making offices out of storage containers. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for them to make a home-like container. However, none of the containers are sturdy enough to stop a rifle round. They may be cheaper than a trailer, but if you are just going to leave them sitting out unprotected, why not just get a used trailer and pull it to some remote spot and set it up? I think the Connex box lends itself to a bunker style bug out location where the Connex box is buried in protecting dirt.
Check out Mekaworld for plans and idea’s
Your advice and research is totally bad or half truths. 1st the structural integrity 80% from the sides. Do you think that they would make wavy wall instead of flat walls that restricts the loading volume? The advice the you are giving with no clue is going to get someone killed or you sued and large court costs. You are looking at plagiarism as just a cut and past article. I understand that you are young and are not good at research yet but could of you have done a simple Google search on structural design before giving the advice on removing walls and what a roof will do. Did you call a container sails and ask about the price instead posting cost from the 80’s and found out what the condition scale categories meant before you posted bad information.
Hi Erin, enjoyed your article, and the purpose of stimulating your readers’ creativity and options. Thanks for getting the word out there. I have been pricing these boxes out for several years and find by purchasing directly from a wholesaler, I can buy these delivered from just under $2000 (with delivery of about 400 miles.) Very often a little less, and sometimes same price range for a 40-footer. One of my vendors will even cut the box down to a 10-footer for $450 additional, but not all offer that.
Some of the local companies mark up about $1000 or more, if you want to see local stock and do not do well purchasing sight-unseen and going with pix and descriptions.
Thinking of comments some write in. Remember nobodies like to discredit you, thinking this raises their esteem in others’ eyes. But in reality these people are called many names by other readers. And the better you are, Erin, the more others will try to capture your success. Keep the faith.