It was almost 10 years ago to the day we bought the land I planned to bug out on. It’s 120 acres, and has everything from running water to access into nearby state forests, just in case I wanted to expand my hunting range when the SHTF. There’s not a whole lot else, and that’s also part of the beauty of it. It’s raw nature.
But the biggest problem we faced on day one, was shelter.
You see, while we looked at a number of properties that had cabins and other homesteads built, but nothing really resonated with our ideal bug out location. We didn’t want a hillside cabin that could be seen for miles, we wanted a tucked away little cottage that you’d never find unless you knew it was there. So, we started looking at options.
We considered everything from building it ourselves out of pine and other wood we felled on site to having contractors come in and build us a full-on home, nothing was all that appealing. I didn’t want to spend the better part of a year constructing something from scratch, and neither did we want a whole host of contractors knowing every single detail of our plans. But then a friend suggested an ideal solution.
Why not use a shed?
Over the course of the next month, we not only set a foundation, but we quickly put up our first bug out location. Completely off-the-grid, and away from prying eyes. Of course, this isn’t where we normally live (we’ve got a much larger home that’s our primary residence), but if the SHTF and we ever needed to evacuate, there’s now a location only we know about (and it’s packed full of gear to keep us alive).
Here’s why we chose a shed for our bug out location.
Extremely cost effective
Because of the tiny size, you can get kits to build sheds for under $1000. That’s quite a lot less than building a home, and if you’re willing to put in a little effort you can construct a shed yourself, saving you hundreds and hundreds of dollars paying contractors for their labor. It does require a bit of carpentry skill, but it’s not rocket science either. And if you decide not to go for a pre-fab kit like we did, you could save even more money sourcing used materials and lumber, and preparing it all ahead of time before heading to the site.
Incredibly easy to construct
For us, the bug out shed was the first structure we built, and I’ve got to say, it went together quite smooth. We put it together over a few weekends, and because we didn’t want the headaches of heavy equipment and construction, opted for a pre-fab model. All we had to do on site was lay a foundation, then bolt it all together. It was incredibly easy to put up, and with some strategically placed camo netting, it’s almost invisible to the eye.
Allows for hidden features
Now, another key feature of doing-it-ourselves was operational security. Not only is our bug out location known only to my wife and I, we actually dug out a hidden cellar to lay the slab on top, giving us what’s essentially an unknown survival cache that’s all but invisible to anyone who happens across the shed. If they decide to break in, they’ll find it rather bare, when in actuality our supplies are right under their feet.
Materials are easily transportable
Where we eventually decided to build was one of the most inaccessible parts of our property, and for good reason. We wanted it as far removed from civilization as possible, but that also means no road access. The good thing about using a shed was all the flat packs were small, and we could carry all the supplies to the site in a few round trips on the ATVs.
Of course, there are a few downsides to relying on a shed as a bug out location, and it wouldn’t be fair to paint this picture without giving you all the facts.
It’s probably not up to code
Most sheds aren’t built to be homes, and won’t meet the residential code requirements in your county. For starters, the roof isn’t braced enough, and the studs need to be 16 inches spaced instead of 24 inches (like most sheds). We had to pay extra for these inclusions in our pre-fab kit, and it was worth the investment, even though we plan to use this location only as a last resort. We wanted it to be safe.
It’ll be cold and uncomfortable
At least ours was initially. The concrete slab was freezing, and we never seemed to be able to generate enough warmth inside during winter. It took the addition of insulation in both the walls and floor, and laying a set of internal walls and flooring before we could really call it a home. Last winter we added a wood heater and it’s near perfect now.
Doesn’t have power or water
Finally, you need to consider running electricity and water to your location. We decided against it, not only for the extra cost but on the off chance this would raise suspicions that there’s more to our bug out location than initially meets the eye. In the cellar, we’ve got a wind turbine for the roof that’s ready to set up if need be, portable solar chargers, a small water turbine and everything we need to install it, and over the next summer we’ll be digging a pit latrine and tapping a well (in different locations of course), to ensure we’re as prepared as can be.
If you’re looking for a simple and effective bug out structure, using a shed is probably one of the easiest ways to get a quick shelter up, especially if you’re working off the grid. And at the very least, it’ll give you something to keep the elements at bay while you work towards something bigger.