Choosing a Bug Out Shelter – Part Two

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If you haven’t had a chance to check out ‘choosing a bug out shelter – part one‘, you can do so here.  I wanted to highlight a few more options that I feel are viable in a bug out, or SHTF scenario.  But before I do, I need to bring up one thing.  Depending on your specific bug out needs, packing an extensive shelter might not be necessary.  For example, if your bug out plans are to travel to a predetermined location, be it a house or cottage in a remote location, it might not make sense to pack a tent or bivvy shelter.  Perhaps all you need is an emergency blanket and bivvy bag (like the SOL Bivvy), and when you get to your location you don’t need to worry about the elements.  However, we aren’t all going to be in that boat, so I felt looking at these choices isn’t an exercise in futility.

So, let’s get on to the fun stuff, shall we?  Below are some more intricate (but fortunately not always more expensive) bug out shelter options.

Tent

Choosing a tent for a bug out shelter has some obvious advantages over lower-tech options.  First and foremost, in my opinion, is simplicity.

But wait a sec, how is a tent simpler than a tarp shelter, or even a bivvy shelter?  By the way, love your wit and charm!”

Wenzel Starlite Tent
Wenzel Starlite Tent

I know some of you are thinking this.  But in reality, when I say simplicity, I mean it’s one shelter where you don’t have to worry about too many extra variables.  Is it raining?  With a tarp shelter, you have to be very conscious of design; with a tent, after you find a good location you pop that puppy up and you’re good to go.  A tent is always going to provide rain cover, shelter from wind on all sides, a boosted temperature rating, and some freedom from condensation issues (the condensation issue separating it from bivouac bags).  In addition, the tent you choose won’t take up much more space than other shelter options.  Your decision rests on a few things when considering a tent shelter:

  • Climate – do I need a tent that will greatly boost the temperature rating of my bug out shelter?
  • Space – how much room do I need in my tent?  Dependent on whether you want to keep your bug out bag inside with you; if you’re using a tent then I’d recommend it have at least room for you and your supplies.
  • Weight – how much weight should I attribute to shelter?
  • Breathability – Is my tent made from a breathable material?  Is there proper ventilation for my needs and location?  Fortunately tents are often far superior to bivouac/bivvy bags as far as having built in flaps, windows and ventilation.
  • Budget – will I be using my tent for anything other than a bug out scenario?  I like to consider this, because if I’m getting multiple uses out of something, I can justify spending a little more as I will be getting a better return on my investment.

Fortunately, you can pick up a single tent (if you don’t own one already) on just about any budget.  There are several options for single and two-person tents around the $50 mark, and if you buy from a trusted name (I’ve heard good things about Wenzel), you might be able to use them for more than just your bug out shelter.  It’s a matter of getting what you pay for, but tents like these will get the short-term job done.

Moving up the spectrum, there’s a few names that I trust.  One in particular I can recommend here, because I’ve slept in a few before and have never had an issue – Big Agnes.

Big Agnes - Lone Spring 1 Tent
Big Agnes – Lone Spring Tent

I invite you to look into these guys a little more, and I feel comfortable getting behind them because of known quality.  Whether you’re choosing a 1-person, 2-person, or more, Big Agnes comes through.  A few things set them above most other alternatives.  First, they’re roomy.  A pet peeve of mine is when a company claims a tent has “___ may inches of head space, but when set-up, these tents taper so quickly that you only have that much height directly in the middle.  Big Agnes models typically have more of a rounded set-up (at least in my experience), which offers much more headroom.  In addition, they are typically very easy to-set up – and the more you use them, the quicker set-up becomes.  I say the more you use them because these are also among the most durable tents you’ll find.  Yes, the up-front costs are greater, but I truly value return-on-investment (ROI), and know that you can get years and years with proper care.  Keep in mind, this likely means you should be thinking about picking up a footprint for underneath your tent!

Hammock

Yes, a hammock.  I’m serious.  No, you listen here.  Hammocks aren’t just for relaxing on a warm summer day anymore.  If coupled with a tarp cover and a mosquito net, this provides an alternative bug out shelter that isn’t dependent on flat or even dry ground.  I recently picked up a double-sized hammock from Ticket to the Moon.

Although I’ve only slept in it for a few hours at a time, some considerations:

  • I’d only recommend this if you are a back sleeper or occasional side sleeper – if you sleep on your stomach it’s not for you.
  • Look for a hammock made of parachute nylon – not only is it durable, but it has a great give to it and is very lightweight.
  • May need to to be coupled with a mosquito screen.  I don’t think I’d make it through a night without it.
  • Doesn’t offer too much in terms of temperature rating, so either couple it with a warm sleeping bag or keep it for warm weather use only!

Certainly the hammock seems like a cost-effective and versatile option – since I don’t have a lot of experience with them personally, I’d love to hear what people think of the option in the comments below!

Intermodal Steel Building Unit

Hey, dare to dream right?  Apparently there is much more traction in the ISBU industry, and consider this kind of bug out shelter to be the creme de la creme – It doesn’t get much better.  Obviously, this is a level of prep that requires the most work and likely the most money, and there are resources for looking at a DIY project.  Again, I’m not the first to think about this topic by any stretch, and the folks over at The Daily Prep have a fantastic article on the viability of an ISBU.  Have to give credit where credit is due – I really enjoyed reading this piece!

So, there you have it, part two.  If you’ve noticed, the options I’ve covered are essentially for 1-2 people – and could be expanded for more.  Later, I’d like to look at bug out shelters specifically for families, but until then, wanted to thank you for checking out our thoughts on bug out shelters.  Please, as always, let me know if there are alternatives I missed, or if you’ve had any experiences you want to share, let me know in the comments below, or in the forum!  Dialogue is always a good thing!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yep, I’m going with a tent for the room. Not only do I like keeping the ol’ BOB nearby for protection and convenience, but the wife does prefer being in my manly presence. I’ve got a couple suitable choices in my camping inventory already, but I just need to add some pieces to downplay their coloration in a SHTF situation. I need to make them less observable.
    Thanks for the great food for thought, guys!

    • No problem! I recently got a great deal on a Marmot Limestone 6 tent for my wife and I – thinking down the road there might be more than two of us. Anyways, awesome tent, but a pain to pack, and quite heavy for a BOB. My choice right now is a bivvy, but it’s for lack of alternatives – our old, smaller, two-man tent has pretty much bit the bullet!

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