10 Genius Bug Out Shelters You Should Familiarise With

bug out shelter, survival shelters

I’m hoping that after reading our bug out bag recommendations, you’ve understood the essential contents of a bug out bag. Additionally, one of your primary concerns when preparing for a bug out should be where and how you’re going to shelter. After all, who would look forward to sleeping/resting while totally exposed to the elements of nature? My guess is; not many people.

Ideally, you’d want to be equipped with the right skills to give you an edge in securing your bug out shelter. Let’s take a look at a few life-saving ideas, but firstly bear in mind these things to note when building your own bug out shelter:

Choosing the best location for your bug out shelter

As I’ve mentioned, you probably wouldn’t fancy sleeping or resting under conditions that leave you completely exposed to nature’s element. Neither would you appreciate setting up camp in a possibly dangerous location or one that is a habitat to nuisances. It is therefore a wise idea to predetermine the best location for your survival shelter.

Choosing your ideal location will be based on how long you intend on using it. The needs for short-term shelter will be different from those required for long-term shelter.

Bugging Out In The Short Term​

When/if searching for short-term shelter, look for trees (fallen trees would be ideal), rocky overhangs, and caves. You should know that trees are an excellent source of shelter with many useful parts that can aid with building other kinds of shelter. The tree trunk can be used as support, the branches as framework, and foliage as insulating material.

Caves and rocky overhangs make for great places to shield oneself. However, it’s important to pay attention to the site and what time of year it is, as the suitability of caves and rocky overhangs as shelter may be dependent on those.

In a situation where there are little to no trees, like a desert terrain, try using the slope of the land to look for protection and the steep side of a dune for shelter. In addition, you should do your best to seek out shelter where the ground is dry. Try to keep an adequate distance away from waterways as they may become hazardous during rainy weather.

Bugging Out In The Long Term​

In terms of long-term shelter, you’ll need to consider a lot more factors than those involved with sheltering short-term. You should look for areas that are relatively close to water and food sources, and civilisation, if possible. I’d sure hate to set up camp literally in the middle of nowhere.

You’ll also be better off when setting up long-term shelter if you do so in an area that allows you to see everything that’s happening around you. Also, you may want to be easily visible to others, although that totally depends on the nature of your survival situation. In some cases, the smarter plan would involve staying hidden!

If staying hidden is part of your agenda, try to find an area that is far from any obvious paths of travel. In a mountainous terrain, your best bet would be to set up shelter in a spot far from a mountain pass where hikers are likely to travel. Bear in mind that the more challenging it is for you to arrive to your survival location, the much lower the odds of someone else unexpectedly stumbling upon you will be.

Let’s assume however, that staying under the radar isn’t a priority. That being the case, you may want to keep your travel distance as short as you possibly can. The more distance you’ll have to travel to get to your bug out location and shelter, the greater your chances of running into problems.

Now that we’ve covered these points, take a look and decide which of these bug out shelters appeals to you most:

Short Term Bug Out Shelters​

1. Lean-To

First on our list of survival shelters is probably the most well-known option. To form a Lean-To, you’ll need to find two trees that are close together, and a thick stick that can be crammed between the trees. In the event you are unable to find trees and sticks of the right size, you can always use a hammer to secure two sticks into the ground and a third one between them.

Move forward by tying the main pole to the supports, then simply lean a sufficient number of sticks against the pole creating something that resembles half of a roof.

2. Quinzhee

For the weather that will have you covered in Goosebumps and helplessly shivering. Don’t give up hope in snowy times if you seem to have no other shelter options. Use the snow to build yourself a Quinzhee. Granted, it may not look or be nearly as luxurious as an igloo, but it will surely keep you covered (if you build it right).

Start by gathering your supplies over an area that is larger than your body. Afterwards, pile snow up around your supplies while trying to keep the snow packed evenly and smoothly. You then dig through the side to your supplies, remove them, and your cave is created.

3. Simple TeePee

Another well-known option that is sure to prove helpful. To construct one of these, you’ll firstly need to find a thin yet sturdy tree, or a long pole that you can secure deep into the ground. After that you should find as many long, straight branches as you can and surround the pole with them.

Make sure that they are leaning against the pole until you have a totally closed cone of empty spaces in the middle. Try to then secure the pieces of wood together by tying them at the top with rope or paracord. All that’s left to do is to add the insulation!

4. Tarp Tent

One of, if not my personal favourite shelter methods in a survival situation. I’m pretty sure you can guess why; that’s right, because it’s so darn easy to build! All you need to do is find a way to prop up the tarp over yourself and make sure it’s properly secured down so that it will keep you covered throughout your resting period.

You’re in luck if you’ve got some rope or paracord handy. Then you’d be able to tie it between two trees and toss your tarp over it and make yourself a tent. It’s not rocket science, right?

5. Debris Hut

Allow me to be upfront by telling you; this is going to involve a lot of sticks. Start off by getting two long sticks that are just a little taller than your shoulder length, and one longer stick that is taller than your height.

You can then proceed by sticking the two shorter sticks into the ground and leaning against each other so that they form a triangle. Afterwards, you place one end of the longer sticks on top of the triangle sticks and the other end on the ground 6 feet away. You then lean several sticks against the longer one to form a kind of pyramid.

6. A-Frame Shelter

A fairly easy job for anyone capable of building a Lean-To. With an A-Frame survival shelter, the ridge pole starts on the ground and extends up into the tree. It is lashed at a height that allows sufficient space to sit underneath.

In this method, two sides are constructed to create the A-frame shape, and provides additional protection from weather or cold temperatures. Also, you can locate your fire pit near the opening of the frame for more warmth, if you’d like. Please ensure that it’s located near enough so that smoke doesn’t enter the shelter-I’m sure you wouldn’t want that!

7. Simple Body Heat Shelter

Pile Of Leaves

To build one of these bug out shelters all you’ll need is debris from the ground such as dirt, leaves and twigs. Make a pile about 2 or 3 feet high and exceeding the length of your body while stretched out. After you burrow into the pile it’s almost like you’re in your very own natural sleeping bag.

It’s an incredibly simple project that wouldn’t require much time or effort on your part. I’m starting to think that this may turn to a favourite!

A good thing about this type of shelter is that it traps your body heat and keeps you warm.

Long Term Bug Out Shelters

8. Natural shelter

Natural Shelter

Given that time and energy are crucial factors of outdoor survival, you would find it in your best interest if you can get things done without much use of either. With that being said, you’ll find it quite helpful to make use of existing foundation to build on. Finding a cave, cliff wall, rocky overhangs, a large leaning tree or another sort of natural wall or enclosure is already half the battle.

An entirely self-built structure might only last a night or two. If you’re sure that you may be bugging out for a longer period, find something solid and natural to build around.

9. Log Cabin

Better get some hot cocoa and warm slippers while you’re at it. In a situation where your best possible option is to seek long-term haven in the wilderness, I’d have to insist that you get yourself ready to construct a log cabin. It’s really your best bet at a solid and dependable home using just what the land provides.

Clearly, it isn’t a project you can get done with the flick of a magic wand and will require a great deal of time, resources, effort, and patience. The general idea is to lay a frame of logs that join at the corners to form a rectangle.

10. Earthship

An excellent idea if you already have a pre-determined bug out location. This is a type of passive solar house that is made up of natural and upcycled materials. Like the log cabin, it’s quite the project. This means that you should be prepared to exert some time and energy.

Your earthship should be built to use available natural resources, especially solar energy and rain water. You’ll need earth packed tires or any dense material that can potentially store heat to build the walls of your earthship.

To build your roof, you’ll need to use trusses or wooden support beams called vigas.


Bugging out into the wilderness can be pretty frightening. I mean, you’re going from the usual comfort of your home where your bed, television and toilets, to a natural habitat of wild animals and all sorts of critters. Any sensible person would agree that it’s a big adjustment to be made.

However, just because it’s a big adjustment doesn’t mean that it can’t be made. With the right mind-set and determined attitude, you’ll be more than ready to take on the challenge of providing shelter for yourself outside of your comfort zone. Make sure you’re totally aware of your surroundings before anything else!

About the author


Colin is a freelance writer and editor. A fan of The Walking Dead. It led him to think what if SHTF and what does it takes to survive. Colin hobbies includes gears, tech gadgets and rehearsing different "End Of The World" situations in his head.

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