Dugout shelters, pit houses, and what are sometimes called “sniper holes”, are sweet SHTF survival shelters in dire situations. In a SHTF situation you won’t be able to browse the web for log cabins for sale, so this type of temporary housing is a great option. Because of its simple construction you could build one as part of your preparation or build one while you’re on the move. There is nothing glorious about living in a hole in the ground for a bit, but it works when necessary.
Dugouts is one of the oldest types of housing known. Constructing a simple, temporary one is easy:
- dig a big hole
- reinforce the walls
- build a roof over it.
The most basic type, like what the infantry would use, is about that simple. This would be a prime “Holy crap, TEOTWAWKI hit, we need to hole up for a few weeks in the middle of nowhere” shelter.
You need a few good shovels and a pick ax. Find an elevated location or dig into the side of a small hill/slope. Take the soil you dig out of the hole and form small “ridges” around the dugout to direct surface rainwater away from the hole. You can also dig a small trench along the inside walls of the hole that slope downward to a 2’x2’x1′ deep hole that will capture the water for removal by pail or shovel. You’re digging a hole in the ground, drainage is key; like I said, dig into a hill or slope.
If you want it to make a hidey hole, also:
- Move the soil you dig out so that it’s away from the area and it’s not obvious that someone dug a big hole. Set the top layer of dirt or sod aside so that you can lay it across the roof of your structure, helping it blend in. Excess soil should get moved to some place away from the shelter.
- Be careful not to disturb surrounding vegetation so the site blends naturally.
- Beware of using the same path to the shelter all the time or an obvious trail may develop.
You’ll need to retain the walls with something. Properly stacked sandbags will help, use the soil you dig up. Armies have used burlap and chicken wire wrapped around trench walls. You can use any dead trees and branches around you, rocks, sod, etc. Improvise.
If you want something more permanent, you could get a bit fancier, like this dugout home in Pie Town, New Mexico during the Great Depression:
That would make an awesome, CHEAP, SHTF bugout spot. You’ve got a low profile place and earth protection. Here is an inside pic of a Great Depression era dugout house:
I kinda want one, a little hobbit hole.
– Ranger Man