Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Prudent Prepping: Gimme Shelter

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

For the last year or so, I have tried to find a good quality, used 2-3 person tent. I've come very close -- for example, the famous Craigslist "I just sold it 20 minutes before you got here"; quality and condition not as advertised; or even the wrong brand and size from the posted picture. I'm still looking and hoping that a good one will turn up before camping season rolls around or I need it in an emergency.

This lack of personal shelter has led me to begin...

Thinking Inside the Dome
As I am going to be Bugging In, and the likely disaster is going to be an earthquake, I've been thinking about other forms of shelter that are bigger than a backpacking tent and slightly more permanent. Repairs to structures to bring them back to livable condition could take months, if the Big One hits.

I have a sister with a family close by, and I've kicked around the idea of a dome as a way to shelter 4-6 people cheaply and in a form that, when not in use, would take up a small amount of storage space. 

Desert Domes has very complete directions for building domes from simple and small to large and very complex. What I like are the very detailed instructions such as the cut tube calculator, jig building diagram and bending illustrations found on this page.

I really need to sit down with my brother-in-law and work out if this is something that might work for all of us, but I figure that a dome 16' across would use less than fifty 10' long sticks of 3/4" electrical conduit. 
Similar to what I am planning
If you have a minimum assortment of hand tools (electric drill, hack saw or power saw, vise and wrenches) total cost for your dome frame should be approximately $175 and weigh less than 50 lbs. I'm not good with math so I can't calculate the area of the dome (Here's a dome calculator for you -- Erin), but I'm guessing another $100 in tarps will make it waterproof.

With the right wrenches and some help, a geodesic dome of this size could be built and covered in tarps in a day. Domes are very stable in winds when anchored correctly, and are popular at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert for that reason (not just for the hippie 'cool' factor).

Warning! Potential time sink ahead!

I am a do-it-myself person because of cost, but there are some other options that would blow up most BCP'ers budgets, like some of the pre-built and packaged domes from a company such as Pacific Domes. These are a much fancier option, with galvanized tubing, doors and covers included.

Another option is a variation of the Mongolian yurt called Hexayurt with a very link heavy and cluttered website here. The Tiny House Blog has a much cleaner and easily-read version of how to build a Hexayurt. Please look at the links on the bottom of the page for an interview with the developer of the Hexayurt!

These designs are fairly simple and, in my mind, shouldn't be considered as permanent or as stable as a dome. Having built neither, I really don't know.

All of these structures can be purchased and laid out with a minimum investment of dollars and time, stored away in a small space and assembled quickly when needed.

The Takeaway
  • In a disaster like an earthquake, plans may need to include more permanent shelter than a tent. 
  • Decide what is affordable and stick to your plan. 
  • Whatever you decide to build, having extra hands will make the job easier.
  • Nothing was purchased this week, 

As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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