Are Buried Shipping Containers a Good Idea for a Bunker? NO, and Here is Why!

It is almost impossible to visit a survival or preparation oriented website and not see either an article or advertisement for using shipping containers as underground bunkers.

They always look amazing – finished floors, a happy family inside, clean with more than ample supplies to last a veritable lifetime; some even have their own air circulation systems so you can control the climate.

That is great if you live in a fantasy where actual life rarely interrupts your fanciful bliss!

If, however, you reside on planet earth with the rest of us, you may want to view the articles and advertisements with a bit of skepticism.

The simplest reason is that shipping containers are simply not meant to have tons of dirt heaped on them and have pressure exerted on them from all sides.

But there are a few other reasons you may want to curb your enthusiasm and on the next page, we cover them.

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  1. Matthew Baldauf said:

    Dumbest bullshit I’ve ever read. Clearly he hasn’t done much research on what people have been doing to convert these things. One of the last things he mentions is the toxic chemicals in the wood. Also known as the first thing anyone converting a shipping container takes care of. And the best part is he finishes off by stating he doesn’t believe in long term bunkers anyway. What a crock of$#%&!@*

  2. Todd Mattingly said:

    What the$#%&!@*is this BS why the$#%&!@*did you post crap come the$#%&!@*on

  3. Russ Sands said:

    Did anyone read this? What is in the link is actually true. There are toxic chemicals in the paint in these containers. They are painted to withstand the harsh conditions from being exposed to salt water for weeks on end. They are not designed for handling pressure when buried. Even when stacked the pressure is on the corners. Bad idea all together.

  4. Todd Mattingly said:

    Hey when you get a real job and get some hair on you’re nuts you can get at me

  5. Theresa Smith said:


  6. Jean-Louis Desranleau said:

    Very good at taking pressure from top and bottom, not good for the sides, unless you pour concrete on all sides.

  7. Carlan Aronson said:

    Sand blast it, rhino line the whole thing, then weld some steel tubing on it and problem solved

  8. Russ Sands said:

    I didn’t even focus on that part but again, another downside and reason why these shouldn’t be used for SHTF scenarios

  9. Matthew Baldauf said:

    No one is suggesting to just throw it in the ground and use it in an emergency. Jesus christ do some research. People are making houses out of these.

  10. Russ Sands said:

    Above ground with LOTS of alterations. You would have to totally reinforce it to stick it in the ground. Could pour concrete for half the cost. This is the survivors group not the small houses group. We talk about survival not making little houses. Jesus Christ have some common sense

  11. Russ Sands said:

    How are you getting a crane to your bug out location to set the container? Support vehicles for the crane? Unless you plan on having your bug out location easily accessible it is not a very smart ideas!!!!

  12. Jerry Tebay said:

    I have no idea what the angle is here of this article, but it retarded. No one just buries a shipping container. All bunkers made out of shipping containers ive ever seen have been welded up tight, blasted and have had a long term water and corrosion proofing sprayed on them. Further more, they are structurally enhanced to take the pressures of the earth on top. They are given ventilation systems and usually two enetrances and exits. The last one I saw had a 40 ft tunnel as an exit attached. Cameras above ground and a waste disposal system with ventilation. Sounds like someone is either making fake news or is lobbying for another form of bunker. Informing the low informatuon population also seems to be a good possibility. …

  13. Bryan Skipo said:

    Matthew Baldauf if you’re going to the trouble of reinforcing, why not just build a stronger one to begin with? Then you could tailor it to your needs?

  14. Eric Blanchard said:

    Are several shipping container calapses pictures and video and other articles of people who did just out in ground without adequate reinforcement. Someone above had idea. If going through trouble of reinforcing why not build a structure yourself customized to better meet your demands over that of a reinforced rectangular box. Or could even use school buses. Look up “ark two” man buried 52 stripped out school busses, poured concrete over and made survival bunker/orphanage

  15. David Snell said:

    You mean I can’t just throw a shipping container in the ground and call it a bunker?

  16. Tyler Logan Hoyle said:

    Todd Mattingly hahah your a chump, claiming an article writen by someone with field experience is BS. I’d drop my nuts on your forehead and you’d thank me for it looser.

  17. Joe Remick said:

    Kept waiting for the “but heres how you fix/reenforce them” line but it never came. Guess I’ll have to go elsewhere for better info…

  18. Don Hughes said:

    They could work but by the time you spent the money making them work you could have built something much better.

  19. Shaun Platthy said:

    They do require some conditioning and strengthening but they can be used successfully

  20. Walter Grump said:

    damn this article is so full of$#%&!@*think of it this is a welded steel box and when buried lateral reinforcement is welded to it and think of this,these boxes are stacked as much as ten tall at 60,000 lbs a piece what does that tell you about crush strength,sounds like somebody is promoting more expensive underground units

  21. Layton Dougherty said:

    Shipping containers arent made for side pressure, however if you have support walls inside, that would remedy the issue

  22. Hadley Kleeb said:

    yes every one should have 2. can we stop talking about this old crap now

  23. Dwayne Earhart said:

    When stacked, the outside frame supports the weight. Not the whole surface.

  24. Russ Sands said:

    And how about the cost to ship it to your location? The cost of a crane and support vehicles for the crane? Can you even get a crane to your location? I know I couldn’t!

  25. Russ Sands said:

    You don’t know as much as you claim to know about these things. These shipping boxes were designed to be stacked. The load is carried on the corners not the flimsy walls. Where is you bug out location? I know I can not get a crane to mine. How are you putting it in? Can you get heavy machinery up to you location to dig the hole?

  26. Walter Grump said:

    for one i work on those boxes a lot and the walls are not as flimsy as you think and reinforcemant is welded in place before it is buried so i think i know more than you do as for a bugout location i don’t dig in i head for either the swamps or the mountains and live off the land,you can be a gopher i like to see the sky at night

  27. Eric Blanchard said:

    If your not smart enough to figure out how to reinforce a thin metal box then you probably would have to also hire the welding done in order to reinforce it. By then likely buying a small prefabricated bunker would be the cheaper route. Either that or encasing in concrete instead of welding. A man stripped out 42 school buses and put in ground. Poured concrete over them. Put 13-18 feet of dirt on too of and turned into bomb shelter/orphanage and calls it “Ark Two” after Noah’s ark

  28. Eric Blanchard said:

    Shipping container side walls are 14 gauge. Or 5/64 inch (1/16 equal 4/64) rising s by comparison uses 1/4 inch steel plate as standard which is then reinforced . you can request thicker if like. Have made above ground bunker walls with 1 inch hardened ballistic steel on both sides with 10 inches of sand between

  29. Eric Blanchard said:

    A container has 5/64 thick walls (about 1/16th) and would need significant reinforcement thus would then need to factor in the steel channel or steel tubing being user as reinforcement and if you cannot weld yourself the welding expense as well which may be as much as $50-75 a hour

  30. Eric Blanchard said:

    Of course another option buy the container (or the like) and cover with concrete. After concrete hardens can cover in dirt. A man did this with 42 stripped out school buses and named his bunker “Ark Two”

  31. Joe Remick said:

    Your statement hits close to the mark but missed. Before reading this article I didn’t know you had to reinforce the container. Now that I do I read on to determine the best most efficient and effective way of doing so. I was disappointed as the article presents a problem but not a solution. So am I smart enough to reinforce a thin metal box? Now I am but the question is how best to do so, not who I can hire to do so. One must know the questions to ask to find the answer he desires. One must also not jump to conclusions either.

  32. Thomas Whitten said:

    Anyone who has done even a little research on shipping containers underground finds out quickly that a poured cement base to put the container on with either poured walls around it or cinder blocks is to be used. a sturdy metal or concrete is then laid on the top once the container is in place. Every contain bunker I’ve seen installed is built this way. This article has a point though. I’m sure there is someone who back filled with dirt directly against the container. And yes, I agree, that is a bad move.

  33. Eric Blanchard said:

    Either making a grid with channel and welding it to the side and to itself at the corners or encasing in concrete both good. Will need to reapply anti-rust coating. Have like a 1 ft x1ft spread on your grid squares all the way around make a very strong reinforcement. That is similar to what rising S does only they start with 1/4 inch steel plate instead 5/64