The Budget Bunker: Atlas Shelters
An Atlas Shelter being prepared for placement underground.

The Budget Bunker: Atlas Shelters

What if your second home could also protect you from nuclear fallout, grenades or chemical attacks and was undetectable to anyone who was looking for you?

If that’s your idea of a dream shelter, then Atlas Survival Shelters has exactly what you need. The company, which offers affordable underground shelters right on your property, was born when Ron Hubbard was on the hunt for a survival shelter to put in his own backyard and couldn’t find one that met his specifications and budget.

The escape hatch of an Atlas Survival Shelter.

“About five years ago, I visited the few other companies that made shelters and determined that nobody was making the kind of shelters I was seeking,” Hubbard says. “I wanted a shelter that would have multiple purposes—decked out to the point that it felt like a house I could use recreationally as a hunting cabin or for camping out, but also with a second secret escape tunnel and a decontamination room. By the time I described what I wanted to other companies, their prices were $1 million or more. Considering that my target budget was under $100,000, I knew there had to be a better solution.”


—Ron Hubbard, owner of Atlas Survival Shelters

Unable to find that improved option, Hubbard launched his own company, Atlas Survival Shelters. Because he owned a steel manufacturing company, Hubbard had the materials at his disposal and was able to envision what types of features potential shelter owners would want based on his own intentions.

Meet Your Budget

Just like building your primary home, everything in your shelter is customizable based on your budget. In fact, many people who have bigger budgets will buy two shelters and place them side by side, creating more than 1,100 square feet of underground living space.

“Often, these double shelters will be similar to a home with a garage,” Hubbard says. “The first is the main living quarters and the second is the garage and workshop. It could also serve as a hydroponics growing area for growing food underground.”

An Atlas Shelter being prepared for installation underground.


Although Hubbard knew there were several directions he could choose for his shelters, he ended up modeling his original designs after the shelter that the government had built for President John F. Kennedy in the 1960’s on Peanut Island.

“I based most of my shelters off of the exact same design that President Kennedy had,” Hubbard says. “You enter through the tunnel, then there’s the decontamination shower, the main living quarters and a second, secret escape tunnel.”


—Ron Hubbard, owner of Atlas Survival Shelters

Because the shelter design is so sophisticated, many people were shocked at the low price tag of $70,000, a number that was unheard of before Atlas launched, Hubbard says. His lower-priced option has made it possible for young families and soldiers who have recently discharged from the military to afford shelters, and these are some of his most loyal customers.

“I feel like I’m kind of the Henry Ford for the shelter business,” Hubbard explains. “I’ve made a shelter that the average person in America can afford, but before I came along, someone had to be a multimillionaire to have a decent bomb shelter.”

A Shelter In Three Days?

If you want a shelter underground on your property, you can get the project done unbelievably quickly.

“When someone first enquires about a shelter, I ask them some basic questions like how far down the water table is, how far above sea level they are, whether their land floods, if their ground is solid rock, clay, etc.,” Hubbard says. “Then, once they order the shelter, we get someone within 100 miles from them to go in with an excavator. We want very few local people to know about it, so we can have the hole dug, put the shelter in and close it back up in anywhere from two to three days. If it was foggy outside, the person next door would never even know a shelter went into the property.”

Because the shelter has electricity, you can create a workstation at the desk.


Although Hubbard’s shelters are based on his standard layout, they are certainly not one-size-fits-all. In fact, you can select from a few different models.

“The most popular shelter I sell is made out of galvanized culvert pipes,” Hubbard explains. “There are an estimated 100,000 shelters in the United States that the government made of culvert pipes during World War II, and these have been proven to be very effective. The prices on my culvert pipe shelters range from $35,000 to $85,000, so they’re very affordable. Basically, if you can afford an American sports car, you can afford to have a shelter in this class.”

The dining area of this Atlas Shelter is comfortable, roomy and bright.

The next model up is a monolithic concrete dome, which is similar to the Type 1 missile silos that were used in the 1960s, Hubbard says.

“They were designed to take a direct nuclear hit, and the command center was in a round dome, and if a bomb went off, the pressure would hit the tip of the dome and dispense into the dome like a bullet traveling through the air. The dome is the strongest shape you can build that can take a direct nuclear hit, so we build these concrete domes and they start at about $250,000 and go up into the millions.”

The Luxuries of Home

Atlas Survival Shelters feature all of the luxuries of home, including running water, private master bedrooms, big-screen TVs, fireplaces, hot showers, flushing toilets and everything else you love about your house.

“The only thing that makes them unique is that they’re 20 feet underground and bomb-proof,” Hubbard says.

The private master bedroom is roomy and comfortable.


As the shelters are built exclusively underground, you may wonder about the availability of fresh air. Atlas figured that out, too. Like a sailor in a submarine, you’ll keep the hatch open if you’re in the shelter relaxing but closed if you need to filter incoming air.

“The shelter can pull in fresh air to breathe, but in the case of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack, you’d need to filter the air, so there’s a big particle filter in the shelter that the air goes through that makes it like breathing through a gas mask,” Hubbard says.


For More Information

To learn more about Atlas Survival Shelters and to see your shelter options, visit


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.

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