DIY builders Holly & Ryan in front of their beautiful Redwoods Cabin

What is a Cabin?

A cabin is simply a small house, usually used as a vacation home or built to provide shelter to workers or recreationalists. In North America a cabin can be owned by a group or individual, that then pays annual lease fees for use of the public land on which the cabin is built. Sometimes also referred to as a cottage, traditional cabins are simple in design and minimally equipped in terms of systems and appliances. There are no rules defining a cabin or cottage, but the structures are usually modest and situated in rural locations. In North America, the gold standard has always been the log cabin.

Thanks to our National Parks Services, guides and outfitters, entrepreneurs, and dedicated volunteers, there are now thousands of cabins across North America's pristine backcountry. For more about the tradition of the log cabin, check out this great article by the US National Park Service.

Is Cabin life making a comeback?

With a larger number of North American retirees now than ever before, there are naturally more people slowing down and enjoying the good life. For some of these lucky retirees, this means spending well deserved time at a cottage, cabin, or second home. For a variety of reasons, more young people are also prioritizing building and spending time "at the cabin". For some people, it's the ability to escape, unplug, and reset. For other groups and individuals, it is the ability to have a comfortable home base in an area that they enjoy, whether that means a lakeside retreat or a ski cabin in the alpine. Some families are also embracing full-time cabin life for financial, environmental, or lifestyle reasons.

Check out these 8 unbelievable facts you didn't know about log cabins!

Propane Range Oven from Tiny Life Supply

Is the Cabin Life for me?

Absolutely! Regardless of your lifestyle, location, or budget, you will thank yourself for prioritizing a cabin construction project or for simply penciling in some cabin time throughout the year. If you have never visited a cabin, don't be intimidated. From clifftop backcountry huts to luxury lakeside cottages, there are cabin options for every type of user. All the information you need can usually be found online, from directions, to suggested pack lists, to cabin rules and safety regulations. Start your adventure planning by checking out some of these great cabin directories for ColoradoAlaska, or BC and the Canadian Rockies.

You can also try spending a few nights in a Cabin or Cottage Airbnb rental or consider taking one of these popular Trip Advisor cabin holidays. If you're looking at building a more permanent living space, you may want to consider a Micro HomeYurt or Tiny House as alternatives to a cabin.

Propane Refrigerator from Tiny Life Supply

How much does a Cabin cost?

You're not going to like this answer, but it depends. The cost of a cabin ranges wildly depending on if you build or buy, the cost of purchasing or leasing land, and your cabin's size, design, and building materials. If you are trying to build your cabin on a tight budget, check out this great article by Off Grid World. On the other end of the spectrum, cabin projects can escalate quickly when luxury is prioritized over frugality. If you're in the mood for some rubber necking, Curbed Ski put together this list of the 10 most expensive log cabins in ski country.

If you are looking for an amazing cabin or log home builder, reach out to Harrison Log Homes. Bryan can help you design and price out your own custom log dream home. These guys are the best in the biz, and can transport a custom log home or cabin anywhere!

Do you need to own land to build a Cabin?

Not necessarily. Though owning your own property allows you much more freedom, getting permission to build on public land is still possible. The application process can be lengthy and potentially political, and will vary depending on where you live. Aside from the hurdle of obtaining permission, building a cabin on public land also means being governed by a park or forest service, and embracing potential visits by members of the public. For more information about the legalities and cultural climate of cabin ownership in the US, check out the National Forest Homeowners website.

So... what about the toilet?

If you have spent time in a backcountry cabin hut, you are most likely familiar with the traditional hole in the ground style outhouse. Though outhouses are a simple off-grid toilet solution, they can smell, become unsanitary, and are inconveniently located in a separate structure.

Here at Tiny Life Supply we are fans of composting toilets. A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses aerobic processing to break down organic waste. At first, the composting toilet concept may seem a little strange, but the modern designs really work great. In addition to being able to have your loo indoors, composting toilets are also a great option for environmental reasons. Waste is transformed into nutrient-rich compost that can be safely returned to the environment, or even used in agriculture.

The best way to decide if a composting toilet will work for you is to hear from somebody with first-hand experience. If you are interested in the details, Ariel McGlothin has also written some of most comprehensive composting toilet blog posts that we've seen. For more about the pros and cons of waterless toilet options check out this article by the Weekend Prepper.

What Systems will I need?

Choosing the perfect systems for your cabin is one of the most exciting steps! From customizing your cabin's kitchen, to selecting your power and heat source, picking the perfect systems is the key to designing a cabin that works for your lifestyle. Use the links below to browse through the best appliances, gear, and supplies.

Power Options


Kitchen Appliances

Household Necessities

Once you have the main systems selected, take a look at our entire line of products for lighting options, building supplies, furniture and more.

Don't let the options overwhelm you; take the planning process one step at a time, and get a hold of us if you need any help!

Beautiful off-grid cabin with solar power system

Ok, I'm in; what's next?

You're set on cabin life... awesome! Every project starts with research and planning in order to create a thorough checklist. If need a little help getting started, Custom Timber Log Homes has built this great step by step checklist. Perfect Log Homes has also put together this building guide that may help get your planning process rolling.

By the time you have a design in mind, you will most likely have decided whether to build or buy. If you are going to buy, check out our Tiny Home Builders Index to find a builder near you. 

If you have any questions please drop us a line! We love meeting new tiny life enthusiasts, and would love to hear from you.

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