10 Cabins, Campers, and Trailers We Dreamed of Escaping to in 2021

From a tree house high in the California redwoods to a cabin nestled in the Andes Mountains, these remote retreats answer the call of the wild.

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As the pandemic stretches on for a second year, the urge to escape the grid and delve into nature has never been greater. From a self-sufficient cabin in the Canadian wilderness to a converted school bus in Alabama and a gem-like structure in the forests of Finland, these adventurous dwellings capture the creativity and resilience that’s burned bright over the last year as the world adapted to new ways of living.

A 1984 Airstream Shines With a Steely-Blue Shell and a Cozy Farmhouse Interior

This 34-foot-long Airstream Excella was gutted and renovated by Innovative Spaces in Santa Barbara, California, for a family in San Antonio, Texas. Equipped with 200-watt solar panels, a 600aH lithium-ion battery bank, a charge controller, and a 2,500-watt inverter, the trailer can go off-grid for three to five days at a time.

Robe + Signet

This souped-up getaway on wheels provides a young family with all the comforts of home. The living spaces and back bedroom feature Kahrs’s Oak Johan wood flooring.

Robe + Signet

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This Compact Tasmanian Cabin Is a Testing Ground for Sustainable Design

Architect Jiri Lev’s home is a prototype for forward-looking architecture that could make a positive societal impact in Australia. It’s constructed largely of local pine: radiata for the frame, and macrocarpa for the cladding.

Sasha Lev

The 280-square-foot structure, built at a cost of $65,322, has a flexible design that can easily be expanded upon in the future. In the second phase of the structure, Jiri will test different types of sustainable materials as insulation.

Sasha Lev

A Chilean Cabin Rises Amidst Ancient Trees in the Andes Mountains

This pine wood–clad cabin by Iragüen Viñuela Arquitectos sits atop an elevated platform left behind by a previous builder in a failed first construction attempt, and it overlooks the Cautín River. "This river travels through central Chile, but this place is special because it is where the river originates," explains architect Daniel Iragüen.

Marcos Zegers

Inside, the pine walls and ceilings received a dark stain to provide visual relief from the bright snow-covered landscape. The upper-level playroom contains four sets of built-in bunk beds to house children of many generations who often visit the cabin.

Photo: Marcos Zegers

An Ecuador Couple Seek Out Adventure in a DIY Tiny Cabin on Wheels

Small, simple, yet fully functional, La Casa Nueva is an off-grid timber camper designed by Ecuador-based architect Juan Alberto Andrade. He created the dwelling as a personal retreat for himself and his partner, Cuqui Rodríguez, to use as they travel throughout the country photographing various forms of architecture. 

JAG Studio

The beautifully crafted mobile structure is clad with yellow-heart lumber, and teak boards form its structural frame. The interior built-in furniture is constructed from plywood, and a metal trailer, secured with metal plates, allows the camper to be easily transported.  

JAG Studio

Two DIYers Erect an Off-Grid Cabin in the Canadian Rockies for Next to Nothing

Thanks to their savvy with salvaged materials and knack for bartering, Nathalie and Greg Kupfer built this micro-cabin for less than $50 in net costs. The tiny structure currently sits on a friend’s property, but it’s designed to be mobile, should the couple need to move it. "It can be dragged away with nothing more than a tractor," says Nathalie.

Photo: Grant Harder

"We have no cell service, no Internet, and no phone—the lights are powered by the sun, the water comes from the sky, and it’s just wonderful," says Nathalie.

Photo: Grant Harder

An Artist’s British Columbia Cabin Offers Peace and Perspective

High above Christina Lake in British Columbia, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed an idyllic retreat for Lori Hudson, her husband, and their two boys.

Photo: Bryce Duffy

The home is nestled in a stand of cedar, pine, and Douglas fir trees. The family relocated a smaller cabin to make room for their new retreat, and they plan to convert the original structure into a game room for the kids.

Photo: Bryce Duffy

A Family of Four Lives Large in a Renovated Skoolie Named The Butter Bus

Lauren and Van Jones turned a school bus into a vibrant and practical home for their family in Birmingham, Alabama. They outfitted the bus with two sofas with built-in storage, a large kitchen area, and a wood-burning stove.

Courtesy of Lauren and Van Jones

"We wanted to be able to move our home anywhere a job was available," says Lauren. "We love to learn to adapt to whatever situation we're living in, chosen or not." The name Butter Bus came from the couple’s three-year-old daughter.

Courtesy of Lauren and Van Jones

This Artist Couple’s Off-Grid Dream Home Was a Decade in the Making

With windows facing the lake, Donna Creed and Oliver Girling have a front-row seat to the action. "It’s water that you just want to look at every day because even though it’s a vast plane, it changes all the time," says architect Christine Lolley.

Solar panels clip on to the steel roof, and rainwater runs off smoothly into collecting barrels. The metal roofing also helps to reflect heat.

Nanne Springer

A Family of Five Adds a Whimsical Tree House to Their Slice of Paradise in Northern California

Woven into a stand of redwoods on Jason Titus and Nerija Sinkevičiūtė-Titus’s property in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a tree house by San Francisco designer/artist Jay Nelson gives the couple and their three boys a new perspective on the forest.

Photo: Carlos Chavarría

Above the built-in daybed is a porthole—a recurring feature in Nelson’s work—that looks out into the surrounding forest.

Photo: Carlos Chavarría

With an Otherworldly Shape, This Finnish Cabin Fends Off Subarctic Cold

Set in a clearing surrounded by spruce and birch trees in Kontiolahti, Finland, a cabin known as the Meteorite cuts a striking profile. The structure is made entirely of cross-laminated timber (CLT). Air gaps of various sizes behind the facade keep the interior warm without conventional insulation (even during Finland’s freezing winters) and give the Meteorite its out-of-this-world shape.

Krista Keltanen

The Meteorite’s interior is clad in spruce from floor to ceiling, and the homeowner, Ulla-Maaria Koivula, furnished the living areas with hand-selected works by Finnish designers. The dining area features a built-in corner sofa designed by Ateljé Sotamaa, with slipcovers and pillows by Klaus Haapaniemi & Co.

Krista Keltanen

More est of 2021 stories:

The 10 Teeniest Tiny Homes of 2021

The 10 Most Inspiring Stories of 2021