The Pack Report

How to Build a Survival Shelter in the Wilderness

If you ever find yourself getting caught up exploring the great outdoors in the wilderness, time will proceed quickly and nightfall and dusk will emerge out of complete anonymity. During the realization that you may need to spend the night in the vast and boundless wild, attempting to assimilate a survival shelter without rationality and the proper knowledge of building a secure shelter could lead to stress, anxiety, and maybe even fear of how the entirety of your night in the middle of the forest may transpire. There are countless means of exposure within the open woods that could prevent you from sleeping comfortably throughout your experience of surviving in the middle of the wilderness during the dark hours, including; inclement weather (rain, coldness, wind), pesky bugs, animals, etc. So having the capabilities and comprehension of the proper ways to construct a survival shelter is not only beneficial but is a skill that everyone should be able to implement. Here is how to build different kinds of survival shelters in the wilderness.

First Step

In order to successfully build a survival shelter in the middle of the wilderness, you will need to establish a site that has the ability to transform into your home for the night. You will want to obtain an area that is nice and dry, flat, high up away from any water, and that is in a prime location that would have the sustainability to keep a fire in front of your shelter. You will want to refrain from sheltering underneath cliffs, large boulders, dead tree limbs, or anything that could possibly fall from above. Depending on whether you are in need of possibly being located or not, construct your shelter in either a highly detectable or much-concealed location. Make sure to be aware of the weather around you, if there is a possibility for rain and you cannot locate a high, dry, and flat surface to assemble your structure, you will need to dig trenches surrounding your shelter in order to evade flooding.

Second Step

You will have to assess the environment of your situation, needs, and goals for the night of adventure while sheltering in the organic and natural world of the wilderness. This could be argued as the most important step, and it is important to maintain a clear, focused, and calm mind and understanding when preparing your survival shelter. Think of questions like; how much time do you have to build your shelter before the sun sets? How many people do you have to shelter? What are the weather patterns going to impose upon you? Does your shelter need to be camouflaged? Do you need to be found/located? What gear do you have that will help within the construction of your shelter? How chilly will nightfall be? Will your shelter be used as a long-term protector or a short-term means of refuge?

Third Step

Having recognition of the different types of survival shelters and the accurate circumstances of implementing each one will be beneficial and bring ease within your ability to properly produce a successful survival shelter. Here are a few examples of survival shelters that could be of fortune to within the warm summer months of our year.

The Simple Tarp Lean-To

This shelter works with an A-frame design that cuts it in half, this is a very simplistic design of creation that is easy to implement within the wilderness. All you need is a tarp (or even poncho if desperate) and some cordage or sticks. Tie the cord upon two trees that are a good distance apart from each other and fold the tarp over the rope. Stake in one half of the tarp to the ground to ensure closure, however, the other half will continue to be exposed. This shelter design is great for a warm summer’s night, but will not protect you from heavy rain or any other natural exposure. This shelter is quick, straightforward, and perfect for large groups of people with fires in front of the shelter, but does not allow for much protection and could easily break down with harsh weather conditions.

The Tarp Tent

This creation is almost like the Tarp Lean-To design, however, you will stake both halves of the tarp into the ground. Find two trees that are relatively close and a measurable distance from each other, and tie a rope between the two trees. Then, fold your tarp over the rope and stake all four corners of the tarp into the ground or use rocks to secure your tarp to the ground, creating a tent-like creation. The Tarp Tent establishment is quick and easy to build, protecting you from the rain and getting wet, however, it only creates moderate protection from other outside elements, including animals, rough wind, and could possibly break easily.

Tarp Teepee (With and Without Poles)

The Tarp teepee design is perfect for larger groups of people and keeping harsh elements away from the group, and it is possible to have a fire inside the teepee for extra warmth if needed. To make a Tarp Teepee with poles (or sticks), gather the supplies needed (large tarp) and arrange your poles (sticks) into a teepee formation, tying them together. Then, wrap your tarp around the poles (sticks), if you want to refrain from rain getting into your Tarp Teepee, cover the opening at the top and if you want to implement a fire within your teepee, make the opening at the top larger depending on the circumstance.

To make produce a Tarp Teepee shelter without poles (sticks), fold your large tarp into a triangular shape and put a rock into the tarp where it is the pointy end of the triangle. Then, tie some rope or cordage around the rock to fascine it all together, hang it from a tree, and anchor the ends of the tarp to the ground, making a teepee design without poles or sticks. Note: Both of these designs are difficult to accomplish on your first try, so make sure to practice heavily both of these situations before trying to do it when in need of shelter.

Debris Lean-To

Find a long and sturdy branch and tie it two tall trees that are a good distance away from each other. Once the frame is in-tact, find smaller debris and branches to prop up into the main large branch that is tied to the trees. This shelter can be complicated when tying the larger branch onto the two trees, and also is not very warm and wind can be a determining factor. However, it is pretty simple to make and will make for a good short-term shelter.

A-Frame Brush Shelter

This is an easy shelter to produce with the elements found around your surrounding area, find a durable and sturdy branch (that is a few feet longer than you), and prop one of the edges against a tree or both edges on two smaller branches creating an A-shape outline. Find smaller branches and sticks to prop up from the ground onto your main, sturdy branch. After developing your frame, use excess debris and material found around your site for coverage and protection to finalize your shelter.

Debris Teepee Shelter

This design is just like the A-Frame Brush Shelter shown above but in the format of a teepee. Gather lots of long branches and start building the frame for a teepee, this shelter will allow the space for many people to fit inside, however, this structure will not encapsulate heat well requires a lot of natural material that will need to be scavenged.

Fallen Tree Shelter

The Fallen Tree Shelter is a super easy design if you happen to stumble upon a tree that fell in a safe location. All you have to do is pile up fallen and excess debris onto the area of the fallen tree that you will be using for the main source of your shelter. You can implement your tarp into this design as well, by covering the complied debris with your tarp for extra security and coverage. This is a simple design that uses its bulk of design with natural materials that can be easily found within the wilderness. Also, this shelter can be adapted in many ways and built to fit as many people as there are within your group. The Fallen Tree Shelter is adjustable, situational, and easily transformable for any given situation.

Hammock Survival Shelter

This design is as easy and simple as it sounds, all you need is your trusty hammock and a tarp for coverage. Hang your hammock between two trees that have a good distance between them, using ropes or cords to tie the tarp to those two trees above your hammock. This will keep you high off the ground and dry, although there will not be too much protection from other outside elements and cannot fit more than one or two people (depending on the size of your hammock).

It is important to get some good practice of making these shelter designs before exploring and trekking into the wilderness, just in case of a situation where you might be in need of producing a shelter, you are able to stay calm, focused, and construct a survival shelter swiftly and efficiently. If you have any other shelter designs that you have implemented before with easy efforts, let us know at [email protected].

Happy building, friends!

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