Category Archives: Shelter


Comfort Inn Shelters

The thought of living in a long term shelter may not bring up an image of comfort, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to live comfortably in a long term shelter. (Pardon the triple negative.)

First, consider which type of shelter you’ll be residing in. Details such as the shape of your shelter will strongly affect how comfortable it will be.

  • “Tee-pee” shelters are ideal for areas with frequent storms, cold weather, and low pressure fronts because they allow you to keep warm with a fire in your shelter, and keep the smoke level high. The catch, however, is that the extra space requires a larger fire (and more fuel) to keep the floor temperature comfortable.
  • “Wig-wams” or shelters with a dome shape have lower ceilings and keep heat closer, but smoke can fill the interior and that’s not safe or comfortable. Some steps can be taken to prevent this from happening, such as having a smoke flap open into the wind and by using smaller logs in a tee-pee shape to keep your fire burning clean and evenly.

Dome shelters are ultimately more comfortable for one person or a group of people. A practical (and cozy) interior focuses on specific areas, including:


Doorways that are extended a meter or more away from the shelter allow for two doors. The outside door can be well sealed to preserve interior warmth; and an interior door or flap will further minimize drafts. Also, the space between is a good place to keep muddy or icy shoes.

Fire Pits

An effective fire pit should be approximately 15 centimeters deep at the center, and slope up to floor level. When building a fire on flat ground, a ring of rocks or dirt can help contain coals and ash but this is not necessary with a fire pit and it may reduce the heat you’ll feel at floor level.


A comfortable bed can be made by creating a rectangle of logs or stakes and filling the inside with pine needles, grass, or dry leaves. The filling should be at least 20 centimeters thick after compression, and this will keep you well insulated from the ground.

The best beds can be built at least 30 centimeters off the floor by pounding stakes into the ground, lashing a frame onto the stakes, and making a solid platform on top of the frame which is covered by the previously described bedding materials, then stuffing the same into the space underneath the platform. The filling underneath does not need to be compressed, but it will hold heat better and lead to a cozy nights’ sleep. (Alternatively, you can use the space underneath your bed for storage.)

Tables & Workbenches

Using the same steps (without the insulation) you can build tables and workbenches for preparing food, storing materials, or working on skills.


If you have the choice, cooking is best done over a fire outside, and should always be done over coals or hot rocks instead of flames.



How to Make a Snow Pit

In the winter time, it’s a waste of energy to dig through a layer of snow trying to get to the debris and build a leaf hut. A more practical solution in the colder months would be a snow shelter, or a snow pit.

Here’s how to make one:

  1. Choose a good location near your materials and start digging a pit. The shape doesn’t matter, but some prefer rectangular pits because they are easier to cover.
  2. Rather than trying to carry armloads of snow, try to kick it out because it is very important to stay as dry as possible.
  3. If possible, dig all the way to the ground, leaving enough space for bedding and enough room to prop up on an elbow. The best depth for a snow pit is approximately four feet, or deeper if you plan on building a small fire for warmth.
  4. On the bottom, spread out at least six inches of leaves everywhere except the fire area.
  5. Create a roof over your snow pit using a thick layer of branches, and cover this with snow. Plan for an air vent through the brush and snow.
  6. Create a tunnel on one side of the shelter, and fill it with as much insulating material as you can collect.
  7. Plug the door with a block of snow and rest for the night, away from the wind and cold winter air.
Learn To Improvise Insulation

Learn To Improvise Insulation

Learn To Improvise InsulationPracticing survival skills is important for preparedness, and one must always consider the worst possible case scenario. So envision for a moment that you are out for a hike on a beautiful day, and the weather dramatically drops to a sudden cold environment. You weren’t dressed for this, obviously, and have quite the distance between your current location and shelter. You’re worried about your survival… here’s what to do in this situation.

Utilize the natural vegetation around you as insulation, by stuffing it into your clothes and footwear. Look for light, fluffy fibers. Obviously you’re not bothered by fashion or looks, what matters is survival skills. Down from cattails or thistle, dead leaves or grass and even bark fiber will all work wonderful as insulation material to keep you warm.

These survival skills can be practiced in other environments as well. If this emergency situation were to happen in the city, you would simply use newspaper or cardboard for the same insulating effect.

The trick behind emergency insulation is to use material that creates dead air space which will keep your body warm, even better if that warmth can be maintained when getting wet is unavoidable. Maintaining body heat is one of the most important concerns with survival skills, and understanding how to create insulation in an emergency is an important step.

Make an insulated vest

This will require repurposing two old t-shirts. Simply cut off the sleeves and sew the remaining portions together to form a double vest, leaving an opening near the neck which you can use to stuff with cattail down before sewing up the top. In the spring, you’ll want to dump out the old stuffing, wash, and re-stuff but you will have an effective insulated vest for… free.


See Also


build a teepee

Survival Shelter: How To Make A Teepee

completed teepeeTo assemble rapidly a teepee shelter you need to have the following items:

  • rain poncho or tarp,
  • hand axe or knife,
  • at least 3 saplings or branches 1.5-2 meters long,
  • rope

Step By Step Instructions

  1. Cross one of the samplings ends over another and lash together loosely.
  2. Lash the third sapling to the others loosely. The poles should stand on their own by forming a tripod as soon as they are secured with each other.
  3. Set up the tripod so that the saplings are evenly spaced.
  4. Add more saplings to make a more compact structure.
  5. Cut some pine boughs and bundle grasses utilizing rope, lasth these bundles to the saplings. Pine boughs if laid with the needles pointing down will shed water.
  6. teepee skeletonPlace your poncho or tarp over the sides, covering the peak.
  7. Bundle much more pine or grasses and place them on the floor inside the teepee to provide an insulating ground cover.
Snow Covered Evergreens of Idaho

A Guide To Insulation For Warmth

Keeping warm in the cold weather is a critical survival skill. Like any skill, understanding is root to mastering.

To begin with, here are the 5 leading cause of loss of body heat

  1. Radiation is an invisible energy emitted objects, which can be reflected back to the body by a shiny or light-colored surface.
  2. The transfer of heat from one molecule to another is called conduction. When you touch a warm hand to a cold object, for example, the heat will leave your hand and warm the object. To minimize this type of body heat loss, use insulation that contains “dead air space: and thick material.
  3. Convection is a type of body heat loss that happens when the warm layer of air next to the skin is carried away, usually by wind. To prevent this, wear clothing that is dense enough to contain the warm air and prevent the wind from reaching your skin.
  4. When trapped perspiration evaporates, this cools the layer of air next to the skin. The best way to minimize this problem is to have proper ventilation before you sweat.
  5. Respiration is the process where we inhale cold air and exhale warm air, and there’s not much which can be done about that.

Here are some types of insulation to minimize loss of body warmth

Natural Insulation includes down, which comes from the undercoat of waterfowl and is widely regarded as a powerfully effective material for insulation. However, when down gets wet it will lost up to 95% of its’ value and takes a very long time to dry. For that reason, down clothing is not the best option for practicing survival skills.

A better option for natural insulation is wool, which will retain up to 95% of its’ warmth even when wet.

Synthetic insulation options that are effective for practicing survival skills in snowy conditions include: fiber pile, Polarguard, Quallogil, Thinsulate, Softique, and Tex-O-Lite.

Almost all of these types of insulated clothing should be encased in some type of shell (usually nylon or another synthetic material) with wool and Fiberpile being the only exceptions.

Here are some extra tips on insulation:

  1. Be sure to wring out wet clothes as soon as possible, so they will dry quicker. Wet clothes will conduct heat away from your body.
  2. Two light sweaters are better than one heavy sweater, because the layer of air trapped between them will add more insulation.
  3. Remove a few layers of clothing when you begin to swear, to prevent evaporation from cooling the skin.
  4. Up to half of your body warmth can be lost through the head, so be sure to wear a hat!
  5. If you are caught in extremely cold weather conditions, the best survival practice is to stuff your pant legs into your socks, fill your pants with debris that will create dead air space, tuck your shirt into your pants and fill your shirt as well.

See Also

Winter Camping

5 Great Camping Videos On YouTube

Camping is an extremely popular activity enjoyed by many across the globe. Surrounded by nature’s vibrant beauty amidst a peaceful, restful ambience, it is no surprise that so many people have fallen in love with this activity. Here are 5 great camping videos on YouTube which provide beginners and advanced campers alike with fantastic tips and showcase the beauty of the outdoors.


1- Keeping Warm at Night

For campers ready to venture deep into the wilderness, this video provides great tips on keeping warm. There is nothing worse than shivering throughout the night, desperately craving the comforts of home. This video will prepare campers for their outdoor experience, ensuring that they stay warm, dry and comfortable whilst camping. From tucking trousers into socks to wearing a woolly hat, these basic tips are essential for campers wanting to keep cosy. Also supplying viewers with handy little tricks, such as laying leaves under the mattress for extra comfort, this video is a must for those ready to brave the unknown!

2-  Family Camping

Families wanting to try out camping for the first time should definitely watch YouTube’s Family Camping clip. Informing beginners on the in’s and out’s of camping, this video shows parents exactly what to think about when planning a family camping trip. From buying a tent with a single large sleeping compartment (so that the whole family can sleep together), to looking at what facilities campsites offer, this video breaks down the basics of braving it under canvas. Less than six minutes long, viewers will be left with a much better idea of what camping consists of after watching this short, direct video.


3-  The Beginners Guide to camping

Told in a comedic fashion, this light-hearted camping video provides beginners with a few, simple tips. With information on how to set up a tent and even create a fire The Beginners Guide to Camping is perfect for those ready to depart on their first camping experience. Addressing essential issues such as who will make each meal, this video gets a camper thinking about every single detail so that they are well and truly prepared for their holiday.

4-  Camping in Comfort

Providing advanced camping tips, this video is ideal for regular and experienced campers. For those familiar with life in the bush, this video dives into greater detail, such as pointing viewers towards the best forms of insulation whilst camping. From using real fur to taking a carry mat, many options of to stay insulated are discussed. The video then goes on to discuss the best fabrics and materials that can be used to ensure campers stay warm and dry, day and night. Filmed from his tent, narrator Andrew Price shows great knowledge and insight into the camping life.



Filmed by a first-hand camper, this video shows viewers exactly what the camping lifestyle is like. From showing viewers his means of drinking water to providing tips on how to make a fire, this video allows ambitious campers to get a great feel for this outdoor activity. Visually showing viewers the intense beauty of nature that surrounds the camping life, the video radiates an exciting and adventurous ambience, which is felt by the viewer. A great video to watch, this short, YouTube clip will have campers feeling ready and excited in a matter of minutes.


These five, great camping videos on YouTube, provide campers with both basic and advanced tips. From learning how to get a fire started in the wilderness to supplying tips on camping with children, these videos are great for campers of all abilities. After watching these videos, campers will be prepared and ready to enjoy their camping experience!


An article by Maria Hubbard, a keen outdoor blog writer and travel enthusiast. Maria enjoys travelling, camping and hiking and writes on behalf of Outdoor World Direct, a specialist camping website who have many different tents for sale including those from Vango.

Image Credits:  AlphaTangoBravo/Adam Baker and Britanglishman

survival shelter: debris hut

Survival Shelter: How To Build A Debris Hut

In a survival situation, particularly during raw weather, the single most vital action you can take, is to construct a shelter. During cold weather, you require heat and protection from elements and in hot weather, you need cover for the sun and rainfall.

Should you be in a natural area which has debris on to the ground, like a coniferous forest, a broadleaf forest or even just grasslands, the debris hut is among the best shelter to keep you warm and dry.

The debris hut is simply a structure of twigs, sticks and branches covered and stuffed with forest debris such as leaves, conifer boughs and grasses. A thick and dense covering of debris both insulate and block wind. The insulation value of leaves is comparable to that of wool. By creating tiny pockets of dead air warmed by your body heat, a pile of leaves helps you stay warm even if wet. The outer layer of sticks that keeps the debris in place works as a shingle to shed rain.

In essence, the debris hut is at the same time a sleeping bag and a tent.

Debris Hut Drawbacks

  • It takes a lot of time to build: 2 up to 6 hours of work, depending on location and weather conditions.
  • It does not have space for storing and working. As remedy, you can build an awning.
  • You will need a couple of nights to become accustomed to and enjoy the debris hut.

Debris Hut Advantages

  • You can construct a debris hut in most environments.
  • It is reliable in most weather conditions.
  • You can build a debris hut without tools.
  • It can be a wonderful project to do together with your kids.
  • It requires minimal to no maintenance.
  • It needs no external source of heat, you’re the heat source.

Detailed Steps

Step 1: Shelter Location

Invest some time to choose the right place: a good location improves the quality of your stay. Also it’s smart to look for roots or rocks that might be uncomfortable to rest on.

Step 2: Debris Hut Measures

You have to build your debris hut just large enough to fit you, particularly in cold weather, because you’ll heat it using your body heat. In warmer weather, you can make your shelter more ample. In general, a small shelter can save you irreplaceable time and energy.

Start by laying down and measure using the following hints:

  • The ribbing base will be placed one span away on either side of your body. Place a twig straight into the ground one span away from each shoulder. A span is the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger.
  • To define the height of the higher end, roll onto your left side. Place a vertical branch to mark one span over your right shoulder, you’ll remove it after placing the ridge pole.
  • To set the height of the lower end, place a vertical stick, 5 centimeters longer than your feet, near the soles of your feet.
  • Mark on the ground the door position. It should face east or slightly southeast to capture the first rays of the sun. Make an effort to position the entry away from the wind. Wind and rain blowing in the direction of the entrance will steal the heat from your shelter.

Remember: taking precise measurements is crucial for a comfortable night.

Step 3: Clear The Ground

Clean the shelter location from debris. At a later point you’ll be stuffing it with leaves, but for now this sends away insects. It also aids to dry out the shelter floor.

Step 4: Collect Insulation Materials

Collect debris (pine needles, leaves, bark) for insulation. This is the most important step because if you’re in a rush or the weather gets worse you can build a Squirrel Nest, a simpler shelter that I’ll detail in a future post but it is essentially a pile of leaves you burrow in.

It’s better to gather more than you think you will need. As a rule of thumb, collect debris until you think you have enough and then start to collect the same amount.

To collect leaves and debris, you can use your hands or a branch as a rake. Start away from your shelter location and move your piles closer.

Step 5: Collect Frame Materials (ridge pole, tripod stakes, ribs)

You have to find a ridge pole, the key beam of your shelter. It needs to be long at least 1.5 times your height and sturdy enough to hold your weight. Be certain that there aren’t any termites or other critters already using it as a home.

Search for something to hold the ridge pole above the ground. The height should be a little taller than you are where you are sitting. You can use as support anything sufficiently strong such as a tree with a forked branch, rock or a tree stump. If you can’t find anything, it is possible to lash two poles together to make an A-frame.

Collect a lot of sticks from thumb to wrist diameter that you’ll lay against the ridge pole as ribbing. Instead of making numerous travels to collect sticks, bundle then together using cordage, your belt or a green branch.

Step 6: Set the Ridge Pole

Secure the ridge pole to the support. The ridge pole should run from the support to the ground, passing from the vertical sticks you have placed during the measurement step.
It is crucial that your ridge pole doesn’t extend too much past the support. This keeps water from dripping down the ridge pole and into your shelter.

Step 7: Prepare the Entrance

Place 4 forked sticks into the ground at the desired height, and cover the top with sticks. This tunnel should be at least 1 meter long: when you’ll go to sleep you’ll pack this ample space with leaves.

Step 8: Lay the Ribbing

Lean large sticks, close together, against each side of your ridge pole at 45+ degree angle to make a tent-like framework. The steep angle is wonderful for shedding water and moisture.
Be sure the ribbing is wide enough to accommodate your body as defined in the measurement step. It’s advisable to routinely enter and check it for size.

Lay finer sticks and brush in a cross hatch way over the ribbing. The reason is to prevent the insulating material (leaves, pine needles, and grass) from dropping through the ribbing into the shelter.

Pack the dirt against the ribbing. In this way you block the wind that would normally slip in underneath your shelter.

Step 9:  Cover

Start piling on debris, covering the entire shelter, until the insulating wall is at least 1 meter thick (in cold weather). In warmer time 50 centimetres seems to do the trick.

In case of a leak, you have to patch your insulating layer. I recommend that you have a huge pile of debris just outside your shelter.

Step 10: Add a Shingling Layer

As last step in constructing the framework, add shingling material such as bark or branches on top of the insulating material. This helps to keep the debris layer from blowing away.

Step 11: Prepare The Bed

The bare ground can drain your body heat very quickly. To avoid this drawback, stuff the interior with a 30 centimeters layer of insulating material. Try to choose stuff that is comfortable.

After few weeks, the bedding leaves will be grind into powder. It is important to regularly remove the leaves, pack them on top of the debris hut, and collect new ones for the bed.

For the first times, I highly recommend that you use a sleeping bag. Once familiar with sleeping in a debris hut, you can start using just leaves. Keep in mind that exposure is an authentic hazard in the outdoors. Train your shelter building skills with backups and warm weather until you have a good understanding.

Step 12: Add a Door

There are 2 simple ways to build a door for the debris hut shelter:

  • At the entrance, pile a heap of leaves that you compress with your arms and drag to you once inside the shelter. Once pressure is released, the pile of leaves expands closing the entrance.
  • Another option, it is to build a door. Build two grids, weaving green sticks or lashing finger size dead branches. Sandwich debris between the 2 grids, and Lash the grids together.


As for all the other survival skills, the key is to practice before you need. The first times you’ll make errors. For example, the water will run along the ridge pole and into the shelter or the wind will push the smoke of your fire inside your shelter. All of these failures will be your teachers. If you listen to them you’ll quickly learn precious lessons and save you a lot of misery.

survival shelter location

Survival Shelter: How To Find The Best Location

If you’re planning to make or locate a survival shelter, make sure you choose a proper site. Devote some time to pick a place: a great site can protect you from weather conditions such as rain and wind.
Before starting to search or build a shelter, go through the following rules.

Away from Water

Early morning dew and generally fog stay for a longer time near a body of water because the water gets warm less rapidly compared to the surroundings, as a consequence the air is humid and the land is damp. Remember that wet terrain depletes your body heat easier than dry terrain.

Make sure that your shelter is far from any water sources that could flood. Search for drainage marks. If you can, go for a place somewhat above the adjacent area so that water flows away from your shelter.

Be aware of flash floods, unexpected and violent stream of water that transform a dry river bed into a furious torrent. Watch out for high water signs, including water marks on rocks or plants and flowers trapped by flowing water high in bushes or trees.

Another reason to stay away from water is to avoid pollute water with feces, food scraps and garbage. Also, if you place your camp near water, you’ll have mosquito problems.

In most cases, 50 meters from water is a safe distance to build a shelter.

Away from Hazard

Be cautious about lightning hazards. Despite the fact that you need to make your rescue signals on an exposed ridge, actually building a shelter on such ground is definitely a lightning risk.

Check dead branches or trees that could fall and damage your shelter. Also stay away from other hazards, such as places with potential rock, mud slides or avalanches. A good example of an avalanche area is a strip without trees on a mountain side. An instance of a rockfall area is a loose cone-shaped rocky debris pile at the base of a mountain.

Be sure that the area you finally choose is without any poisonous plants or insect nests, such as ant colony or wasp’s nests.

In The Margin

Search for a location on the edge of two distinct environments. Between a forest and a field is an ideal position. Thick forests are shady areas that shield the heat of the sun’s rays, even on warm days. If you choose the center of a field to place your shelter, you’ll miss natural wind protection.

Near Resources

To be able to build a good shelter, your chosen location should have an adequate amount of building material. If you have to transport the resources a long way, you are going to deplete more energy than you can afford.

Remember: a great location can enhance a survival shelter even if improperly built while an inadequate location diminish the quality of a wonderful shelter.


The Reasons Why You Must Build a Survival Shelter

Why You Need a Survival Shelter

If you are lost in the wilderness and have decided to stay there, your main concern is to discover or build a survival shelter. In general shelter is overlooked, or at best sacrificed on the scale of priorities. In a survival scenario it’s good to keep in mind the Rule of 3:

“You Cannot Survive
Longer Than Three Minutes Without Air
Longer Than Three Hours Without Shelter
Longer Than Three Days Without Water
Longer Than Three Weeks Without Food.”

Without being absolute these pointers are practical guidelines and correctly emphasize the necessity for shelter. Proper protection from weather conditions comes second only to breathing.

  • Enhance Morale. A survival shelter helps to give you and your fellows a more positive mood and a good night’s sleep.
  • Offer Protection from Animals. Despite the fact that animals aren’t usually dangerous, you wouldn’t like them running over you while sleeping.
  • Prevent Insect Bites. Nasty flying bugs such as mosquitoes and black flies, in big amounts, might drive you nuts, degrading your outdoor experience.
  • Protect from Sun and Slow Down Thirst. A shelter protection decreases the water usage and lowers the risk of heat illnesses and dehydration. You can build a cooling shelter in the sand on a beach or desert or perhaps be offered by a tree.
  • Shelter from Rain or Snow. Staying wet can make you actually feel cold and can result in hypothermia and feeling hopeless.
  • Make You Stay Warm. A shelter assists you to preserve your body heat, decreasing the consequence of wind and air currents. Body heat isn’t lost as quickly by the body in motionless air.

To sum up: a survival shelter gives you protection. Defense against climate and wildlife. Without having a shelter chances are you’ll freeze in cold weather, fall victim to heat illness in hot climate or become meal for a predator. Shelter may come in a variety of types, for instance caverns, trees or man-made constructions.

The kind of survival shelter to construct varies according to the gear and materials accessible, the season of the year, as well as the duration of the stay. Using the available materials, a good solid shelter may be built during any time of year and under any circumstances.
Your ease and ability to construct a survival shelter will be based upon your effort and skill at improvising a framework using the obtainable materials. In future posts I’ll describe an array of survival shelters, with various degrees of required skills, for virtually any period of the year.