How To Keep Your Food Cool In The Outdoors

There are various of methods for preserving food and keep it cool in summer. In the outdoor the most practical methods are:

  • evaporation
  • pit coolers

Pit Coolers

  • Dig a pit 50 centimetres large and 90 centimetres deep in the ground, in a shady location.
  • Support the sides of the pit by placing thin branches or wide bark strips.
  • Fill half of the pit with pebbles from a stream bed or tiny rocks of any type.
  • Twice a day pour 2-3 buckets of water onto the pebbles and place the food containers on the top of them.
  • To protect from the above ground heat, carefully cover the surface of this storage pit with soaked newspaper sandwiched between two layers of wet cloth.

This kind of cooler may have an inner temperature of around 10° C below the outside air temperature.

Evaporation Methods

To make an evaporation cooler:

  • Place the container that will contain the spoilable food over few flat stones inside a stream
  • As a precaution, weight down the container with rocks.
  • Pack food which can be spoiled by water in waterproof containers before placing in the cooler.
  • Use a cloth to cover the container so that the ends hang down into the stream, absorbing water to maintain the container and its contents cool.

You can make another type of evaporation cooler by hanging a small container under a bucket suspended from a tree.

  • Fill the bucket with water, cover the bucket with a large cloth and sink it to the bottom of the bucket by putting a heavy rock in its center.
  • Drap the ends of the cloth over the sides of the bucket and down over the food container directly below, which is kept fresh by evaporation, assisted by any air flow which is blowing.


In Case of an Earthquake: What You Need to Know and Why

In school, many young students are taught a few basics about an earthquake:

  • There’s a lot of shaking going on from under the ground.
  • It’s caused when two big plates under the layers of the earth suddenly bump into each other.
  • Their jagged edges get stuck on the fractures of the fault line, releasing huge vibrations.

In adult terms, an earthquake occurs through the constant motion of the earth’s surface. This motion produces buildup and releases stress stored in rocks at and near the earth’s surface. Earthquakes are the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth as this energy is let go.

The bizarre thing, is that an earthquake doesn’t usually last more than one minute, but can leave so much destruction behind and loss of life in those mere 60 seconds.

Probably the most frightening aspect is that you never know when one is coming. Scientists have tried in every possible way to predict an earthquake’s arrival, but at this time, the experts have been unsuccessful.

That means, preparation is of utmost importance.

Before An Earthquake

  1. Put together an earthquake survival kit.
    • Experts say you should have enough supplies for three days, should such a disaster strike.
    • Telephones, running water, and other basics will probably not be working.
    • Have a gallon of water per person each day.
    • Pack away food that doesn’t require much but a can opener, or foods that you don’t have to heat up.
    • Have a basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
    • Add a solar/hand-crank powered flashlight, weather band radio, & USB device charger that doesn’t require batteries for keeping smart phones up and running.
    • Have blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, clothing, and cash on hand, and a few tools for repairs.
    • Also pack such items in the trunk of the car, should an earthquake hit while you are traveling away from your home.
  2. Learn how to shut off water, gas, and electricity.
  3. Anchor very heavy items to the walls or floors, including furniture, major appliances, and cupboards.
  4. Think about purchasing earthquake insurance. Have this discussion with your agent.
  5. Have a plan on where to meet up with family after an earthquake strikes should you become separated.

During An Earthquake

  1. If you are outoors, stay there and get into an open area. Do not be near power lines or buildings that could topple.
  2. If you are indoors, stay indoors. Drop, cover, and hold on! Stand against an interior wall, or hide under a table. Do not be near glass, windows, mirrors, fireplaces, or tall furniture.
  3. If you are driving, stop the car, parking away from bridges, overpasses, trees, structures, power lines, etc. Stay in the car.
  4. If you are in the mountains, watch out for landslides, which can develop. Do not stand near cliffs or uneasy slopes. Get away from trees and try to look for open space.
  5. If you are at the beach, get to higher ground, because an earthquake can cause a tsunami to develop.

After An Earthquake

  1. When the shaking stops…. Check for injuries and administer first aid to those who need it.
  2. Turn on the radio. Try landlines and smart phones.
  3. Check if there are any downed power lines or fires burning. For small fires, use the fire extinguisher to put them out.
  4. Look at the gas, electric, and water lines for damage. If you find damage, shut down the valves. If you smell gas, turn the valve off and open the windows and door and leave. Report it it to authorities immediately.
  5. Check your home for structural damage. Be very careful around broken glass, big cracks in the floors and debris. Put on your emergency kit boots or sturdy shoes on to walk around in.
    Aftershocks will probably happen. Be alert.

Even if you don’t live in an earthquake risk area, you should be prepared about this unsettling, powerful act of nature, should you travel on vacation or business, and happen to be present when an earthquake strikes.

Statistics show that about 120 destructive earthquakes occur per year. That’s one every 3 days. Incredible, when you think about it. Be prepared!

sunshine health benefits

Eight Benefits of Sunshine

All things in nature thrive when given proper amounts of sunshine. It is estimated that we spend 90% of our time indoors out of the heat and sunshine during the summer months. Just like plants wither up and die without sunshine, we do too. We need sunshine to regulate our moods, lower stress levels, help us sleep, and over all just help us to be healthier people.

  1. Boosts the immune system, aides in weight loss, and speeds up the metabolism.
  2. Lowers stress levels. Chances are that you know already that stress is hard on you, both physically and mentally. Sunshine is one way to lower your stress levels and provide a multitude of other health benefits. If you are feeling stressed about life, try going outside and just laying down in the sunshine, going for a walk or working outside.
  3. Increases your levels of deep sleep at night. Spending time outside during the day in the sunshine can help your brain figure out when it needs to sleep and when it should wake up. Getting your schedule figured out can help you sleep better at night. Also if you are doing active things outside during the day you are much more likely to sleep well at night.
  4. Increases bone, muscle and heart strength. If you struggle with a heart condition or poor bone health you should spend a lot of time outdoors soaking up the sunshine and fresh air. It can transform your life.
  5. Reduces your chances of developing cancer. Now this one can go both ways, if you get sunburned badly you almost double your chances of getting skin cancer, but if you can manage to spend time outside and not get burned you lower your risks.
  6. Lowers your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. Not only are you more likely to be doing some kind of physical exercise when you are outside enjoying the sunshine, but you also lower your risks by increasing your levels of vitamin D.
  7. It help alleviate depression. Sunshine is natural mood booster and can help eliminate symptoms of depression such as sleepiness, sadness, and irritability.
  8. Can help with acne or other skin problems. Sunshine helps the skin to heal naturally and is recommended for any type of skin outbreaks or rashes.

Now that you have read that list, doesn’t it make you want to run outside and soak up some rays? Go ahead, take a break from your busy life for 15 minutes and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.



Outdoor Survival: How To Start Fire With A Pop Can And Chocolate

Extreme situations call for extreme solutions. If you happen to find yourself in an outdoor survival emergency and have a pop can and a chocolate bar you’re in luck. You can make fire. That’s right, with a pop can, a chocolate bar, and tinder you can find at your location (and may even have in your pocket) you can start a fire even with no lighter as long as you have some sun. Read on to learn how simple this process is and how it could save your life in an emergency.

Materials You Need For A Pop Can Fire Starter

You can use any pop can. What you want is the bottom of the can, which you are going to turn into a reflective mirror-like surface by polishing it with chocolate. You will also need a chocolate wrapper, or bit of cloth such as a torn piece of denim or an abrasive wrapper. In addition, you need pocket lint or other tinder to catch the reflected heat from your pop can. Then you need to prep the materials and wait for the sun to come out.

How To Polish Your Pop Can Fire Starter

It’s actually easier to polish the pop can if it’s full – so save that precious liquid until later. Unwrap the end of your chocolate bar and smear it liberally over the bottom of the pop can. If it’s too hard, you can warm the chocolate it by placing it in your pocket for about 10 minutes first. You will be using the chocolate as a polish, but the denim, wrapper or piece of torn cloth you will be using to rub in a circular motion is very important. This is creating an abrasive force which will polish your dull aluminum can into a mirror-like reflective finish.

You want a clear finish free of chocolate when you’re done, but you will need to add chocolate and move your cloth around to get more abrasion over time. If there’s sand nearby you can add some in periodically to help with the shining process. In general it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to get a good reflective surface going but the end result is well worth the effort.

How To Use Your Pop Can Fire Starter To Create Flame

Once your pop can is polished, you will need a source of tinder. However, before your get that first spark igniting you will need to collect dry branches, pine boughs, and items such as thrush, grasses, cat-o-nine tail fluff or birch and oak galls to burn. When you have your wood and grasses stacked to create the fire, it’s time to drink your pop and seek the sun.

Hold the empty, polished bottom of your pop can up to the sunlight tilted at an angle where it will reflect the sun. In front of the “bowl” of the pop can you will need to hold a piece of tinder. Paper from inside the wrapper can catch fire, or you can use a cat-o-nine tail fluff, dried grasses, or your pocket lint if nothing else is available – wind it around a dry stick and it will catch fast. Since your pop can is essentially a mirror now it will catch the sunlight and begin smoldering or get a spark of fire going. Then all you need to do is to transfer the lit tinder to your fire pile and keep it going by adding in your collected kindling and wood.



family hike

5 Keys to a Safe Family Hike

Summer is here and with it comes an almost endless amount of fun outdoor activities and adventures to try with your family. For many, a favorite summertime activity is the family hike. Though hiking is a highly enjoyable family activity, heading out for the hills unprepared can have seriously bad results. It’s very important to be well-prepared before you head out so that your entire trip remains fun and safe. Below are five of the keys for a safe family hiking trip.

1. Tell Someone Where You’re Going

Even if you aren’t going hiking in a remote area, it is always smart to let a friend or family member know exactly where you are planning to be. Accidents happen, emergencies arise, and weather conditions can change quickly. If something does come up and you need help, then having someone back at home who knows of your general location is instrumental to your survival.

2. Stay on the Trail

When on a family hike, you should never leave the marked trail. For one thing, it is all too easy to become lost if you venture out into the unmarked wilderness. In addition, leaving the trail is harmful to the natural plant and animal life.

3. Bring Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things that you can do when on a family hike, especially in the warm summer months. Always bring enough water for each member of your family – but not too much more than necessary. While it’s never bad to have extra water, it does weigh a lot. A litre weighs in at 1 Kg, so plan accordingly!

4. Wear Comfortable Hiking Shoes

It’s always a smart idea to wear hiking shoes on a hike. While other types of shoes or sneakers will do, they are more likely to leave your feet a blistered and painful mess. It’s especially important to fit your children with a pair of high-quality and comfortable shoes if they are going along for the hike. Children’s feet are especially sensitive and you don’t want to have to carry them down part of the trail after a long day of trekking.

5. Teach Your Children the Dangers of Wild Animals

Even if you’re hiking in a fairly populated area, there is always the chance that you might stumble upon a wild animal. Even animals as relatively tame as raccoons, can be dangerous. Make sure that your children know not to get too close to or feed any sort of animal encountered on the trail. If you are hiking in an area frequented by dangerous animals (bears, wild boar, etc), then take extra time to inform your children what to do in a situation involving one of them.


Family hikes are a great way to spend a summer’s afternoon or a weekend, but preparation is needed. The tips above should ensure that any hike you go on this summer stay fun, and, most importantly, safe.


survival skill skinning

Survival Skills: How To Skin an Animal

The skin of an animal has many uses ranging from being used for warmth, water containers and even cut up for strapping and handles. You are paying respect to the creature by utilising as much of it as you possibly can. Learning how to skin is a very important skill to have and will serve you in many potential situations for both leisure and survival.

Skinning an animal, no matter what its size is basically the same principle and if you follow the same tips here you will be able to use as much of the skin as is possible.

Firstly, you want to place the animal on either a slope or hang it from a tree. Whilst the animal is still warm, you will want to bleed it. Don’t waste the blood as this can be used in cooking, the blood contains many nutrients that you may need to survive.

Once the animal is bled you will want to begin by ensuring your knife is very sharp. When your knife is sharp use it to remove the testicles (if the kill is a male) and any scent glands that may be present which are usually behind the hind legs. These are important to remove as they can quickly deteriorate the meat. Once these have been removed cut the animal straight down the middle of its underside from its rear to the slit in its throat, be very careful not to lacerate any of the internal organs, especially the bladder or intestines. Also cut a neat line from the middle cut down each of the limbs to the knees.

Now cut around the knees in a complete circle on each leg. Once these preliminary cuts are complete you should be able to start removing the skin from the rear legs of the animal using your fingers. The skin should pull away with little effort, just make sure that the skin rolls outward and doesn’t flip inside as this will spread any remaining blood onto the skin. Continue to remove the skin from the body down the body of the animal towards its head and then remove the skin from the forelegs. If you encounter any trouble spots you can use your knife, but be careful as you want a full hide without punctures as the end result.

There will come a time when the internal organs will begin to “spill” out. When this happens do not worry, it’s just gravity at work, now is the time to cut away any internal organs and entrails you want such as the heart, liver or even the stomach for water storage. Any other offal you don’t want should be discarded by being put in the fire or buried. It helps to have dug a hole at the base of where the carcass is hanging so as to avoid handling any potentially poisonous internal organs. If burying the remains, make sure you do so as deeply as possible as many determined animals will dig surprisingly deep to get at it.

By now you should have a full hide from the animal that has come cleanly off. You will want to begin the process drying the hide, to do so hang it from a branch or over a crafted set up you’ve made. Once the skin is reasonably dry you will want to stretch it and begin curing it. Without proper stretching, the elasticity in the skin will cause it to contract and crinkle which will ruin your hard work. To stretch the skin, tie cord or string to several points around the hide and tie the ends of the cord to branches in a tree, make sure there is a lot of tension on the skin so it stretches properly. Now you can use a dull but flat piece of wood or stone to rub the inside of the skin and remove any bits of meat or flesh and remnant muscle or fibre from the hide. Some people like to rub sand or fine soil onto the skin at this point to help with the curing however this isn’t necessary. If you have rendered any animal fat you could use this on the inside of the skin when the fat is melted so that it helps to strengthen it.

Depending on the size of the hide, its thickness and the environmental conditions, the process will vary in time. By the end you will have a dried and perfectly usable hide that you will be able to utilise for many different sources.

survival skille: start a fire

Steps to Make a Fire

Knowing how to start a fire is essential for cooking and keeping warm while exploring the great outdoors.

There are basically two types of fires that campers may build:

  • One type, the tepee fire, is used for cooking food.
  • The other type, the crisscross fire, is best for generating warmth and gathering around for merriment and song.

The steps for both types of fire are the same with the exception of how the logs are positioned once the fire is started.

Remember that fire safety is of utmost importance when building a campfire or a fire in the wilderness. Fires may smolder for days and then burst into huge forest fires that destroy land, homes and even entire neighborhoods – not to mention the potential in loss of life. Fire safety is covered in the last section of the article. Ensure to practice fire safety when building as well as extinguishing an outdoor fire.

As the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts teach young campers, you should always “Leave No Trace” of your fire or even that you have been in the area. Practice fire safety and be kind to Mother Earth when camping and using fire outdoors.

Items You Will Need to Build a Fire

To build a fire, you will need an ignition mechanism, such as a lighter or a wooden match, of course. When exploring the wilderness, wooden matches are great because once you have ignited the fire, you can simply throw the wooden match into the flame to dispose of it.

In addition to an ignition mechanism, you will need:

  • Tinder – Dry pine needles, dried leaves, small twigs and dried bark
  • Kindling – Small sticks around 2.5 centimeters in diameter or smaller
  • Firewood – Larger logs that will provide fuel for the fire
  • Shovel or a Digging Stick
  • Bucket with water. Or if you do not have water near your fire, collect dirt and sand.
  • (Optional) Rocks and stones – to create a fire ring

A fire extinguisher is also a good idea. However, in most cases one will not be available while you are in the wilderness. Make sure to have a bucket of water or dirt handy, though.

Do not use green or fresh cut wood. Green and freshly cut wood will smoke excessively and will not burn well. Select firewood that is dry and approximately 7 to 15 centimeters in diameter. Logs should be no longer than 50 centimeters  in length.

Clear an area of land of any debris, leaves and flammable materials. The best place to build a fire is on a spot of dirt or sand. Make sure there are no tree branches over the fire location.

How To Start a Fire In 10 Easy Steps

  1. Dig a shallow pit 10-15 centimeters deep and 1 meter across.
  2. Arrange the rocks and stones in a circle around the pit to create a fire ring. The fire ring will contain the fire and prevent the fire from spreading into the surrounding grass or ground cover.
  3. Gather the tinder, kindling and firewood and stack into three easy to reach piles near the fire ring. Make sure to keep each of the three types of fuel separate for easy access.
  4. Place a small amount of tinder in the center of the fire ring. A couple of handfuls of tinder, loosely placed in the center of the ring, will do.
  5. Light the tinder with the ignition mechanism (a lighter or wooden match). Position your body with your back blocking the wind while lighting the tinder. If using a wooden match, toss the matchstick onto the small fire.
  6. Slowly pile more tinder onto the fire. Blow on the fire, if needed, to get the tinder to catch the flame.
  7. Slowly add the smaller pieces of kindling to the fire once the tinder is burning. Make sure to keep the kindling pieces close together so that they, too, will catch the flame. Leave small spaces for air to pass through. Do not pack kindling on too fast and do not overload the tinder with kindling pieces. This will extinguish the small fire.
  8. Slowly add larger pieces of kindling to the fire. Soon, the fire will be burning with a visible flame. Once the flame is visible, you may begin to add firewood.
  9. For a teepee fire, build a teepee structure around the burning kindling pile. For a crisscross fire, begin to add the firewood in a crisscross pattern over the burning kindling pile. For the crisscross fire, add one log at a time so that the firewood does not smother the kindling fire.
  10. Add firewood as needed to keep the fire fueled.

Extinguishing the Fire

When you are finished with the fire, you need to take measures to extinguish the fire. Never assume the fire will go out on its own and never, ever leave the fire unattended.

  1. Allow the fire to burn down. If you cannot wait for the fire to burn all of the fuel, douse the fire with buckets of water. Soak any logs that have not burned.
  2. Place your hand where the fire used to be. If there is any warmth whatsoever, continue to douse the spot with water. Touch any partially burned logs to ensure that the fire is not still burning.
  3. Rake the ashes inside the fire ring to ensure the fire is completely out. Again, place your hand on the ground where the fire once was to ensure that the fire is completely out.
  4. Disassemble the fire ring and move the rocks back to their original location. Scatter the ashes and make sure the area looks the same as when you first arrived. Remember, Leave No Trace.

Outdoor Fire Safety

There are a few rules to remember when building a campfire or any type of fire out of doors.

  •  Never build a fire too close to shelters, tents, sleeping bags or anything else that may ignite. This includes overhead branches. Build the fire in a clearing with a dirt or sand floor far away from tents, blankets, clothing or other flammable items.
  • Never use flammable liquids, such as gasoline or lighter fluid, to start an outdoor fire.
  • Keep the fire small. Piling on too many logs may allow the fire to quickly get out of control.

Campfires are a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Use good practice and common sense to ensure that you and everyone around you are safe when enjoying an outdoor fire.


survival skills: hiking

6 Common Hiking Injuries and How To Prepare For Them

Whether you like to hike long distances or in short spurts, you can encounter hazards along the way. Hiking trails are often located in parks and wooded areas where rocks, tree limbs, insects and lack of fresh water can all create problems for hikers.


Even the most experienced hikers can get blisters on their feet. Unfamiliar terrain and inclines add more stress to footgear. Blisters often form on heels, anklebones and on big toes when going downhill. Carry a small sheet of moleskin to cut into shape and apply to the blistered area. This action will allow you to continue your hike without undue discomfort.

Skin Injuries

Another common injury on hiking trails is the skinned knee or elbow. These injuries often occur when hikers neglect to watch the ground as they walk. Tree roots and loose rocks can cause slips and falls that break the skin. Another typical skin injury is from branches that scrape the face and neck. You can find a number of very small first-aid kits small enough to slip into your backpack that contain everything you need to treat scrapes and puncture wounds on the trail. These kits contain a variety of bandage sizes, gauge pads for cleaning wounds and antibiotic ointment in tiny packets. These kits add only a tiny amount of weight to your backpack and can be a big convenience on the trail.


Along with falls, sprains can occur on hikes when you are not paying careful attention to uneven terrain. Sprains can cause pain, tenderness, swelling and discoloration at the site. Carry an ace bandage in your backpack to help support sprained ankles or knees while on the trail. Also, carry a small container of aspirin or ibuprofen to manage pain and inflammation until you get back to civilization.

Insect Bites

Unfortunately, you can never tell when you will run into a stinging insect on hiking trails. Bees, wasps, mosquitoes and flies are just a few of the creatures that can deliver painful, itchy stings. Ensure that the first-aid kit in your backpack also contains an anti-sting medication to reduce discomfort from insect bites. These medications are available in individual dose packets and easy-to-pack pens. Always rinse and dry the bite area before applying medications. Remove stingers if necessary.


Sunburn is always a danger on long hikes in hot weather. You may have to hike through long, open area with no shade. Always apply sunscreen before you begin your hike, and re-apply the sunscreen periodically during the day. Pay special attention to re-application after sweating a lot or getting wet in streams or waterfalls. Small, easy-to-carry tubes of sunscreen are available that fit easily into backpacks and do not add extra weight.


Dehydration is the hikers worst enemy. A long strenuous hike can use up fluid reserves in the body quickly in hot weather. Sometimes, hikers miscalculate their water needs and find themselves running out of water on the trail. Bring enough water to allow you to quench your thirst every 30 minutes. Drink before you are thirsty to prevent fluid loss. Tuck a few water purification tablets into your backpack in case you run out of water and are forced to refresh yourself from a stream or creek. Signs of dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, light-headedness, weakness dark-colored urine and headache. Dehydration can lead to heat stroke, a serious medical problem. Be aware of signs such as vomiting, headache, cramps, rapid pulse or confusion. Get into the shade and seek medical attention immediately.


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.