Tag 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.



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.
Survival kit Component - Tarp

Survival Kit Component: Tarp

Natural and manmade disasters can occur at any time and without warning, so having a pre prepared survival kit ready to use immediately could be the difference between life and death. However, knowing in advance which essential supplies to pack can be difficult. A tarp, or tarpaulin, is one item that almost every survival expert agrees on as a key survival kit component.

What Is A Tarp?

Tarpaulin canvas texture
Tarp texture (Photo credit: net_efekt)

A tarp is essentially a large sheet of strong, flexible, waterproof material that can be used to provide protection from the elements in an emergency. Unlike a standard plastic sheet, tarps are made from super resistant materials like polypropylene, polyethylene, and canvas.

They also feature reinforced holes at their corners to make them more versatile when combined with ropes or supports.

Possible Uses Of A Tarp

Space in a survival kit is precious so choosing tools that have multiple uses is a good idea. A tarp is an ideal item because it is both light weight and compact. Here are just a few of the ways that it can be used in survival circumstances:

1) Shelter

tarp shelter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many situations creating adequate shelter is key to survival. The adaptable nature of tarp allows them to be fashioned into a wide range of shelters, including a lean-to, pup tent and tubular tent. They can be adapted to suit almost any space or terrain. They are not limited to protecting you from rain but can also be used as a wind break or for shade.

A lot of people assume that tents are the best choice for emergency shelter. While they do provide a much higher level of comfort, they are heavy and take up a large amount of space in your kit which could be better used for other equipment.

2) Rain gear

A tarp does not only offer stationary protection. By wrapping it around yourself, it will give you personal protection as well. This is an effective way to conserve body heat, and the thick material does not tear easily if you are using it on the move through rugged terrain.

3) Rain catch

No matter how much bottled water your survival kit contains, you are bound to run out eventually. Fortunately, tarps enable you to collect rain water and develop a sustainable way of keeping hydrated. The wide surface area of a tarp means that it is a highly effective method of funneling rain into a bucket or other container.

What To Pack With Your Tarp

If you are including a tarp in your survival kit, it is also worthwhile buying ropes and stakes to help you create a more stable structure.

If you find yourself without these items, then using branches to support the material and stones to pin it down is an alternative solution.


Preparing a well thought through survival kit is an ideal way to protect you and your family in the event of a disaster. A small and light weight tarp can provide you with shelter, water and personal protection making it the perfect multi-purpose item to include.

Related Survival Kit articles


Into The Wild

How To Survive In The Wild

Watching the film; Into The Wild, recently, I was immediately struck by a key element. If I were stranded in the wild, would I actually be able to survive?


The will to live is an important factor in survival. If you manage, in your lifetime, to speak to any survivors, you will discover that they discuss the will to live. The will to live being so great, that there was simply no other option, than to survive their ordeal. A positive mental attitude is essential for survival.

Four Basic Needs – Water, Shelter, Warmth, Food

There are four basic needs to surviving in the wilderness. If you can provide for these needs, then your chances of survival are greatly increased.


Three days. Three days is the average time a person can survive without water. After that, you start to feel some serious effects. Dehydration is the biggest threat. One of the first things you need to do, when you realise you will be in the wild for some time, is to source a location of clean desalinated water and ensure you can access it easily and conveniently.


Shelter is incredibly important in the wild. It can provide some much needed warmth, but it can also provide a safe haven from wild animals and insects. Do ensure you place your shelter on dry, flat land. If you are lost, it is perhaps best not to camouflage it too well. You want to be found after all! Use foliage and ferns to fashion a bivouac between two trees; use the natural materials around you if you are lost without camping equipment. Once you have built your shelter you can dig out a trench in front with which you can build a slow burning fire to keep you warm throughout the night. A good shelter will also help you to sleep. Sleep is imperative to maintaining a rational, clear head. An important factor if you find yourself in the wild for long.


Keeping your body warm is very important. If you have not packed essentials such as thermals or a waterproof or windproof jacket, for your duration in the wild, you may need to use whatever materials are at your disposal. Use leaves and grasses to insulate your body against the cold and to furnish the base of your makeshift shelter to make warm strong covers against the cold. Hypothermia is a critical problem for survival and your core temperature should be maintained at 36.5 – 37.5.


A week is the average duration that an adult can survive without food. Therefore, this doesn’t seem like the first priority you will have to consider straight away. There are some great books such as the SAS survival guide by John Lofty Wiseman which will instruct you what sorts of berries and mushrooms are safe to eat and how to fashion rabbit traps. A key component of creating a great trap is hiding any evidence of its placement. Animals have a keen sense of smell and can detect human activity which will trigger alarm. A great trick is smoking a trap to mask your scent – as fire occurs normally in the wild. There are many types of trap such as drag noose, twitch-up snares, each with their own ingenious ways of crushing, throttling or catching your prey.

Whether you have planned a trip to the wild, or find yourself there by accident, you will discover a whole new way of life. A simple way, life stripped bare. Consider your basic needs and find ways to provide for them to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. Survival often depends on basic instincts. Your instinct is, naturally, to survive.


Jenny Sampson wrote this guest column on behalf of Sealskinz.com – the UK’s leading stockist of waterproof walking socks, gloves and hats.


nature is happines

Avoiding Survival Mistakes

When it comes to survival skills, the smallest of mistakes could have a huge impact on your ability to stay safe. However, there are a few things which can help to avoid making such mistakes, and will ensure that your survival skills are as effective as possible.

If you find your survival skills being put to the test unexpectedly, then the natural reaction can be to panic. However, this is often the worst thing you can do, as you need to be thinking as clearly as possible in such situations. You might not be able to simply google ‘survival techniques’ whilst checking your facebook page and playing cheeky bingo, but if you have done your research, then you will already be well prepared. You simply need to keep a clear head, and remember all the skills which you have learnt. Often, people panic the most when it comes to putting up a shelter, and tend to rush the process. In actual fact, it is worth spending extra time making sure that your shelter is safe and secure, and unlikely to collapse without warning.

If you are keen to return home, then don’t make the mistake of refusing to stop searching for the right route back. If you are lost, it is usually far safer to stop before nightfall and step up camp, even if you’re almost certain that you do not have far to go. After all, being out in the wilderness can be more dangerous after dark, but even more so if you have not organised a place to stay for the night. If you are travelling as a group, then never split up in order to try to find help more quickly. It is always much safer to stick together, and make sure that all members of your party stay safe.

Always learn a skill before you need it: practice, practice, practice!


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.

survival skills: rule of three

Prioritizing Survival Needs Using the Rule Of 3

Life must be prioritized and priorities are never more important than when you are in a survival situation. Decisions have to make quickly and they must be the right decisions. To prevent panic and to keep from making the wrong decisions you need to prepare and prioritize.

The Most Commonly Accepted Survival 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

Three minutes without air is accurate. However, there have been cases where people have survived longer than three weeks without food and longer than three days without water.

Shelter is subjective; it can be a hollow spot under a log or burying yourself in a pile of leaves. A lot depends on what you call shelter.

Remember your priorities: you must escape the vehicle within three minutes if submerged, or find the shore if dumped out of your canoe in the middle of the rapids. You need air and it is your first priority.

Begin Prioritizing Survival Needs Using the Rule Of 3

Assume for a moment that you have plenty of air, so your next priority is shelter and water. The reason you need to focus on shelter first is you will become weaker from lack of water and calories. Therefore, build your shelter first. Keep in mind this must happen within a matter of hours. You must also soon be hydrated, it will help keep you warm at night and hydration will keep your energy level high enough to forage for food.

If you became lost on a day hike, for example you probably have a water bottle to get you through the night. It typically takes rescue operations 72 hours to find you or be close to finding you. Your pack should have:

  • a knife to help you in building a shelter,
  • fire starting tools,
  • water purification tablets or 2% liquid iodine for water purification,
  • protein bars,
  • a full quart canteen or water bottle. The average person requires 4 liters of water a day for drinking and hygiene.

For now, your priority is shelter and fire to survive the night. Get a fire started for your comfort and moral. Fire is needed to signal rescue personnel, as well. If you are lost, stay put. If you knew how to get out you would not be lost, so wandering around lost is dangerous and makes it harder for rescue personnel to find you.

If you are hiking to a campsite, you may have a tent or canvas. If you do not have any type of shelter material in your pack you need to put a shelter together using what nature provides. The ground next to a fallen log can be scooped out. Pick the south side if you are in a cool climate. Prop pine boughs and saplings against the log and ground. If you do not have a knife or small ax or hatchet you will have to break the limbs. If you have to break limbs use dead ones, live saplings will bend but not break easily.

Leave one side open; the opening will face along the log and not away from it. Build your fire close to the entrance but not inside. You will be overcome with smoke if it is too close. If you have rain gear or a poncho set the gear so it collects the morning dew. Dew is simply the condensation of air that has been heated by the sun during the day. Once the air cools down it allows moisture to settle on surfaces typically, in the very early hours. The moisture will collect on foliage and your poncho. Create depressions in the poncho for water to pool. Begin the process of gathering water regardless of your current supply. You can never have enough water.

Start another fire in a clearing if you are in the deep woods. The fire can be spotted from the air and ground. Do not wander at night but stay in the shelter and maintain the fire.

In the morning, consume the water from dew and save what water you may have brought with you. Work on enhancing your shelter and begin looking for a stream, natural ground springs or fissures in rock faces that seep water.

Gather pine cones and place in the fire to split open for the pine nuts and if you find a stream look for fish. Other animals will need water so there will be game trails. Set snares or wait for rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys and other game to come by. Spear or stone the game.

If you do not panic and begin running in circles you will survive. Stay calm and rely on your common sense.


Remember prioritizing survival needs using the rule of 3.


Survival Skills Four Fundamental Elements

The Four Basic Survival Elements

If you find yourself in a survival situation where you’re cut off from help for any prolonged period with limited resources, don’t panic. Your first move is sorting the four basic survival elements:

  1. Shelter. A shelter is built to offer protection from weather conditions and from high temperature or cold temperatures (depending on when/where you’re). Hypothermia and hyperthermia are 2 of the greatest hazards in a survival situation. An appropriate shelter can protect you against these situations. For instance: in cold weather, the shelter insulate you from the cold while in the hot months, your objective is to stay shaded from sun’s rays.
  2. Water. Water is the most crucial source of nourishment for the human body. Having an adequate quantity of water along with a shelter, you can easily survive for weeks.
  3. Fire. Fire gives you heat and light, purifies water, makes the meat edible, it allows you to build tools and finally you can use fire to make signals.
  4. Food. If you’re in good shape, you can go for up 3 weeks without food. Your objective in a wilderness survival situation is to be found in a short amount of time, so typically you will be found well before food becomes a survival problem. Obtaining food includes knowledge of edible plants, tracking, stalking, trapping, hunting and fishing.

Do you have to be concerned first about fire, shelter, water or food? To determine in what sequence you must deal with the basic priorities of survival, you should use the survival rule of 3:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 months without hope

Remember: the survival rule of 3 is just a mnemonic aid, you’ve to adapt it to your specific situation.

2 final tips:

  • Assemble your survival kit using the four basic survival elements as your compass.
  • Learn and practice few basic techniques for each of the four basic survival elements: shelter, water, fire and food.