Many people dream of venturing onto their next outdoor adventure to test out their outdoor gear; without understanding how dangerous the wilderness is. From hypothermia to wild animals, there are countless deadly elements out there, and they can easily kill you if you remain out in the open.
We prepared a list of the most basic survival shelters that could save your life. You may not always have a sleeping bag or a tent at your disposal, so it is always best to be prepared! Read this short survival guide on how to build a shelter from scratch! It might just be enough to help you return in one piece from your nature trip.
Why You Should Learn to Build a Survival Shelter
If you are reading this article while laying on your warm, cozy couch and sipping hot cocoa, you might not find building survival shelters as a must-know skill. However, if you ever find yourself lost in the wild, scared, and cold, you will cherish the ability to create a survival shelter from scratch more than anything.
The city life has dulled most of our survival skills. Almost every basic human need, including shelter, food, and water, is at our fingertips. But, when we are out in the wilderness, knowing how to acquire these essentials makes the difference between life and death.
Learning how to build a survival shelter may not serve you daily, but it could save your life that one time you venture off the beaten path.
What Are the Best Locations to Build A Survival Shelter?
Every survivalist in the world would argue that the best location for a survival shelter is a warm Holiday Inn that you stumble across in the middle of the forest. This scenario is highly unlikely, so finding the ideal place for building an emergency shelter depends on three elements:
- The surroundings
- The time of the day
- The time of the year
- The time you need to spend there
For example, if you are lost in the forest, a large, fallen tree could be perfect for building an emergency shelter. You can snuggle into its trunk or use the branches as a safe framework. Trying to transform it into a shelter during the day may be easy. At night, you might find to battle rodents, chipmunks, and other critters looking to use the tree for the same purpose as you.
Another good example of natural survival shelter is a rocky overhang. This half-cave structure can provide you with temporary shelter. Entering a cave at night is highly dangerous, especially if you are in bear land.
If you have to survive during winter in the wild, remember that snow provides optimal insulation. Building a small igloo for the night can increase your chances of survival.
If you are lost in a desert area, use slopes to create a suitable shelter for a short period. In this scenario, you will want to stay in the shadow for most of the day.
The Basic Survival Shelters That Could Save Your Life
Below are three of the most basic survival shelters all survivalists should have in their skill inventory!
Basic Frame and Tarp Shelter
Having to spend the night in the wild is not easy. If you are lucky enough to have your bug-out equipment, you can transform a tricky situation into a shining example of survival.
Look through your survival gear, and you might find a tarp or a large, weather-resistant canvas. Find a secluded area that can offer a natural retreat, such as a thick bundle of trees.
Have several sticks, poles, and small branches handy. Build a frame shelter by leaning thick, sturdy poles against a lower branch or tree trunk in such a way that it will remain under the tarp.
If you also have some rope in your bag, tie it between two trees and across the lower branch. Throw the tarp or the canvas over the rope connected to the two trees, and let it fall like a drape over it. On the ground, use rocks to hold the tarp in place.
This survival shelter is suitable for the short term. For example, if you have to stop for the night on your way back to civilization. It takes very few tools to build it, and less than half an hour to set it up. It doesn’t fit more than two persons. It shelters you from the wind and rain, but it doesn’t do much against ferocious wild animals.
Basic Body Heat Shelter
In a less fortunate scenario than the one above, you may be lost in the wild without any type of survival gear and only with the clothes on your back.
In this dire situation, you can build a small shelter to keep yourself warm with your body heat.
Build a small mound using dirt, leaves, twigs, and pebbles. It shouldn’t be higher than 50 cm or longer than your body when lying down. Make a hole and crawl into it. Use your feet to kick the dirt and close your entry into the mound. This way, the cold air will remain outside, and your body heat will remain trapped in the shelter to keep you warm through the night.
During winter survival situations, you can build the same type of shelter out of snow. It may seem unpractical at first, but a snow igloo has excellent insulation quality.
This kind of basic survival shelter could save your life in extreme situations. For example, you may be lost and freezing in the wild. You need to rest without risking frostbite or getting sick with a snow shelter or a simple hole. Using your body heat to keep warm is an almost sure way to remain alive through cold nights in the wilderness.
Basic Open Shelter
We go back to the scenario where you have more than a handful of tools in a survival situation. If you know that you will stay in the area for a longer time, you can build an open shelter. This way, you will have a camp from where you can go fishing and hunting. Also, it will be easier for rescue teams to find you if you stand put.
To build an open shelter, you will need to find a large, downed tree. Use one of its longest branches as a ridgepole. Cut a few sturdy branches from nearby trees and carve them into poles. Lean them against the ridgepole at a 60-degree angle. They will form your grid.
Next, place around 6 poles across the frame shelter. Use the rope in your tactical and survival gear to weave boughs between the poles at a right angle. Finally, use foliage to create a roof and side walls as a barrier against weather and critters.
This shelter can host up to four people and their equipment. It takes around six hours to build, so you should not start erecting it in the evening. Still, once built, it will provide you with warmth, cover from the rain and wind, and a welcome retreat.
There you have it! A survival shelter for three different scenarios and the survival tools needed that could save your life in dire situations. You can try building them in your next outdoor trip and practice for unexpected circumstances.
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