No skill is as important to a survivor as the ability to build a shelter outdoors. No one can withstand the wrath of Mother Nature. Think of strong winds, the rain, freezing night, very hot daytime; can anyone stand hours of these extremes conditions? A formidable shelter not only protects you from these elements but also wild animals.
Information to build many different types of shelter is readily available online. If you find yourself in wooden areas lean-to would be the easiest type of shelter to make. You can also quickly build beach shelter, desert shelter, and even snow shelter if the emergency finds you in these conditions. However, you can build your own outdoor shelter that is unique and functional. More read about The Importance of Shelter at TheSurvivalCorps.
In this post, I aim to teach you how to build your outdoor shelter with materials available in nature, household items, and some survival items.
Things You’ll Need
- Cutting tool (survival knife)
- Tree limbs
- Tree trunks (long but thin)
- Tree leaves
Step 1: Find a suitable location
Try to find a wooded area that is far from the bushes, waterfronts, direct paths of winds and very steep grounds. Your space should also be free from boulders, rocks and other obstacles. If you are in a hilly area, try to find an area that is relatively flat and not at the peak. Once you settle an area, clear it in readiness for the construction process.
Step 2: Mark the Area for Building Area
Mark an area to represent the size of the shelter you want to build. The number of people going to use the shelter should be the deciding factor when it comes to the shelter dimensions. Since you may not have a measuring tape, rely on your instinct to estimate the appropriate size of the area to build the shelter.
Step 3: Prepare Tree Limbs, Tree Trunks, and Sticks
Use your survival knife to prepare some tree limbs about 3 inches in diameter and several feet long. A large knife such as kukri knife is better because it is efficient in cutting large diameter trees. The poles should be relatively straight to give you easy time while constructing the shelter.
Step 4: Find a Framing for Your Shelter
Find some large object of a good height such as a bolder or a rock. This will act as the base of your shelter. The aim is to find an object that is tall enough for you and your associates (if you have) to crouch behind. It should also be wide enough to accommodate the bodies of all the users.
A good alternative is a two-forked tree. Use your knife (or other cutting tools) to slash off the long limbs leaving behind a fork. The bifurcation point of the two branched trees should be high enough to allow you to crouch behind.
You can also build a triangular frame with the apex directed upwards. Root two medium-size logs about 3 feet apart. Slant the two logs so that they meet at the center forming an apex. Allow them to overlap slightly to create a fork against which lay other tree limbs.
Step 5: Start Building Your Shelter
Begin by laying larger tree trunks and limbs against the object or the free fork. Keep in mind the length and width of the shelter you intend to build as you lay the tree trunks and limbs. Once you are done with the larger woods, begin putting the smaller ones.
Slant them across the larger woods to minimize gaps. Ensure the sticks are close enough to ensure there no holes. Otherwise, you will find it hard to cover them with leaves or debris. Make sure you leave an exit and an entrance. The structure and design of this shelter resemble that of lean-to shelter.
Step 6: Make the Shelter Windproof and Waterproof
This step depends on your location and the prevailing weather conditions. If you are building the shelter in the woods, start by covering the entire shelter with dry leaves and shrubs. The second layer should consist of wet, muddy leaves if available.
Cover your shelter with as many leaves and debris as possible to ensure it rainproof, windproof and waterproof. The cover should also be thick enough to cushion you from direct sunlight. Doing this will not only insulate the shelter but also stop it from falling apart. Lay additional sticks on top of the leaves and debris to secure them from strong winds.
The same applies if you are in the snow. Pile up enough snow around your shelter. Snow cover can offer you reliable insulation against the elements, but you should have a way to keep yourself warm. Another alternative is to cover the skeleton of the shelter with a tarp or a plastic sheet if you have.
Step 7: Create a Fire Pit
A fire pit may not be part of your outdoor shelter, but it is a necessary aspect of your safety within the shelter. Start by digging a small cavity about 36 to 40 inches in diameter and just a few inches deep. Find some rocks and line them along the border of the pit. These rocks will act as pavers to stop the spread of the fire outside the hole.
Find some dried leaves and bushes. Lay them on the floor of the pit. You can then line it with tinder and kindling to ensure the base of the pit is not too wet to interfere with the ability of the fire to burn. You can then collect some dried twigs, sticks and tree limbs to act as firewood. The fire will not only provide you with heat but also keep predators away if you have to spend the night outdoors.
Building a shelter is a fundamental skill for any survivor. While there are many types of shelters you can create out there that differ in complexity, what matters is your safety. You have just learned how to build your outdoor shelter. Practice what you have just learned so that you can be safe when the SHTF. The beautiful thing about this shelter is you can build it fast and easy.