L’survival shelter occupies an important place in the adventure of a survivalist. And it is essential to build one to survive. In certain hostile regions one cannot survive more than 3 hours without shelter.
There are dozens of types of survival shelter. And I will introduce you to several of them in this guide.
In my opinion a structure whether natural (like a cave) or man-made (like a tent) can be a survival shelter.
The only condition for it to be a shelter is that it protects from dangers. And in nature this is not what is missing. The shelter must protect you from the sun, rain, animals, cold, insects… And the list goes on and on!
Knowing how to build a shelter quickly and in any place can save your life, and that of your family, your loved ones. Shelter can save you from dying by hypothermia. Whether it’s winter or you’re at altitude.
Building a shelter in the middle of nature is for me the basis of Bushcraft. The first concern should be to find water and the second to set up shelter. And still in certain situations the order can be reversed.
The Different Types of Survival Shelter
To illustrate this part I put an image of an igloo. It’s not the most common survival shelter but it’s just to show that there are different survival shelters. And that they must, above all, adapt instead of survival.
The Tarp Shelter
For me one of the easiest survival shelter to build is an A-frame covered with a tarp. It looks a lot like a tent except it’s made with what you have on hand. This shelter is done in 10 minutes and above all it is easy to do.
It is a perfect shelter to survive rain or bad weather. And it will allow you to keep a good part of your body heat. It sure isn’t a long term shelter but it will do for 2-3 days. Especially since you only need to carry a tarp with you to build it.
There are several variants of this shelter. The structure can change depending on your goals and the climate.
Debris Survival Shelter
This shelter lives up to its name. Here we build a wilderness survival shelter with what we have on hand, ie debris. But when I say debris I don’t mean plastic bags or garbage. I think of what you find in a forest. For example, trunks, leaves or even moss.
This survival shelter will provide you with warmth for a good night in the forest. The construction is a little longer and more technical to do than the tarpaulin shelter. But if you’re trained you can do it in less than an hour.
The big advantage of this shelter is that you don’t need any resources beforehand. So no need to bring heavy equipment in your survival bag.
The Quinzhee is often compared with the igloo. The only difference is that the igloo is built with snow bricks. Whereas the Quinzhee is more of a mound, a pile of snow.
I think this shelter is often underestimated see mocked. But in very cold winters when all around you is snow, making a Quinzhee becomes smart, a logical choice. In France we are perhaps not the first country affected by snow. But knowing how to do a Quinzhee is still a good skill to acquire.
You still have to be careful that the temperature stays good. below -4 degrees. If the temperature exceeds this threshold there is a risk of collapse, be careful if you make a Quinzhee.
Where to Build Your Survival Shelter
L’location of your survival shelter is as important as the quality of its construction. The location can also change depending on the type of shelter you want to build.
For example, if you choose to build the shelter out of debris try to stand where there is the most debris. It’s very simple but it will save you from long walks for not much.
To choose the location of your survival shelter, start by looking at the surroundings. My first instinct is to look up. If right above you you see dead branches or weak trunks… Run away ! Believe me it’s a deadly risk. And what’s more, a stupid way to die I think. So take this reflex.
I also advise against settling in valleys or near mountains. The temperature at night can drop quickly. You will quickly get cold and risk hypothermia without realizing it.
There is a false good idea which is to say to oneself ” I will settle near a water point to get supplies more quickly if needed“. It starts with a good feeling but it’s dangerous. There is a good chance that you will be disturbed by animals not very happy to see you on their territory.
Besides, it is also a reflex to take. Check that the location of your shelter is not on a path taken by animals. It’s not necessarily easy to see sometimes, but try to spot footprints or animal droppings.
It’s a good reflex to take if you don’t want to be constantly disturbed by animals.
Also do pay attention to the direction of the wind. The shelters all have openings and it would be silly for these openings to be gateways for the wind. You will lose all the heat in your shelter in just a few minutes. So, always oppose the opening of your shelter to the wind.In this part I will show you how to build the shelters that I presented earlier. I present to you several solutions. But on D-Day it will be up to you to choose the one that best suits your situation. And for that I trust you!
There are dozens of different shelters, I present a few to you right here. If you want me to talk more in depth about a type of shelter, let me know in the comments. It will be a pleasure to answer them.
Build a Shelter with a Tarp
For this survival shelter you will simply need a sufficiently large tarp and a few meters of paracord. I advise you to watch the guide to paracord bracelets. Perfect for being versatile and choosing the best paracord for your survival projects.
For the cover I do not advise you to take the one lying around in your garden or under your swimming pool, take something suitable. I personally have a Rain Fly tarp. And that’s really the best.
The tarpaulin is waterproof, it is compact and light. In addition, it can be assembled quickly and is large enough to make a good shelter. The price is excellent too.
First of all you have to find a location for your camp with 2 trees apart about 3 meters. It may take time to find the right place, but take it. If you have chosen the right place, the installation will be done in a few minutes.
Once the location of your camp has been found, you take your paracord and you tie it to the trunk of every tree. For the height of the shelter I recommend around one meter.
Personally to attach my paracord I make bowline knots. For this shelter, the paracord must be quite taut. Otherwise you will have a tarp falling on your head and a shelter collapsing on itself.
Next, you have to put the tarp on the wire. Once the tarp is put on I like to tie a knot so that the tarp hangs well on the paracord yarn. At this stage you should have something like a blanket on a washing line. Very well !
Now we need to tie the tarp to the ground. If you have pegs provided for this purpose, that’s really the best. Otherwise with a sharp knife you can easily carve small, sturdy pieces of wood to replace the pegs.
Here you have your ready shelter. The only disadvantages of the A-frame shelter with a tarp is that you have 2 air inlets. And there is also no floor. But for that it’s quite easy to make a bed of leaves.
How to Build a Survival Shelter with Debris
I love making this survival shelter. Nothing is needed. You can land like this overnight without your Bug Out Bag and make this shelter. This is its great strength. With only one entrance, the shelter retains heat very well.
To start, choose the location closest to your raw material. where there is a maximum of strong leaves and branches.
To begin with, you will have to find the foundations for this shelter. This is for me the most complicated step. First you have to find two branches forming a Y at one of their ends.
Once you find these branches, you need to intertwine them. Make a triangle with them, their Y shape will allow them to fit together easily and make a solid structure. Their other ends must also be well planted in the ground.
Now you have to find a long trunk, preferably between 3m and 3m50. Then put the end of this trunk on your Y structure. The other end must be planted in the ground, it is necessary that it remains stable. It’s good we now have the main structure of our shelter.
Then arrange straight branches around your big trunk that will be a bit like the ribs of your shelter. Then proceed to the final step. Find everything you can and lay it out on your structure. Leaves, twigs and mosses. And it’s good you have a functional shelter.
If you want to see what it gives I recommend you this video.
Build a Quinzhee Shelter
Well I have to tell you the majority of cases you’re only going to need to know how to do the first two builds in this article. But I wanted to introduce you to the Quinzhee because it is a different shelter, proof of the adaptation of humans to their environment.
The advantages of a Quinzhee shelter is the temperature. Even with largely negative temperatures outside, we can have a positive temperature inside. And in snowy weather, building raw material is all around you.
To start making your Quinzhee you need to make a big pile of snow. Make a very compact pile of 2 meters at least. Then you can start digging the entrance. Then the interior. I leave you with this video of an american who makes a Quinzhee in his garden, it is simply impressive.
And this guide comes to an end. You now know how to build a wilderness survival shelter. With a little imagination you can easily improve your comfort or construction techniques.
In this article I wanted to give you the basics of certain constructions. Because once you have these basics you can, by yourself, explore variants. Each variant is a solution that responds to a specific situation.
Thank you for reading this article, remember to train and practice to progress as quickly as possible.
Expert and passionate about survivalism. I share my advice, my experiences and my tips to free you from the system and become independent.