This article provides a quick reference for how to build a shelter in the woods. There are many different types of survival shelters. Which one you use depends on the types of survival techniques you are utilizing. This article is not a full survival guide on survival shelters. I will just be discussing survival shelters in general and filling you in on some basic survival tactics to consider. The type of shelter discussed here is called the “lean-to” survival shelter.
Why might you need a survival shelter?
Survival shelters can provide protection from the elements and from dangerous wildlife. You might find yourself in a situation where it will be necessary to employ some wilderness survival skills and build a survival shelter. Examples of situations necessitating survival shelters are: 1) Getting lost from your group during a hiking or camping trip, 2) A plane or car crash that leaves you stranded in the wilderness, 3) Being chased by looters or wild animals and ending up lost in the wild, 4) Traveling on foot through the wilderness to get to your bug out safe zone or retreat, etc…
Where to build your survival shelter
You should build it close to a water source if possible. However, you do not want to be any closer than 50 or so yards because being too close will prevent you from staying warm. Also, water levels can rise from heavy rains. An ideal location for building survival shelters is the area between an open field and a dense underbrush area. This is because you will be more easily visible to a rescue party, while at the same time utilizing the dense brush area to cut down on winds and keep heat in. Make sure that wherever you build your survival shelter, it is clear of any unstable looking trees or branches that might fall and injure you. Finally, make sure that the ground upon which you build your shelter is free of bugs (I learned this the hard way once and woke up to a whole bunch of ants crawling on me).
Use what you have with you
If you were hiking or camping, there is a good chance you have some supplies with you. Also, if you were in a car or a plane crash, look around for an emergency survival kit or any other materials that might be useful for building survival shelters. Consider, rope, twain, nylon, tarps, blankets, panchos, debris from wreckage, etc…
Look for a stationary object to brace the shelter against
Consider large fallen trees trunks or boulders. Again, make sure that it is indeed sturdy. You could be injured from the collapse of your survival shelter if it is not secure and stable.
Gather sticks, branches, brush and leaves
The sticks and branches will be used to fashion the frame of the survival shelter. The leaves and brush will be used for insulation and the outer covering.
A popular type of shelter is called the lean-to shelter. This is a great survival shelter because of its small size, and ease of construction. It is important to keep the shelter small because that is more conducive to conserving heat. Also, ease of construction is important because you may be racing against a rapidly decreasing night temperature and also because you won’t want to tire yourself out when you are trying to conserve energy. Here is a great tutorial video I found that shows you how to construct a lean-to shelter. The video was prepared by 5 minute survival:
Remember that when you are constructing the shelter, make sure that you pay attention to which way the wind is coming from and point the opening of your shelter opposite the wind direction.
Once you have your survival shelter built, you should build a fire just outside the opening of your shelter. A properly built shelter, designed to keep heat inside is one of many valuable survival tactics and techniques that could save your life.
I encourage you to brush up on your wilderness survival skills and actually practice how to build a shelter in the woods. Go out on a camping trip and practice several types of survival shelters. This is really the only way to master your bushcraft and survival skills.