Learning to build a shelter is one of the first steps I took when I first started studying survival. It all started after my family went camping and we had a horrible experience with the tent we had just bought. It was not only too small but it was super hard to put together. We worked on that thing for hours and finally it came together…only to fall apart in the middle of the night. So needless to say we have had our fair share of experiences with poor shelters.
When to comes to shelter building there are a few things that you need to know. It is vital that you have a basic understanding of what supplies you could potentially find in the forest or in the areas around you. You need to know the best types of building materials, the best waterproofing materials, and the best type of binding material. So sit back and take a few notes. For you seasoned professionals this is going to be basic stuff, but for the new preppers in our midst this could be the best information you have found to date.
- Building Materials
The most common type of materials that you are going to find in the wooded areas around you will be twigs and small branches. This type of wood is typically going to be of the oak variety and that is good. Oak is a hardwood that has a lot of strength and it offers a lot of possibilities. You should also be on the look out for vines (not poison!) that you could use for binding materials. Also look for long leafy plants that can be used for waterproofing as well. These are the three basic materials you will need for any shelter. Always make sure your branches are at least 3 feet long. Any shorter and they will be of little use to you.
- Areas To Build
Finding the perfect location to build a shelter can be hard. In many cases we have to pick the lesser of two evils and simply build wherever we can. However if you have the option you should always try and build around an existing object like a tree or a large stone. It is also a good idea to make camp above a potential flood area. This means no building next to a river or a stream.
The reason that survivalists suggest you build around an existing structure is simple. In cases like this you can build a lean to structure that is supported by the existing structure. Further, it makes it easier to secure the structure because you typically only have to cover one side of the shelter.
- Types Of Shelter
In many cases you are going to be building a shelter in a wooded area that is fairly private. A lean to shelter is the simplest design that you can build. It only has to be long enough to cover your body and high enough that you can climb inside and lay down. In most cases you can build this structure in less than 2 hours. Another option for a shelter is the raised platform. If you are fortunate enough to be in an area where trees are close together than you can make a platform that will get you off of the forest floor. This is an added benefit. A pole-shed technique can be used in this setting. All you do is secure a large branch on all four corners and then place a roof over that area. It does require more effort and more work but the results will speak for themselves.
- Don’t Forget the Roof
When making a roof out of long leaves you need to make sure that you are overlapping the material on each and every row. The overlap needs to face down so that it will properly shed water as it runs down. Otherwise the water will be funneled into your shelter and you will end up soaking wet.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started on the journey of building a shelter. If you really want to be prepared, try to venture out in the woods and practice building different shelter designs. It will always be beneficial to have the method down to a science so that you don’t have such a struggle to deal with in a real survival emergency.
If you’ve tried building shelters before, which design did you like best? What are your best suggestions for newbies?