The Importance of Safety and Creating a Survival Shelter!

Feb 7, 2024

When you are out in the wild, your main focus is safety. However, how can you ensure your safety if you don’t have any shelter? This is why we are going to look at different types of survival shelters that you can construct to keep you safe!

The Importance of Safety and Creating a Survival Shelter! 

When we consider the reasons we need survival shelter, we can classify them into the basic and the advanced. On the basic level, we find that shelter protects you from the elements and any lurking wildlife.

On a more advanced level, it can act as a storage unit for supplies, while ensuring your safety. Should there be some sort of small rock avalanche at the base of a mountain, a well structured and functional shelter will protect you from harm.

Make sure that you research the forecasted weather for your adventure so you can pack appropriately. For instance, if you see there is a chance of heavy rain, we recommend packing a tarp to make your shelter water resistant.

The type of shelter also depends on the type of weather that you encounter. For example, in the sweltering heat, you would prefer an open lean-to shelter rather than a closed one. We’ll jump into the specifics of four basic shelter types below.

Survival Shelters

  • Debris-Hut Shelter

The location that you choose for your debris-hut shelter is just as important as how well you construct it. You want to ensure the shelter is built on flat ground with good drainage away from your site. You don’t want rain to pool in your shelter.

For this basic type of shelter, you will need a large and strong piece of wood that is going to act as the shelter’s main beam. This is the most important step as you don’t want your entire shelter to collapse while you are trying to get a good night of rest!

Where you decide to place your main beam will establish how much room you will have to move around. 

You then want to search for large sticks that you can use to create a roof. By angling them on the main beam, you create both the height and width that you will have to lie in.

This last step is the fun part. Get all the leaves that you can muster and pile them on. If you brought a tarp, throw it over after this step. For the inside, fill it with leaves to aid with heat insulation.

The benefit of this type of shelter is that it uses your body’s heat to warm itself - making it nice and cozy during those cold nights. However, one disadvantage of this type of shelter is that it is best suited for two people at most. If you need a larger shelter, you may want to consider constructing a lean-to shelter instead.

  • Lean-To Shelter

How this type of shelter differs from the debris-hut is that you use an existing tree with a low-hanging branch, or a solid structure as the base of your shelter. You can then find the largest branches you can and lean them against your structure.

This basic form of shelter provides you with a lot more space (you can decide how long to make it), as well as a rigid structure that is stable against most weather conditions. Just make sure that you build your shelter away from the direction of the wind.

This shelter requires a bit of a trench to be built in order to enhance the stability of its structure, as well as to give you more space to move around. The recommended depth is approximately eight inches. To make this easier, make sure you pack a multi-tool shovel!

  • Enclosed Lean-To Shelter

The main difference between this type of advanced shelter and the latter is that you have to assemble more branches to close-off the sides of the lean-to shelter. We recommend packing some rope to tie these branches together. This creates an easy-to-use door.

You’d want an enclosed lean-to shelter when the weather conditions turn harsh or especially if you are unsure what wildlife is present in the area.

  • Dome-Shaped Shelter

For this type of advanced shelter, you will need to gather lots of saplings. Make sure that the saplings you search for are flexible. You will want to make sure the selected piece of ground is as flat as possible. A rule of thumb is making the area two times the breadth of your arms.

By finding different lengths of saplings, you create an entire dome around the demarcated area that was measured using your arms. The more saplings you can find, the stronger your shelter will be.

Push the saplings at least two inches into the ground to create enough stability to allow your shelter to remain standing in harsh weather conditions. Trust us, the worst is having your shelter collapse in the pouring rain!

Finding strong saplings to tie around the circumference of the dome’s shape is a necessity. The reason is that you need to ensure its strength and stability. Make sure to have strong rope packed in order to secure the saplings together.

If in an emergency or to make water resistant, cover the dome-shaped shelter with a tarp. If you have some time, find some large sets of leaves, or branches, in order to create a thatched roof. The more you have, the more heat your shelter will retain.

With any of the above different shelter types, you can create your own bed! By finding two large and sturdy branches, you will be able to lay enough leaves down to ensure a good night of sleep.

Safety Tips 

Make sure that you have a detailed emergency plan should you need to construct a survival shelter in a short amount of time. By delegating roles to individuals (e.g., collecting leaves and/or branches) there will be less chaos and more building.

Before you even think of collecting materials for your shelter, confirm that the location is safe. Are there any landslide risks in the area? Are the water drainage systems sufficient? If a tree was to fall, would you be injured?

The importance of having a fully equipped first-aid kit available cannot be emphasized enough! Along with this, make sure that the attendees on your expedition have enough medication to last the trip’s duration plus five days.

Unless you are 150% sure that the plants and vegetation are not poisonous, do not attempt to eat them. Make sure that you bring enough non-perishable food items should an emergency present itself.

Ensure that you are aware of which types of wildlife are in your area. You don’t want to attract any unnecessary attention with evening fires or elaborate meals. Instead, pack appropriate clothing for the weather rather than elaborate foodstuff.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q: What is the most important task to do when needing to construct a survival shelter?

A: Make sure that your emergency plan is detailed and understood by everyone. Before you even think of setting up camp, make sure that all of the materials that may be needed to construct a shelter are available in abundance!

Q: Should I bring anything with me on the trip just in case?

A: A tarp and first-aid kit are must-have items. The former will keep you warm and the latter will ensure that you are in a physically fit state to withstand weather conditions or other emergencies should they arise.

Q: What do I do when wildlife enters the campsite?

A: By doing research on the types of wildlife that are around the campsite, you will know how to deal with them. For example, trying to hack a snake to pieces will probably result in you getting bitten, when you should’ve not made any sudden movements.

Q: What do I do if I can’t find all the materials for the shelter?

A: We’d recommend finding another area to set up camp. You need to always plan for the unexpected, as well as include the what-ifs. The more prepared you are, the greater your chance is at survival!

In Summary 

A survival shelter can be built in any situation. All you need to do is have all the materials in the surrounding area, a bit of know-how, and enough food in order to survive.

By ensuring that you are well equipped to handle any situation, you are making your safety, and the safety of those you travel with, the primary concern. Nature gave us all the materials we need in order to survive. We just need to know how to use it!