We as humans only need a few different things to really survive. We need food, water, and a shelter above our heads. Now a shelter may seem like the last thing to worry about when you’re hungry and thirsty. However having a shelter is still very important to survival.
A shelter can isolate and protect you from the elements, which of course can include rain, snow, and all sorts of other undesirable punishments mother nature can throw at you. As someone who has spent time cold and wet for long periods of time let me tell you some of the effects you can expect.
First off being cold can raise the chances of you getting sick. Getting sick is bad in the best of times, when you are trying to survive it can devastate your survival efforts. The effects can include diminished senses, slower reflexes, and of course lack of sleep. Sleep is when your body heals and when your mind has a chance to destress. Your fine motor skills are going to diminish greatly, and mentally your mind will slow down greatly.
So after you have some food, and water you should dedicate your time to building a suitable shelter. Some shelter take longer, and therefore often last longer. The first choice is too choose your area, where should you build your shelter?
Choosing an Area
First off you’ll nice a nice flat area, preferably a clearing, or you can clear the area yourself. The main problem with brush is other critters looking to bed down with you. Especially snakes, it’s best to avoid them. The area needs to be large enough to build a fire a suitable amount of room from your shelter. Be mindful of the creatures in your area, for example bears do poop in the woods, so I wouldn’t set up house next to a pile.
Do not build a shelter near the bottom of a hill, or bottom of anything. You need to avoid water drainage areas. Tell tale signs are water carved creeks, that may be dry one day and flowing the next. Observe the scope of the area and be extremely mindful of the grade.
Short Term Shelter
If you are simply moving through an area you may not desire to take the several hours it take to build a solid shelter. I would say if you are only staying in an area for less than a few days, or less than a week, just build a short term shelter.
The easiest short term survival shelter is a lean to. A lean to can be designed in a variety of ways. However the method I’m instructing assumes you have absolutely no man made materials to use. So first off you’ll need to find two objects, these objects can be trees, or you can even burying thick limbs deep enough to use. They will act as your base.
They should be far enough apart to be able to lay between. Then you need to lash a pole between the two. A nice thick tree limb will work. You can lash them together with vines, para cord, or even set them between limbs. The limb can be as high as you desire, but needs to be at least high enough to sleep under.
From here lay limbs, stick from the pole to the ground. These limbs need to be lightweight, so they do not stress the cross pole. These limbs should fill as many gaps as humanly possible. They should be a nice thick layer. Now on top of these layer you want to cover it with the driest twigs, leaves, moss, whatever to form a carpet over it. This carpet will ultimately help waterproof the entire shelter.
A very simple lean to, designed to keep water and snow off you. However it does not hold heat very well due to the three open sides.
Long Term Shelter
You can turn your short term shelter is something a little stronger by following a few extra steps. First off I suggest building a ‘bed’ in your shelter. If you have an Iso Mat this works, if not you’ll have to build one. You can use almost use the same technique you used to build the lean to. Find a variety of long sticks and put them down side by side until they are wide enough to lay on. Next you can lay down a carpet of dry leaves. Not the most comfortable on bare body, but when combined with a sleeping bag it will help isolate you from the cold ground.
After that’s done you can reinforce and close in the shelter. Leaving preferably one end open for access. You simply copy the technique you used to establish to lean too. You simply add a second wall the same way you added the first. Then copy the technique once again on the backside, leaving only one entrance opened.
There are lots and lots of shelter options out there. You can build a perfectly suitable shelter with nothing more than a good tarp or a tent can be part of your bug out gear. These shelters however can be built by nearly anyone with materials found it nature. I do suggest a bit of practice before hand, because it’s quite fun. Remember practice turns to knowledge, and knowledge is the best tool to have.