A Guide to survival shelters in the wild

When you are out in the wild, hiking or camping, or you found yourself in a difficult situation needing a place to sleep and find shelter from the elements, you will want to know how exactly to set up a shelter to keep you safe through the night. Spending a night without a shelter and exposed to the elements can prove fatal in many climates. That is why even the basic knowledge about crafting shelters can be crucial in survival situations. In this basic introductory article, we will try to get you closer to the types of shelters you can find and create in the wild, and familiarize you with their undeniable importance.
The dangers of exposure to elements
In most climates, nightfall brings the onset of noticeably lower temperature, many of them low enough to cause hypothermia and death, if shelter is not found. To be sheltered, warmed, and in front of a roaring fire when the night falls are the crucial priorities of survival and outdoors life in general. Even if you followed our advices and ventured out properly dressed, you will still need a “roof” over your head, and a proper shelter from wind, rain and snow. To minimize the dangers of being exposed you need to learn the basics of proper camping and sleeping in wilderness.

Types of shelters in the wild
There are numerous ways you can craft a shelter in the wild, if you, for some reason, do not have a tent with you. The first and logical approach to tackling this problem is the one often recommended – observing your surroundings and trying to figure out just what exactly can you do with what is on offer. Always try to spot for places that nature already provided – ditches, hollow trunks, holes and caves. Minimizing energy output is another important thing to remember, and if you can find a natural, ready to use shelter, then seize the opportunity. If not, here is a short list of some of the shelters you could assemble.

  • Natural cover –
    When you are either in a hurry, or all else fails, try to find a natural cover that will act as protection from the wind. Search for large boulders, depressions in the earth, or fallen trees. These can be used as wind breakers and heat retainers when you light a fire. Pile your other equipment besides you to protect your sides and capture further warmth. Remember that this is your last and simplest option, in case you really cannot construct anything more complex. This style of sheltering requires the least skill and the least amount of effort, but in return offers only the minimal protection, and without a fire it can still leave you in danger.
  • Hollows –
    A hollow in the ground can be the perfect opportunity to craft a hasty shelter that will retain heat and provide the shelter from wind and rain. So if you spot a ditch or a deep enough hollow in the ground, consider it as an option to spent the night. Provided you put some effort in completing the shelter. Construct a makeshift roof over the hollow, from thick branches and fallen logs. Space them tightly and cover with foliage or moss, while also covering the sides to prevent draft. You need to always leave some space for ventilation, it is crucial!  This can result in a perfect hasty shelter that requires minimal effort to construct, while offering sufficient protection for short periods of time and in moderate climates.
  • Fallen logs
    Finding a large, thick fallen log can be a perfect opportunity and a moderately easy option for creating an overnight shelter, provided the trunk is at the right direction to provide protection from the wind. The trunk can act a perfect wind breaker and a support for a lean to. Create a shallow hollow at the base of the trunk – a hole that will place you as low as possible, giving more protection. Find strong and straight branches, placing them tip first on the trunk, creating a slanting roof of your shelter. Again, cover thoroughly with foliage and moss, and minimize draft.  This will leave you with a reliable shelter for the rest of the night, providing you got a good fire going.
  • Lean-to –
    A lean-to shelter is the basic instinct and the logical choice for hasty creation of a wilderness shelter. It can be a quick, easy solution, but some effort might be needed for better results. A lean-to shelter is the basic wind break cover type, and there are many options to consider when choosing a place. You can use boulders, natural walls and ridges as a base to which to add a lean-to. Another common approach is as follows. Find two appropriate trees to which you can lash a thick branch horizontally. You can then add closely bunched branches, lashed at an angle and leaning onto the horizontal branch, effectively creating a wind break and a simple lean-to shelter. You can  always cover the branches with moss, earth and foliage to add further isolation and heat retention.
  • Tarp
    With a tarp, a waterproof sheet or canvas, or any similar weather resistant material, you can easily create an efficient shelter to spend the night and cover yourself from the wind. Consider the amount of material available to you and construct accordingly. Study the different designs beforehand. In the simplest case you can stake the tarp to the ground while attaching the top to two upright, long stakes – creating the simplest, wind break lean-to. This can be a good makeshift cover to shelter you from the wind while you create something sturdier and better.  Materials such as these have a great amount of effective uses in the wild, so consider always carrying a bundle with you. When no other options occur to you, this can be the perfect choice for a short term shelter.

The Importance of temporary shelters

The night can be dangerous on so many levels. Without considering the sudden drop of temperatures that can often fall below zero, the darkness presents many other difficulties as well. Logically, the drastic loss of visibility that prevents and hampers night time travelling, as well as loss of morale, increased wildlife activity and often enough a onset of fear. Facing these aspects without a fire and shelter can lead you to great danger and make a threat to your survival efforts.
Spending a night before a roaring fire and tucked cozily into your makeshift shelter, will do wonders for your overall morale and confidence, and will certainly give you a boost and the much needed impulse towards continuation and successful survival of that situation. Being sheltered and safe from the elements will also give you a valuable relief from stress of the day, and give you rest and an opportunity to access your situation and create a further plan for finding safety, all with a clear and peaceful mind.

These are just some of the important aspects of wilderness shelters and you should definitely learn more about them and always study new ways of protecting yourself in the wilderness. A good and well crafted shelter can brings so many benefits in the wilderness, and all of them crucial for success in survival. Safety from ruthless elements, from harsh weather and wind, a morale and confidence boost, and a cozy place to sleep through the night. That’s why we chose to address this aspect of survival in more detail, the sheer importance of it dictates that we all get as familiar with it as possible.  Hopefully you too can get a small insight into their importance and learn some new tricks and tips of the crucial aspects of wilderness survival.

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