Building an Improvised Shelter

Posted On February 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm by / No Comments

Building an Improvised Shelter

When you are in a survivalist situation and need to build an improvised, aka bivouac, shelter, it helps to know what materials to look for and how you can use your resources to provide you with a place to avoid the elements or rest.

Choosing Your Shelter Site

Knowing what type of location to look for will play heavily into the shelter you build. Shelters must fit two requisites:

  1. They must contain enough material to build the type of shelter you need; and
  2. Must be large enough so that you can lie down comfortably.

You should also remember to consider other factors that are easy to remember with this acronym: BLISS.

  • B- Blend in with surroundings
  • L- Low silhouette
  • I- Irregular shape
  • S- Small
  • S- Secluded location

Types of Improvised Shelters

There are numerous types of shelters you can build depending on your time and needs. We will focus on three shelters that are generally meant to be quick to put up and require minimal equipment.

One-Man Shelter

A one-man shelter is effective and quick to assemble if you have the right equipment. You’ll need a tarp or wind-resistant cloth, and a few wooden poles. To start, secure a 4.5 meter pole to the side of a tree at about waist height, the other side will hit the ground. Next take two three-meter poles and lay them on the ground parallel to the larger pole. Take your tarp or canopy and place it over the large pole so that an equal amount can be folded under each of the smaller poles. Use a perpendicular pole between the two ground poles to keep them separated.

Debris Hut

This shelter is good for warmth and protection from the elements. Begin by securing a large tree pole to a tree or waist-high stable area. It should naturally lie on the ground on the opposing end. Next, place large upright sticks along the length of the large pole creating a sort of triangle effect with the poles on each side of the large pole. Picture a large a-frame getting smaller from the top of the large pole down to the bottom of the pole where it meets the ground. Then, cover the smaller sticks with finer sticks and brush that is perpendicular to the a-frame sticks to insulate. Pine needles, grass and leaves work best.

Field-Expedient Lean-To

This a more advanced shelter but one that protects you from the elements. You will need to find two trees about six feet apart then find a pole long enough to span the width of the trees. Once you have secured a pole (at about four to five feet high) across the trees you secure three to four vertical beams to the horizontal pole with the backside into the wind. Next place vines or saplings in a crisscross formation on the horizontal beams then cover this framework with brush, pine needles, grass or other insulating plants. Work your way from bottom to the top.

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