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Bushcraft Skills Part 1 - Shelter Building

Emergency Shelter: Surviving Summer or Winter

According to the “Rules of Three”, shelter ranks second on the list. Also, in almost every survival manual you can get your hands on “shelter building” is usually one of the first topics that gets covered.

When faced with a situation in the bush, having the knowledge and skills to build a shelter can mean the difference between comfort and distress. Knowing how to construct a shelter is crucial, whether it's the sweltering heat of summer or the biting cold of winter. Let's explore the essential steps to build an emergency shelter in the forest during these extreme seasons.

Summer Survival Shelter:

Location, Location, Location - Just like any real estate agent will tell you….

Finding a suitable spot for your shelter is vital in the summer. Look for an area with shade, away from direct sunlight. A grove of trees or a thick canopy will provide relief from the scorching sun and help regulate the temperature inside the shelter.

Try not to build your shelter on too much of a downhill slope. All it takes is a touch of rain and you could be waking up in a soggy bed.

Be sure that there are no other hazards in the area either, like ant hills, hornet nests, or other nasties.

-Collecting Materials:

Gather natural materials such as branches, leaves, and grass to build your shelter. Look for fallen branches or deadwood to use as a frame and gather leafy branches or pine boughs to create a roof. Make sure the materials are dry to avoid moisture and mould.

-Construction Techniques:

Start by creating a framework using sturdy branches. Leaning them against a fallen tree or forming a simple A-frame structure provides stability. Lay smaller branches horizontally across the frame to form a base. Then, layer leaves, grass, or moss over the branches to create a roof that will shield you from the sun's rays.

Winter Wonderland Shelter:

-Strategic Placement:

Finding a location with natural windbreaks is essential in the winter. Look for a spot behind large rocks, thick trees, or against a hillside. These natural features will help reduce the impact of strong winds and provide some insulation.

Now in the icy cold, you shouldn't have to worry about insects, but you do want to watch out for snowy overhangs, or frozen creek beds before you bed down.

-Insulation and Warmth:

To stay warm during winter, insulation is key. Collect dry leaves, pine needles, or moss to create a thick layer between you and the ground. This layer acts as a barrier to prevent the cold from seeping into your shelter. Additionally, consider constructing a raised bed using logs or branches to elevate yourself from the ground.

Be sure to pace yourself while building in the winter to avoid overheating and excessive sweating. There are few things more miserable than being cold and wet.

-Snow as Building Material:

Take advantage of the abundant snowfall in winter by incorporating it into your shelter. Pile snow against the windward side of your structure, forming an extra layer of insulation. This snow wall will act as a windbreak and trap heat inside your shelter.


Important Considerations for Both Seasons:

Size and Ventilation:

Ensure your shelter is large enough to accommodate you comfortably while allowing for proper air circulation. A small opening or vent near the top prevents condensation and keeps the air fresh.

Fire Safety:

When building a shelter, consider the proximity to potential fire hazards. Clear away dry leaves, branches, and any flammable materials from the area surrounding your shelter. Safety should always be a priority.

Remember, practice and preparation are essential. Familiarize yourself with these techniques before venturing into the forest. With the right knowledge, resourcefulness, and a calm mindset, you can construct a shelter that will provide protection and increase your chances of survival in both summer and winter forest emergencies.

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