building a shelter

Tip for Survival: Building A Shelter Using Natural Materials

When it comes to survival, building a shelter is one of the most important things you can do. Not only will it keep you warm and dry, but it will also protect you from the elements.

In this blog post, we will discuss a few shelter designs and how to build an adequate shelter using natural materials. This is a great option for those who are stranded in the wilderness or for those who are preparing for an emergency situation. Stay safe and stay warm!


What Is A Survival Shelter?

A survival shelter is a structure that is built to protect people from the elements. Survival shelter is any structure, natural or man-made, for an individual or a family during a survival situation. It will keep wild you warm and maintain body heat and prevents wild animals, insects, and the elements away from you.

deep snow sleeping bag

A wilderness survival shelter can be anything from a simple lean-to to a more complex structure made of logs and branches. A snow cave, fallen tree, dugouts, tunnels, debris hut, lean-to shelter, and more complex structures can all be used as wilderness survival shelter.

The most important thing is that it provides shelter and gives you protection from the sun, air, rain, and deep snow. It’s pretty easy to make a survival shelter out of natural objects, whether you’re in the woods, snow, or even a dessert.

You’ll need to build a natural shelter that works for the weather. Lean-to shelters are better for warm places, while an A-frame shelter wall is better for cold places. Part of your survival priorities is to make sure that you trap heat inside your completely enclosed shelter to trap body heat.

Hence in a cold place you need to stay inside your shelter as much as possible to protect yourself from the wind. If you don’t seek shelter during very low temperatures, you will most likely get hypothermia.

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Why Build A Survival Shelter?

The answer is simple: you never know when you might need it. A survival shelter can protect from the elements, camouflage from predators, and a place to rest and recuperate from an injury.

In short, a survival shelter can mean the difference between life and death in a difficult situation. So next time you’re out in the wilderness, take the time to build a shelter – it could save your life one day.

Types Of Survival Shelters

wilderness shelter body heat faster

A Large Tarp Lean-to Shelter

All you need for this type of shelter is a light large tarp and some rope. If you have a rain poncho, you can even use that. Just tie one end of the tarp to each of the two trees. This kind of shelter isn’t very warm, and since it’s usually open on three sides, it might not keep you dry when it rains.

Tarp A-frame Shelter

A frame-style shelter is a type of tarp shelter with an A-frame shape. Put your tarp over it by tying some rope between two trees. Then, anchor the sides of the tarp away from you with rocks, sticks, or more rope.

You could even use a horizontal branch, log, big rocks, or anything else that will give you cover under your tarp shelter. This type of shelter is better at keeping out the weather than a lean-to shelter because it only has two open sides.

Cocoon Shelter

This type of shelter is just a pile of leaves or other debris without some kind of frame. If it’s almost dark and you don’t have time to build another shelter, quickly gather dry debris like leaves, bark, and grasses and make a pile that’s about 1 meter high and slightly longer than you are.

Dig a hole in the middle of the pile so that the debris will protect you from the ground and the weather. This type of shelter is simple, but it acts like a natural sleeping bag and keeps heat in.

few hours survival skills

Fallen Tree

This is my favorite debris shelter because it requires little energy to construct. A fallen tree is a simple solution to the problem. It does require you to find a fallen branch or tree with enough space beneath it for you to crawl in.

You can adapt the tree in a variety of ways, such as draping a tarp over the limb to form a tarp tent or leaning twigs and debris against the fallen limb to serve as a sheltering wall.

If it is cold and windy, you can completely enclose yourself by blocking off the entrance with additional debris. A fallen tree shelter is similar to an A-frame shelter in that it helps to trap your body heat inside.

Debris Shelter: Lean-to

A lean-to debris shelter is simple to make and can be built to accommodate larger groups. The lean-to is open on three sides so doesn’t trap body heat as well as an a-frame or completely enclosed shelter.

You can pile additional debris against the sides like pine needles so for extra protection if you have time. A lean-to debris shelter can be built between trees, against rock walls, overhangs, or embankments.

One advantage of this style of shelter is by building a fire in front of the shelter, the rear wall acts as a heat reflector to help keep you warm. For additional radiant heat, you could also build a small wall or pile rocks on the other side of your fire.

A-Frame Debris Shelter

If you can’t build a lean-to, you can construct an A-frame debris shelter. If properly constructed, it can keep you warm and dry during inclement weather.

The A-frame shelter is made of branches and debris. It can also be constructed with a tarp or poncho, as previously mentioned. The majority of survival (mylar emergency) blankets are too small to construct a proper A-frame.

fallen limbs leaf hut

Snow Shelters

If you find yourself in a cold climate and need to maintain body heat, however there’s snow on the ground, you can use that to your advantage. Building a quinzee or igloo is time-consuming, but if you have the supplies and the time, it’s well worth it. If not, there are other options.

You can build a quick snow shelter by finding a snowbank and tunneling into it. The ideal spot is a bank that’s at least waist-high, so you don’t have to stoop too much while you’re carving out your cave. Once you’ve tunneled into the bank, excavate the floor of your cave so that it slopes down slightly towards the entrance of your snow shelter

Snow Cave

If you’re in a cold climate and there’s snow on the ground, you may be able to build a quinzee or igloo. If not, there are other options, such as building a quick snow cave by finding a snowbank and tunneling into it.

The ideal spot is a bank that’s at least waist-high, so you don’t have to stoop too much while you’re carving out your cave. Once you’ve tunneled into the bank, excavate the floor of your cave so that it slopes down slightly towards the entrance.

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Dugout Shelter

Dugout shelters offer excellent protection from wild animals while also naturally stabilizing heat and providing excellent protection from the elements during a survival situation.

Primitive Shelters

Primitive shelters are usually the most time-consuming to build but can offer superior protection from the elements. If you find yourself in a location with plenty of resources, building a thatched hut or wattle and daub house may be your best option.

trap heat smoke hole

Where Is The Best Place To Build Your Emergency Shelter?

Should Be In The Driest Area As much As Possible

Shelter should also be out of the direct path of any probable flash floods if you don’t want to be buried alive.

Elevate your shelter off the ground if possible to stay dry and avoid contact with potential insects and other pests.

Wetness is the fastest way to lose body heat. Wet weather are frequently your most dangerous adversary. It’s extremely difficult to stay warm when you’re wet. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s critical to ensure your shelter is waterproof and dry.

You might be fortunate enough to find natural rain protection and coverage. If you don’t have the natural resources or time to build your own shelter, large trees, fallen trees, large rocks and caves can come in handy. Finding a natural shelter is always the best option because it saves time and energy.

Build A Lean-to Shelter On High Ground If It Isn’t Too Cold.

A breeze will keep the bugs away and make it easier to see if a search party passes nearby. If there is a cold wind, pick a spot where trees will protect you.

But don’t build in deep valleys or ravines where cold air settles at night.

If it’s too cold, building a fire in front of the shelter will help reflect heat to you. Check to see where the high winds are coming from. You shouldn’t build a shelter that lets the wind in.

Even if there isn’t much wind right now, it could pick up as the night goes on. The best way to figure out which way the wind is blowing is to try to feel it. If you can’t feel the wind, look for natural signs like trees or grass that are moving.

unexpected night dig trenches

Attempt To Get Your Bed Off The Ground To Maintain Body Heat.

While building a shelter, check if there are a lot of bugs, building a bed might keep you safer from them. If it’s cold, building a bed off the ground will help you stay warmer.

Elevating doesn’t always mean building a high platform. You could lay down some tree stumps first and then put some green material like moss, leaves, or other bedding material on top of them.

Building A Shelter | Where not to Build A Fallen Tree Shelter?

a. Wherever the ground is wet.

b. On mountain tops and open ridges where the cold wind can get to you.

c. At the bottom of narrow valleys, where cold gathers at night.

d. When it rains, water flows down ravines or washes.

Steps On Building A Survival Shelter?

Step 1: Choose A Place To Build A Survival Shelter

Before setting up an emergency shelter, it’s important to look at the area. Try to pick a place that is naturally sheltered from the wind, and make sure that if it rains, water won’t flood or run through the area.

Step 2: Determine Your Needs

A lot of experts on surviving in the wild will tell you that this or that is the best way to build a survival shelter. But it depends on what you want.

Here are some things you should think about:

  1. In your group, how many people are there?
  2. Should your shelter look like something else?
  3. How cool is it? Will you need to make a fire inside your shelter or right in front of it?
  4. When do you have to finish building the shelter?
  5. Is building shelters a short time or long term shelters?

Step 3: Choose The Type Of Shelter You Want To Build

There are all sorts of different types of survival shelters that you can build, from the simple to the complex. Here are some ideas:

a. A-Frame Shelter

b. Debris Hut

c. Snow Cave

d. Tree Pit Shelter

e. Tarp Tent

f. Lean-To

g. Wickiup

h. Wigwam

building a shelter fallen tree

Step 4: Building The Frame Of Your Shelter

Building the frame of your shelter is one of the most important steps. If you’re building a debris hut, for example, you’ll need to build a framework that can support the weight of the materials you’ll be using to cover it.

If you’re building a lean-to, you’ll need to build two shelter walls and an overhanging roof or a leaf hut.

For a snow cave, you’ll need to dig out a space in the snow and then build up the walls and ceiling.

Inspect to see whether your chassis is the correct size by putting your legs at the low end of the ridgepole and lying down. You should be able to lie on your back under the ridgepole with your feet under the ridgepole and your head behind the entrance.

If it fits, you can keep building the walls of the shelter. It’s a good idea to put the end of the ridge pole that doesn’t have anything to support it on a big rock or another tree branches. This gives the wilderness shelter more space. If the end of the pole is on the ground, there may not be enough room for your feet at the end of the shelter. Make sure that the pole and the rock are stable so that the ridge pole doesn’t fall later.

Step 5: Make Sure That The Sticks On Each Side Of The Shelter Meet At The Top.

Place the twigs on the front and back to keep building the frame. During this phase, it’s important to come up with new ideas and get creative with how the sticks lock together.

Step 6: Make Your Bed

Fill the shelter with dry things that will act as insulation. Don’t just place it on the floor as a mattress; if you do have enough stuff, fill it all the way. The best things to use are dead leaves, bark, and grasses.

To help trap air inside, the material you use needs to be dry and as light and “fluffy” as possible. This makes the insulation better and makes it act like a blanket, keeping warm air close to your body.

Don’t put any green material inside your shelter, though, because the moisture will let the cold get to your bones. When you go into the shelter, put yourself in the middle of the insulation.

The material below keeps your body from getting too close to the ground. The material above keeps the air from getting to you. If the ground is wet, it is best to put down some thicker sticks first to keep the leaves from getting wet.

Step 7: Adding Insulation To Your Home

The shelter is protected from the weather by the outer layer of material. Dry, dead leaves, bark, and grasses are piled up on the lattice to make it. It doesn’t have to be nice-looking.

Don’t take shortcuts on materials. You might be tired, but if you rest in a natural shelter, it will either keep you safe or not. Keep putting things on top of one another until the material is at least 30cm (30mm) thick. Even better is 500 mm thick. Just keep piling it on.

Find a few medium-sized branches and lay them gently on top of the leafy stuff. This will keep the shelter’s insulation in place when the wind is strong. By adding the branches, your shelter’s roof won’t get blown off during the night.

Step 8: Be Proud Of Your Shelter

If you have no plans of creating a long-term shelter, the most key point to remember is that it is only meant to keep you alive and prevent heat loss in adverse weather, not to make you feel comfortable.

Most natural debris shelters are damp and cool on the inside, and some may even leak a little. It is better to be uncomfortable and alive than to be dead.

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Step 9: Building A Door

The last step in building your shelter is to make a door. This may not seem important, but if you don’t have a solid door, none of your insulation will help. The plug that needs to keep all of the heat inside is the door.

The easiest way is to crawl into the shelter and then pull a big pile of debris inside. If you have enough trash, the leaf pile will fill the entrance and keep you warm all night. You could also make a door by putting a thick layer of trash between two flat panels made of vines or sticks.

Step 10: Ensure You Are Noticeable

Shelters for trash are made from natural materials, so they fit in well with their surroundings. Since your debris shelter is an emergency shelter, you need to make sure that search and rescue teams can still find you.

Keep this in mind and think about trying to hang something luminous outside the shelter to get the attention of people who might be able to help.

A pack cover tied to your shelter, a backpack left outside, a big arrow made of branches on the ground, or anything else that will get people’s attention.

This is true for all emergency shelters, like caves, overhangs, or shelters made of debris. Be creative, but make sure that what you do will stand out.

tarp tent debris hut

Building A Shelter| Tips In Creating A Shelter

  • Skim through leaves to look for bugs before you put them in the shelter.
  • A lean-to can be insulated with leaves, but a tarp is better if you have one. This way, you’re also less likely to get bugs.
  • Even though tools are helpful, you can make do with things like sharp rocks if you don’t have any around.
  • Knives and machetes are useful, but they can be dangerous if they are not used properly. Never use tools that aren’t sharp. Don’t use tools in ways that aren’t what they were made for. Misusing tools can cause serious harm or even death.
  • Be aware of what is around a tree if you want to cut it down. Because of negligence, people can get very hurt or even die.
  • In a survival station, it’s fine to cut down living trees, but if you’re practicing in the woods, you should only use dead things.
  • Leave No Trace: If you build a debris shelter or any other kind of shelter in the woods, take it down when you’re done using it. Bring the area back to its natural state.

Building A Shelter| How To Build The Best Fire Pits in Survival Shelters

It’s essential that you are secure as well as warm, fed, and dry. Fire can warm you up, but it can also be very dangerous. So, please take care of your fire in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment.

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The Smoke Needs To Vent Out Of The Shelter, Or You Will Suffocate.

You need to be able to see your fire so that you can control it. Building a good fire pit is essential for keeping your fires under control and making sure they don’t get out of hand.

The best place for your flame is out in the open, where smoke can flow freely and still keep you warm. But for smoke to get out of a room with a roof, you need a smoke hole or a chimney.

Keep The Fire Contained

The next rule of building a fire pit is to keep the fire contained. You need to build a wall around the fire to keep the fire inside so that it doesn’t spread. The wall can be made of stone, bricks, or metal.

Make sure that the wall is at least 30 cm (30mm) high. If you’re using stones, make sure that they’re not too big. If the stones are too big, the heat will crack them, and then the wall will collapse.

The best way to build a wall is to create a circle with stones or bricks. Make sure that there are no gaps in between so that the fire doesn’t escape.

Keep An Eye On The Fire

Now that you have a fire pit, it’s important to keep an eye on the fire. You need to make sure that the flames are not too high and that the smoke is not building up inside the shelter. If the flames get too high, they could ignite the roof of your shelter, and if the smoke gets too thick, it would create an indoor fire.

If you have to leave the camp for a while, it’s not a good idea to leave a big fire going in the pit. Put it out before you leave. Also, you will need to sleep at some point, but you should wait until the fire is out.

During Inclement Weather, Use Only Dry Fuel For The Fire

In bad weather, you should always know that the fuel you put on your fire needs to be dry to burn. If you can, put the kindling, leaves, and logs under a tarp.

Leaves are great for starting a fire, but they can also be used to keep your bed warm. They can make your bed and dry out in the shelter until you need to start a fire.

a frame debris shelter

Where To Put Your Fire Pit

Let’s assume that you have that basic lean-to shelter set up. You have enough sticks and leaves to start a fire, and you also have a big pile of logs ready to go. You should also have been able to find some good stones to put around your fire pit.

Take a few steps away from your shelter and face the direction of the wind to figure out where to put your fire pit. You shouldn’t blow smoke right into your shelter.


So there you have it, our top survival tip: build a shelter using natural materials. This is just one of many tips we could give you, but it’s one of the most important and could be life-saving. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back and refer to it when needed – and stay safe out there!