Wilderness Survival Shelters: Stay Alive – and Maybe Comfortable!

Wilderness Survival Shelters: Stay Alive – and Maybe Comfortable!

- in Survival In Mountains

Building a good survival shelter is one of the most important primitive skills there are. If you are going camping in the cold and wet without any gear then you need to know how to stay alive and comfortable. I have slept in enough cold, wet shelters to figure out how to build some warm, dry ones.

Learning to build good shelters completely transformed my experience of primitive camping. For years it seemed that I was miserable every time I went out, just too stubborn to give up. So it was a real thrill the first time I slept warm and cozy without even a blanket. The more that I learned to think for myself and design shelters to meet the conditions at hand, the better my camping experiences became.

The type of shelter you build, and the location you choose for it, will vary tremendously depending on the time, the place, and your goals. Instead of teaching you solely “shelters,” I want to teach you about the separate elements of shelter. Those elements are: shingling, fire, insulation, and air-proofing. In a nutshell, shingles help to keep you dry. Fire is used directly and indirectly in many different ways for heating. Insulation is used to trap the available heat inside, and air-proofing is like weather-stripping to stop cold drafts of air. Each of these elements come into consideration in every shelter you build. Once you understand each of these elements of shelter then you can assemble them into the appropriate shelters to meet the needs of your specific times, places, and goals. You will be able to predict how a new structure will perform, based on the elements of shelter, even though you’ve never built one quite like it before. Text and photos adapted from Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills, available from www.HOPSPress.com


  1. All you need is:
    Two close together trees
    Pocket knife
    Tie wire around the trees, drape tarp over string, pin down with sharpened sticks, BOOM INSTA TENT!

  2. he said white man. wo i have lived in alaska at least   26 years and most alaskan natives are very nice. i have worked with the best of them.but some have a hare up there ass and very stuburn 

  3. Talking about minimizing your impact. Dismantling a shelter is the least problem. The biggest problem that creates more problems for people who really need to find a place to stay is the ASSHOLES that leave their TRASH everywhere they go. I've been all over this country and there are far more assholes than conscientious people.

  4. "improvising on the fly" is bullshit because WHERE are you going to be ALLOWED to set up anything? Within an hour of any place the law will be there to kick you out.

  5. I carry a tent everywhere so I can get a instant shelter and if needed to be long term I add around it. Helps keep those snakes out!

  6. lol, survival shelter:
    0:37 – Because you have a digger

  7. Do It Now Survival

    Very fun! It takes me back to when I taught outdoor education at a ymca camp. I market an emergency preparedness plan and would like to see info like yours incorporated. Truth is there's a lot of prep you can't take to the wilderness if you have to flee! Thanks again…

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  9. you wish you were a native american don't you. maybe next lifetime

  10. "Buy the truth, and sell it not." Proverbs 23:23

    Cool. Please subscribe to me too 🙂

  11. If you hide under the tree, you can die easily because the lighting will strike you

  12. awesome video! Taught me a lot. Thanks for sharing! Peace!

  13. Cool when summer comes I'm gon try out some of these

  14. Im doing my wilderness survival merit badge by building a shelter out of all natural materials and this video has helped considerably. Thank You

  15. No video, but there are more pictures and a diagram of the earthlodge in my book, Participating in Nature.

  16. Do you have a video of that large earthen hut that was being covered by the backhoe?

  17. I have always called the pit shelter a dugout but you are right it is just a pit and it is an awesome shelter and one year I had one problem with the rain but fixed that later down the road with a piece or tarp that was slightly larger than my dugout…

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