How to find or build a survival shelter

Building a survival shelter is an absolute priority, if you face a survival situation in harsh or unpredictable weather. A good shelter must protect you from the elements and be comfortable enough for resting and sleeping. Most people cannot survive unprotected from rough weather for more than a few hours.

If possible choose ground:

• that is dry, well drained and reasonably flat.

• that is a comfortable distance to water and has a supply of firewood.

• that has building materials for your shelter.

• that provides protection against strong winds.

If you are lost and people are looking for you, make sure your shelter site is easy to be seen and found by search and rescue teams.

Unsuitable shelter sites:

- A site too close to water may lead you to be troubled by insects.

- Rivers presents a constant threat to safety. Heavy rainfall in nearby hills can easily create flash floods. Avoid dry riverbeds.

- Avoid loose rocks, dead trees or other natural growth that could fall on your shelter.

- Low ground, such as ravines and narrow valleys, could be damp and collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore be colder than the surrounding high ground. On the other hand, the tops of mountains are exposed to higher winds. The best area to seek shelter is somewhere in between.

Survival shelters

tarp If you have added a shelter tarp, an emergency blanket or an extra poncho to your gear, you are almost done with your shelter building. However, if you lack equipment, local conditions and materials will determine the type of wilderness shelter you build.

Natural cover

shelter site

Look for natural formations that could provide shelter. Examples include caves, rocky crevices and large trees with low-hanging limbs. If no natural formation is available to provide shelter, you will need to build your own.

Shelters made of natural materials

Make your shelter just large enough to accommodate you, especially in cold climates, because you are going to have to heat it. One of the best wilderness shelters is called the "debris hut". When shelter is essential to survival, if possible, build this survival shelter.

If you do not want to spend too much time and effort to build your shelter. Probably, the quickest type of wilderness shelter to build is the lean-to shelter.

More tips and advice

Read what other readers have to say about how to build a shelter in the wilderness.

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