10 Critical Points You Need To Know About Building Any Natural Shelter

People underestimate just how quickly a bright, sunny day can turn into a dangerous situation.

That short hike through the woods could turn into a life threatening situation in a matter of minutes.

Did you know that temperatures as low as only forty degrees  can lead to hypothermia when high wind and rain are factored in)?

In a survival situation, having the proper shelter can mean the difference between life and death.

We must evaluate how soon you want to build your shelter.  The rule of three states that without shelter, you can be dead in as little as 3 hours.

If we are dealing with rain and wind, that number drops to minutes.

Rapid loss of body heat  can lead to impaired motor movement.

When our clothing becomes wet, it loses its insulating properties.

Imagine trying to start a fire while shaking, fumbling around and unable to use your fingers properly.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are lost or disoriented there is one Acronym that you need to remember to improve your survival chances.


Stop and Think about the situation.

Observe the area and then Plan your actions.

Ask yourself things like as: Am I in immediate danger?

Are there enough building and fire materials in the area?

Am I  somewhere that can be easily seen by rescuers?

The worst  thing you can do is allow fear to cause you to act irrationally.

If you get the slightest inkling that you are off course and lost… STOP!

Walking any further will  only increase the distance from your last known position and can significantly reduce the chances of being found by rescue.

Immediate shelter could be found under a spruce tree, or some form of natural cover, but sometimes that just isn’t an option…

If that is the case, you need to know how to effectively and efficiently create shelter from your surroundings.

Contrary to all of the popular Survival shows, building a primitive shelter from scratch isn’t something that can be done in just a few minutes.

Crafting a proper shelter that takes care of your needs, takes time, training and effort.

In fact, my buddy J.J. from Reality Survival has 10 key points that you need to know about building a primitive shelter:

By the way, have you ever wondered exactly how much work really goes into building one of these shelters?

Check out the video below to find out:

1. Building a natural shelter requires a lot of work!  If you need to build one of these in a wilderness survival situation plan to spend several hours of time working on it, if you want a shelter that will be water proof.

2.  In some environments a natural shelter can be constructed without using any manmade materials, including cutting tools or cordage.  But that is generally the exception and not the rule.  In most of the continental United States you will likely want/need to have an axe, saw or machete in order to build a good reliable natural shelter.

3. You should start with a solid frame work for your natural shelter.  Ensure the frame work that you build is heavy duty enough to be able to hold your own body weight at a minimum.

This way if you get a surprise snow storm the shelter frame work can bear the additional weight of the snow.  I recommend having the main ridge pole or load bearing pole that is at least 4 inches in diameter made of a very solid and sturdy pole (green is best).

4. Ensure the pitch (angle)  of the sides and back are at least 45 degrees.  It can be tempting to build a natural shelter with a flat or slightly sloped roof.  This is a huge mistake.  Always make sure you have the proper pitch so that the water will run off adequately.

5. Thickness.  The thickness of the natural material you are using needs to be thick enough so that when you look up through the material from the inside you can’t see any light coming through.  If you see spots of light, you will certainly have rain coming through if the weather gets bad.

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 14, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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