Three Winter Survival Shelters
By Steven Gillman
Anyone who ventures out
into the wilderness in the colder months of the year might want to
know how to construct a few basic winter survival shelters. We can
probably rule out the most famous of these, the igloo. It's
difficult and time consuming to build, especially if you haven't
done it before. It also requires certain snow conditions. That
leaves at least three easier shelters, as described here.
The Tree Pit Shelter
This is perhaps the easiest of all the survival
shelters, because it is essentially already made for you. The way
the snow falls in deep forests, there is often a "hole" around the
base of evergreen trees. The snow here is shallower, and there may
even be bare ground at times. The surrounding deeper snow creates a
circular wall around this, which blocks the wind.
Just climb down in if you are caught out in a
blizzard. If you have more time, you can modify these to better
protect yourself from the elements. To start with, always try to
stay off the snow or cold ground in the bottom. You can do this
using a layer of dry grass, tips from evergreen branches, or
whatever else is available. Make this thick enough to insulate you
from the cold below, and large enough to curl up on to sleep.
You can also create more of a "roof" above your
tree pit, using whatever branches you can break off and collect by
hand. This will further block the wind and snow. If you enclose the
space well enough and it is small, you might even be able to retain
enough of your body heat to have a shelter that is a few degrees
warmer than the outside air. A fire in one of these is a bad idea.
The Snow Cave
A snow cave is carved out of a large drift on the
side of a hill, assuming the snow is deep enough. After digging into
the snow a way to create an entrance, you'll want to carve out a
sleeping shelf higher up. This allows the colder air to settle below
you near the entryway.
Again it is important to insulate yourself from
the cold snow with a layer of soft evergreen branches or a sleeping
pad if you have one, or anything else that works. You can raise the
temperature a few degrees above that of the outside air with your
body heat alone if the cave is small. You also can use a candle for
heat. If you do that, poke a hole through the ceiling to the
outside, for ventilation.
The Snow Trench
This is one of the simplest of winter survival
shelters, much easier to construct than either an igloo or a snow
cave. You essentially just dig out or kick out a trench in the snow
that is big enough to lay down in, and then make a roof of some
sort. There are several ways you can do the latter.
If you have a poncho or tarp or even the remains
of a tent you can use that as a roof. Prop it up with a few sticks
to give yourself room to sit up (at least at one end). You can use
tree branches for a roof as well. Evergreen boughs work best, with
perhaps a few longer sticks as a framework. Leave a way to crawl
into the shelter, of course, and perhaps a way to close the entrance
If there are no other materials available, the
snow itself can often be used. Look for areas where it is crusty.
Using your feet, kick out rectangular pieces of the hard surface
snow to see if they hold together. If so, they can be propped up to
lean against each other like an A-frame roof over the trench. This
is not the most comfortable of the winter survival shelters, but it
can usually be built very quickly.
Copyright Steve Gillman. Learn about Winter
Backpacking, and get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking Secrets" (And
Wilderness Survival Tips), at: http://www.The-Ultralight-Site.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steven_Gillman
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