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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fighter Trench Snow Shelter

The name says it all, this method was developed by the military and taught to their fighter pilots for a quick winter shelter. Basically you dig a trench and then cover it with branches, skis or whatever and then cover those with a poncho, tarp or even snow blocks. It's biggest benefit is that it's one the fastest shelters to build, the downside is that it's not as warm as others. There's a few points that can help you build one, so let's take a look...

1. Step One
First stomp out your area to dif the trench in. This helps to collapse the crystals in the snow and make for a solid shelter.

2. Step Two
Now dig a trench a little longer than your height while laying down. Make sure you keep the trench narrow (no wider than your hips if you can) or else it will be hard to bridge the gap this your skis or branches. Dig to about chest high in depth.

Notice there's a shelf in the back where the shovel is sitting. You don't have to do that I just wanted a shelf for gear. One neat thing about snow shelters is as you become more skilled, you can be as creative as you like, snow is easy to work with.

3. Step Three
Now carve a bed platform about knee high so as to keep a cold air sump in the bottom. Make the bed just wide enough for you to lay on. Always remember to keep the ceiling at an arch or half arch in this case (arching from the rim to the backside of the bed). The shovel is laying on the bed and I'm taking the photo from the opposite corner to look a little better inside.

4. Step Four
Now lay some poles, skis, branches or whatever you can find across the opening. Here I used some ski poles and a branch to show you a few examples.

5. Step Five
Now cover the poles and branch with a tarp, poncho, parachute or whatever you have and then bury the edges with snow. Now you're done. It's that easy. In the photo you can see the shovel down in the bottom.

Here's a view inside from the doorway. You can see the shovel on the bed platform and the shelf area straight forward.

Here's a view while lying on the bed looking out the doorway. You can see my boot on the right. All that's left is to put a plug in the door (like your backpack, branches or something). The vent hole in these shelters is the door, but if you did seal up the door air tight with a tarp or something, you would need to punch in a vent hole in the side wall.

6. Alternative Roofing
If you don't have poles or even a tarp you can use snow for your roof, if the snow can be cut into blocks and is not to powdery. For this trench I dug into a snow bank so you could see in easier. The trench is dug and the bed platform is done with the shovel laying on it. Now we can begin on the roof.

Here I've begun to lay blocks in an "A" frame across the gap.

Here I am sitting on the bed with the roof done. I went up and shoveled some snow on the blocks to fill in the holes. Note this is a tall shelter, they don't have to be that tall, but I wanted to be able to stand in it.

Finally, here's a photo taken from bed at night looking at the entrance. I put a tarp over the entrance because of being dug into a snow bank and as a result the front was left open (it was still very warm). Note that with the tarp sealing it up pretty tight, I put a vent hole in the side. Also, notice the candle on the left, remember all you need is one stick candle and they heat up nicely, not to mention the light it puts out with the snows reflection.

Now let's look at how to build snow caves in the next post...
See you on the trail,

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1 comment:

  1. too hard to see depth perception with your photos but looks like no one else cares but me............