Wilderness Survival Shelter Criteria
There are a few basic criteria to follow when building a wilderness survival shelter. Depending upon the situation (injury, location, etc.), you won’t always be able to use everyone, but the more you do, the warmer you’ll be.
Here are the 7 Criteria for a successful wilderness survival shelter:
- Warm: You must create a dead-air space where warm air is trapped.
- Wind and Waterproof: Warmth cannot be achieved if you have the wind blowing through your shelter and you’re getting wet from above or below.
- Small: The smaller a shelter is, the easier it is to build and the easier it is to heat.
NOTE: Remember that any endeavor in a survival situation comes at a price of calories or energy, so you must always conserve your energy and only spend it when the return is greater than the expenditure.
- Strong: You want a shelter that won’t collapse on your head or blow over in a storm.
- Easy to Construct: Keep it simple; remember the cost of calories to build; the easier the shelter, the fewer calories spent.
- South Facing Slopes: If you can, south-facing slopes are warmer and have rocky terrain for radiant heat north. Facing slopes are colder and damper; the trade-off, though, is that north-facing have more vegetation and, therefore, more material to work with.
- 50-75ft up from the canyon floor: If you remember from the winter shelter posts, we created colder air sumps so that the cold air had a place to settle away from where we were sleeping. Well, this is true on a larger scale, meaning that canyon bottoms are where the cold air settles, and so getting 50-70ft up out of the bottom of a canyon or revenue can change the temperature significantly. An easy way to figure this out is to find a tall tree at the bottom and just head up the hillside until you’re about even with the top of it.
To recap, they are:
- Warm (dead-air space)
- Wind and Waterproof (above and below)
- Easy to Construct (keep it simple).
- South Facing Slopes (different vegetation and rocky for radiant heat)
- 50-75ft up from the canyon floor.
These are the basic criteria for wilderness survival shelters, and the more you can follow them, the better shelter you’ll have.