Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Debris Survival Shelter Construction

Debris Survival Shelter:
I have been scouting for new Deer/Bear/Squirrel/Boar grounds and have been setting up a variety of shelters throughout the soon to be hunting/trapping grounds when the perfect opportunity for a debris shelter was presented to me by Mother Nature. I haven't made a small one like this for years (since boy scouts) and thought this was the perfect opportunity to revisit my shelter making days of old. So lets start this off with a quick walk around video of the shelter post completion and the go into its actual construction.

Walk Around Video of The Debris Shelter:

Debris Shelter Construction Step-By-Step:

1) So as I was scouting for deer season and looking for a few squirrels and came across this little configuration of trees and downed saplings which made me instantly decide to make a debris shelter for the night instead of continuing to test my micro 10 C's Kit. The ridge-line for the shelter was already set and saved me from cutting the one portion of the shelter element that one will normally have to cut, thus allowing me to make a shelter with no tools. Obviously the first two steps of shelter construction were complete for me already: a) The ridge-line pole fell into place with the entrance about 3' tall and B) The support for the ridge-line was firmly planted into the ground in the form of a tree (if you are not so lucky to find something like this a straight stick with a "Y" pounded into the ground with the "Y" up will work extremely well.
2) Begin to lay sticks against the ridge-line, bigger diameter sticks make for a great base and should be used where possible.
3) Cover the remainder of both sides with sticks (the more coverage the easier it will be to cover with debris). Sticks need not be bigger than the wrist for structural support, so take advantage of all of the lying dead wood in the area: work smarter, not harder!
4) After you get your base layer of larger sticks find an arm full of forked smaller limbs to help catch the debris and keep them in place. ***Note if you have a surplus of pine or birch bark I would add those at this time in a shingle fashion to make your shelter more water proof; unfortunately, those were not available in this old growth hardwood forest so the traditional route is how we will move forward***
5) Next you need to gather the star of this shelter (debris) in one of many ways. I usually just use my boot (size 13 tends to move a lot of debris around quickly); however, if you have a stick that has multiple forks in it you can use it as a rake in a manner that is just as effective but adds the advantage of carrying a larger amount of debris by trapping it against the stick much like how you would carry grass clippings against a rake. Notice how big of an area you actually need to clear to get a sufficient amount of debris, this is no small undertaking.
6) Throw as many debris as you can find (and the shelter will support) and once you think you have enough add more! The insulation properties of a debris shelter are amazing, but be sure that you don't leave any holes as just one hole can leave you with a very wet and damp night.
7) Interior view prior to adding bedding. Obviously additional debris will work as bedding; however, everything is soaking wet so I would end up loosing body heat. So the plan was to make a trip a mile or two away to get some pine bedding materials, If I didn't know those materials were available on the other side of the property I would most likely end up utilizing a bark base layer for the first night until I could dry out sufficient debris to make a sleeping mat and bedding materials (ideally you would nearly fill the interior of the shelter with bedding materials to allow for compression and to prevent losing body heat to the ground via conduction).
8) Bedding- I went with a pine bed and as you can see you need to nearly fill this shelter up with pine to provide you with sufficient protection from losing body heat via conduction to the ground (you are striving for 1" of compressed material for your bedding.
8) The opening to this should be just wide enough to crawl in to. For those of you who are small this means you can get by with a smaller opening but for those of us with broad shoulders.... well we must build a door when possible. ***Note I'm 6'1"and by no means tiny so this is not a fat guys in the woods friendly shelter but with a debris shelter you need as little air space as possible one you are completely in the shelter.
9) With a wider door you will need to cover that entrance the best you can to avoid the escape of heat. While my door isn't perfect it will keep the rain off me and act as a good wind break if the prevailing wind direction should change.
10) Interior view night 1! As you can see there is very little air space and if I had a wool blanket or more pine to throw in I would do so as a blanket to fill the remainder of that air space for maximum heat retention.
Allow several hours to throw one of these shelters together and longer if you have to go in search of dry bedding like I did (several mile round trip). The frame should take less than an hour assuming there is sufficient downed wood in the area. The piling of debris takes the longest (I had 2+ hours piling debris onto the shelter using my foot and a stick as a rake, but its still summer so less leaves). Then gathering pine should take you less than 20 minutes and setting up your bed about 30 minutes at most. The door depending on how much cordage you use and how elaborate you get could take you five minutes or more than an hour. So lesson learned plan for half a day if you are planning to make this style shelter in any season other than fall.  Also the insulation of this shelter is amazing, if you make it so it is just big enough for you to fit you will have an extremely warm night ahead of you!

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1 comment:

  1. Great. My family have trip next month. I want to buy tent that inverted flooring, I read many websites that references but I haven’t choice tent that good. You have a lot of expriences.