How to Build a Survival Shelter


One of the best skills to learn for survival is how to build a survival shelter when you find yourself  lost. If you are lost, the odds of surviving will increase if you are prepared to build a survival shelter.

Before beginning your survival shelter, you will have to find a flat surface, and secluded by any winds.  The location must be warm and dry.

The easiest way to build a shelter is to use a lean type structure.  Takes less energy to build.  And can be done easily. A lean-to shelter really has only a couple of parts to it. The main part of a lean-to is a pole or rope that you use to support the rest of the shelter. If you have a good piece of rope or para-cord you can tie it off between two trees. Ideally you would want them to be 6-8 feet apart so that you have enough space. You will want to tie it about 4 feet up. You can make them higher but it will take more effort to make the roof the higher you make your support.

If you don’t have a rope you can do the same thing using a fairly straight branch and wedge it into the v shaped notch that is created when a tree grows a new limb. You will need to find a location where you have 2 trees that will work well for this so the rope method is much better when learning how to build a survival shelter when lost.

Now that you have your rope or pole in place you will need to find a few poles to make some support for the roof structure of the lean-to. You will want poles that aren’t too heavy but are strong enough to provide good support. Look for branches with a diameter of no more than about 2 inches. For a 6 foot survival shelter you will probably want 4 branches or poles of that size. Lean those from the ground up against your rope.

When deciding which side to lean the poles on you will want to make sure they are on the side the wind is coming from as more than likely you will want to use your lean-to to block wind. If you are in a situation where it’s really hot you might want to consider reversing that, but in homes cases you’ll want your roof to block the wind.

If you have extra rope it’s a good idea to tie those off to the main rope to make them more stable while you create the rest of the roof structure. This will also be helpful if you are in an area where there is wind to keep them from blowing off your main rope.

Now that you have these in place you will want to collect branches that are smaller to weave through the support branches. You will want the next group to be horizontal and inline with your main rope of branch. Space them so that they form a grid of about 8 to 12″ squares. By now you should have a pretty solid structure.

Next is to fill in the rest of the roof with branches and or leaves that will help water and wind proof the structure. Pine boughs work really well for this as do many types of ferns. As much as possible try to angle them so any water flows away from the center. Start at the bottom of the survival shelter and work your way up. You should have a good amount of overlap as you go up.

The overlap will make sure that the rain or moisture will flow down the roof easily vs just running through the roof and leaving you soaked. Now that you have the roof in place you should have a survival shelter that will help keep you dry and warm while waiting for rescue or just resting so you can prepare to find your way out yourself.

Also try and create a mattress of pine boughs or other soft leafy materials that will keep you up off the ground and dry.

If you are able to build a fire you should have it outside the lean-to close enough so that the heat can be felt inside but far enough away so that you don’t catch your lean-to on fire.