Natural Shelters

Discussion in 'Shelter' started by dinosaurwill, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    In this forum, it seems that there are too few articles on shelters made without tarps, emergency blankets, and the like. Almost all of the articles deal with man-made gear. I, for one, have made some extremely warm shelters out of completely natural materials, easily rivaling the warmth of any tent, so I think natural shelters are worth knowing how to build. I was wondering if some of you folks out there could pitch in your two cents about what works best in your area for natural bush shelters. Lean-to? A-frame? Here in the Northwest, I find that dome shelters, wiki-ups, and spider shelters work great. Advice? Comments? Suggestions?
     
  2. Trekon86

    Trekon86 Guest

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    There are threads on the subject. Try using google advanced search.

    PMZ
     
  3. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    No advice here, but would like to see some of the shelters you've made as this is very interesting to me.
     
  4. Roamer

    Roamer Guide

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    +1 to what 3fires says. Would like it if dinosaurwill would share some ideas. I'm a newbie at this but want to give it a try.
     
  5. shinjak

    shinjak Tracker

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    I agree that the "survival" shelter threads outnumber the permanent bush shelter threads, but those threads are on here. Try this google search: http://www.google.com/search?btnG=1&pws=0&q=permanent+shelters+site:bushcraftusa.com Youtube is also a good place to look, try watching some of these videos. Another terrific resource is "Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties" by Daniel C. Beard. It's available in the downloads section of this site (I think), from Google Books, or an actual hardcopy book from Amazon. Many of the structures in this book could be adapted into debris type permanent shelters. I am currently looking at the Pontiac for a permanent shelter.

    I'm with the rest of these guys, whatever you decide to build take pictures and share!
     
  6. RangerJoe

    RangerJoe Bushwhacker Bushclass II

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    Enlighten us then.
     
  7. Leif

    Leif Staff Staff Member Super Moderator Vendor Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    You're not looking then.

    We would all love to see what you have been building. Pics and videos go up well here.
     
  8. Lerch

    Lerch Bushmaster Bushclass I

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    I put natural shelter in the "Oh Crap Everything Went Wrong" category. In other words I somehow found myself in the bush without my kit. This is unlikely as I even have the most rudimentary shelter making stuff in my PSK which is part of my EDC.

    I have made a few all natural shelters in the past. I know I can do so in the future if I needed to. Such as in the unlikely event I am mugged on my way down the trail and someone takes all my kit or some other unlikely circumstance. Once you have the basics it isn't rocket science. It also isn't as comfortable or efficient as putting up a tarp.

    If you have some good natural shelters though I propose you post up some pics and details. Perhaps allow us to learn from your stated experience.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  9. J

    J Bushwhacker Bushclass I

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    Post em up!! I love pics of people getting out and doing, and not just sittin around talking about it.....:dblthumb:
     
  10. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    I fear you misstate the case, and have done only a very cursory look. Such broad generalizations often tend to go awry. :)

    Most of us had also arrived at a similar conclusion in our learning curve. However, due to legal restrictions and also time limitations, it is often impossible to build a natural shelter legally (and we do not discuss illegal activities) or within the available time.

    As for "rivaling the tent for warmth", I fear that is a very poor standard to use. Tents tend to be cold affairs, unless large enough for a stove to be used inside. Tarp shelters on the other hand, tend to be easily warmed by a reflector fire, and are therefore excellent for overnight camps where a permanent shelter would be a waste of time and energy.

    Here in the Southwest, rock shelters and to a limited extent debris shelters are workable. The tipi or a simple leanto are about all that can be easily crafted , and those presume access to special supplies.

    A spider hole or scout pit is work, and very time consuming , assuming you can find soil rather than limestone to dig in.
     
  11. Iz

    Iz MEMBER of a BANNED Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    I don't use a shelter. I just sleep face up in the dirt, much more bushcrafty that way.
     
  12. Lerch

    Lerch Bushmaster Bushclass I

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    Also safer than sleeping on your belly.
     
  13. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    I don't have any pics of them right now, but I'll try to take some soon. Unfortunately all I have is the camera on my cell phone to take pics.
     
  14. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    last time i used an all natural shelter was at a pow wow and i had a little to much firewater to drink!
    woke up with a stiff neck and covered in dew having used my bedroll as a pillow.
    slept great! reckon thats as natural as it gets...well almost...woods
     
  15. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder Staff Member Administrator Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II Bushclass Instructor

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    Ahhh I see, so you dont have any pics from before? I'd like to see not ones you're making currently but you sound like you have allot of experience here, so I would like to see some pics of your previous ones

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  16. Leif

    Leif Staff Staff Member Super Moderator Vendor Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    Shoot, that's what most of this membership uses now to take pics. Don't be shy.
     
  17. ohski

    ohski Guide

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    All I ever use is my phone to take pics...

    Ski
     
  18. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    I'll get out there probably this weekend, or maybe the next, and snap some pics. I build most of them in woods several blocks away; I live on a rez, so there's no laws against shelter-building (although you're not allowed to stay in them).
     
  19. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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  20. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    Thanks a bunch.
     
  21. Jason

    Jason Founder Staff Member Administrator Bushclass I

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    Do you mean you are not allowed to stay in them at all or just for an extended time?
     
  22. J

    J Bushwhacker Bushclass I

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  23. 556mp

    556mp Bushmaster Vendor Bushclass I

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    Nice job. I missed that thread. So happens you butchered you hand the same day that I did, building a shelter for the IZ challange... Ironic.. :27: (There must be a curse) haha

    That's a good sized shelter though, and if you were going to be out there for a long time, you could improve on that big time! You could have put sides on it, built a big reflector etc. Great job though J, I like it.
     
  24. jloden

    jloden Guide Bushclass I

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    You must have missed my posts about the Turley Curse... for a while there it was like everyody working on the Hardswoodsman challenges was getting bit - Kerri cut his thumb, J light sabered his hand, and a couple other folks had similar stuff happen. I'm hoping the little axe bite on my knuckle during the splitwood fire in the rain was the extent of the curse for me :eek:
     
  25. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    The vagrancy laws don't allow me to live out of them. I get permission from the tribe if I intend on spending a night or two in them.
     
  26. justin_baker

    justin_baker Bushmaster

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    I am going on a 3 day trip this weekend and I specifically want to make some shelters. Just small debris shelters and see how warm they keep me without a fire.
    I don't think legality has to be that much of an issue. You can pick up poles off the ground and dump leaves over. If you have leaves, there is no need to cut anything green. And up in the high mountains, you can usually find knocked over conifers with still green bows and use those. Just be warned that a ranger might not believe that they were from a dead tree. And I don't know if there are laws against actually making one and not just cutting green stuff. So don't take my word on that.
     
  27. J

    J Bushwhacker Bushclass I

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    Yeah when I came in from the overnight, I got a txt from OLJ tellin me what happened to ya. My first thought was.....Dang knifemakers always hurtin themselves...lol Yours was a bit worse then mine, but it didnt feel good, and hurt pretty good all night. It kinda healed up screwy. Still have some pain, and scar tissue, and range of motion isnt the same. Nothing major though.

    Thanks, yeah its pretty amazing how much materials a propper shelter takes. This is on my land, and is still up. I went out there the other night with a buddy cause he wanted to see it, and its still holding strong, dry as a bone under it. He took his flashlight and was amazed that you could shine it on the back and not one bit of light shined through to the other side. Ive been planning on doing some more work to it. An awning and some sides. Just havent had time to do it yet. Gonna do some this weekend though. Id like to get in a few more overnights in it this winter.

    Thanks bro. Hope the hand is doing better for ya.

    Yeah we spilt alot of blood for ol Izs challange. hahaha
     
  28. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder Staff Member Administrator Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II Bushclass Instructor

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    What kind of shelters do you make? So you have only made them but you never have stayed over night in them? How do you know they work then. What kind of material do you use?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  29. sons of scotland

    sons of scotland Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    probably one of the best things i have ever learned on this site is to always have a camera with you at all times in the woods, so when you do what i did, people can learn. without pics, my post would have been meaningless.

    http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50483
     
  30. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    I've woke up in some very unnatural places...least to me.
     
  31. tennecedar

    tennecedar Bushmaster Bushclass I

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    The most miserable night I can remember was in a debris shelter with no fire. I was wet and cold all night and the bugs wouldn't let me sleep. I'll take my tarp and ground cloth as a minimum. The only way I'll sleep in an all natural shelter anymore will be a class requirement or an emergency.
     
  32. Skab

    Skab Staff Staff Member Super Moderator Vendor Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    I agree, in summer months I like to strip down and coat myself with mud, helps to keep the bugs away and I feel closer to mother earth.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  33. dwightp

    dwightp Guide Bushclass I

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    You feel closer because you BECOME the earth....lol.
     
  34. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    Dinosaurwill,

    If you don't have pics or vids you could just explain things you have learned, little tips and tricks, etc. I know many don't have cameras and also some don't have good internet to upload and view pics and vids. So please don't feel you can't contribute for lack of pics.

    I like pics and vids as it makes it more interesting, but for someone who is wanting to learn or share ideas, simply describing things in words can be helpful as well.

    I'm glad you brought this topic up, as it reminded me that I did have a shelter vid after all. I don't know if this is what you were looking for though as it's made of snow rather than debris and such.

    It's a snow shelter I made back in 2010. For me this was a learning experiment to see how long it would hold up, how many calories would be used to make it, and just how long it would take to make. It was livable, but would require some pretty warm clothing to be truly functional.

    If I made another I would change a few things, mainly just making it big enough to lay in and raising the sleeping area more.

    I planned to do an overnighter, but for a reason I can't remember never did. I did take a few naps in it during the day when the temps were in the 20's. Inside it was around 40 degrees. This was the most airtight and watertight shelter I've made. It was really comfortable inside with just a tea candle for heat. The only problem I can see is if you take the temp much above freezing, it melts. But, it takes quite a few days above freezing for it to be unlivable. The shelter continues to sag internally as the weather, sun and even your own body heat melts it. IT gets to be a tighter and tighter fit day by day.

    I wouldn't think this a viable shelter for where I live due to the lack of abundant snow and lack of continual cold temps. But, just a couple hours north of here it would work quite well, as there is more snow and colder temps.

    I hope this is helpful and appreciate any feedback on it's design or what have you.

    Thanks!

    Quinzee Snow Shelter - YouTube
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  35. Iz

    Iz MEMBER of a BANNED Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    I spilled lots of blood setting them up for you freaks, this is just my return payments coming in. ;)
     
  36. xj35s

    xj35s Banned Member Banned

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    We used to call this a horsetail. I googled it and can't find anything close. Does anyone know what this is called? It grows in wet areas like cattails do. it is very tall at 6' to 12' and grows thick. Lots of it along the Thruway here in CNY. It makes great roofing material for a debris shelter. Quick to harvest and seems to not rot away any too quick.

    I have used ragweed too when I was a kid. I'm not allergic to it.

    Swamp grass? must be a more technical name for it...


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  37. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    thats just great!!! another image thats bound to cause nightmares, i'll file that one under my "its only a movie catagory" :eek::eek:...woods
     
  38. Skab

    Skab Staff Staff Member Super Moderator Vendor Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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  39. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    oh yeah! that helps...woods
     
  40. tennecedar

    tennecedar Bushmaster Bushclass I

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    Phragmites?
     
  41. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    looks like the tops of reedgrass often found in brackish water or bulrush.
    if it has noduals or nodes creating seperate chambers similar to bamboo then its reedgrass sometimes referred to as cane...woods
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  42. RangerJoe

    RangerJoe Bushwhacker Bushclass II

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    my vote is for Phragmites also Tenn
     
  43. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    phragmite is just a fancy term for reedgrass joe.
    so i guess were all right..woods
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  44. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    Thanks for the vid link, and great job with the quinzee. Where I live, our winters are in constant flux (freezing, melting, freezing again) so I'm not sure I'd feel safe in one of those here for fear of it collapsing on me, unless I was at higher elevations.

    As for telling you in words some of the tricks I use, here goes:

    When building a domed shelter or wiki-up, I like to dig up soft, mossy, or sandy soil and pile it on the sides of my shelter as high as possible. Leaf litter is scarce here in western WA, so moss and earth are good substitutes in spots that don't require major waterproofing. For thatching, boughs, cattails, or skunk cabbage leaves (which are really big and flat) make good roofing materials. Sword ferns, cattails, or boughs all work well for bedding. A lot of people leave a smoke hole on the peak of their wiki-up. I don't do this. Instead I pile a thin layer (maybe 6" thick) of moss over where the smoke hole would be. The smoke easily filters up through the moss, but it really traps the heat in.

    When it comes to the lean-to, I prefer to build under as wide a downed tree as I can find. On the WA coast, some trees get truly colossal, and the wider the tree that you use for your ridgepole, the less roof you have to make (and the less work you have to do).
     
  45. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    ok dinosaurwill, i was with you right up till the skunk cabbage leaves.
    definitely not recommended for any shelter material i'd be staying in...woods
     
  46. Adam

    Adam Guide Bushclass I

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    Here are some pics from a debris shelter I built...

    Lots of time, lots of energy, lots of debris. When I was done I laid a full body silhouette target in it and poured 6 gals of water over it to see how it would shed water.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  47. jloden

    jloden Guide Bushclass I

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    You left out the important bit - how did it do? :D
     
  48. Adam

    Adam Guide Bushclass I

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    I'll be honest, at the first test, I had been lazy. Just like going short on fire prep, I went short on debris. It had one small hole near the foot and it leaked. So I added another 8-9" of debris to it and retested it with no leaks. Now, if it were a downpour for hours on end, there would have been leaks. My primary purpose for trying it was to get the experience under my belt and to build an insulated shelter for the late fall season in Missouri. Both were a success. Learned a lot from it.
     
  49. dinosaurwill

    dinosaurwill Tracker

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    There is actually almost no smell inside the shelter when you use the leaves (usually). It's the skunk cabbage flowers that are the really "skunky" part of the plant.
     
  50. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    there is actually throughout all parts of the plant (leaves included) a pungent oil that gives off an odor similar to skunk.
    in addition, the entire plant contains tiny crystaline molecules that are very painful if gotton into the eyes,nose or throat.

    when i was a kid we sometimes mashed sticks into the leaves and chased one another around threatening to smear the foul smelling oil on our playmates clothing...kids what are ya gonna do with em???
    i'm not saying they couldn't work to keep the rain off, just that there are much better choices available.

    it has been written that native peoples used these plants and others such as false hellebore to kill head and body lice, that alone should tell ya somthing.

    just collecting these leaves can and is an unpleasant pastime at best, take it from an old woodsrunner, i know about these things and take er easy amigo...woods
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011

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