Shelter Building Basics – What You Need to Know
Shelter building is one of the fundamentals of bushcraft. It is often more important for you to find shelter than it is to find food or water. Remember the rule of threes; three hours without shelter, three days without water and three weeks without food. This is obviously an extreme time scale, but it does show the importance of shelter building skills in bushcraft.
Basics of shelter building
Read on to learn more about the basics of shelter building. For the sake of this blog, we are going to assume that you are in the woods with good tools and all the kit you should have. Find out more about our guide to choosing a bushcraft axe here.
What does your shelter need to do?
The first thing to consider when thinking about building your shelter is to ask, ‘what does it need to do?’. Think about the weather, how long you are likely to be staying in the area, how many people does it need to protect and how long do you have to build it? Asking yourself questions such as these before you start will save you time in the long run.
Location of your shelter
One of the most important considerations, once you’ve determined the purpose of your shelter, is the location. Long term shelters will need to be closer to a source of water than those that are just being used for a night or two. Your shelter also needs to be in close proximity to the materials that you will need to use to build it. Think about it this way, do you really want to be walking to and from to get water and materials or should you not just bring the shelter to the source.
Time and energy
The amount of daylight remaining and the amount of energy that you have left will also determine the type of shelter you should build. Late in the day and after a long walk you will want to build the simplist shelter possible. You can always work on it the next day if you are staying there for a while.
Having chosen the location of your shelter and decided on what type of shelter you are going to build, have a look around at what natural features there are that could help you. Look for fallen tree branches that could make the basis of a lean-to, are there any caves in the vicinity that could shelter you? Natural features such as these can save you loads of time and make your shelter incredibly stable.
How to learn shelter building basics
The best way to learn shelter building is to join a course with an experienced bushcraft instructor. Our Weekend Bushcraft Course is accredited by the IOL and covers all the basics of bushcraft, including shelter building. During the course, we will teach you how to build a shelter in the woods and then give you the option of sleeping in it. If you would rather sleep in a tent or under a tarp then you are welcome to!