hiking in the snow

Snow Shelters to Try

It is nearly Christmas, the winter has well and truly arrived and the world seems to be hibernating. So, at this time of year, we thought that we would have a bit of fun by looking at the different types of snow shelter that, give enough snow, you could practice making. If you do get round to trying any of these out then it is a good idea to have someone close by – mostly to be impressed by your skills but also to dig you out if needs be. As always feel free to skip to the section that interests you the most by using the links below.


Snow shelter

The Quinzee type of shelter is best used on flat areas of ground and can be built using soft snow.  It is essentially a mound of snow with the middle hollowed out and an entrance bug out. The easiest way to build a quinzee is to pile your gear, particularly if you are in a group, into the intended centre of your shelter and then pile snow over the top – this will then allow you to easily hollow out your shelter by removing your gear.  The pile of snow should be around 7-8 feet high (just over two metres) so that it forms a dome. The snow should then be left to harden for around 90 minutes after which an entrance can be dug out and the inside hollowed out. Be sure to bring a bothy bag or equivalent to keep warm in while you wait for the snow to harden.


Snow grave

A snow grave is an easily constructed snow shelter, typically used in an emergency. Snow graves can be easily constructed using an ice axe and are best constructed on flat areas of ground. Simply in their construction, they simply involve digging out an area that is slightly wider and deeper than your body. After the hollow has been dug cut some slabs to put over the top of the grave to further shelter you from the elements. Make sure that everything, apart from your warm clothes and sleeping bag – obviously – are placed below you in order to further insulate your body from the ground.



snow shelters

Due to their association with Eskimos Igloos are, by many, considered the quintessential snow shelter. In order to construct an igloo, you need harden, packed snow which can be cut into slabs. The maximum dimensions for an igloo need to be less than around ten feet (3.4 metres) in diameter, anything bigger than this becomes almost impossible to construct in the field. Cut blocks of snow and arrange them in a circle formation which spirals upwards to the roof. Remember to pack the snow down on each block so that it is as hard as it can be.


Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year.

  • Fallkniven DC4
    Fallkniven DC4
    This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
  • Knives

    Bushcraft knife Bear Blades
    Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
  • Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe
Bushcraft axe
Copyright Gransfors Bruk

Wildway Bushcraft use a small forest axe from Gransfors Bruk. You can find out more information about Gransfors Bruk via the link below.

  • DD 3×3 Tarp
  • Copyright DD Hammocks

    The DD 3×3 Tarp is a classic of the camping world. You can read our review of it here.
    The tarp can be found online via DD Hammocks at the link below.

  • Swedish Fire SteelWeekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire
    This Swedish Fire Steel from Light My Fire is a great way of causing sparks and igniting your tinder. More reliable than either matches or a lighter you shouldn’t be in the woods without one.

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