Simple Sheltering Tricks That Can be Used Anywhere
Tarps and Rope
The most basic shelter that you can make involves taking a piece of cordage and tying it to two trees. Then, simply drape a large plastic tarp, poncho or piece of canvas over the rope. This will create a simple “A” frame shelter that will provide protection against the elements. You can secure the material to the ground by using rocks or inserting sticks as stakes.
You can also create a lean-to shelter by tying off opposite ends of the material to trees and anchoring them with rocks. This will create an angular shelter that resembles ½ of an “A” frame. This method is ideal when the open side is placed against large rocks, a wall or other barrier that can complete the enclosure.
Finally, you can use your tarp or canvas as a roof by tying off each corner to a tree. This will not give you the protection of walls, but it will shield you from the sun and rain. In each case, you can make modifications and improvise as you see fit based on your circumstances.
Building a Tent From Branches
You can also build a single-person shelter in minutes using large branches and natural debris. The first step is to find a large branch with a “Y” joint on top that will serve as the anchor. It should be at least a few feet long in order to give you ample space to crawl into once the shelter is complete. Once the large piece has been inserted into the ground, find another branch that is at least a foot longer than your body with your arms stretched over your head. This will serve as the backbone of your shelter and ensure that you have enough room inside to be comfortable.
Lay one end of the branch between the “Y” joint and the other end on the ground on the opposite side. You can add smaller branches on either side along the length of the support beam and tie them with bark or cordage for additional support. Drape a tarp, canvas or plastic over the skeleton and crawl inside.
If you have ample cordage, you can also make the frame of the shelter out of sticks by leaning them on an angle into each other at the top. It will look like an inverted “V” with the ends of the sticks forming a small groove on top. You can then place the long support beam along the length of the frame as well. This will give you a stronger shelter with a wider opening in the front as opposed to the “Y” example above.
The nice thing about these shelters is that you can cover the skeleton with all kinds of material if you don’t have a tarp, plastic or canvas. You can use branches, moss, debris, dirt, smaller sticks or a combination of everything in order to create the shell of the shelter. You can even use snow. The important thing is that you think outside of the box and create a protective barrier between you and the elements with the material that you have on hand.
These shelters are not designed to serve as permanent, fortified structures. Rather, they are intended to help you to stay warm and dry with minimal preparation or resources in an emergency. These simple techniques can end up saving your life, so they are essential skills to have at your disposal. Take some time to practice and improvise so that you will know what to expect if you ever need to build one in a real-world situation.