How to Make Small Portable Camping Shelters

How to Make Small Portable Camping Shelters
The cost of factory-made camping shelters and tents can be prohibitive, but they can be made from improvised materials which cost a fraction of the price. In all but the most extreme cases, these improvised shelters perform as well as, if not better than, the factory-made versions. Tarps are light and easy to transport in a backpack or blanket roll, and deadfall is easy to find in most wooded areas. The less gear you carry, the more you will enjoy your trip and the smaller the environmental impact you will make on your route.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Fireside Storage Tent

Things You’ll Need:
  • Inexpensive green or brown tarps Sharp pocket knife, hunting knife or machete Sharp shears Colored duct tape Rope or clothesline Deadfall wood
  • Inexpensive green or brown tarps
  • Sharp pocket knife, hunting knife or machete
  • Sharp shears
  • Colored duct tape
  • Rope or clothesline
  • Deadfall wood
 
Step 1
Find deadfall wood to make tent poles and stakes.
Step 2
Use your machete to cut two tent poles at least one foot longer than the tallest person in your group.
Step 3
Carve the ends of each tent pole and stake using a sharp knife or machete so that they fit through the grommets in your tarp.
Step 4
Make notches in each tent stake so that the rope will not slip.
Step 5
Use rope to hold the tent poles upright.
Step 6
Angle the stakes away from the tent edges and pound all the way into the ground.

Ground Cloth

Step 1
Find a level or downhill-sloping spot large enough for your shelter area. The slope should not be more than one or two inches down over a six-to-eight-foot run.
Step 2
Cut deadfall.
Step 3
Wrap the edge of your tarp around the deadfall to create a wall that will keep water from running through your shelters where a dry floor is desired.
Step 4
Stake your tent sides outside the ground cloth walls.

Pup Tent

Step 1
Use a knife or sharp shears to create flaps on one end of a green or brown tarp.
Step 2
Use colored duct tape to reinforce the seams along the cut edges.
Step 3
Lay out your ground cloth created in the previous section.
Step 4
Use deadfall to stake your tent edges.
Step 5
Tie rope in between trees to make a ridge pole.
 

Tips & Warnings

According to Gypsy Wilburn, a 20-year artisan and industrial blacksmith who has spent 25 years using improvised shelters when camping between SCA events, Ren Faires and other venues while selling knives, swords and hand-hammered jewelry, "Use brown or green tarps rather than blue or silver, and use the less common duct tape colors so that your shelter looks more like a manufactured tent. Make sure that the sides of your pup tent are staked outside the boundaries of your ground cloth or it will become a catch basin."
 
According to Gypsy Wilburn, a 20-year artisan and industrial blacksmith who has spent 25 years using improvised shelters when camping between SCA events, Ren Faires and other venues while selling knives, swords and hand-hammered jewelry, "Use brown or green tarps rather than blue or silver, and use the less common duct tape colors so that your shelter looks more like a manufactured tent. Make sure that the sides of your pup tent are staked outside the boundaries of your ground cloth or it will become a catch basin."
 
According to BackcountrySurvival.com, "A shelter should always provide adequate protection from the elements, retain heat, have suitable ventilation, and provide drying facilities."
 
According to BackcountrySurvival.com, "A shelter should always provide adequate protection from the elements, retain heat, have suitable ventilation, and provide drying facilities."

Article Written By Jane Smith

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.

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