How to Make a Permanent Natural Shelter

How to Make a Permanent Natural ShelterSometime, you may need to stay in the woods for longer than you planned without a tent. You might be lost or it could have taken longer than expected to get that big elk out of the woods, or maybe your buddy is hurt and you need to stay put and wait for rescue. If you carry some basic tools and materials you will be OK. No two situations are exactly the same but the basic lean-to design described here will work anywhere.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hatchet Rope Knife
  • Hatchet
  • Rope
  • Knife
Step 1
Find a site with a large rock (the bigger the better). Make sure you have room in front of it for your shelter. Face the shelter with the rock about 6 feet or so in front of where the opening will be and with the opening facing away from the prevailing wind for that time of year. Remove the leaves and debris from the ground and level the best you can with your feet.
Step 2
Take your hatchet and find some green saplings about as big as your wrist with a fork in them. Cut down the saplings so that the fork will be about a foot over your head. Next, cut a pole about ten feet long and a little bigger around than the others. Lay the ridge pole in the forks and tie a criss-cross pattern with your rope and knot it off. Dig two holes the best you can where the bottoms of the poles with the forks will sit in. Stand the three piece part up and brace with rope or other temporary saplings. You will have to brace this permanently with rope after you get it somewhat level.
Step 3
Take your hatchet for a walk and find any saplings you can that are long enough to go from the ground at the bottom of the structure to the ridge beam at about a forty five degree angle. It will take about four or five going from ground to pole with equal space between them. These are your rafters so to speak so tie them off at the ridge pole so the wind will not lift your structure. Now cut saplings to go across your rafters with equal space of about 2 feet between them and tie those in everywhere you contact the rafters. These will be referred to as your purlins from here on out.
Step 4
Find some pine trees and start cutting boughs or groups of branches big enough to span your purlins and lay them with the stumps or part you cut off facing up. Tie these in all across the purlins from one end to the other. You will need a lot of string for this; you can make it by stripping bark if you are in a bind and don't have any but that is very time consuming. Continue laying these boughs all the way to the ridge pole. Lay them one row at a time with the next row overlapping the lower ones. These will take the place of your shingles so just visualize rain hitting it and running off to the next one below and so forth until it hits the ground.
Step 5
Your structure is done for now. You can close in the sides with purlins and pine boughs if you want to make it more wind proof. The most important thing is fire placement. You put your camp fire against the rock. This helps keep the wind off of it plus it warms the rock and radiates the heat toward the opening of the structure.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure your structure is sturdy. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Brace it with rope and saplings with forks in them.

Article Written By Dennis Seabright

Denny Seabright has been writing for since Nov. of 2008 with most articles being in the "How to" category. Graduating from James Wood High school in 1976 and going straight into the work force left little room for formal education but writing has always been dear to his heart.

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