How to Make a Lean-to

How to Make a Lean-to
A lean-to is typically considered an emergency or survival shelter. A lean-to most commonly consists of a log, branch, rock outcropping or other means of horizontal support located a few feet off the ground. Sticks and branches are leaned against the support. Smaller materials are placed on top and help provide strength and shelter from the elements. As a survival shelter, a lean-to may be fashioned from a wide range of available materials. It is also possible to construct a lean-to entirely from scratch with no existing horizontal support.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Small saw, multitool or knife
  • Source of wood
 
Step 1
Choose a location that provides protection from the elements such as heavier winds, but near a clearing or opening in the forest canopy. In a survival situation, to signal a rescue plane or helicopter you will need to have a clearing for a smoke signal to travel through.
Step 2
Select a horizontal support located a few feet off the ground for the main support. This may be a low-hanging branch, a rock outcropping or other natural feature. You can also use a fallen limb, or cut a limb, and support it between two trees. The limb can be placed supported in the branching of the tree trunks or tied to the trees if necessary. Shoe laces, strips of bark, vines or even strips of clothing can be used for tying.
Step 3
Place limbs and sticks of at least 3 to 4 inches in diameter against the horizontal support at an angle. The shape should roughly be that of half a tent. The diagonal limbs should be placed closely together since the goal is to provide shelter from the elements.
Step 4
Place smaller and more workable materials on top of the diagonal limbs. If possible, weave smaller branches with leaves into the upright supports. The more material that is placed on the lean-to the greater the protection.
Step 5
Inspect the lean-to from the outside and inside. Look for holes where water could potentially enter. Use clumps of grass, leaves, moss or other materials to plug the holes.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Use a knife or multitool to cut limbs, make notches, and to cut strips of bark or material for tying. A lean-to may be constructed from many different types of materials, man made and natural.
 
Use a knife or multitool to cut limbs, make notches, and to cut strips of bark or material for tying.
 
A lean-to may be constructed from many different types of materials, man made and natural.
 
Use caution when cutting with a knife or multitool. Always cut away from hands and never toward the body or another individual. Test the lean-to for strength before settling in, especially in windy or stormy conditions.
 
Use caution when cutting with a knife or multitool. Always cut away from hands and never toward the body or another individual.
 
Test the lean-to for strength before settling in, especially in windy or stormy conditions.

Article Written By Tara Dooley

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.

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