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Best Way to Build a Survival Shelter


Q. What is your best idea of a survival shelter? How would you build it?
— Jhon Against Wild, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

A. Best survival shelter? I call that a “cabin.” Just kidding, Jhon. In all seriousness, it’s great that you’re being prepared enough to think through a potential emergency like getting stuck out in the wilderness. While some survivalists recommend building a shelter out of sticks and leaves, you’re probably better off using your precious energy getting found (or un-lost) than building some kind of lean-to.

Always carry with you this portable shelter: a heavy-duty, 4 mm-thick orange plastic bag (approx. 38” x 65”). Just cut a hole for your face, crawl inside and hunker down for the night. It might not look pretty, but it’s lightweight, packable, cheap and it’ll stop the wind and rain and could save your life. Hypothermia (loss of your body’s core temperature) is one of the main causes of death in survival situations.

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17 Comments on Best Way to Build a Survival Shelter

  1. Another great survival shelter is using a military poncho which doubles as a raincoat, a water catcher, and a make shift tent if you put it over some rope tied between two trees.

  2. I have no been able o find the 4 mil (or 4mm as also described in the BL new Cub edition) thick 38″ x FIVE ft. Five orange plastic sack.
    Please tell us where to get this.

    • Whiskey Sierra // February 20, 2019 at 10:08 pm // Reply

      55 gal drum liner bags from Lowes or other construction supply are the best. We use the intl orange colored ones of course, but yellow or neon colors would be good too.

  3. $tankyLlama // August 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm // Reply

    pics of top ten shelters with sticks would be nice

  4. lean too in a dome shape with leaf bed

  5. find some thing to block the wind and rain and build a fire!!!!!

  6. Raven Lonewolf // September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm // Reply

    A brushpile shelter, built properly, will protect you from the elements and keep you warm (without need of a fire) to -20 degrees. To know how to build one properly, study a squirrel nest (yes, I’m serious).

  7. Boy scouts Rock! // August 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm // Reply

    A hammock with a tarp around it

  8. Or you can build a teepee or in the snow you can also build an igloo. 😀

  9. chessking14 // August 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm // Reply


  10. tarp with twigs is your in the forest

  11. you could just make a lento

  12. cut a hole in a garbage bag for your head and its a shelter in itself

  13. rock-on gear guy!

  14. A poncho with some bunjees or rope works great!

  15. that is a good idea i should get some of those bags

  16. I would suggest a tarp

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