How to build a shelter in the wilderness

Author: Henry Hernandez

If you should find yourself stranded in the woods and night time is soon approaching then you will want and need some shelter to protect yourself from the elements. Fortunately, building your own shelter isn’t impossible or difficult to do. Here is a step-by-step process on what you will need to build a shelter as well as how to build a shelter.


First things first, you will need a suitable place to build your shelter. When scouting out the land you should consider proximity to water, being too close to a body of water can be a bad thing as water vapor can carry body heat away. If the terrain permits it, then build your shelter in what is called a “fringe”. A “fringe” is simply an area between dense underbrush and an open field

Shelter Brace

Next you are going to want find an immovable object like a fallen tree or a large boulder to brace your shelter against. Or you can tie two branches to another longer branch that you brace in the ground. This method is less stable and sturdy and more work, but if you can’t find anything else sturdy enough for your shelter then this is the next best alternative.

ShelterImage source


What you will want to do next is to find long sticks and branches to lean against your brace. Make sure these branches or sticks are sturdy and won’t snap easily. They will be used as one of the sides of your shelter and will need to be strong enough to hold covering and insulation. Make sure you line up the sticks against the brace wall so that there is enough room for you to crawl in and lay down.

Shelter 2Image source


Once your frame sticks are up and against your brace, you will want to gather twigs and small branches to cover the frame as protection from the elements. Make sure you leave both ends of the shelter open so that you can get in and out without having to reconstruct it each time you come in or go out.

Warm Your Shelter

FireImage source

If you want to keep your shelter warm at night, or if it’s also cold during the day, then you should build a small fire pit close to the mouth of your shelter. Make sure it is far enough from the opening of your shelter that you can get in and out safely. The heat from the fire will find its way into your shelter and the braches and debris that you put on your shelter as cover will trap the heat in. Make sure you dig the pit deep enough so that the fire doesn’t spread.

This quick and easy shelter can save your life if you ever find yourself lost or stranded in the wilderness. According to, exposure to the elements is what kills most people when they get lost in the wild, more than animals, starvation or dehydration. Having the knowledge and skills to build an outdoor shelter can be a priceless, life-saving skill.

By Henry H. Hernandez

Henry Hernandez is an avid outdoorsman and pastor in a small town in Texas. He enjoys camping with his kids every chance he gets. Henry believes in preparing for natural disasters and has even purchased an underground bunker for his family, Henry can be found on Google+.