Sacred Order - Shelter

Sacred Order - Shelter

This is a discussion on Sacred Order - Shelter within the Bushcraft - Primitive Skills - Survival Skills - Camping forums, part of the Related Topics category; Time to follow up on the sacred order thread and dive into shelter. I'll caveat what is written to say my environment is east of ...

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Thread: Sacred Order - Shelter

  1. #1
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    Sacred Order - Shelter

    Time to follow up on the sacred order thread and dive into shelter. I'll caveat what is written to say my environment is east of the Mississippi River. Woodlands and mountains. These are lessons I've learned from my time in the field. Some things that are only learned by doing and you can't get from a book.

    Natural shelters...

    Fastest and quickest if you don't think it will rain is a leaf bed. These work best on the downwind side of a fallen tree. I like to take a limb and lay it down parallel to the tree about 3 feet away. I'll collect leaves and debris and fill the space between them about 16 inches high. Mush it down by laying on it and repeat a couple more times. I find this to be plenty of good insulation from the ground and a nice little wind block. Add a small fire if your are so inclined. Fast setup time, minimal resources.

    Another alternative I've used is to find an old stump hole or a fallen tree. Fill with leaves using the process from above. Quick for fair weather.

    With both of these options I always check carefully for crawling critters.

    Next up is the quick lean to. I'll set a limb either between two trees or angled down from one. Create ribs from branches on one side. Add leaf material and thinner branches as it is built up. Block the sides and lay a limb on the ground across the front for a ground wind block. Fill with fluffy leaves or evergreens. Don't use pine. Add a fire and it is toasty.

    Next is the debris hut. I build mine small and tight inside. Add the ribs and layer with leaves. Add more thinner ribs placed at an angle to the first set. Add more leaves. Repeat this until a nice thick cover of at least 18 inches is on top. Add a final layer of ribs to keep the leaf cover from blowing away. Next add a ground draft bar across the front and close it in as much as possible. The opening should be a squeeze to get thru.

    Forgot to mention add some leafed cover to the ground inside before closing up the front. It's easier this way. Fill it, lay on it to compress and repeat. Do this several times. Next shake the ceiling lightly from the inside to get any loose stuff to fall thru. It sucks to be woken up by falling leaves. Check for any thin spots in the ceiling.

    Now add more leaves along the interior walls at the ground to build up a little ground block. Makes the setup a whole lot warmer. Now back the the front entry. Close it in as tight as possible. You can use a pile of leaves for a door plug, or if you've got the time build a small door.

    To do this right takes several hours and a lot of materials. Nothing gets cut, it's all dead and downed wood. Pick a site that gets morning sun to warm and dry the shelter and it's even better.

    Expect spiders and bugs to crawl around unless you smoke them. It's the admission price. I've never had a serious problem with any of these though I did have a snake sliver across my leaf bed one morning. My legs were under a blanket and the snake went across the top. Scared the crap out of me, but no harm. We each went our separate way.

    Caves...I don't bother with them. Most around my area have very small openings and bats. Enough said.


    Man made stuff...

    Tarps are hard to beat. Poncho tarps are the best. A multiple use item. Makes a great lean to shelter and can be used with or without a space blanket. Carefully with a fire. Can be used with a leaf bed or a sleeping pad.

    I use Mason's twine. It's strong and light and available in visible colors so I don't trip across the lines. Three or four sections of 12 feet each give me plenty of options.

    Space blankets like the heat sheets can be used. Even disposable ponchos in a pinch. Garbage bags filled with leaves make improvised sleeping bags but are not my favorite. They don't breath.

    I long ago gave up on tents and bivy sacks. Too much weight, too much condensation, and both are single use items.

    Most nights in the three season range I sleep out on open ground, sometimes behind a wind break. I'll usually have the poncho handy in case of unexpected showers.
    Last edited by ctr; January 11th, 2014 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  2. #2
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    Great thoughts. I have spent those nights out and agree single use items are not the way to go. I will add while fishing or hiking this is fine. For extended stays I use a rock face and heat it all day with a fire at the base then move my lean to up against the warmed rock is pretty toasty. Your statement rings true the first time you try this should not be the night you need it. Practice and use will turn a complex task into an easy effort.
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    Most of my lessons in winter camping came from trial and error and learning the Hard Way due to so many errors.
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    Always carry a light plastic tarp! Building a structure to support it takes only minutes, compared to collecting enough natural stuff to waterproof it. The time a light plastic tarp saves is better spent on other needs.

    And Para Cord - you can never have enough.
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    Rain and moisture are the issues here in Northwest Oregon. Wool and tarps are your friends. When I was a boy scout in New Mexico, they taught me that moss grows on the north side of trees. When I moved to Northwest Oregon, I assumed I was at the North Pole because the moss grows completely around the trees.
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    Carry two plastic tarps, one for ground and one for cover for a good start.
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    Plastic tarps or a poncho are your best friends...

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    I carry a poncho/tarp, 2 contractor bags, and an SOL 2 layer emergency blanket. The poncho takes up a lot of space, but is well worth it, IMO


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