How to Build a Survival Shelter in the Wild

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The only thing standing between you and a cold, dark night is the knowledge of how to build a survival shelter.

But don’t be fooled into thinking you can survive many days without it in the wild. While you may be able to endure the freezing rain and snow of a long night without shelter, your body will eventually succumb to nature.

The cold will take its toll on your body, leaving you weak and exhausted. As a result, you’ll be unable to travel or hunt. Even worse, you could become ill from a lack of proper shelter.

To survive a long, cold night, you’ll need a well-built shelter that will keep you warm and dry. You can construct this shelter from any available material from the wild.

So here’s what you need to know on how to build a shelter for survival. 


Purpose of Build Survival Shelter

The main purpose of making yourself a shelter is to keep you alive until help arrives.


Protect From the Environment

Building a survival shelter will protect us from the elements.

Your shelter should also be built away from the wind and snow so that you have adequate space to rest. 



The shelter should insulate you from the cold and wet environment.

There are several ways to insulate a shelter. First, you can use natural insulation such as leaves, pine needles, grass, and moss.

You can also use modern insulations such as plastic sheeting, blankets, or foam if available with you.


Sense of Security

Prevent a certain level of protection from predators.

Of course, it not 100% protect you from the danger, but at least it has a barrier between you and the predator. 


Things to Consider Before Building the Survival Shelter


How Many People in the Group

What size of space do you want to have?


Should the Shelter be Hidden

Should your shelter need to be camouflaged, hidden from predator/possible treat, or visible, for getting spotted by the help team. 


The Weather

If you are going to build your shelter in cold weather, you need to put extra insulation on it and make room for oxygen in your shelter.


How Much Time do You have to Build the Shelter?

Time is a luxury when you are in an emergency; some shelter building style needs longer time to build than others. 

Make you have enough time to build the survival shelter before the night comes.


Step to Build a Survival Shelter


Step 1: Find a Location

First, evaluate the area. The ideal place should be:

-Naturally protected from wind, flood, or storm.

-The ground should be dry and flat.

-Avoid next to a body of water/river.

-Not underneath on cliffs, potential falling rock area.

-Is visible or well hidden (It depends on you).

-Enough space to place the fire in front of the shelter.

-Have easy access to shelter building materials such as sticks, rock, leaves, and grasses


Step 2: Plan Your Shelter Type

How big your shelter should be, what natural resources you can get from the wild.

Prioritize the elements you want to prevent.

Will talk about the various shelter designs in a minute.


Step 3: Insulate the Ground

Use debris or leave to create a thick mattress on the under it to insulate you from the cold ground.

It is a good idea to put a tarp underneath. 


Step 4: Build the Shelter

After getting the ground insulated, it is time to start building your shelter.

Start by getting the shelter frame built, make sure that you have a stable base for your shelter (I will going to explain different types of Shelter build designs in a moment)


Watch the video below to learn the principle and detail for building your secure shelter.


Step 6: Insulate More

There are many different types of insulation you can get in the wild, like grasses, leaves, pine needles.

Be sure to apply large amounts of debris to your shelter.

You can create a barrier against the cold wind by adding bark or soil to your shelter.


Type of Survival Shelter

Here are the 2 common and easy build types of survival shelters you can make.

lean-to Shelter

This is a simple shelter design that is quick to make; it is a built structure that leans on a tree against another tree.




A-Frame Shelter

Like the letter “A”, it’s a triangle-shaped shelter designed to keep your body heat close.

Unlike the lean-to shelter that only protects from the elements in just one direction, the A-frame is much better because it has two sides.

It’s a better shelter when wind and rain come from all sides.


Prep for Survival Shelter Ahead

It is better to prepare some emergency shelter props in your bag before heading to the wild. This way, you won’t face difficulties during the construction of your shelter. 

Here are the things you need to get to build your survival shelter.



It’s your shelter cover. It can use to cover yourself from the rain and wind.

It should be made of waterproof material and withstand wind and rain. 



You need to have a cord or a rope to tie the tarp and other materials together. 


Tent Pegs

The tent pegs are used to secure the tarp on the ground. 

If you don’t have tent pegs, you can use sticks to fix the tarp. 


Build Shelter with Trap

With trap on hand, you have much more options and easy to build your shelter. 

Watch the video below to learn about 15 types of shelter built with a tarp.


Build Shelter without Trap 

If unfortunately, you didn’t get prepared and lost in the wood, you can make a shelter all using natural materials. 

It is a little bit difficult to build, but it is possible.





Be ready to improvise and learn from nature. 

You may not always have a lot of tools to build your shelter, but you can learn to adapt from nature, leverage any material you can get to build the shelter, and survive.








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