My first shelter.
Within the bushcraft field, I have always found shelters the most interesting, I have put a few off the more interesting ones on this page.
This is the first shelter I ever built , made from a bivi bag and para cord (it was snowing when I settled into it for the night).
A-frame shelter built at survival school (they call it a kennel).
More details of its construction can be seen on the survival school section of this web site, but if you want to actually learn how to build one, go to www.survivalschool.co.uk
Authentic aboriginal lean-to shelter.
Constructed and on display, in the botanical gardens in Sydney.
A Parachute shelter.
The obvious mistake most people make, is just hoisting up the top and pegging out the bottom. This would work, except a parachute is actually bowl and not cone shaped. Add a fold to the body of the chute and it will work much better.
Jungle basha/hammock rig, setup by Ben Mcnutt of Woodsmoke.
The basic difference between this and a standard basha/hammock rig is the distance from the ground.
A Masai hut in Kenya.
Made with sticks and mud, which set like concrete. Many of the shelters on this page are temporary, this is permanent, there were adults at the camp who had been born in this shelter 20 years before.
A wickiup shelter, built at survival school.
Unfortunately, I never got a picture of the finished item, as a severe downpour threatened the future of my camera. Extremely rare to learn how/make one of these in the UK.
A mountain shelter, made from 2 bivi bags.
I used stones I found to make masts (being in the mountains, there were no trees) and pegs, and fastened the paracord to them.
2 person brush tepee.
Built at Woodsmoke during my woodlander course there. This shelter is of a solid design, if maintained regularly (and don't forget that brick houses also need regular maintenance !) it will provide a permanent residence to its owner.
4 Person brush tepee.
I slept in this for 3 nights during my abo course. Notice the wooden bench beds and central fire. Details of its construction can be found in the Woodsmoke section of this web site.
If you want to learn how to actually make one, go to www.woodsmoke.uk.com
An improvised lean to shelter.
The first one took more than 2 hours to build, I can now knock one together in 20 minutes. Its similar to the Aborigine shelter, the basic idea, is that it backs into the wind and acts as a kind of roof and wall at the same time
A snow hole in the Belach N Barr, on the North West Highlands.
I slept in it for the night, the winds were howling outside at 120mph but I slept like a baby.
My best shelter to date.
A quick a frame a I built (its no match for the one they normally make at survival school but it only took half an hour to build, using only a knife, and it was warm.
A Classic Scandinavian lean to, built by Dave Alte on the Woodsmoke Native course.
It features a raised bed for comfort, and the angle of the sloping sticks at the back, is sufficient to fend of all the rain.
Not terribly warm, without a long fire in front of it.
The crossbeam is fastened to the uprights, using spruce root (interesting fact, a piece of spruce root, 2 inches in diameter, can hold the weight of an Elephant.
Probably the most complex and elaborate shelter I have ever seen, first hand.
Built by a guy called Phil, on the Woodsmoke Native course, it actually hangs from the tree, so that it can be re-positioned, around the tree to stay in the shade (its actually an African design.>
Despite that fact that it "hangs", it is a lot more stable than a hammock (which I don't like.) and is off the ground for warmth and protection from animals.
With a slight modification, a simple "basha" setup can become a water catcher (and lets face it, there has to be some advantage to the constant downpour we seem to get here in the UK.)
This was demonstrated by Joe from Survival School, I thought it was a brilliant design.
A desert shelter, built in Morocco.
Walls are built from rocks, and a basha placed on the top.
A slightly smaller wall, is built on top of that, and a 2nd basha added to trap cool air.
A 2nd desert shelter,
Uses 2 bashas, like the other, but makes use of rock formation, to provide structure.
A shelter built from bamboo in Thailand.
The biggest shelter I have ever seen.
A hundred people could have congregated in here in comfort.
A traditional thatched hut, featured in the excellent Istanbul Archeological museum..
Its surprising really, that in all the places I have been, its first time I have actually seen one.
A very clever shelter I saw whilst visiting the Woodcraft School, run by John Ryder.
I love the simplicity of the design, as the back, roof and sides are sort of merged into 1.
Also at the Woodcraft School, this very clever frame, made of bendy sapling, fastened together with natural cordage.
In the winter months, it is covered over with tarpaulin's which makes for a very warm training area.
A traditional village hut in the Indian village of Orchha.
Its made of dried grass bundles, fastened together with natural cordage, which are fastened to upright sticks.
Inside was a bed carved from wood, with the bedsprings/mattress made from natural cordage.
A stone shelter in the Sinai desert.
Four carefully constructed stone wall, with some wooden slats across the top covered with stones.
It was very cool inside, which was essential for the kind of environment in which this shelter is used.
On a riverbank in Nepal, tents are sited so "paddlers" have somewhere to sleep.
This cleverly created frame, makes the tent a lot warmer in winter and provided much better rain cover, the porch provided a superbly cool sitting areas.
On a village tour of the Chitwan National park, I saw this superb example of wattle and dorb, with compacted mud walls.
The roof is made from dried grass, which are held in place with wooden "rails".
This shelter in Bandipur was built by the equivalent of the social services.
The idea is that people traveling through the village on rout to somewhere (which in that country can take several days) have somewhere to sleep, off the ground, with excellent rain cover.
It was pointed out, that the shelter wasn't built to be too comfortable, as somebody would adopt it as their house.
While trekking in the Pyrenees' (Andorra) I saw this small stone shelter
It had (very public spiritedly) been put up by the local community, so that walkers in difficulty (weather etc) would have somewhere to rest in an emergency.
In Peru, this house, is literally made of dirt.
Blocks of soil, are cut from the ground, to make bricks, then the finished article is "plastered" over with mud (you can see a section of the building without mud, towards the bottom right of the picture.
Whilst trekking the Inca Trail, it was common to this kind of round house structure.
They were used as communal eating/drinking areas on the trail.
This is a simple lean to shelter, on the path down from Machu Pichu.
Of special interest, is the small wall, used as a seating area. It would have been quicker to make the seating from wood, but wouldn't have lasted as long (and sadly, vandalism, couldn't be ruled out).
On a lighter note, this cave, on the bank of the Shropshire Union Canal, in Chester.
When asked about sleeping here, rather than a B+B, Bushcraft expert Ben Mcnutt advises:
John, with regards to living in a cave -
If the cave is well above any potential flood zone, deep and dry (without any water seepage) it should be perfectly habitable, but it will most likely be inhabited by rodents, such as rats, mice and bats, which carry a range of diseases that can be viral or bacterial, such as Leptospirosis (also known as Weil's disease) and in other parts of the world lyssavirus, plague and hantavirus.
The diseases can be transmitted to humans in a number of ways including bites,
contact with animal waste, eating food or water contaminated by rodent waste or through parasites
that use rodents and humans as hosts e.g. fleas and ticks.
Even breathing in contaminated dried rodent waste has the potential for transmitting diseases.
The other big hazard is an electrical storm, as if the cave is not particularly deep and the cliff face is struck by lightening, then you could potentially act as a human spark plug as the lightening earths. If the cave is deep enough, this is not a problem.
Also, watch out for the famous Cave-bears of Chester.
There you go - sagely wisdom dispensed - I hope this helps.
While trekking on Koh Chang, I came upon this jungle hut.
Unlike some of the huts that feature on beaches around the world, this had been completely constructed using natural building material.
The high roof, gives the air inside more room to circulate, to keep the shelter cooler.
A traditional Long house in Borneo.
Inside, the flat board long beds, used springy bamboo, to provide a kind of mattress effect.
Similar to the Long house above, this one was a design unique to the Kadisan head huntes, the slats on the sides allow light into the shelter, but keep it cool.
Whilst wandering on one of my many visits to Delamere forest, I saw this shelter.
Unlike many of the shelters there, built in an hour by some cubs, this was built by somebody who clearly knew what they were doing.
Similar to a traditional lean-to and reflector, this shelter had the added feature of a porch way, to reduce side winds and concentrate the heat onto the occupant.
I had read about these, but never actually seen one.
You can't normally make a snow hole or any of the traditional arctic shelters in 4 - 6 inches of Snow.
What you can do, is roll the snow into a snowball, and then hollow it out, while packing the outsides, with extra snow.