From years of refining my survival skills in the wilderness I have picked up many different shelter building techniques. I have practiced and toyed around with the various different shelter styles and building a debris hut is by far the most useful type for me.
Learning how to make a debris hut is an essential piece of knowledge when journeying out into the wild. This shelter might save your life during an emergency situation.
A Debris hut is an easy to make and primitive survival shelter. It can shed the rain and hold in heat very well. This type of shelter is ideal for the colder or very wet climates. It is also a very versatile shelter building technique and can be altered to fit your specific needs.
How to build a debris hut shelter
To start off with, every debris hut needs a frame. This frame is the inside space that you will be sleeping in. If it is very cold it is best to make this space as small as possible as to maximize heat retention. Start with a main crossbar. This will be the thickest and longest of your supports and will need to be able to support the weight of the ribs, lattice, and debris. This crossbar will need to be propped up against a V shape, against a tree, or lashed on to something so it is at a slant.
Related reading: Planning a shelter in the wild
The Next step is to make the horizontal supports that lean off the main crossbar. These supports will form the ribs of the shelter. Use sticks and lean them against the side of the crossbar with the shorter sticks towards the bottom and the longer at the top. Lashing the sticks to the crossbar might help them from moving around but is not completely necessary because the lattice and debris will help them stay anyways.
After the basic frame is built crawl inside and make sure it is big or small enough for your needs. In cold weather you should fit quite snug. Make adjustments now if needed, because it is harder when the debris is piled on.
Gather vines or thin green branches. These will be used to form a lattice structure over the ribs to catch and hold the debris in place. Weave these over and under the rib sticks leaving an opening at the high end of the shelter for an entrance.
If your all satisfied with the size and shape of the shelter it is time to start gathering the debris. The debris will be piled on at least two feet thick. This will shed rain and hold in heat. The debris is whatever you can find. In a forest, leaves make the best debris and can be easily gathered in large quantity. Grasses can also work but it is much easier to get leaves. Pile the debris onto the shelter making sure it does not fall through holes in the lattice. If this is a longer term shelter have no fear because the leaves will settle and compact over time, so more than two feet is not a bad idea.
That’s it you`re done! Crawl inside and make sure all is well. Enjoy the many warm and dry nights that this shelter will provide. It is completely possible to leave the entrance entirely open and build a fire outside the opening to heat the inside of the hut for added heat. It is also a good idea to experiment with different shapes to build a shelter to fit your needs. A bigger hut or smaller separate hut can keep gear dry as well. In wet climates this technique can also be used to keep firewood dry.
Good luck, be safe, and practice with your shelter building techniques!
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