survival after bugging out

A Step-By-Step Guide to Survival After Bugging Out

survival after bugging out

It’s one thing to have everything you need prepared and ready to go in case of disaster; it’s quite another to know exactly what to do and to stay calm under pressure.

In a disaster, what you do in those first crucial moments has a lasting impact on your long-term survival. However, preparing for survival and actually surviving are two very different things. To improve your chances of survival after bugging out, we’ve prepared a list of priorities to help you plan your long-term survival strategy and ensure you’re ready for life off the grid.

Priority #1: Securing the Area

Once you and your party have arrived to your designated bug out location, the first thing you want to focus on is ensuring the area is still a safe place to spend the night. Check out your perimeter and, if you haven’t already, sketch out a rough map of key area features. Find a decent vantage point that allows you to get your bearings and view the surrounding area, making note of any bodies of water, visible trails, roads, and train tracks.

survival after bugging out
Carefully assess whether it is safe to remain at your chosen bug out location.

Another important sign to look for is evidence of other travelers; you chose your bug out location because of its desirable features, perhaps other bug out parties have as well. Key indicators to look for include man-made items along the trail to your bug out location, rising smoke, and bright colors indicating tents or tarps. Additionally, listen carefully for footsteps and voices, especially if you fled a nearby disaster.

At this point, simply having knowledge of any persons nearby and being able to keep tabs on them without divulging your location will suffice until you have addressed the second priority, assessing health. However, if you have the means, consider setting up a trip wire around your camp before settling in for the night. Using glowsticks and mousetraps, you can build a simple, yet very effective, security system such as this one.

Priority #2: Assessing Health

Assessing the health of your bug out crew is of utmost importance; skipping a full evaluation can lead to severe problems down the road so make sure your assessment is thorough. In a survival situation, overlooking or ‘braving through’ a condition can threaten your long-term survival – as such, all injuries should be accounted for and treated accordingly. If the size of your bug out crew permits, this assessment can be performed at the same time as your perimeter search.

When assessing the health of your crew, you’ll want to look at both physical and emotional health:

Physical health

Even minor cuts can become a major problem if they become infected, so making sure everyone in your party has arrived unscathed is an important step. Of equal importance is immediately tending to any cuts or wounds crew members may have suffered to increase the chances of quick healing. If you’ve determined there are no pressing medical issues, scan everyone for minor injuries and ticks. Additionally, once you take off your packs, be sure to properly stretch in order to alleviate any soreness, and drink water to replenish lost fluids.

survival after bugging out
Your survival after bugging out greatly depends on your health and that of everyone in your group.

If there are any injuries, prioritize treatment based on severity, starting with the least severe. While it may be tempting to treat the most severe injury first, tending to those with minor injuries first will then allow them to assist with others. Also, patching up small cuts can prevent passing bloodborne infections. However, sequencing for treatment is always a judgment call; if a member of your crew is having difficulty breathing or experiencing severe bleeding, they should be tended to immediately.

To assist in situations where bug out crew members are injured, we recommend adding CPR and first aid training as a measure of preparedness. Additionally, always keep a first aid manual with your bug out gear as this will help when trying to administer treatment under stress.

Emotional Health

The emotional toll of bugging out can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, and many mental effects won’t manifest themselves until you’ve reached safety. As the adrenaline cools and the reality of what you’ve just endured and the fact that you may never go back to your old life start to sink in, fear and anxiety can take over.

survival after bugging out

Many people will start to wonder about the safety of loved ones and friends that are not with them and stress about their whereabouts; additionally, for those in a disaster situation, there may be extreme images that play through crew members’ minds. This can be a lot to take in at once, keeping everyone calm and minimizing discussions of the events will help your group focus on the tasks at hand. Arriving was an important step, but there is still work to be done in order to survive.

Bugging out with children can present its own set of emotional challenges. If there are children in your bug out party, make sure you designate a caretaker adult ahead of time who is able to comfort them and display a positive attitude. Older children can be kept busy with tasks such as gathering firewood or kindling and retrieving other items to help with camp.

survival after bugging out

The better prepared your children are ahead of time, the better they will be able to handle the rigors of survival after bugging out. The way you carry yourself and your demeanor makes a huge difference as even very young children can pick up on your stress level; by maintaining a level head and staying calm, you will benefit everyone in your crew.

Priority #3: Attempting Communication

Once you have secured the area and all injuries have been stabilized, your next priority should be to find out what’s going on by pulling out your emergency radio. Emergency broadcasts will provide you with current information and potentially the extent of the damage in a disaster scenario. This information will help you to better assess whether or not to stay at your bug out location as you will be aware of potential impending threats (such as bombings) or the scope of a natural disaster.

best emergency weather radio

If cell phone use is an option, you may be able to check in with loved ones to help alleviate some anxiety. However, should you be unable to reach anyone, don’t panic. Communication lines are often overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crisis; you can always check again later.

survival after bugging out
If your cell phone is still working, preserve battery by only turning it on a few times a day for short periods.

Priority #4: Setting Up Camp

There is no guarantee of what time of day or year it will be when you bug out; the more you plan ahead and establish roles, the smoother the process will be.

To properly set up camp for survival after bugging out, you will need to choose spots for your fire and shelter, assemble your fire and shelter, make arrangements for hygiene, and safeguard your food rations against wildlife.

Fire and Shelter

There are many options for bug out shelters; carefully assess the weather and conditions in your particular locale to choose which type is best. To learn about simple shelters you can build, CLICK HERE. Whichever means you choose, try and utilize natural structures for shelter and concealment, and locate the fire pit centrally in order to keep everyone warm.

survival after bugging out
No tent? No problem. There are lots of ways to build a simple shelter.

After establishing the locations for your shelter and fire, it’s time to start building your fire; this way, you can use the light from the fire to continue building or setting up your shelter. As a prudent measure, you should include at least two means for starting a fire in your bug-out bag; however, should you run into problems, here are six ways to make fire without matches.

survival after bugging out
At night, the light of the fire is less visible if you recess your fire pit.

One consideration for setting up your fire is whether or not it is visible from far away; if giving up your location puts you at risk, try to keep the fire small and obscured by brush (at a safe distance) or possibly wait until after dusk when rising smoke will be less visible.

Hygiene

Designate an area to serve as a bathroom that is downhill and 200 feet away from your main camp area and any water source. Digging individual catholes will work for smaller groups over a short period of time, but for a larger group, a latrine may be your best option.

To build a latrine, dig a six-foot trench that is about eight inches deep and use every inch from one end to the other, covering waste with soil as you go. When all the space is used up, you will need to choose another location as concentrating too much waste in one area decreases the decomposition rate and attracts wildlife.

survival after bugging out
Once the immediate needs have been met, you can start planning for long-term survival after bugging out.

Food Preservation

Another big attraction for wildlife: Food. Make sure to secure your food rations out of reach of animals. For a simple bear bag method, tie a 10-inch stick to the end of a rope and toss it over a high branch and then tie a bag with your food supply (and any other items that might smell tempting to animals) at the other end. Hoist the bag at least 15-feet off the ground and then secure the end to the trunk of the tree with the stick.

survival after bugging out
This branch was ideal for our bear bag because it was high off the ground and away from other branches.
survival after bugging out
Close up view of how the bear bag strap was secured to a nearby tree trunk.

Priority #5: Finding a Water Supply

If you’re wondering why finding a water supply is lower on the priority list, we assumed that you bugged-out with a 72-hour water supply as well as a means of purifying found water. If this is not the case, you may want to improve your bug out preparedness or move finding a water supply up to a higher priority.

When choosing your bug out location, you undoubtedly chose somewhere near a body of water; however, no matter where your water comes from, always be sure to purify any water obtained in nature to prevent contracting a parasite. If there is no water source near your bug out location, or it is unsafe to approach existing water sources, there are several ways in which you can harvest water from nature.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Intestinal parasites, such as giardia, can have devastating effects. Always purify drinking water!

Different ways to harvest water include tapping into trees and plants (think sap), collecting condensed water in a transpiration bag, and digging for water in geographical low points by looking for key indicators such as lines of shrubs. For more details on these and several other ways to harvest water from natural sources, please CLICK HERE.

Drought-Prepping-Intro3

Priority #6: Rationing Supplies

When bugging out, the supply of food you have on hand no doubt consists of MREs, high-density protein bars, dehydrated foods, and other items that are light and easy to carry. While these can be great sources of nutrition, try not to deplete your supplies too quickly – survival is not a three-meals-a-day holiday.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Ration your packaged food to last as long as possible to give you enough time to figure out a food source. Image via JaseMan on Flickr.

To get an idea of the amount of calories each of the members of your bug-out crew will need per day, check out this table that details the minimum daily caloric requirements for men, women and children. 

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Keep your energy up with high-calorie protein bars. Image via Richard Masoner on Flickr.

While children may have lower daily caloric needs, they will suffer from lack of calories sooner; feed children more frequent ‘meals,’ but keep those meals small. When rationing food supplies, keep in mind that you have not yet secured an alternate food supply, which brings us to the seventh priority: Finding food.

Priority #7: Finding Food

The time to start looking for food is as soon as possible, not when your supplies are low. You never know how long it will take you to find a food supply and should it take some time for success, your food supply may run out. There have been entire books written on how to scavenge for food in the wild, and we here at The Bug Out Bag Guide have covered the topic several times, including in our article Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for Food.

Foraging for Plants

One of the easiest ways to forage for food is to look to the plants and foliage all around you. Plants do not provide the same caloric value of meat or fish, but they do have a variety of nutritional benefits. Make sure to study your local edible plants and learn how to identify them in the wild before bugging out.

Hunting Game

Small game can be caught quite successfully in forested areas by setting traps. In particular, squirrels and rabbits tend to be abundant and can be easily caught using simple snares. Always ensure you mark the location of your snares on a map and check each one frequently; a struggling animal will attract attention from predators who may steal your meal before you even know it’s there.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
A deadfall trap is a simple yet effective way to catch small game.

Traps, such as funnels or corrals, can also be set to catch fish by placing the traps along the bank of a stream. Depending on your skill level and the type of weapons you have available, hunting for larger game may also be an option.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Inlets lend themselves well to building a corral for trapping fish.

Remember, the greater variety of methods you have in place for finding food, the more likely your chances of catching it!

Priority #8: Defending Your Camp

Once you’ve put in the hard work of getting your family to safety and ensuring you have the supplies needed to survive, it’s time to focus your attention on keeping your family, gear and supplies safe from predators and thieves.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Be prepared – you never know who might stumble into your camp!

The first step in defending your camp is to set up a watch, ensuring someone is on the lookout at all times. Additionally, you can use thorny brush to build a fence around your camp to keep both human intruders and predatory animals out.

We also mentioned setting up a perimeter fence around your camp in order to keep intruders out; now is the time to decide what to do about it. If the intruder is an animal and you are equipped to take it down, that could be an easy dinner for your crew; however, with larger game, unless you have a suitable weapon at hand, you are better off to try and scare it away than risk injuring yourself.

Your group will also need a strategy to handle human intruders. Each situation should be evaluated reasonably; arming yourself with weapons and defensive tactics to protect against attackers is a smart move, but not every person you encounter will be out to get you.

Final Thoughts On Survival After Bugging Out

The most important thing to remember after bugging out is to stay positive and calm. Keeping a level head will help you to better handle all the tasks necessary to establish your bug out camp.

Foster communication and cooperation within the group so that you work together as a team and always be open to new and creative ways of completing tasks. Having your main tasks prioritized beforehand is an excellent way to ensure you’ve covered all the critical bases and that you are not expending unnecessary energy.

Your Thoughts

Do you agree with our prioritization of tasks for survival after bugging out? Is there anything missing that you feel should be addressed immediately after bugging out? Do you have any tips to share from your experiences setting up camps? Share your thoughts and questions with us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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best lightweight tent

How To Choose The Best Lightweight Tent For Camping, Recreation, and Bugging Out

best lightweight tent

We recently published a great article that provided tips for building shelter in any survival situation, which we highly recommend that you read and familiarize yourself with. However, while learning to build shelter from found materials is a skill we feel everyone should have, there are also many advantages to carrying a tent with you for excursions into the wilderness.

Having a tent saves the effort and time of preparing shelter from scratch – allotting you more energy to expend on other aspects of your camp – and can provide life-saving shelter in cases of extreme weather or ready-made shelter when bugging out at night.

Whether for backpacking, recreation, or bugging out in a disaster, having a tent on-hand can be indispensable. However, especially in disaster scenarios, size matters: the smaller and more lightweight your tent, the better. In the case of your bug-out bag, not only are you looking for gear that is light enough to be carried over long distances, but also that doesn’t take up so much room that other survival essentials are left behind.

What is ‘lightweight’? Generally, for a one-person tent, it can be as light as a few pounds, with anything up to approximately seven pounds still considered lightweight.

Choosing the Best Lightweight Tent – Features to Look for

When choosing the best lightweight tent, there are generally two features that are must haves: weatherproof and waterproof; and ease of set-up.

Weatherproof and Waterproof

All it takes is one night out in a torrential downpour to learn the importance of having a lightweight tent that is also properly fitted to withstand the elements. To ensure a lightweight survival tent that is sure to shield you from the elements, we recommend using a bathtub bottom, extra tarp, protected seams, and a rainfly.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Hilleberg Janu and user reviews on Amazon.

Bathtub Bottom

When I purchased my first survival tent, the key feature I looked for was size to accommodate the large group I was camping with in the northeastern U.S. during the summer. I soon regretted focusing on size and not looking into different fabrics and sealing methods as we were hit by thunderstorms on three out of three trips. Even with a tarp underneath the tent, the interior floor was soaked.

Learn from my mistake: the best lightweight tents will come with a bathtub bottom – a bathtub-like floor that extends several inches up the sides of the tent before attaching to the walls, ensuring no seams are sitting on the ground. The bottom panel is also treated with a chemical water sealant (typically polyurethane) to lock out moisture.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Morrison Mountainsmith and user reviews on Amazon.

Extra Tarp

Even if you’ve purchased the absolute best lightweight tent, it is still advisable to bring along an extra footprint tarp that can be laid under your tent to protect from punctures that can result from roots, sticks, and rocks.

Most bug-out or survival tents will generally come with a custom-sized tarp, but if yours doesn’t, simply use a regular tarp and tuck the edges an inch or so inside the perimeter of the tent. Remember that if the ground cloth extends beyond the edge of the tent, rain water can collect and be driven between the tarp and the tent; it’s always best to let rain roll off your tent straight onto the ground.

Protected Seams

When looking for seams that will keep out the elements, folded seams with double stitching are much more durable and effective at keeping out water than single seams. Additionally, taped seams provide extra strength and protection as they have an extra layer of fabric sewn into the seams.

To further protect your seams from the elements, pretreat them with water sealant. Set up your tent outside on a dry, sunny day and treat all seams by applying water sealant to all threads both inside and outside (including those along doors and on the rainfly), allowing all seams several hours to thoroughly dry and then repeating the treatment. For optimal performance, apply water sealant annually.

Tent Seam Sealants  
Gear Aid Seam Sure
Coghlan’s Seam Seal
Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer
Coleman Seam Sealer
Kenyon Seam Sealer #3 - 4 Pack
Aqua Seal Water-Based Seam Sealer
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

 

To test your seams to see if they are watertight, simply give them a pull: if tension is created on the seam and you can see light coming through the stitching holes, the seam is not watertight.

Rainfly

Most double-walled survival tents will come with a coordinated rainfly that can be drawn back to provide access to the tent. Choosing a lightweight tent with a rainfly is a simple and easy way of ensuring weather and waterproofing.

Ease of Set-Up

The best way to ensure that you will be able to quickly and easily assemble your lightweight tent in all manner of situations is to actually go out and practice! You don’t ever want to find yourself in a camping or (especially) survival situation without having practised setting up your tent.

While practice makes perfect, there are certain features that will make your survival tent easier to carry and set-up, including poles, stakes, stake loops, and guylines.

Poles

Generally, when looking for the best lightweight tent, your choices for poles will be between aluminum, fiberglass, or no poles. For backpacking and survival we recommend aluminum tent poles over fiberglass as they tend to be stronger, weigh less, and be easier to repair.

Aluminum is a stronger material than fiberglass, necessitating less to achieve the same strength; the added weight of fiberglass will be miniscule when camping in the backyard, but extremely important when heading for the hills with your BOB where every ounce counts.

Additionally, aluminum can be easier to repair than fiberglass. When fiberglass fractures, it can tear your tent and does not lend itself easily to repairs; if your fiberglass pole breaks, it will most likely need to be replaced. Conversely, aluminum will typically bend before it snaps, giving you more of a chance to perform long-lasting repairs – an advantage that is crucial for long-term survival.

There are, however, advantages to using fiberglass poles. For one, fiberglass does not corrode, whereas aluminum poles will – although they can be treated with anti-corrosive coating, it will eventually wear off, especially in wet climates. Also, fiberglass is typically priced a little lower than aluminum.

Stakes, Stake Loops, and Guylines

For anyone who has ever been camping, you know that it doesn’t take much of a breeze to send your tent rolling through the trees, potentially ripping or breaking it. Stakes are what keep your tent from blowing around and are an essential part of your tent shelter kit; using them properly can very literally mean the difference between a secure shelter and losing your tent completely in a survival situation. Choosing the right stakes for your survival tent can be equally as important as choosing the best lightweight tent.

Stakes should be driven into the ground at a slight angle, away from the direction of force of the line. Ultralight titanium stakes get the job done at 0.2 oz. apiece, but are likely to loosen in soft or loose terrain. Although they are quite thin, they are less susceptible to bending when hammered into place. Aluminum stakes are a sturdy option and can handle more abuse while being driven into the ground; however, they are also heavier to carry around. Steel stakes are the heaviest, weighing about an ounce apiece but are also heavy duty.

The shape of the stake will also have an effect on how easy it is to drive in and how well it stays put. If you find yourself in loose soil or sand, there are Y-beam and ‘V’ stakes that work well in these conditions and come in plastic or aluminum varieties. If you’re expecting snow, a curved stake with holes in it goes in easily and freezes in place.

Tent StakesDesign & MaterialBest ForWeight Per Stake
Tent Tools Ultralight Aluminum Tent Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium Shepherd's Hook Tent Stake (6-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, TitaniumPacked and/or rocky soil0.2 oz
MSR GroundHog Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, 7000-series AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium V-shaped Tent Stakes (6-pack)
V-Beam, TitaniumAll terrain, especially snow and ice0.4 oz
10-Piece Galvanized Steel Tent Pegs (10-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, Galvanized SteelModerately packed soil
Short excursions
1.0 oz
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

If you happen to find yourself on extremely rocky ground or without stakes at all, there is always the “big rock, little rock” method that you can use, as seen in the video below:

A final point to consider is how your tent will anchor to the stakes. Most tents will have nylon webbing loops at the base corners and sometimes midway up each side, as well as on the rainfly. These loops attach either directly to stakes or to guylines then to the stakes, to secure your tent and help keep its shape.

Depending on what type of stake you are using, you may wish to tie small loops of paracord to the webbing in order to better grip the stakes. Paracord is an excellent choice for long-term use as it has a high propensity for withstanding fraying due to friction. Measure out the amount of paracord you will need for your tent and pack that amount right in your tent bag, so that it will be available quickly in a bug-out situation.

Paracord Storage

To ensure your lines are taut, we recommend using guyline tensioners, which are plastic sliding devices that make adjusting your guylines easier than with tying knots; however, a tautline or midshipman’s hitch will also get the job done.

Additional Considerations For Choosing The Best Lightweight Tent

When selecting the best lightweight tent, especially for survival scenarios, in addition to the features covered above, you will also want to consider the amount of vestibules and storage pouches, shape, and color.

Vestibules and Storage Pouches

Having extra storage space can be a huge advantage – especially if you intend on bugging out for a long period of time – but is not as crucial as some other features. If your lightweight tent comes with plenty of storage space, great, but don’t add unneeded weight simply to try to fit in better storage.

A-frame tents will typically have a vestibule at either end while dome-shaped tents will usually have a rainfly that extends beyond the entrance to create a small, sheltered space.

The interior of your tent may contain mesh pockets for holding smaller gear, such as flashlights and multitools, which allow you to keep these important tools at-hand and available when you need them. Another useful feature you may look for in your tent is a loop at the apex, which is perfect for hanging a lantern from a caribiner to illuminate your tent at night.

Shape

Generally, there are two shapes your tent will come in: A-frame and dome. The biggest drawback of an A-frame tent is the lack of headroom allotted along the sides. How big of an inconvenience this is depends on the number of occupants; for a single-person tent, this is much less of a concern than for an entire family.

Dome shaped tents tend to have a square footprint and therefore allow for more vertical space close to the sides, making them an excellent choice when there are multiple people needing to fit inside. Additionally, domes provide slightly better weatherproofing as rain sheds more easily and wind passes over more smoothly due to their aerodynamic shape; however, these advantages diminish the larger the dome as surface area becomes a factor.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the Mountainsmith Genesee and user reviews on Amazon.

Color

In most situations, the color of your tent will have little to no effect on its performance; however, keep in mind that dark colors (which absorb more light energy) can raise interior temperatures (beneficial in cold climates while detrimental in excessive heat), and bright colors (such as yellow or orange) do not blend well with natural landscapes and can be easily spotted (if staying hidden is a priority, choose earth tones or camouflage patterns).

Capacity

Your choice of capacity will depend on your needs. Generally, the manufacturer will state the maximum number of sleep pads that can fit the footprint of the tent. This makes for a cozy but comfortable fit. Taller people or those with a larger build may benefit from going for one size larger than the actual number of people the tent is intended for, or going with an A-frame style which tends to be longer.

Additionally, if you are looking for options for a get-home bag, there is no need to lug around anything larger than a one-person tent. In the summer or as a back-up, a simple single use mylar shelter may suffice.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Emergency Shelter Tent and user reviews on Amazon.

If you live in an area where low temperatures and precipitation are a regular occurrence, you may choose to upgrade to a full one-person tent. This is especially useful not only in harsh weather conditions but also if your journey lasts more than one night. Mylar shelters are not intended for repeated use but a one-person tent can easily be taken down, re-packed, and set-up again.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Snugpack Ionosphere and user reviews on Amazon.

Our Top Picks For Best Lightweight Tent

Lightweight TentsKey FeaturesCapacityIdeal ForWeight
High Peak Outdoors Maxxlite Tent
• Bathtub bottom seals out rain and snow
• Aluminum poles offer structure
• Rain cover forms a vestibule at either end to store gear
2Cold weather
Rain, snow
6.70 lbs
Emergency Shelter Tent
• Include attached paracord for easy set up
• Doubles as a survival blanket
• Dual mylar layering is tough and insultating
2First aid
Day hikes
0.50 lbs
Eureka! Timberline 4 Tent
• Well-ventilated with windows that are hooded by the rain fly
• Interior mesh pockets, loops, and gear loft for storage
• Weight to size ratio makes it a good choice for a family of 4
4Families
3 season backpacking
7.81 lbs
Snugpak Ionosphere 1 Person Tent
• Slim 20" x 6" bundle easily fits into most packs
• Quick and easy to set up and take down, includes aluminum stakes
• Fits one person plus a good sized pack
1Long-term use
Moderate temperatures
3.34 lbs
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
• Bathtub floor with taped seams keep out the rain
• Rainfly creates additional 14 sq ft vestibule
• Aluminum "V" stakes stay put in a variety of terrains
• Includes reflective guylines with tension adjusters
2Rainy or windy climates
3 season backpacking
4.69 lbs
Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent
• Weather Armor polyester fabric seals out the elements
• Bathtub bottom with mud mat to keep interior clean
• Fiberglass poles
3Small families
Economical option
8.00 lbs
Mountainsmith Genesee 3 Season Tent
• Fully enclosed rainfly with protected top vents
• Superfine mesh keeps out insects
• Reflective guy lines include plastic tighteners
4Families
Windy and rainy climates
6.56 lbs
Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent
• Low profile is effective at shedding sleet and snow
• Strong side wall and frame stand up to high winds
• Asymetric vestibule protects entryway and decreases draft
• Well worth the price for alpine camping
2Harsh winter conditions6.81 lbs
EUREKA Apex 2XT Tent
• Double-coated StormShield poylester fly and bathtub bottom to protect against weather
• Rain fly can be rotated 180 degrees for easier set-up
• Inner tent mesh wall provides good ventilation
• Heavy duty Coleman fiberglass frame is freestanding (do not have to thread through fabric sleeve)
23 season backpacking5.75 lbs
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

Conclusion

Carrying a lightweight tent that offers an immediate shelter option can provide a real advantage over scrounging to find materials to build shelter, especially in the dark or harsh weather. However, trekking with a survival tent the many hours (or days) that may be needed in a bug-out scenario could prove extremely tiresome; for this reason, it is imperative that if you are going to pack a bug-out tent, pack one that is lightweight and therefore easy to carry across long distances.

Additionally, the less weight and space taken up by your tent, the more room left for you to pack other essential items you will need while bugging out.

When choosing the best lightweight tent for your needs, size and portability will always be your primary concerns. Secondary considerations should be the tent’s ability to stand up to the elements and how easy it is to set up. Additionally, look for vestibules and storage pouches, the best shape for your needs (A-frame vs. dome), the color that will perform best in your situation, and the desired capacity.

Your Thoughts

Do you think a lightweight tent is worth the extra weight in your bug-out bag and/or get-home bag? Do you have any tips or gear suggestions that have made it easier for you to set up a tent? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, thanks!

 

 

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how to build a survival shelter

Learn To Build Shelter For Any Survival Situation

how to build a survival shelterSummer’s right around the corner, and for many people that means getting back to the great outdoors, whether it be for a day hike or a weekend camping trip. This summer, take advantage of your time outdoors to practice the invaluable skill of building survival shelter. That’s right, you need to step out of your comfort zone, leave your four-person tent and goose-down sleeping bag, and try to construct adequate shelter with only the items that would be available to you in a disaster scenario.

It’s the perfect time because if something does go wrong, you can always retreat back into your tent and try again the next night. The summer camping months provide the perfect opportunity to hone your survival shelter skills; however, keep in mind that when the need arises to bug out, you won’t have the luxury of choosing what time of year it is. Practice building survival shelters year-round, especially if you live in a four-season climate where summer and winter present drastically different survival scenarios.

Why Learn to Build a Survival Shelter

Food, water, shelter – the essential elements of survival. Shelter can protect you from the elements and wildlife, as well as keep you warm or dry; finding appropriate shelter can literally mean the difference between living and dying in a survival situation. No matter what your circumstances, you want to be sure you can prepare suitable survival shelter for you and your loved ones.

how to build a survival shelter
Your shelter doesn’t have to be fancy – it just needs to keep you warm and dry.

Possible situations that may require impromptu or planned shelter include bugging out, get-home scenarios, getting lost while hiking or exploring, tending to an injured person while hiking or exploring, or getting caught in a storm. Depending on your situation, your survival shelter needs may differ.

For instance, in a get-home scenario you may only need short-term shelter for a few hours or a night, whereas when bugging out you may be indefinitely on your own. The need for building a lean-to can arise when you least expect it, so learn how to build a survival shelter in a number of different locales and with different resources.

Choosing the Best Location for Your Survival Shelter

Choosing the best location for building your survival shelter will be dependent on how long you intend to be using it – needs for short-term shelter will differ from those required for long-term shelter.

how to build a survival shelter
Take advantage of the landscape when building a survival shelter.

When searching for immediate, short-term shelter, look for trees (especially fallen trees), rocky overhangs, and caves. Trees are an obvious source of shelter and have many useful parts for building shelter including the trunk – which can be used as a support, the branches – which can be used as framework, and foliage – which can be used as insulating material.

Rocky overhangs and caves make excellent areas to take cover but depending on your locale or the time of year, may not be an option. Don’t panic, whether you’re stranded in desert terrain or it’s the middle of winter, you can still put together an effective survival shelter.

In desert terrain with little to no trees, consider using the slope of the land to seek protection and the steep side of a dune for shelter – keep in mind that the gradual side indicates the direction the prevailing wind is coming from and therefore the steep side will provide natural refuge.

If it’s the middle of winter and all available building supplies are frozen or buried under snow, remember that snow will have the same insulating effect as a stick-built shelter. For more cold weather survival tips, CLICK HERE. Additionally, always seek out shelter where the ground is dry. If it is raining, waterways may overflow their banks and ravines, and washes may form.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you will need to consider substantially more factors than sheltering for the short-term. When searching for long-term shelter, look for areas in proximity to water and food sources as well as civilization (if applicable), and for an area that provides adequate visibility for you to see what’s happening around you and for others to see you. In some case, staying hidden may be more beneficial to your survival.

Types of Survival Shelters

Type# of OccupantsTime to BuildDifficultyRequired Resources
Simple Frame and Tarp Method1 to 2Less than 1 hourEasyTarp or poncho
3-4 long straight branches
Cordage to secure frame
Several rocks to anchor tarp
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Simple Body Heat Shelter1 to 2Less than 1 hourEasyLeaves, twigs, dirt, or snow
Sticks to support the opening
Shovel to build mound
Open Shelter or Lean-To1 to 43-5 hoursModerateTree branch to use as ridgepole
10 long straight branches to form a grid
Cordage and/or zip ties
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
A-Frame Shelter1 to 33-5 hoursModerateTree trunk to use as support for ridgepole
8 pairs of straight branches to form the sides
Cordage and/or zip ties
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Teepee Variations1 to 23-5 hoursModerateSlender trunk for support pole (optional)
10-15 long straight branches
Cordage for lashing
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Subterranean Survival Shelter1 to 2

4 to 8
1 hour

Weeks to months
Easy

Difficult
Simple- mound of earth or snow, shovel

Complex- shipping container or other wall and floor materials, excavator, tools, plumbing and electrical supplies, power source
Long-Term Log Cabin1 to 4WeeksDifficultLong straight logs
Gravel for drainage and rocks for stilts
Tools for shaving bark and notching logs
Shovel to clear ground
Saw to cut down trees

Simple Frame and Tarp Method

If you happen to have the good fortune of having supplies with you (out backpacking or have bug-out gear) you may be in possession of a tarp that can be used in conjunction with a simple frame to create shelter for the night. To create a frame, lean poles against a lower branch or tree trunk in a manner that will fit under your tarp.

Make sure to remove any sharp edges from the wood or wrap leaves at the corners to ensure you don’t puncture the tarp. If you happen to be lucky enough to have cordage with you, tie it at an angle between two trees and drape your tarp over top, placing rocks on the sides to hold the tarp in place.

In an emergency, you can forgo the frame and simply wrap yourself and your gear in a poncho and huddle amongst the crook of a tree or other sheltered spot until morning.

how to build a survival shelter
A tarp makes an excellent short-term shelter but you may need to upgrade eventually.

Simple Body Heat Shelter

This shelter is fairly straight forward and easy to build – it is useful for short-term or unexpected situations and can comfortably accommodate one, possibly two, people.

To build a simple body heat shelter, use debris from the ground such as dirt, leaves, and twigs, to create a mound and use larger sticks to frame it. Clear a hole just big enough to crawl into and cover the opening to block air flow and limit the open space. Your body heat will be trapped inside the shelter, keeping you warm throughout the night.

If you are seeking shelter in the winter and the ground is covered in snow, use the snow to build your mound. Even though the snow is cold, it will still serve the purpose of insulating you from the elements outside and trapping your body heat.

how to build a survival shelter
Sheltering under the snow will insulate you from the cold and preserve your body heat.

Open Shelter or Lean-To

The benefits of an open shelter or lean-to are that it offers extra protection against the elements such as wind and rain, and can accommodate up to four people (for a typical lean-to, however they can be constructed as large as resources allow).

how to build a survival shelter
We built this lean-to using two tripods instead of trees for support. Zip ties made quick work of building the grid.

Depending on the supply of materials available, the construction can take anywhere from two to five hours. Start by looking for downed trees that have branches low enough to support the topmost point, known as the ridgepole. If you only locate one tree, use it as the ridgepole – lashing in place if necessary – but if you locate two downed trees near one another, lay a sturdy branch between them.

Gather approximately five to six poles to lean against the ridgepole at roughly a 45-60 degree angle, enough to create a comfortable space to fit your team and gear underneath. This will serve as your grid. To create the grid frame, attach 5 to 6 poles across the frame. Weave flexible boughs between poles at right angles and then use bark or leafy branches to thatch the roof, starting from the bottom and moving upwards.

how to build a survival shelter
Use the grid to weave foliage to create a weather barrier.

You can add additional walls for further protection using the same method. Should you be lucky enough to have a tarp or mylar survival blanket, you can hang it from the opening to act as a curtain.

A-Frame Shelter

The A-Frame shelter is constructed in much the same way as the lean-to, the only difference is that the ridgepole starts on the ground and extends up into tree, lashed at a height that allows enough space to sit underneath. In this way, two sides are constructed to create the A-frame shape, providing additional protection from weather or cold temperatures. For added warmth, locate your fire pit near the opening.

how to build a survival shelter
Square lashings are used throughout the A-frame shelter.
how to build a survival shelter
Side view of square lashing.

Teepee Variations

A teepee can stand alone or be built around the slender trunk of a tree. In some cases, it may be easier to use a slim tree as your center support, lashing poles around it to create a cone-shaped shelter, which will provide a sturdy frame, but also limit your interior space.

It’s up to you whether you choose to completely enclose the exterior and create an opening in the top for ventilation or keep the top secure from rain and leave an open doorway. Always make sure you account for ventilation, especially if you intend on building a small fire inside.

For stand alone teepees, start with three long straight poles and use a tripod lashing to join them. Try to locate a long pole with a Y-shaped joint at one end. This will provide the frame with stability as the next pole can rest within the Y-shape. To build the teepee, continually add pairs of similar sized poles and join them together at the top, leaving the base wide enough to curl up in and tall enough to sit comfortably.

how to build a survival shelter
This technique can be the framework for a teepee or provide ridgepole support for building a lean-to.

Once the frame is constructed, fill in the gaps using whatever materials are available to you including leafy branches, vines, mud and grass. Work your way up from the bottom – as you would with roofing tiles – so that the rain will drip down the overlapping layers instead of into your teepee.

Subterranean Survival Shelter

how to build a survival shelter
This fallen tree can provide adequate shelter – just watch out for critters!

For short-term shelter, a subterranean survival shelter can simply be hollowed out of a mound of earth, creating a warm place to sleep. An optimal location is the root base of fallen trees, as the roots provide structure and prevent caving in.

For a longer-term shelter, substantial planning and effort will be required. A long-term subterranean survival shelter is something you would build in preparation for when SHTF, as opposed to building in the aftermath while bugging out. Those who choose to build a long-term subterranean survival shelter either build one on their property or an offsite location. Designs can range from simple cellar-style rooms to complex homes that are fully outfitted with a power supply, furnished with necessities and comfort items, and have functioning defense systems.

Long-Term Log Cabin

If a crisis or disaster situation truly descends into chaos and it’s TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), you may find yourself in the position where you need to build a solid and dependable home using only what the land provides. Obviously, this type of survival shelter requires a tremendous amount of time, resources and energy – therefore it’ll save you time and aggravation to learn the basics beforehand.

how to build a survival shelter
If you are permanently relocating, a log cabin may be the way to go.

A long-term log cabin is built using a similar method as Lincoln Logs you may have played with as a child; the general idea is to lay a frame of logs that interlock at the corners to form a rectangle. Before beginning, you will need to clear the ground of grass, level it, and top it with a layer of gravel for drainage. Locate large rocks that can serve as stilts to keep your cabin off the ground and place them at all four corners as well as every three to four feet.

After the rocks are placed, locate the base layer of logs, the sill logs, which will need to be larger than those used for the walls – about 12 inches in diameter. Once the sill logs are in place, you can add floorboards or skip ahead to building up the walls.

how to build a survival shelter
This notching pattern will help shed water away from the joints.

For the walls, look for trees that are seven to ten inches in diameter and cut them to fit the dimensions of your floor plan. To prepare the logs for the walls, flatten the top and bottom so that they sit flush and notch the ends to interlock them and form a sturdy corner – additionally, cutting a notch in the top log only will avoid pooling water in the joints while in wetter climates.

Once you reach your desired wall height, begin using logs in diminishing lengths on either end to create the peak. Notch and lay two long logs perpendicular across the length of the cabin to act as supports for the roof. Depending on the items you have available in terms of tools and lumber, you can construct your roof with split logs, cut shingles, or sod.

Survival Supplies Beneficial to Have on Hand

Undoubtedly, you’ve included tools and materials in both your bug-out and get-home bags that will lend themselves to building shelter; however, it’s important to consider what tools are must-haves if an unexpected need to shelter arises, such as during a hiking or backpacking expedition.

To ensure you have the proper tools, take inventory of the various tasks you will need to perform when building shelter such as cutting, de-branching, notching, lashing, digging, and weaving. Consider what tools could help with these tasks (and all the better if one tool can address several tasks) and make sure they are in your bug-out and get-home bags as well as on your person while you’re out exploring.

Here is our list of the top survival supplies that are crucial to have on-hand when building survival shelter:

ItemShelter Building Applications
Fixed Blade Knife
Cut cord, small branches
Remove bark from logs and branches from poles
Notch poles to fit snuggly before lashing
Multitool
Saw through small branches
File sharp corners to prevent tearing tarp
Remove splinters
Loosen knots in cord
Hatchet
Larger cutting and debranching jobs
Cut down trees for a log cabin
Prevents dulling your knife and expending excessive effort
Tri-Fold Shovel
Clear the ground for your shelter
Dig in dirt or snow to make a body heat shelter
Level the ground for support poles
Excavating large rocks for stilts
Lightweight Tarp
Use as roof or door for your shelter
Wrap around you for warmth and protection from weather
Make a sling to hang supplies out of reach of animals
Survival Blanket/Bivvy Sack
Use as roof or door for your shelter
Wrap around you for warmth and protection from weather
Make a sling to hang supplies out of reach of animals
Cordage
Lash poles for framework of shelter when building a lean-to, teepee, or a-frame
Make a line between 2 trees to hang a tarp shelter
Secure food supply in a tree to keep away from animals
Zip Ties
Attach smaller poles together, such as for the grid in a lean-to
Fasten roofing materials to make a rain barrier
Substitute for cord in light duty construction
Hang a lantern or flashlight in your shelter
Work Gloves
Protect your hands from injury while handling building materials and tools
Lighter
Melt ends of cord to prevent fraying
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Survival Shelter Building Techniques

Knot Tying

how to build a survival shelter
Be sure to melt the cut ends of your paracord to prevent them from fraying.

Lashing


Building A Frame

Roofing

Wilderness Precautions

No matter where you choose to set up shelter, always be cognizant of what wildlife may be around. If you’ve found a great location, you are no doubt not the first to have discovered it, so make sure to survey the land for wildlife such as snakes in leaf piles or under fallen trees.

To stir up any creatures that may be hiding in brush or bushes, use a stick to prod the area before proceeding with your hands. Additionally, store any food you have tied up high in a tree to avoid attracting unwanted critters to your dwelling.

In terms of the wilderness itself, avoid any foliage that has a chalky white appearance as this is a mold that could spread through your shelter and impact your health. Also, if a tree contains a lot of ‘lacey’ leaves, that indicates it is probably infested with insects and best to be avoided. For more information on plants and foraging, CLICK HERE.bushcraft skills

Conclusion

Now that you have the basic skills necessary to plan and build your shelter, the next step is to get outside and get practicing! While techniques such as weaving and lashing can be practiced in your backyard, when it comes to building an effective survival shelter, there’s no substitute for the real deal. As you’re practicing, make sure to take note of pertinent factors such how long it takes you to gather materials and construct your shelter – knowing this timing can be life-saving in a real disaster scenario.

Be creative, be resourceful, and most of all – have fun!

Your Thoughts?

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to build a temporary shelter?What did you build? What tools do you carry that are useful in building a survival shelter? Share you thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!

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