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Thread: Survival Shelter

  1. #1

    Default Survival Shelter

    I'm looking for some advice from those of you that have experience with survial shelters / tents / bivy's ect, used for survival purposes during conditions that require some sort of shelter to stave off hypothermia during the night.......or two.

    I hunt / hike alone in roadless areas, usually with my hound or three, and living on Vancouver Island, I experince much of the same kind of weather conditions that you would in Alaska for certain periods of the year. Rain.....as in torrential downpours, sleet, snow, wind, and minus C temps, clear and cold are what we get and can expect here during Sept to April.

    I'm looking to travel [ bush-bashing through the thick west coast terrain ] as light as possible, yet have a shelter in my pack that will keep me alive. I would hope never to have to use, but IF I do it will be because of some sort of injury or other unforeseen circumstance that has kept me from returning back to home / base. I currently have a small Sil Tarp in my pack and carry rain gear and some extra clothes, and "penny stove" and fuel, headlamp, and other survival gear. I have no plans to pack a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, it's the extra clothes, keeping dry [ or trying to get dry ] and some food that I am planning on to get me through. If getting a fire going is an option, then a fire I will have.


    I'm thinking my options are;
    Build a shelter from fir branches and such and cover with sil tarp.......takes time and would not be fun with a broken ankle or hip.
    Wrap up in a space blanket and cover with sil tarp.......easy, but would still loose lots of heat to wind etc.
    Bivy vs one man tent? I've never used either..........

    So what have you used or do you pack as a light weight survival shelter?

    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Pack a PLB and a SL3 shelter & candles.

  3. #3
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    If your sil tarp is sewed with guy outs you can set it up like a floorless pup tent to gain shelter from the wind and rain.

    Bearpaw wilderness designs has a silnylon tarp with mid point guy out loops sewn in. You can configure it in a variety of ways to get the shelter you need depending on the situation. Check out the link and it shows several photos of the various ways you can configure the one tarp. It comes is a few different sizes as well.

    Get a SOL emergency bivy rather than a space blanket. AMK has two other bivy sacks for you to consider. The Bushcraft forum users like these products from what I have read over there. They don't breath well so you can have a hard time drying out if not able to vent your shelter.

  4. #4
    Member JR2's Avatar
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    Never opened mine up but I have a Landshark survival shelter in my survival gear.

    http://www.landshark-online.com/
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

    Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top. -- Hunter S. Thompson

  5. #5
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    Hilleberg Bivanorak and decent quality clothing. A less expensive option is the Stearns heavy-duty ripstop space blanket material survival bags that Eagle Enterprises sells. Those vacuum pack down very nicely. They don't breathe, though.

  6. #6
    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    Get a Wiggies ultra light bag, it will even keep you warm when wet, I used one on Adak Island, the bag got soaked, It was not a hot night, but I did not freeze.

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    +1 on the PLB. REI.com sells an ACR 406 MHZ satellite PLB for about $200-ish. SARSAT won't launch a rescue until the second satellite pass, so you're looking at 2-4 hrs lead time, but it's better than crawling 10 miles on a broken leg.

    I think you're on target with a sil-tarp. Light and compact, you should be able to set it up in a variety of configurations. I made mine from heavy visqueen from a hardware store. Makes a god ground cloth too, if you're carrying a store bought tarp.The other option I like are the rubberized GI rain ponchos from the Vietnam era. They have side grommets and pitch like a tent quite easily. Getting harder to find these days.

    Also, toss a few of those nesbit fuel tabs in your pack as fire starter. If something happens, activate your PLB, crawl under your tarp, heat some water to drink and wait for a helicopter.

    On a side note, you might also consider a small handheld transceiver, either airband only or ham radio modified to transmit on airband. If you can hear a plane, you can talk to them. Transmit on 121.5MHz. (That's the other thing in my pack.)

  8. #8

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    Thanks for the the replies.
    I have a McMurdo Fastfind 210 on the way.
    Still considering a shelter..........my little 5' x 8' sil tarp is pretty small.

  9. #9
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I had a disposable turkey roasting pan folded up (8oz) that I had to use this year. I filled it with coals/rocks and set it beside my son who was under a tarp. With the fire, and the coals in the roasting pan heating up the inside of the tarp, it kept him warm under the tarp. I prefer a tarp for the survial kit, because you can configure it so that there's an opening where you can get some reflective heat from a fire. I'm thinking of swapping out the tarp(in my survial kit) for a black diamond mega light. It can do the same thing as a tarp.

    It's not just the survival shelter, it's the hole package. Having wrapped up the boy in an emercency blanket, it was not enough. I then rolled out a piece of reflectix insulation from the survival kit....that made all the difference in keep him comfortable and warm. It did get down to 30 degrees that night.

    During winter survial, sometimes it's best to build a tight shelter out of branches and snow. The ground always seems to be at a constant temp, this is why little creatures can live happily in the subnivean ecosystem (voles/shrews), even though it's 40 below outside. When they run across a packed down snowmachine trail and they can't re-enter the subnivean zone in a timely manner, they die (no thermal mass). Snow insulates, and running a fire all night will waste energy. It's best to dig down to the ground, and pile as much snow over the shelter as possible (you're making your own subnivean habitat). The tarp then becomes a dragging device, you fill it with snow and drag it to your shelter for piling it with at least 2.5 ft. of snow. The actual tarp isn't needed for the subnivean shelter. A candle hung in a holder made of heavy tinfoil, will keep the tight snow-covered structure a few degrees warmer, and the constant ( loosely spruce bow-covered) ground temp will take care of the rest.

    I studied a bit of winter ecology, and was lectured by some snow scientists. No matter where I traveled last year during the colder temps, the ground was always a constant temp regardless of the ambient air temp. I took many readings of the snow pack all the way from turnigan pass (8 ft of snow), to Murphy dome (2 ft. of snow). Same deal.....snow insulates.

  10. #10
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    I had a disposable turkey roasting pan folded up (8oz) that I had to use this year. I filled it with coals/rocks and set it beside my son who was under a tarp. With the fire, and the coals in the roasting pan heating up the inside of the tarp, it kept him warm under the tarp. I prefer a tarp for the survial kit, because you can configure it so that there's an opening where you can get some reflective heat from a fire. I'm thinking of swapping out the tarp(in my survial kit) for a black diamond mega light. It can do the same thing as a tarp.

    It's not just the survival shelter, it's the hole package. Having wrapped up the boy in an emercency blanket, it was not enough. I then rolled out a piece of reflectix insulation from the survival kit....that made all the difference in keep him comfortable and warm. It did get down to 30 degrees that night.

    During winter survial, sometimes it's best to build a tight shelter out of branches and snow. The ground always seems to be at a constant temp, this is why little creatures can live happily in the subnivean ecosystem (voles/shrews), even though it's 40 below outside. When they run across a packed down snowmachine trail and they can't re-enter the subnivean zone in a timely manner, they die (no thermal mass). Snow insulates, and running a fire all night will waste energy. It's best to dig down to the ground, and pile as much snow over the shelter as possible (you're making your own subnivean habitat). The tarp then becomes a dragging device, you fill it with snow and drag it to your shelter for piling it with at least 2.5 ft. of snow. The actual tarp isn't needed for the subnivean shelter. A candle hung in a holder made of heavy tinfoil, will keep the tight snow-covered structure a few degrees warmer, and the constant ( loosely spruce bow-covered) ground temp will take care of the rest.

    I studied a bit of winter ecology, and was lectured by some snow scientists. No matter where I traveled last year during the colder temps, the ground was always a constant temp regardless of the ambient air temp. I took many readings of the snow pack all the way from turnigan pass (8 ft of snow), to Murphy dome (2 ft. of snow). Same deal.....snow insulates.
    Right on the money mainer!! All things being equal the ground will maintain at least 17 degrees F, no matter how cold the ambient temp is. This means you have to dig down to bare earth, and eliminate anything that can transfer the cold from outside the shelter to the inside such as logs, then cover the shelter with at least 18 inches of snow for proper insulation. Add a small candle inside the shelter and it can get quite comfortable inside.

  11. #11
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    yeah....quite comfortable when you get a couple voles zig zagging round under your sleeping bag...........darned things don't care about your subnivean space......it then becomes their's! Every so often, you just move around and growl......they go way.

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    Be careful burning coal it gives off carbon monoxide you need to have proper ventilation or it could kill you.

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    This is for above zero...I use a sil tarp and a poncho liner vacuum packed to keep them small and dry and a non-flame heat source such as a Zippo hand warmer with a can of fuel and can stay pretty comfy in normal winter clothes. I roll 1/3 of the tarp under me for a ground cloth and the other 2/3's is used to make a little pup tent with some cord and sticks. Not fancy but is warm, dry, compact and light weight. Poncho liner is good for about 15 degrees so when you add the handwarmer it will bump things up from zero to about freezing so hopefully you have dry clothes to keep you warm down to freezing. I keep merino wool and primaloft clothes on for most events so if I get wet I'm still pretty safe and kinda comfortable.

    There is certainly a lot of variations to this set up and you could get away without a heat source and still survive I'm sure...just not as comfy.
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

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