This article originally appeared on Field & Stream.
With careful consideration, we need to ask ourselves what kinds of items we should take to help us with our outdoor adventure. One thing is certain. Establishing an appropriate shelter is a prerequisite in strict conditions. There are dozens of objects and ways to create a shelter effectively. One thing that makes life so much easier is a good tarp setting. Some are simple and some are more technical. We're going to break this, so you know how to be a shelter boss.
Building a shelter is important
The key to developing a good shelter is to first understand why you need it. Your main goal for any shelter is to maintain body temperature. If you have to spend the night in the woods, getting an effective shelter that will be assembled quickly and easily reduces external influences and can help prevent hypothermia. Improvisation is important and there are materials we can do with us that make it much easier to develop a shelter when and where we need it. Let's look at some of these materials and then look at improvised arrangements.
Shelter construction materials and tools:
The first material important element is the slab material. These range from cheap plastic with lightweight cement to heavy Cordura curtain with bomb loops. Plastic boards are good for minimal use in the short term. However, plastic fibers break down rapidly due to heat, light and chemical exposure. This can even happen stored away in a garage, package, car trunk or toolbox. It will serve you well to avoid these if you want a tarp to last a long time.
For a good mid-range bass, choose one from nylon ripstop. Nylon resists sunlight and chemicals very well and ripstop is much stronger than plastic. If your budget allows, then figure on tardu Cordura. Cordura does all the great things that a nylon tablecloth does, but it is also much more powerful, which makes it an excellent choice for improvised arrangements. The Tarp Protective Personal Rewards (PSS) range of Wildnerness innovations are great choices for top quality shelters that can be used in a variety of ways.
You can easily bet in a stick-and-stick environment to save on weight. If you are okay to add a few ounces to your package, choose anodized aluminum. These types of piles are lightweight and often have ropes already attached for easy adjustment. Since they are also brightly colored, they make them, and the flanges attached, much easier to see in low light conditions. This helps to avoid getting stuck or stumbling, especially at night.
The cables, ropes and strings commonly used to set a tarp come in three basic types.
Braided rope: Made of many different small pieces of rope that are woven together.
Grated cable: It contains three to four strands that come together as the name implies.
Kernmantle: Paracord is kernmantle. It consists of rope cords inside a sheath. The housing is there to protect the yarn from damage.
Kernmantle is the preferred rope style with paracord being the most popular type for use and carry in your package. Kernmantle ropes allow you to improvise when needed. You can pull separate strands from the inside of the sheath and use them separately or use the cord as this is a stronger hold.
Reflective thermal blankets
The thermal reflective blankets are a fantastic addition to any first aid or survival kit. They are usually used to wrap a patient to help maintain body temperature. They are also excellent tools to use in conjunction with a tarp set up.
In recent years, hiking poles have seen more use for day hikers. Hikers and hunters feel they help with balance, efficiency and support on rough terrain. It is also great for creating makeshift shelters.
Trash bags are one of these great multipurpose tools for survival, in particular. They can be used for water collection, immediate shelter (see below), soil, gear protection and garbage collection. For survival, use a heavy bag, 3 mm Ή thick, 55 gallons. Clear is better because it helps to use it as a transport bag, and also gives you the ability to see the tools in it more easily.
Improvised shelter arrangements
Hurry shelter options
If you've ever been surprised by an unexpected rain event, you'll understand the need to always have one or two good options for rush shelter settings. The easiest and fastest refuge is a 55 gallon garbage bag. Cut a hole in the center and two on the sides to glue your head and hands and have an immediate, wearable shelter. Another option is to fill one with the leaves and use it as an improvised layer on the ground. This will make a rough night a little more comfortable, give you a layer of insulation from the cold ground, and keep you dry.
Another great rush setting is to simply wrap a tarp around your body to keep wind, rain or snow from getting to you. The bonus tells you if you find a hill, rock or tree that removes much of the weather before it reaches you. As the earth holds much of your body temperature away, it is best to find something to sit on. The former US border guard used this method of plant-based petroleum products as a main refuge created for months at a time in unexplored areas. If it was good enough for them, we are sure you can use it in an emergency.
Hiker lean pole
You can use one or two hiking poles in the middle of the shelter. Position the other faces down and have quick and easy adjustment. In the installation image, we use the Wilderness Innovation Personal Survival Shelter (PSS). This is an excellent heavy duty option that will last a lifetime with proper care.
Use your canoe or kayak
Protective shelters are easy because they are already designed to shed water for you. Turn them upside down or to their sides, and still pour water. Add a tarp to the mixture, and you have an excellent shelter for one night. As you use the boat as part of the shelter, half of it is built for you before you begin. The simplest setting is to use a canoe and rest one side on top with branches attached to the seat structures, or you can fasten the boxes to the canvas members. Swipe both sides of the tar down the back of the canoe. At the leading edge of the tarp, grip it to the ground for strong wind blowing. Share if you only wish for a sunbath as you lay down and rest from a busy day.
You can also use a kayak as a nice start to a roof structure for shelter. First, grab one end of your kayak below. Attach two blades together to form a front support structure that rests on the other end of your kayak. You can then use a forward-facing teaching line to secure it. Toss your pocket up and stack it down for another easy and quick installation using no more than the rowing tool and some ropes.
In both cases, we used a nylon Equinox 9X9 ripstop with fabric loops at the connecting points. With valves or loops, it is best to use the cord to fasten the piles. Cordage serves as a "shock absorber" of such high winds will not eradicate bets so easily.
Make a hammock
If the goal of the shelter is to maintain your body temperature, getting off the ground will go a long way. When the soil is not suitable for lying down due to moisture, insects, snakes or other unpleasant problems, then a hammock may very well be your best tool to rest.
For this shelter, you will need a strong spider with even stronger sewing and gluing points. The hammock depicted is again the Wilderness Innovation PSS and is designed to be a personal survival haven. It can be worn as a poncho and fitted into any basic tarp configuration. It also has sleeves at the end so you can insert pocket or woobie hoops for an incredibly light hammock adjustment. Carabiners are a nice addition to make it even easier and faster. Make sure you know and use some good nodes that decompose after being pressurized.
Use a plant for your ridge line
If all you have is a tarp and nothing else, then you can use a nursery as a makeshift ridgeline. Bend the plants and grasp it. You can then entertain the corners of the tarp for a minimalist approach to shelter construction.
Stay warm or cool
With the fire in front of a shelter, you can "capture" some of the heat radiating from it. However, much of this heat is carried through the tarp material. A reflective thermal blanket mounted on the underside of a tarp will reflect much of this heat back to you. The duct tape is an excellent choice for doing this and it serves many other uses as well. It's a great survival tool to keep your first aid kit for use there as well. Be aware that thermal reflection is amazingly effective at doing this. You will want to try it before you need it, as it can warm up inside your shelter.
The second method is to use one in the summer outside the shelter facility. Once again, a tarp setting will transmit heat through it rather easily. This includes heat from the sun. So, in a summer setting where you need to keep the heat away from you, place the heat blanket on the outside to avoid overheating.