Where do you put it?

Bear tracks.

Bear tracks.

A good shelter must protect you from the elements but it must also be comfortable enough that you can sleep and rest in order to preserve or restore your energy.

Knowing the weather events common to that region can help you decide. Staying in an area known for winds and storms means you want to stay away from potential over flowing rivers and falling trees.  Staying in a location known for extreme heat means you need some access to water before it potentially dries up. Try to stay out of the deep woods if you can because they don’t get much sunlight.

Once you determine what elements you’ll likely be facing, your next priority is to choose a suitable location.

Some flat land can have flash flooding. Choose your site carefully

Some flat land can have flash flooding. Choose your site carefully

Choose a site’s suitability:

Select the general area where you want to build your shelter. You will want some exposure to sun and maybe wind, depending on your region but not extreme exposure that will weaken your shelter or resolve. Find an area about mid-way up a hill if you’re in hilly terrain. Hilltops are windy; the higher the ground the more wind you’ll be exposed to. Cold air settles in the valley at nights so stay away from low areas and sheltering inside of ravines.

If natural shielding is available, take it. Caves, stationary boulders, low-hanging trees with strong branches and rocky crevices will work. Avoid areas that have loose rocks, hanging boulders and dead trees as they can fall on you. Not only that but dead branches can fall on your head or ruin your shelter. When building fires, stay away from dry grasses and peat-like soil that can catch afire.

Build it near materials you need. This will save you time and energy.

Build it reasonably close to water. You will expend energy and burn those precious calories the further you walk to water. Not only that but you don’t want to contaminate the water so build your shelter about 25 meters from the bank of a river or stream. Balance your want for closeness with need for closeness because rivers can flood your site while cold air settles above water sources and chills it.

Water also bring those annoying insects called mosquitoes! Dry riverbeds are also a ‘no-go’ because flash flooding may occur. Per Weather.com, just 6 inches of rapidly moving flood water can knock a person down and a mere 2 feet of water can float a large vehicle even a bus.

Sometimes boulders and flat rocks can be good for bedding and high ground from flooding.

Sometimes boulders and flat rocks can be good for bedding and high ground from flooding.

Avoid sheltering beneath fruit trees because it attracts insects and birds which bring bird droppings.

Make sure the site is reasonably level, dry and can drain. Try to face your shelter downhill to prevent water from coming into your area when it rains or floods. If you cannot build on a high spot then ensure there is space available to build a trench or small retaining wall to divert water from your sleeping area. If near a possible landslide, let the slide occur, before you build if you have no choice.

Some snakes may not be poisonous but they can bite. Avoid building on animal trails, near insect nests and dens if you can. Natural caves are a good option but be careful to check for animals, other creatures like foxes and bears may have the same idea, and return to injure you.

Make sure your shelter can be easily seen and found by rescue teams. If you have them, use your tarps, ponchos, and emergency blankets to mark your site. Brightly colored clothing affixed to the top of your shelter works too.

Yum. MREs

Yum. MREs

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About The Author

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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