The A-frame shelter
An A-frame shelter is a shelter which is build in the shape of a ‘capital A’. The A-frame is a sheltertype which is quick and easy to build without complex connexions. It is originally build with 5 Y-shaped branches and one main branch, 1.25 times the length of your body. An alternative and easier way is to use the main branch with on one side two Y-shaped branches and on the other side, a tree’s axil or -stump to support the main branch. An A-frame shelter can be build very small, like 1.5ft / 0,5 meters high but also very big, like 6,5ft / 2 meters high. I would advice to keep it small as this sheltertype does not has many advantages in it’s bigger size. In the small size, the A-frame shelter is often filled with insulating material such as grass, hay or leaves. In this case you can sleep in it without a mat or sleeping bag! An excellent shelter because it is fast build and keeps you warm for sure without other than natural materials!
Another A-frame shelter which is well known is build with 2 hip-height Y-shaped branches and one main branch, 1.25 times the height your body is. An alternative and easier way is to only use the main branch and let it be suported by the low axil of a tree on one side. Downside of this last construction is that the tree is always in front of your entrance.
A lean-to shelter is like the name sugestes, a shelter which is leaning against something. This can be a rockwall, a fallen tree, a branch or a increase in landscape. The most common build lean-to shelter is the one where one tree trunk is placed horizontal against two standing trees. This trunk is held by two Y-shaped beams which keep the ‘main trunk’ in place or is bound with (natural) rope against the two trees. A lean-to shelter can be build very small, like 6.5ft /2 meters long and 1.5ft / 0,5 meters high but also very big, like 6,5ft / 2 meters long and 6,5ft / 2 meters high.
Small lean-to shelters are mostly used for a short stay as they do not need much buildingmaterial and bigger lean-to shelters are mostly used for the longer stay.
The Teepee shelter (debris)
When we are talking about a teepee shelter we actually speak of another frame for a debris shelter (as been spoken about above).
The teepee shelter is build out of (natural) debris found in the forest. It is a shelter to live in for a longer period and if it is big enough, you’re even able to make fire in it. The frame is made out of several (5 to 8) long (about 4m / 13ft) branches which are bound with (natural) rope at the top. These branches are placed in a circle like a normal teepee and then covered with twigs and needle twigs, followed by debris. To build a teepee shelter you will need a ladder to get to the higher places. Because the roof is very big, there is a lot of exposure to rain. Make sure that the angle is about 45° degrees so the debris kan still lie on it but rain will still drain to the ground. The frame should be covered with at least 1/2 arm-deep of debris to make it waterproof. You can make a frame for the door to be able to open and close it or make the door very small and place your backpack in front of it.
Big advantage is that in most teepee shelters, there is room for 2 to 4 people.
The Below ground shelter and Snow cave shelter
The Below ground shelter
This shelter-type can be interpreted in two different ways. The first definition is a shelter build over a deviation in the landscape. The second definition is dug into the ground. As digging out a shelter takes a lot of initial expenditure I do not see a direct use to choose for this shelter-type. Only when you’re hiding for humans, this shelter can add an advantage to other shelters. In this case it will still be hard to to maintain the shelter and is the question what to do with all the sand you’re digging out of your pit.
Let’s focus on building a shelter on a deviation. when you’re only working with natural materials you are obliged to build a sloping roof to keep the rain out. Build a shelter-type whit fits to you on top of the deviation and you will have a lot of additional space underneath your shelter-roof.
Have a look at the other described shelter-types and see which one suits your situation best.
Snow cave shelter
A snow cave shelter is build by digging into the snow. Always make sure that your construction is stable when you are using a snow cave. If not, the construction can fall on you and your chances of survival will be small! A snow cave shelter protects you very well against wind, cold temperatures and of course, snow.
The Quinzee shelter or Quinzhee shelter
An Quinzee shelter is not build out of snow-blocks but out of a pile of snow. The best way to start is with marking a perfect circle where you want to build the quinzee shelter. Use a stick which is 2 times your body length to mark a perfect circle. The stick will help you to accurately point out where to mark. Now collect a lot of snow and dump it into this circle. Every time you add snow, you tamp the added layer to harden it. the pile of snow should be at least the hight of your shoulders in a rounded up shape. Now collect sticks with a length of ±30cm / ±1ft and plug plenty into the pile of snow. Leave the pile to rest for 5-12hrs. to let the snow harden. When this is done, take a long small branch and push it into the pile of snow on the opposite side of where you want to build your entrance. This branch will be your navigation when you start to dig out your shelter.
Start digging a hole into the pile on the side you want your entrance to be. Dig in the direction of the branch you put into the pile to have a navigation in the shelter. Dig yourself first a small space in the middle to be able to sit in the pile. In the beginning it wil be hard but when you are in, it will become easier. keep digging until you reach the small (30cm/1ft) sticks which will indicate that you’ve reached the perfect wall thickness. On the left and right side of the shelter is normally the place to put your bed. Build the bed out of some evergreen boughs to prevent yourself from lying on the cold ground.