Survival Shelters: 10 Best Designs and How to Build Them?

Hunting in the wild, it is not impossible for us to lose our way or be caught in a situation where we need to stay in the forest longer than we planned. Sometimes, we even plan to camp in the wilderness for a longer game stakeout. Whichever of these situations you might be in, knowing how to build a survival shelter is a very helpful thing. Shelter is very important especially if you are facing mother nature’s unpredictable behavior. We may not have put much thought to it but having a shelter especially in emergency situations makes a big difference on your survival. A shelter can protect you from the rain, snow, heat of the sun, hot and cold temperatures, wind, and even from insects or wild animals. Being able to build an effective one is a very important outdoor skill.

Now that we know how important survival shelters are, then let’s go and learn how to build them. Here are 10 best designs of survival shelters and how to build them.


#1 – Lean-to Debris Survival Shelter

Lean-to Debris Survival Shelter

Lean-to Debris Survival Shelter - Photo credit: pinimg.com

One of the easiest and quickest survival shelter to build, the lean-to shelter is one of the most popular shelters built in survival situations. You can build this shelter right next to your fire and you can even build a reflector for additional warmth. When building this shelter, always make sure that the back of your lean-to shelter is face against the wind.

To start building your lean-to survival shelter, find two sturdy Y-shaped branches, place them around two meters apart from each other and bury them around a foot under the ground. Next, place a branch on in between the forks of your two Y-shaped branches. This will serve as your ridgepole. Now, lean some sticks on the ridgepole until it is filled and cover them well with any debris available in the place like large leaves, twigs, and bracken ferns. As easy as that and you now have a lean-to survival shelter!

#2 – A-frame Bush Survival Shelter

A-frame Bush Survival Shelter

A-frame Bush Survival Shelter

An A-frame bush survival shelter also called as a double lean-to survival shelter is a very effective survival shelter because it is fast and easy to build, strong, and doesn’t require any tools. Not only that, this shelter is good at keeping you warm during the cold nights, protecting you from the rain, and protecting you from wild animals with it’s great camouflage.

To build an A-frame bush survival shelter, find a stick which is slightly longer than your height and find a good spot with a tree. Prop one end of the stick up the tree while support the other end with two sticks forming an “A” shape. If there is no tree in the area, you can support both ends with sticks. Make sure that the sticks are sturdy and they are tied together well. Next, lean some strong branches on both sides of your ridgepole making sure that it is completely covered and well-spaced.

Now that you have completed the frame, the next step is to fill in the spaces between the sticks with anything that you can find in the forest that can help in insulation like bushes, twigs, and dry leaves. Pile as much as you can for better insulation and protection from elements. Lastly, clean up the inside of your shelter and get rid of anything that may bring you harm or make you uncomfortable while you sleep. You may also cover it with bushes or leaves to serve as a bed.

#3 – Teepee Survival Shelter

Teepee Survival Shelter

Teepee Survival Shelter - Photo credit: https://www.primalsurvivor.net

The teepee is relatively higher compared to other survival shelters and it is sturdy, quite easy to build, and offers good protection. However, it is not suitable for high winds and does not warmup really well.

Building a teepee survival shelter requires a lot of branches. To start off, you will need three strong branches which will serve as your scaffold. Lash these three branches together and put them up to form a tripod. Next, fill your tripod with branches to make the walls but leave an opening that will serve as the doorway of your shelter. Lastly, cover the branches with whatever material available in the area like leafy branches, mosses, vines, mud, and grass.

#4 – Hammock Survival Shelter

Hammock Survival Shelter

Hammock Survival Shelter - Photo credit: https://www.primalsurvivor.net

A hammock survival shelter is a fast and easy to make survival shelter which you can make when you are in an area with a lot of trees. It offers a pretty decent protection and can keeps you away from threats in the ground like creeping insects and animals. Compared to being wet and cold in the ground, it is more comfortable to sleep in a hammock as it keeps you dry and warm.

To build a hammock shelter, you will need to find two parallel trees where you can tie your hammock. In making the hammock, you will need a tarp and some cordage. Roll the tarp and tie the cordages on both ends. The cordages must be long enough to be tied on the tree trunks. Also, when tying them into the tarp, place a rock where you can tie the cordage around on. You may also put some cloth into the tarp for extra warmth. If you want extra protection from rain you can put a tarp cover over your hammock by also tying it into the tree.

#5 – Fallen Tree Survival Shelter

Fallen Tree Survival Shelter

Fallen Tree Survival Shelter - Photo credit: https://cdn.instructables.com

If you are in an area full of trees, constructing a fallen tree survival shelter can be a good choice since it helps you save time and effort. Just make sure that you choose a fallen tree that has a dry ground under it. I also recommend choosing one with the roots sticking up in the air as it can serve as part of your shelter wall or as a windshield. Make sure that the tree is not going to fall further to ensure your safety.

To make your fallen tree shelter, just lean a bunch of branches into the fallen tree trunk to make your cover. You can also cover the branches with twigs, grasses, leaves, and bushes. After that, clean the ground underneath the tree and arrange some bushes for you to lie down on.

#6 – Snow Shelter – The Quinzee

Snow Shelter – The Quinzee

Snow Shelter – The Quinzee - Photo credit: hobbyfarms.com

A quinzee snow shelter is one good survival shelter when you are stranded in the wild during the snow season. You can build it with minimal tools and it is very simple to make. It is a very effective protection from the elements, however, it can be time-consuming to build.

To build a quinzee, find a pile of snow or build one. Next, dig into the pile and smooth the walls and ceilings making sure that the walls are at least around one to two feet thick. Lastly, poke a hole on top of your quinzee for ventilation.

#7 – Tarp Tent Survival Shelter

Tarp Tent Survival Shelter

Tarp Tent Survival Shelter - Photo credit: http://www.offthegridnews.com

The tarp tent survival shelter is very fast and easy to build; all you need is a tarp and some cordage and some basic tying knowledge. However, this does not offer very good protection from the wind and animals.

To build your tarp tent, just find two good trees and tie your cordage on them. Next, put your tarp over the cordage and find some heavy rocks or sticks, put them in the corners of your tarp, and anchor your tarp away to from an A-shape.

#8 – Wedge Tarp

Wedge Tarp

Wedge Tarp - Photo credit: https://i.pinimg.com

For windy situations, the wedge tarp shelter is a very good survival shelter to build. It’s shape is aerodynamically fitted to resist strong winds and it is also good in driving off rain.

For your wedge tarp, you will need a tree, stick or any point where you can tie your rope on. You will also need a tarp, ropes, and some pegs or sticks to anchor your tent. To start, tie the middle part of your tarp into a high enough point wherein you can crawl into it later. Next, stake down the two far corners of the tarp down the ground forming a triangle. You may use some sticks or pegs to anchor your tarp to the ground. Then, tie the two remaining corners into the ground. And there you have it, a wedge tarp that is a good protection from the wind and the rain.

#9 – Double-roofed Desert Tarp

Double-roofed Desert Tarp

Double-roofed Desert Tarp - Photo credit: https://i.pinimg.com

It is very hard to survive in the middle of the desert with that very hot weather during the day and very cold air during the night. In this kind of situation building a survival shelter is very important and one good survival shelter to build is a double-roofed desert tarp. To build one, look for a low spot or dig one and lay one of your tarps in it. Tie the corners of the tarp into metal or stick poles while making sure that the setup is stable. Also, leave a space on the upper part of the poles for the other tarp to be tied to. Lastly, tightly tie the other tarp on the poles around one foot over the first tarp.

#10 – Subterranean Survival Shelter

Subterranean Survival Shelter

Subterranean Survival Shelter - Photo credit: https://i.pinimg.com

A subterranean survival shelter provides very good protection from wild animals. It is very effective in keeping you warm and it also a good refuge from the rain.

For a short-term shelter, one good place to build your subterranean shelter is under the roots of a fallen tree since it already provides you with a structure. All you need to do is dig some space for you to fit in comfortably and cover it with some branches and bushes for additional protection.


Having a shelter in the middle of the wild does not only offer you security but also gives you a place to rest. In this article, I have laid out 10 best designs of survival shelters and how to build them which you can use depending on your situation. Now that you have knowledge in building survival shelters, it will be easier for you to survive in any situations in the wild. Although having the skill to build one takes a lot of practice, this can be a good start for you. So next time that you have an outdoor activity, why not try to apply what you have learned? Bear in mind that it is also important to consider the place to build your shelter to minimize your risks. I hope this article helps!

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Read next: ​List Of The Best Camping Activities

Sheldon Martin

Sheldon Martin is the founder of Captain Hunter. CaptainHunter.com is a site dedicated to the sport of hunting. We have a deep respect for nature and for the environment, and we therefore take the sport of hunting very seriously. Never think that you are alone in the woods again. Our goal is to share what we know with who needs it most.

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