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Thought I might share a few pics with you all of my shelter that I built on my December camping trip.

This was mine and my brother's and a friend of ours' home for a wee during the winter solstice.

Night time temperatures were 9 to 12 degrees F

We were quite comfortable. The construction of the shelter was done using as you can see sticks with a bit of forest floor insulation on the outside. The desigh was a square formed by four lean-toos with an opening at the top for smoke ventilation as we had a fire inside.

The bottoms of the lean-tos were lined with first large black plastic bags cut open into sheets of plastic for waterproofing and additional insulation. There was an additional layer below that, facing the fire, made from emergency blankets for additional waterproofing and to reflect the heat from the fire back into the hut to maximize temperatures inside the hut.

The support structure of the hut was built by lashing branches together with 113 pound catfish string/line that I weave into survival bracelets.

The insulating trash bags we secured using zip ties, and the emergency blankets we secured onto the plastic bags using duct tape.

On the coldest night when it was 9F out side, inside the hut with the fire going it was around 51 degrees under the lean-to temp recorded facing away from the fire with me blocking direct heat from it.

We got there late on the first day and had to devote what we had left of our daylight to constructing the shelter. So we were only able to obtain a very minimal amount of fire wood. As we all fell asleep the first night the fire eventual died and the temperature fell in the hut to around 29 f and had been that temp for a little while with temp outside being at around 16F But we were warm enough in our sleeping bags.

On the second day we devoted our few hours of sunlight, winter solstice, to gathering firewood. This we did with outstanding efficiency. We found a good hard wood tree that had fallen across a deep trench and was therefore suspended from the damp ground and was very dry and well cured. We harvested much of this tree with a 4 ½ pound axe with a 2 foot handle. I split some of the wood using my Smith and Wesson Search and Rescue survival knife. In this process we were able to quickly determine that a saber saw ( a chain saw with a handle at each end), was not very effective for completing tasks quickly. Sectioning the wood with the axe was far superior and surprisingly required less effort.

With our vibrant supply of fire wood we were quite comfortable for the rest of the trip. The second night it started raining at dusk and as soon as the sun went down this rain turned to sleet and then ice pellets. This proved that our waterproofing of the shelter had been effective as we stayed nicely dry the entire trip.

We were high in the mountains so initial we were concerned with water access due to being isolated from the ponds of the lower lands. We came into luck as we found a small spring about 100 yards from the camp site. Using the water filter initial seemed as though it would be difficult because there was no water depth to submerge the inlet. I solved this problem by hollowing out a depression, and then fashioning a bowl from aluminum foil to reduce debris at the inlet, keeping my filter clean. This became an effective source for water that sustained us for the duration of our stay.

We had brought with us some meager food rations of oatmeal, just add water corn bread, just add water cheese biscuits, just add water cheddar broccoli soup, trail mix, and hot coco. We were acceptably sustained on these provisions. He had an opportunity to harvest some wild game. On the first night at around 12:30am we heard something coming through the woods. I rose from within the shelter with my Ar15 using the weapon light to determine what it was. Turns out it was a large doe (deer) that ran up to about 10 feet away from the shelter and she stoped as soon as she saw my light. She stood there for a few seconds while we debated rather or not to take her.

We decide to let her go for several reasons. 1. It is not legal in Tennessee to hunt deer at night. 2. It was cold and we didn’t feel like having to dress her. 3. We didn’t want to fight off coyotes for a whole week protecting the carcass. So we passed up a week of good eating. Rightly so I think because we didn’t really need to kill her to survive.

Each night at around 3am we would hear the coyotes wake from their dens and begin howling signaling the beginning of their hunts. We had positioned our selves close to a know are of coyote dens a mere 200 yards or so away form us, as our initial intention was coyote hunting, though the short days and the need for work to maintain our campsite made that reality not so real.
But we were never in any danger from the coyotes. The closest they ever came to the camp was around 150 yards away when we heard them howling an fighting amongst each other, and then we could hear them moving away form us. None the less we were safe from them within out hut. The corners we closed off by debris. And also I had woven some limbs together and covered them with a sheet of plastic to form a door at the entry of the hut. So we were well isolated from the wildlife.

All in all it was a great and successful camping trip. We were able to comfortably survive in the absolute harshest conditions that we have here in East Tennessee in the coldest winter we had in decades.

Hope you all enjoyed the story. Feel free to ask any questions you have. It was a long week and we did a lot so I omitted a great deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very nice. Good descriptions. Almost felt like I was there. I would like more pictures also but your descriptions were excellent.
Yea I am lacking the pics. I left the battery to the camera in the truck when we hiked in, like a fool. So all I had was the cell phone. So few pics were taken.

I will be going on many more trips this summer so i promise you will get your fill of pics and videos from me.
 

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Zip ties, plastic bags, and duct tape -lol. Not exactly the norm but if it keeps you warm and dry....
I am of course jealous as I haven't been camping in years, much less hiking in to a location to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Zip ties, plastic bags, and duct tape -lol. Not exactly the norm but if it keeps you warm and dry....
I am of course jealous as I haven't been camping in years, much less hiking in to a location to do so.
This is now the norm for me. I have decided to stop using tents. Especialy in the winter time.

1. Tents offer no insulation.
2. You cant build a fire in them. only a tent heater which requires more weight
3. They weigh you down more reducing your effective overland range.
4. this structure sleeps 4. A 4 man tent would weigh a whole lot more than i will ever cary.
5. It is not near as much fun to set up a tent as it is to build one of these.


In a tent out here on that cold winter week I would have froze to death. All we caried were sleeping bags rated for 20degrees. So on the 9degree nights we would have been hurting in a tent.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
you call that winter? where is the snow?
We actualy had a lot of snow this winter for the area. There was none still on the ground that week.

We had prbably 6 or 7 15 inch or more snows this past winter, which is quite a bit for the cumberland mountians.

The cumberlands are about 1000 feet shorter than the main appalachian mountian system in the far east of Tennessee and western North Carolina.

So naturaly survival here is going to be quite a bit easier than in other place in the country. I find it to be a great blessing. Blessed by the Grace of God to live in East Tennessee :thumb:
 

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Yes thank you for the post. It was a good read. The pics were great. I half expected to see snow in the pics like the canadian dude...(yeah..but where was the snow at the Winter Olympics?)....but I know there are some awfully cold snowless nights in your neck of the woods. Nice job.
 

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Its great to see someone building natural shelters. I mostly use my tent but its not realistic for me to build a new natural shelter every month when im out in the woods.
From what i seen in the pics they look good. a couple things to help improve for next time, Weave the outside bows a little tighter and keep adding until you cant see any light through the wall. this will help with insulation and weather proofing. another thing is use bows for an insulation bed. they creat more dead airspace and when done correctly are very comfortable. one last thing is use a space blanet attached to the inside of the roof of the shelters. it will get ridiculously warm.
 

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Its great to see someone building natural shelters. I mostly use my tent but its not realistic for me to build a new natural shelter every month when im out in the woods.
From what i seen in the pics they look good. a couple things to help improve for next time, Weave the outside bows a little tighter and keep adding until you cant see any light through the wall. this will help with insulation and weather proofing. another thing is use bows for an insulation bed. they creat more dead airspace and when done correctly are very comfortable. one last thing is use a space blanet attached to the inside of the roof of the shelters. it will get ridiculously warm.
lol re=read the story. You will see I did all of that! Good advice though.
 

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Looks like it was a blast though; I've never lived in a part of canada which didnt have a ton of snow in the winter and i've moved around alot, as for the olympics....B.C....never has snow....

I'm looking forward to doing a winter camp when I visit ontario next fall; my dad and uncle were survival instructors in the army about 20 years a go so it will be interesting to see what they can teach me.
 

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sounds like fun. that shelter was crazy looking :thumb:
how many people went, and what equipment did you guys bring ?
 

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Survivalmike,
I missed the part with the space blanket sorry. as for the natural stuff i just meant you could get the insulation and water resistance with only natural material.
I teach natural shelter every month and ive seen a bunch of ways to design a shelter. Thats the first time ive seen a lean-box and it looks pretty cool. great idea for a group.

Survival can be fun when you know what to do
 

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Survivalmike,
I missed the part with the space blanket sorry. as for the natural stuff i just meant you could get the insulation and water resistance with only natural material.
I teach natural shelter every month and ive seen a bunch of ways to design a shelter. Thats the first time ive seen a lean-box and it looks pretty cool. great idea for a group.

Survival can be fun when you know what to do
Yea, I mean it was origionaly the plan to, as usual, continue adding more and more insulating materials to the outer part of the shelter. But after night 2 it was clear that what we had was more than adequate so there seemed to be no need to futher labor with the shelter.

I did build a door on the second day, we had a windy eavning and the poor luck of having wind blowing in through our door opening. So I wove together some sapling twigs and covered that with a sheet of plastic and fashioned a hinge of sticks and string. So that took cae of our draft problem.

As far as bedding went. I always cary my therma-rest, mastly because of the chair sleve I have for it (how great that thing is) so I was well insulated. My brother and our buddy had pine needle matresses.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
sounds like fun. that shelter was crazy looking :thumb:
how many people went, and what equipment did you guys bring ?

You are correct. I need to include that information. So lets get into this. The equiptment that I took.

For the most part it was minimal. I have BOB or i call EDC bag. That is in my truck everywhere that I go. If I go hiking it on my back. If I go ATV riding it is on my rack. SO what I include in that pack is what I guess you are asking.
A Therm-a-Rest Sleep Pad the Trail Lite version. With the sleve that turns it into a Chair

A Gerber Retractable Saw

My USMC K-Bar…..Now replaced with a longer Smith&Wesson Search and Rescue Knife which I give high marks so far, and will continue to use and abuse to test it.

A GSI kettle, this is what I use to do most of my cooking, and or water boiling
http://www.rei.com/product/768513

My MRS Pocket Rocket Stove and Fuel Canister

Around 200 feet of Catfish Trot Line 113 pound tensile strength. Cheaper than Para cord and has proven its self more effective for my uses.

2 Liquid Candles, 2 small wax candles.

My Fire Starting Kit composed of, Fire Steel, Bic Lighter, Waterproof Matches, Petroleum Soaked Cotton Balls, Cut Up Squares of News Paper

My First Aid Kit….Not getting into contents

My Coleman Grey Fox Mummy Bag, 20 degree comfort rating

A saber saw……Which I no longer carry.

3 Large Contractor Grade Trash bags

A small roll of Plastic Drop Cloth

Extra Wool Socks

A few Hand Warmers

A Couple of folding knives. One a Smith Wesson Extreme Ops folder. The other the Smith Wesson homeland Security Knife. Don’t knock them! I have tried these knives and tested them. They are awesome!

A Gerber Hydration Bladder. I switched to this one recently because I really liked the design of the bladder. It holds form when full or empty. A little harder to clean. But it is worth the work. I also like the design of the bite valve. And I got it really cheap. On clearance at Smokey Mountain Knife Works for $5.99

A gratuitous amount of duct tape…..because duct tape is awesome. Also a roll of electrical tape. .. Because why not.

My 1 Watt LED Head Lamp, My 3 Watt LED Rayovac Handheld Flash Light, and my crank Light…..Plus a few extra batteries.

My compass….which I actually had to use for once during our egress. We decided to leave in the middle of the night more or less. There was no trail and it was beginning to snow and ice, which is why we decided to leave. Where we were, we had to egress up an aggressive hill that required a small bit of rock climbing. We feared if we did not egress then we may be stuck for a while. So I had to use my compass to get us out of the wilderness.

My Steel Coffee Mug. I use it as a bear bell, a cup, I cook in it, use it as a bowl.


My deer skinner.


2 Mylar Survival Blankets

Some Aluminum Foil....I use it to fashion dutch ovens for cooking, and other uses. As I mentioned in the story, I used some to make a bowl to capture water from the trickling spring so I could filter some water.

2 Chemical Light Sticks "glow Sticks"

a pair of leather work gloves

Som just add water corn bread, just add water cheese biscust, hot coco, instant coffee, trail mix, instant oatmeal, and some of my home made high calorie surival bars.

Plus I had some clothing on my back. And my boots and a couple extra pairs of wool socks. And s few other items that I probably am not thinking of right now. But that is basicaly it. This is what we survived on for a week.

my brother carries an identical bag to mine. My buddy casey had a bag that I put together for him to carry that was very similar.

I carried my AR-15, My brother a Remington .22 Rifle, and my Buddy Casey a .20 guage shot gun. My brother carried a Makarov .380 pistol, and I carried my FNH FP40 pistol.

Oh and I carried my 4 1/2 pound Short Axe.

And that is pretty much it.
 
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