Have you heard the Survival Rule of Threes? In a extreme survival situation, you might expect to live:
- 3 minutes without air
- 3 hours without shelter
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food
Shelter is typically higher priority than food or water. That’s why if it looks like you’re going to be out in the cold all night, building a shelter is the first thing you need to do.
One of the easiest shelters to put up, if you’re in the woods, is the lean-to or A-frame. Mike Pullen from TA Outdoors shows how to build one in their video.
Site selection is important. Be close to the materials you plan to use for your structure and cover. You don’t want to be dragging logs for miles.
Also make sure you’re not in a place water would collect if it rains. I’ve made that mistake before.
Start early. Without a tent or tarp, any decent shelter will take you several hours to build. If you wait until it gets dark, you're going to have a very hard time putting it together.
Notice how useful it was to have a folding saw. Consider carrying one with you whenever you go out. Sometimes I carry a pocket chainsaw. Of the folding saws, the most popular by far is the Bahco Laplander.
It looks like he put a lot of ferns on for cover, yet he said he would add more if had the time. It takes a lot of cover to protect you from the wind and rain – more than you might think. You can never have too much.
Although he doesn’t show it, Mike mentions that he would build up a bed of ferns. This is extremely important – often more so than building the shelter itself. You lose a tremendous amount of heat sleeping on the cold ground, so you need to insulate yourself from it.
I’ve heard it said that in the cold it’s better to have a bed and no roof than a roof and no bed.