Editor’s note: The first step in knowing how to build a survival shelter is to choose a location. These tips from Creek Stewart in his new book, The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide, might seem obvious at first, but don’t blow them off. In a survival situation, your mind might be racing and not thinking clearly. Fall back on what you’ve learned to save time and energy.
There are many survival shelter designs, but ideally they should be situated according to the following criteria. Then a fire can be built, water can be boiled and the odds of survival go way up. ~Ben
Survival Shelter Location Consideration #1: Dry
No matter what kind of weather, region, or environment you find yourself in, you must choose the driest possible shelter site. Wet and/or moist shelters kill people. If you are wet, you can develop hypothermia.
Remember, water travels downhill so, typically, elevated areas are drier. Southward-facing site locations are also drier because they receive sunlight as the sun travels east to west.
Survival Shelter Location Consideration #2: Away from Hazards
Flash flood areas mentioned above are prime examples of naturally hazardous areas. Other well-known hazards include:
- Poisonous plants
- Stinging or biting insects
- Rock cliffs
- Large, dead tree limbs overhead
Survival Shelter Location Consideration #3: Close to Resources
You need some resources to meet your basic survival needs. Make sure you have access to:
- Building materials
- Fuel for fire
Survival Shelter Location Consideration #4: Meets Purpose of Shelter
The survival shelter designs you choose should be heavily influenced by why you need a shelter. What is the purpose of your shelter?
There are no black-and-white rules to shelter configurations. Every scenario is different, which is why it’s absolutely critical that you be able to improvise.
However, learning some basic shelter configurations for a variety of scenarios will give you a knowledge base to work from. Your creativity and on-hand resources will fill in the blanks.
Survival Shelter Location Consideration #5: Energy Conservation
Energy conservation should be at the forefront of every survival decision you make—especially shelter. Building even a simple survival shelter can be a very labor-intensive task.
I’ve worked eight hours of back-breaking labor building cold-weather debris huts that, in the end, gave me only the bare minimum shelter I needed. Working like this spends thousands of calories, and that will eventually catch up with you.
I’m not suggesting that you be lazy, but rather make intelligent decisions that help you save time and energy. Try to develop a partnership with Mother Nature instead of working against her. Let her do some work for you if you can.