Shelter comes first. Here are  resources for the building of both long and short-term shelters. It’s a skill you learn so much by just doing it. It doesn’t take many nights of being cold or wet to learn, not only how important the skill is, but how to make yours more effective. There’s also nothing quite as wonderful as living in a shelter you have built yourself… and nothing quite as sad as returning a shelter to the Earth that has protected you and created a sense of home.

Easy Survival Shelter:  Tom McElroy Wild Survival  This video by former Tracker School Instructor, Tom McElroy, gives very good instruction on the construction of the basic debris hut structure. It does not include floors, interior or creating a door plug, but demonstrates the proper hut construction.

Winter Survival: 15 Minute Shelter; Norwegian Bushcraft  This video demonstrates the construction of a snow shelter that takes little time. Good step by step demonstration.

Winter Survival Shelter:  Willow Haven Outdoors  In this video, he demonstrates the use of pine trees in snow to construct a wind shelter and using enhanced walls.

Building a Wigwam; Historic Huguenot Street:  This is a time lapse video of the construction of an absolutely stunning wigwam with thatch and bark covering. These folks definitely demonstrate they know what they’re doing and the finished shelter is a work of art- and also very functional.

Primitive Shelter for 13; Roots School:  Not a how to video but does show you each step of the way of building this large thatched shelter for 13 people. I especially like that they use primitive tools and methods- although it does look like they used commercial cordage. Lots of good things to observe in this video.

Thatched Hut Basics: Maine Primitive Skills:  This video is not a step by step but does demonstrate and teach a number of shelter building skills including thatching.

How to Build an Igloo by Yourself: Over the Hill Outdoors:  This video is excellent and demonstrates step by step how to build an igloo, including tricks on how to get the correct angles to form the dome. The shelter is made by someone who obviously has a great deal of experience.

Common Questions about Igloos: Over the Hill Outdoors:  This is a follow up video that answers questions he received from the first video. 

Tripod Lashing; Gene Lonergan: Quick, clear instruction on how to lash a tripod- like for a tipi.

The Square Lashing; Survival Know How– Good, clear instruction. My only recommendation, is if your lashing is not at the primary structure support position as his were, don’t use a clove hitch to start and end- it adds significant cordage use if you have a lot of lashing to do. I leave a loose end at the beginning and then tie off the end to it in a square knot after frapping.

Building a Bark Wigwam; Coalcracker Bushcraft: Not a full how-to, but lots of good information and problem-solving.

Building a Wigwam with Natural materials Part 1; TA Outdoors; From harvesting to completed frame. Used cedar inner bark for lashings. Started bark harvesting and ends with a cookout!

Building a Wigwam with Natural Materials Part 2; TA Outdoors: Bark harvesting and lashing to shelter. Ends with some food.

Building a Wigwam with Natural Materials Part 3; TA Outdoors: Finishing touches and first night in shelter.

Making traditional Reed Mats Locally known as Waghoo; JandK Headlines: Demonstrates a technique to weave reeds into a tight mat.

Three years of Primitive Skills at the Hut; Chad Zuber: The beginning demonstrates making adobe bricks and building a shelter with them. The rest of the video is other skills.


  My Little Grass Home- Lessons I learned from my first long-term shelter.  This is a blog post which includes descriptions and photographs of the building of a grass thatched shelter and the lessons learned while constructing it and living in it.

Evolution of Primitive Shelters: Crisensio Paner  This is an interesting document that has text and photos/illustrations of a wide range of primitive shelters and looks at their evolution. It is free to download, but you must subscribe for a free month with (Just remember to cancel.)


Pinterest Board including a wide range of images of primitive shelters.