How to Create a Lean-to Shelter in the Deciduous Forest




About: DIY for life!

Imagine you find yourself alone in the middle of nowhere... Actually, you find that you are alone in the deciduous forest. You can see, between the tree leaves, that night is approaching, and with the darkness comes many an uncertainty. The night brings out the cold, bugs, and possibly rain. You use your watch to estimate that there is about one to two hours of light left.

Then, you remember reading my Instructable, and you brave the cold night in this lean-to shelter, and you live to fight another day.

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Step 1: Finding a Spot to Spend the Night

Look for an area with either:
* two saplings that are about 6-10 feet from one another
* an area between large trees that is relatively flat. Once there, dig two holes about 12+ inches into the ground and insert two sturdy branches into the holes.

Clear the ground below the support beams until you hit dirt. This will deter bugs that live in the fallen debris from coming into the shelter and biting you.

Step 2: Making the Support Beam

Pick a sturdy branch to attach to both sides of the sticks. Tie any knot you know to secure the branch to the sapling. Make sure you TEST it before preceding! Apply to both sides.

Step 3: Creating the Angle for the Roof

Find some fallen sticks and wood in the nearby area. (Make sure they aren't completely rotten so then can hold some weight and do not contain any bugs.)
These sticks should be approx 6-7 feet long in order to create an angle on the shelter suitable for deterring rain and the elements.

Now lie the sticks, one by one, up against the main support beam you previously secured. Make them have the same slope. Apply until the entire area between the two saplings is covered. Next, layer another set of branches atop of the first set. Repeat until you have made at least 5 layers.

Step 4: Waterproofing and Insulating

Now, gather as many leaved branches as you can. Evergreen branches work especially well if they are around.
Lay them atop of your structure first horizontally, then vertically. Repeat until the roof is an airy foot "thick".
Now layer the ground with the same leaves, dead/alive evergreen branches, or near-by grasses. This will prevent the loss of heat through the ground.

On the other side of your shelter, opposite to the roof, is where you can build a fire using many different techniques.

This lean-to shelter will withstand the cold nights that you will experience. Please comment below with recommendations and opinions!

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    9 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Awesome I like this shelter because it can have changes made to it depending on the conditions.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Pretty good shelter. This would be great for a warmer summer night.
    For winter/fall weather the lower the roof the better, and adding some walls.
    Also, some spruce boughs if stacked right will provide better insulation and be water proof if layered in the right direction. Also good bedding/insulation when layered properly.


    3 years ago

    Just look for ShepherdSurvives website. There is all you need to learn it :)


    7 years ago on Step 4

    its a great idea but over time it could use some inprovements. one thing is depending on where you are at depends on which way the wind will blow more often. for me it comes from the north west, south west, and the west so you would want the wall like part faceing that way


    7 years ago on Step 4

    If it is likely to get seriously cold a sloping roof is not such a good idea as heat will be lost. There is one shelter that involves driving sticks into the earth such that walls will be thirty inches thick. The walls are any grasses, leaves or sticks that you can gather. The roof should only be a couple of inches above you when you are prone on the ground. Make the roof thick just as you did on the sides. You slide into the shelter feet first and drag a heap of leaves to plug the entrance. You want a very good plug so that heat does not escape. You could bury hot rocks if you can and stay really warm all night. It does help if you have plastic to cover the top but if it is really cold rain should not be falling. Snow is more likely.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent instrucable!! Remember also, if you can find a tree with a long enough lower branch, you can stake down the end of it to the ground. Then you add your side branches against it. This can save lots of time. Keep up the good work !!