Top 6 Natural Shelters Every Survivalist Must Know

Quick, what’s the first thing you should do when you find yourself in a survival situation? If you said locate food and water, that was a good guess. However, in most survival situations, building or finding shelter should be the number one priority. Without shelter, you won’t last very long even if you immediately locate a water and food source.

If you become stranded or lost without a tent or any other type of shelter, you’ll need to act quickly and create a natural shelter from your environment. Here are six of the top natural shelters every survivalist must know about.

1. Caves

If you’re fortunate to find a cave, you’re in good shape. This is nature’s best shelter and doesn’t require you to do any extra work. A cave can immediately help you get out of bad weather conditions and keep you from being easily spotted by predators.

There is one very important thing to consider when making a cave your shelter though. It may already belong to an animal or even another person! So before you dive in, approach carefully and make noise so you can find out whether someone or something else is already living there.

2. Deadfalls

Deadfalls are simply fallen trees that can come in handy when you’re surviving outdoors. They can provide you with structural support for a lean-to or other emergency building. You may find a tree with a cavity beneath the roots, or you can use the roots to provide the walls of your shelter. You can also simply snap or cut branches from the underside of the deadfall and huddle beneath the main trunk of the tree.

3. Hollowed-Out Trees

If you can find a large, dead tree that is hollow inside, you may be able to turn it into your own personal cavern. If possible, create a hole in the side of the trunk that’s large enough for you to enter. You may have some other roommates, such as termites or ants, but as long as they don’t bite, you’ll likely find your new living space to be quite comfortable. It will certainly be warmer than if you’re fully exposed to the elements.

4. Vertical Faces

If the wind and/or rain are blowing in a certain direction, you may be able to quickly find some relief by locating a vertical face that protects you from the wind. This could be an embankment or a rock face. You may not be able to stay completely dry, but vertical faces are associated with “rain shadows” which are phenomena that refer to the dry areas immediately around vertical faces. This should not be a long-term shelter for you, but it could temporarily help you avoid getting soaked and hypothermic in certain situations.

5. Rock Structures

Depending on where you’re located, you may be able to find large formations created naturally by rocks. These formations may include hollowed-out areas where you can add a tarp or foliage to protect yourself from the elements. Rock structures may also help protect you from hungry wild animals, or at the very least seal off the area behind you so that you can see if an animal approaches you from the front.

6. Low Branches

If you have very little time to construct a shelter, you can always look for low-hanging branches on fir trees. These branches may provide some shelter for you and act as a sort of roof. If you have the ability and the time, gather additional fir branches to reinforce your shelter and add walls and a bed. It’s always a good idea to insulate your body from the ground when sitting or sleeping, and pine needles can function as extra insulation and padding.

Do you know of any other excellent natural shelter ideas? Let us know about them in the comments!

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Sarah Johnson - December 24, 2020 Reply

My nephew became separated from my brother while in the desert exploring some land we owned as a family. Nightfall came and he though his father had been injured or unable to find him… He had no weapons, just a knife. The desert had no trees, just cactus and rocks. He dug out a whole for his body to fit into and covered himself in rocks and sagebrush and debri to keep him from hypothermia during the night. The next day the Sheriff’s party came over the hill top and rescued him. His father had been looking all night for him. He was only 13 or 14 at the time. He is now a survivalist himself. He knows what to eat, what to do for emergency and survival. He is amazing. I keep telling him he should put it in a book so others will know too. He is diabetic I, so it is more critical to know how to help yourself if your insulin is drops and you are alone. He knows what to eat or drink in the desert, forest, anywhere. His name is Clinton. He even took a group of Military specialists to the Mohave Desert in Nevada to train them and to hunt rabbits. (they had to bring their own rabbits in as the desert had none at the time-they brought over 50 rabbits to turn lose then recapture, skin and cook in the wild.)

CHRISTIE WAGNER - December 27, 2020 Reply

Your warning people in #1 about how to determine if an animal is present in a cave is fine but you should have addressed how to deyermine if an animal living there is temporarily out. What are the signs in addition to fresh feces?

Bob - December 27, 2020 Reply

How about a culvert? A drain pipe??

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