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Robert Klang
(guitarzan) - F
All natural shelter on 05/08/2007 22:27:18 MDT Print View

This summer I plan on going hiking with a friend in the high sierras and were thinking about going without a tent. We plan on finding a good location and making a shelter out of sticks, leaves, branches, etc. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions concerning tips, ideas, tools, or any input at all. Thanks. Robbie

Edited by guitarzan on 05/08/2007 22:28:55 MDT.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: All natural shelter on 05/08/2007 22:36:51 MDT Print View

2 suggestions: "Wilderness Survival" merit badge book from BSA.

The US Army FM 21 Survival guide. It can be found at, or on line, including here:

assumes you're carrying a poncho or parachute ;)


Edited by eaglemb on 05/08/2007 23:00:16 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: All natural shelter on 05/08/2007 23:22:18 MDT Print View

Very fun! Some of my most memorable trips have been in wickiups and lean-to shelters!

First, get Tom Brown's Guide to Wilderness Survival for an excellent summary on survival shelters.

Next, keep it simple and small- my personal fav is a wickiup in non-snow situations. Also, bring along a tarp as well- it is really, really difficult to make a waterproof shelter from natural materials. More than once, a small tarp on top of the shelter kept me dry through the night.

Tools- nada. I usually had a pocketknife but even that is unnecessary for a small, short-term shelter.

Last, in following Leave No Trace, this is not ethical in regular backpacking areas because you'll have to gather too much in the way of natural materials. Find an off-trail and out of the way spot below the treeline area for your shelter. You might not be at your favorite lake, but that's the beauty of a trip like this- getting back to something more primal. And you'd want to have that campfire anyway...

Have a great trip!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: All natural shelter on 05/09/2007 07:25:44 MDT Print View

The Army Field Manual can be found free online.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: All natural shelter on 05/09/2007 14:15:18 MDT Print View

In the truly "high" Sierra you'll have a difficult time finding anything but rock from which to make a shelter. If you go after the "Chance of scattered afternoon thunder showers" weather is over, you may not need much of a shelter at all.

If you do use natural (read: flora) to make a shelter please be sure to put the materials back where you got them. The Sierra is very dry and the high country flora is quite fragile. The vegetable matter you disturb is tomorrow's top soil. Be good to Mother Nature. Leave no trace.

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: All natural shelter on 05/09/2007 14:18:19 MDT Print View

Constructing shelters out of natural materials is not allowed in the Sierra national parks:

The same regulations should be practiced in the national forest wilderness areas as well to minimize visitor impacts.

Also, from a practical standpoint, the vegetation in the *high* Sierra is not suitable for constructing any kind of meaningful shelter--think shrub-sized Whitebark pines.

Robert Klang
(guitarzan) - F
Re: Re: All natural shelter on 05/09/2007 20:03:12 MDT Print View

I always make a concious effort to be good to mother nature. We will only use flora that is already dead or fallen. You make a good point about leaving no trace. I should probably deconstruct it and put it back where it was found afterwards. But it should be a great trip! Thanks for all the help.

Edited by guitarzan on 05/09/2007 20:05:32 MDT.