How to build a Debris Shelter (Photo)
By Steven L. Doran
A debris shelter is nothing more than taking available foliage and or debris and making a small hut to protect yourself from the elements. No offense to the homeless, but when they take found materials in the city to make a shelter it is the same thing. Even in the desert you can use what is at hand to provide yourself with a shelter.
As a kid we made them all of the time. We built our own frames, or used natural ones, trees or brush growing in a way, or that fell in a way that were strong enough to hold the layers of foliage and other materials we stacked on top. You can even combine items, like a frame covered by a tarp then foliage on top of that. We would use that trick in the Marines, it provided shelter and camouflaged our location.
The beauty of these shelters is they take no time at all to build and are solid enough to use for months if need be with only minor repairs. When I left home and joined the marines, their was a shelter I had built a year or two before leaving, when I returned home on leave, I went for a walk a shelter we had built years before was still standing, to use it all I would have to have done was place some more foliage on top to seal it up again from the elements and it would have been just fine.
The only draw back with this type of shelter is fire, they will go up like a match in certain conditions (as kids we had that happen) They can be fire proofed to a point using green, or fresh cut foliage, and by using mud and or dirt as an insulator over the top. However this takes a lot of time. I had a friend who made one in this fashion, quite large, and reused it year after year in a remote area he would go hunt and fish. However when talking survival the least energy expelled to build it the better. If you are stuck long term or plan to re-use it, make it as hefty as you like. Remember you need a plug (door) in cold wet, or windy weather.