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Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

Survival Lab: Gimme Shelter

Losing daylight and don't have a tent? Don't panic: We tested three shelter-making techniques that will help you survive the night. Plus: Three bomber bivies.

by: Ted Alvarez

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

BETTER: Build a tarp shelter

Do It Use paracord and stick toggles (see right) to secure grommets along your tarp’s edge. String the tarp tightly between two trees at waist height. Angle and secure the loose side flush to the ground with rocks or by staking with sticks; it will be angled and open on the other side. Fill the back and base with insulating leaves (see above).

Protection Conserving calories in a survival situation is critical, and this shelter goes up in minutes with few supplies. However, wind can catch your tarp if it’s gusty or you set up in unprotected areas; build behind windblocks and so the open side faces away from the wind, or secure the top low to the ground for a shorter profile.

Pro tip When it’s cold, build a trench fire paralleling the length of the open side (within five feet for optimal heat); angle the rocks on the fire’s far side to reflect warmth toward you. If your tarp doesn’t have grommets, create an attachment point by gathering tarp fabric around a small rock and tying the rock into the pocket with a simple overhand knot.

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

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So you are unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) makes learning how to use a compass easy. Felix! explains how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Anyone wanting to feel more confident about orienting ourselves outdoors might enjoy learning from this book. To refresh our skills, we read thru this book before every hike - it's only about 34 pages and illustrated. Felix! teaches the reader how to know where you are, what to pack for a day-hike, trail ethics, what to do if you get lost or scared, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail). Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."


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