One of my fondest memories as kid was taking my wilderness survival merit badge in Scouts. We were split up in to teams of two and had to build a shelter that we would sleep in for the weekend. I remember the feeling of accomplishment and the excitement of sleeping in what amounted to a big pile of leaves and pine needles.
Today I recognize the importance of the knowledge that I acquired years ago. I routinely practice these skills as well as passing them down to my daughter. In this article I will show you several simple shelters that are essential to perfecting your survival skills.
The Quintze (Quinzhee) Hut
This simple igloo type shelter, if built properly, can be heated to above freezing on a 20-below day by just body heat. Light a candle and you can further increase the interior temperature. Follow these 4 steps to build a Quintze Hut:
- Pile snow to a depth of about 8 inches. Pack down firmly to make the floor.
- Make a pile of branches or leaves. Pile snow on top and pack firmly. This will create a cavity which you will dig out.
- Tunnel through the mound at opposite ends to dig out the branches and leaves you added in step 2, close one entrance with snow, then crawl inside to shape the interior. Ideally, the Quintze should be narrow at the foot end, with a bed long enough to lie down on, and just tall enough at the head end for you to sit up. The walls and roof need to be at least a foot thick (check this with a stick).
- Poke out an air vent overhead and dig a well at the entrance for the cold air to settle into. Cut a snow block for a door. Glaze interior walls with a candle to prevent dripping.