Turn your winter asthenia into something creative…and challenging.

Upgrade your survival skills by building a snow shelter. Whether you surprise your kids with it, or use it in a life or death situation, this know-how will come handy both ways.

Snow Cave

If bad weather catches you off-guard and you have few to no tools at your disposal, the best chance you have of mitigating the cold effects is building a snow cave.!

The first thing you’ll need to do is scout for an appropriate location. It’s vital when building a snow cave to look for where the snow has the most consistency and depth.Try looking for a snow hump using your sight, as this could be a good indicator of extra accumulated snowfall. 

You’re also looking for a particular type of snow. It needs to be similar to the one you use to build a snowman, meaning that it should easily stack-up and compress. This will offer you a stable structure and will lower the chances of a cave-in.

For the next part you’ll have to dig. Use your palms if you have no shovel with you. As you’re dredging the snow, keep in mind to shape the interior like an upside down pear, with the ceiling broader than the bottom. This will increase the airflow and oxygen level of your shelter, as well as strengthen the overall structure.

As you’re shaping the interior, you’ll have to start from bottom and build towards the top. This will allow you to create a sleeping platform higher than the initial entrance. By doing this, you’ll add a few levels of heat, as the cold air will move out, while the warm air will remain trapped.This technique is similar to the one applied by beavers when building their lodges.

  1. Tree Pit

Once again, looking for the best spot for your shelter is extremely important.!

In the case of a tree pit, you’ll need to find a proper tree to start digging, and in our case that would be the evergreen tree. After a heavy snowfall, most trees will have snow-free pockets close to the stalk.The best suited trees are those with their branches reaching close to the ground.

After you find such a specimen, be very cautious when starting to remove the snow, as the walls might collapse and compromise your entire operation.The best thing to do is remove the snow close to the tree until you reach ground level, then start building inwards until you reach the tree well. Don’t forget to take it slow to not make the same work twice!

After you can safely enter the newly-built pit, make sure to cover the ground with whatever branches you find for insulation.You can dispose of the upper branches if there’s a blizzard outside or there are no other boughs sources around.

Next thing you’ll need will be reinforcing your shelter by compacting the walls of snow surrounding you. And regarding the warmth, you should cover the entrance with either an extra blanket or evergreen boughs.

  1. Quinzee

Compared to the other shelters, the quinzee will require the most effort, but it will pay off most in terms of comfort.!

If you’re ready for the job, renounce the extra layer of clothes and roll up your sleeves, as arduous work awaits you up ahead.

First thing to do is gather lots of snow. Pile up as much as you can until you make a mound about 4 ½ in height and 6-10 wide.

After gathering the required snow, you’ll need to let it settle for about one hour or so. During this time, the snow will bind and consolidate.

After this process, you’ll have to dig a tunnel from ground level and leading straight to the middle of the mound.As you remove the snow from the inside, you can throw it on the outside shell and have someone compact it in during the process.

Remember to keep the shape as circular as possible!

The next step would be to smoothen the inner section in the shape of an arc.

As you hollow the dome, dispose of the snow by throwing it outside to be used on the outside, as you did in the beginning. Remove the snow in circular patches until you obtain a sizeable inner space.

As the walls become thinner, you may notice small pockets into the body of the structure.When this happens, make sure to patch it using the snow you have just thrown out, or use extra material if needed.

If you are afraid of a sudden collapse, you can use evergreen boughs or other branches to consolidate the roof, then stack up snow on top of them.

With this being said, you’ll have plenty of snow shelters to choose from.

Remember to pick the one most suited to your needs and circumstances.

If you have plenty of time and you are accompanied by other helping hands, you can go for the quinzee, as it provides the most space and comfort.

On the other hand, if you are encountering a challenging or life threatening situation, you should go for the other shelters, as they are faster to build.

Make sure to carry your tools around when venturing outdoors during the winter.

They may prove most valuable in extreme situations, and may even make the difference between life and death.

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