6 Principles of Survival – Maintain Core Body Temperature – Part 1 Shelter

Shelter and Fire are ONE.  Long term survival requires the proficiency of both.  Maintaining Core Body Temperature is vital, and without shelter and fire the body is highly susceptible to hypothermia.  In this two part series we will look at the concept and application of Shelter and Fire.  Maintaining a solid 98.6o will ensure your body does not become susceptible to hypothermia or hyperthermia.

Understanding the science behind shelter building could be the difference between relative comfort and abject misery.

SHELTER

There are 3 Primary Forms of Shelter

Clothing – First Layer of Protection

Structure – Micro Climate / Element Barrier

Fire – Radiant Heat Sphere

Having a combination of elements will help you regulate and maintain your core body temperature.  Understanding the science behind your shelter structure will also help you avoid expending unnecessary energy when building.  Keep your shelter small and compact.  If you need additional space to move, build additional space as needed.

Be aware of the 5 Ws of Shelter Location.

Widow makers

Wildlife

Water

Wood

Wind/Weather  & Sun Exposure – Optimally                  South East

Once you have picked your location; then decide on the structure you desire to build.

Most Common Primitive Shelters

Lean-to / Lofted Lean -to

A Frame (Double Lean-to)

Jungle Hooch

Debris Hut

Woodland Sleeping Bag

Wiki-up / Wigwam

Once you decide on your shelter, construct the structure with as minimal exertion of energy as possible.  Once you obtain 3’ feet of debris for waterproofing, then begin to insulate it with adequate dead air space and additional Insulation.  The typical shelter will maintain a fairly constant body temp at an ambient temperature of 60oF.  For every 10 degrees colder than that you will need to apply an additional 1’ of debris or 1” of dead air space.

Keep in mind the Law of Thermodynamics and the 3 Primary Heat Loss Mechanisms.

Law of Thermodynamics: Heat rises, and heat transfers from Hot to Cold.

3 Primary Heat Loss Mechanisms

Conduction

Convection

Radiation  (Sub-mechanisms – respiration / Evaporation)

These are only a few of many shelter principles.  Be sure to register for our Survival Standard Course for further instruction and check out our corresponding YouTube video: 6 Principles of Survival – Maintain Core Body Temperature – Part 1 Shelter

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Wilderness Survival Priorities Timeline

This is a  priority breakdown of how one should set out to start a survival situation with almost no gear and their knife!

 

First Day- Build a shelter the first morning and get the shelter to a comfortable level of warmth for your climate. It must be dry, warm, and provide a place to store things. Custom debris hut is usually first choice in most climates in our area. I will make sure that my shelter is located reasonably close to a water supply. While I am gathering shelter materials I should also use the opportunity to gather firewood for the fire at night as well. Next, I will begin making a fire with primitive bow drill or a hand drill with thumbhole strings to reduce energy consumption and make getting a coal easier. If I have suitable cordage then I will always go with bow drill first but if cordage is in very short supply then I do the hand drill. At the end of day one I will shift my focus to making several no carve pauite deadfalls and split stick figure four deadfalls. Set them out next to pack rat dens and near other high traffic areas for small game. Before I return to camp I should try to gather natural cordage material to bring back and when night time arrives I can make several feet of cordage around the light of the campfire. Note: Always make time to forage for edibles to and from different spots and make a throwing stick while out in case possible game opportunity presents itself!

 

Day Two- Begin the morning by re-stoking the fire and go check my nearby traps to see if the overnight traps caught me breakfast. Return to camp and begin either processing trapped game or begin improving your shelter while it is still cool. Shelter building is one of the more labor intensive parts of survival and should be done when the least amount of calories will be used. Then begin making more simple traps as well as a few more complex trap triggers for larger game. If there is fish nearby then immediately begin making fish traps because they are the easiest prey to catch. Bugs, worms, and anything smelly works for land and water traps. While you are out always be foraging for convenient wild edibles and collect any potential harvest the forest provides you with! The second day should almost be completely consumed by shelter improvement and food gathering. But don’t forget to stay hydrated!

 

Day Three- By day three you should have several dozen traps set out and producing food. This is your main focus until you have created enough food generation sources to provide you with enough fresh meat to eat on hand and enough extra to begin storing extra dryed meats, edibles, etc. Begin putting these things back for your next move. Every time you are out always make sure you are gathering materials when they become available. Don’t wait and come back later only to waste more calories. If you plan to leave your shelter and be on the move, then make sure you have stockpiled plenty of dried food goods for your journey plus a little more than you think you need just in case!

 

Day Four- When day four rolls around you should be more accommodated to your situation and should be at least providing yourself with a minimal amount of calories to survive without losing to much weight, if any! You should continue to improve on your situation adding new food generation sources and utilizing your areas resources to be prepared for whatever your endeavor may be. You should also have begun making things like drying racks and tools to use to make your work easier!

 

-In my experience, this generally turns out to be the general timeline of how long it takes to begin being truly self sustained in a known wilderness area. Everyday, is a snow ball effect of how your resources collect and you should take every free minute to improve upon your situation. At night time you should be making cordage and use any free time in a redundant manner to make the most efficient use of your time! When your basic needs are taken care of, then you move on to the higher primitive arts, such as tool construction. Stick with these timeline goals in mind and you will do good in almost any situation!

 

Summary: Day one make shelter near water,  make fire, and then make traps to gather food overnight while you are sleeping; Day two should be shelter improvement, foraging, and making as many traps as you can, especially fish traps; Day 3 Continue making traps, improving shelter, making cordage and start putting food back if you have any excess; Day 4 You should be self sustaining in most climates by this time and should be producing enough food so that you are not losing any weight. Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated!

Survival Shelter Class

Sigma just completed our first shelter building class and we got rave reviews from the guys who participated. They seemed to enjoy the experience and I was even told by a guy that he learned more about survival in that one weekend then he had learned in his entire life. And this was not a rookie in the woods. We really do strive to go the extra mile to teach you as much as we possible can in each course. I believe in coyote mentoring to a degree but I also want people to feel they learned a hell of a lot when they come out! So, I find a happy medium!

Anyways, now that I’ve plugged the school, lets get down to the brass tacks of what went down at this survival course. The first and most important shelter to learn for any survivalist to learn is the debris hut. If you don’t know how to build this shelter then you haven’t even scratched the surface of wilderness survival. This is the shelter that will save your life if you become stranded in a cold weather enviroment. The insulation on a well built debris shelter is so thick that you can sleep in below zero conditions with no sleeping bag! We added a little something different to this debris hut. The number one complaint in debris huts is that you don’t get much sleep because you are completely cocooned in leaves and aren’t very comfortable.

Comfort is a relative statement depending on who it comes from in my opinion. But I wanted to teach people how to build an internal heating system in their shelter that was not only efficient but extremely warm in the coldest of conditions. The shelter temperature can be controlled by the amount of heated rock, insulation, and air opening you leave in the shelter. You can always raise or lower the temperature by adding more or less hot rocks to the rock pit. At the front of the shelter is a rock pit that is roughly a foot deep and completely encased with stacked rocks around it. When you put the heated rocks into the pit and close the door behind you, it will radiate heat into the space and get it cookin in a real hurry! The rocks will stay heated for a very long time, usually till morning and into the next day.

Comfort is king in survival! Discomfort decreases your chance of thriving and that increases your chances of not surviving. A comfortable survivor is a happy survivor and a happy survivor is one with a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential to retain a positive state of mind in a survival situation. The brain is like a computer and if you continually program it with negative thinking then you will create a self fulfilling prophecy in your survival scenario! So freakin stay positive no matter what and use your head!

Just remember that shelter is numero uno! Then you need to worry about water, but you always build your shelter within reasonable distance of water. The two go hand in hand! Fire is the next key variable in the equations and one of the more difficult to master. Food is the final element that you must be concerned with, but of least importance in the short term. Master the sacred order of survival and you will be fine anywhere you go.

I’m not going to talk about the jungle hooch construction to much but I want to tell everyone a little bit about. Its based on an A-frame design that keeps you off the ground in a platform debris bed. This is bar none the most comfortable survival shelter I have ever constructed and I think people even with the worst of backs could sleep comfortably in one of these. It is a foot thick leaf bed and the debris conforms to your body. I call it primitive survival memory foam and its patent pending :)! I personally like it better than my mattress at home but I am a survival school instructor, so you might take that with a grain of salt! But to back up my claims we have had others sleep in it and they gave me great reviews. So I’m self proclaiming it worlds most comfortable Sigma Survival Shelter!

We all had a lot of fun that weekend and all the students said they were definitely coming for the next course. I want to thank everybody for coming out and it was a pleasure to host something that’s been a dream of mine for many years now. My hope is that we can create an unsurpassed training environment for those interested in survival-ism in all its forms. Whether you are worried about being lost in the woods, or handling an altercation in an urban environment; Sigma III Survival was designed to meet that need. If you have a desire to train the skills necessary to survive in a hostile world, then come join us today! Please help support Sigma so we can create something for everyone to enjoy!

Andrew McIntosh said on 11/3/10 – 02:01PM

Comment: The shelter class was great. As a former member of the SWAT team I can say that all my survival skills were very short term and mostly tactical. In this class I learned how to think about turning a short term survival situation into a long term prospect. Another words plan for long term and hope for short term. Also Robert instructed us in some tactial shelters that could be used by anyone ( Hunters or Combat ). The point is that I learned more in this class about surviving than I have any where else.