Building Emergency Snow Shelters

Knowing how to build yourself an emergency snow shelter is essential before heading out on a camping expedition in the winter.

| March 2018

  • During harsh winter conditions, you may not always be able to reach a safe shelter in time, so knowing how to make your own can be incredibly helpful.
    Photo by Pixabay/Simon
  • “The Winter Camping Handbook” by Stephen Gorman helps readers safely embrace the wonders of winter camping.
    Photo courtesy of Countryman Press

The Winter Camping Handbook (Countryman Press, 2016) by Stephen Gorman gives readers all of the information to making camping safely in the winter entirely possible and fun. Gorman helps his readers properly prepare to face the challenging conditions that come with camping in the winter, and how to overcome the worst obstacles of the harsh season. In the following excerpt, he discusses the techniques of building emergency snow shelters.

While tents are generally more convenient, easier to use, and faster to set up, knowing how to build a snow shelter in an emergency can save your life. Snow shelters can also be a lot of fun to build, and if you’re going to make a base camp for a few days, they can be quite luxurious.

There are advantages to living in snow shelters. For one, they’re very warm. On a night when the mercury has shriveled into a little ball at the bottom of the thermometer (real bragging cold), the temperature will be at or just above freezing inside a snow shelter. For another, when the wind is howling and perhaps tearing down tents (it does happen), inside the snow shelter all’s quiet, peaceful, and calm so that you can soon forget there’s a storm raging outside.

Finally, with a little imagination a shelter allows you to design your own ideal living space—with shelves here and storage compartments there. And when you light your candle lantern, the ice crystals reflect the light, bouncing it off the domed interior to create a bright, cheerful atmosphere.

If you build a snow shelter, just remember to put on your shell garments. You can get wet digging around in all that snow.

Because igloos require a firm slab snow that isn’t commonly found outside vast, windswept areas such as the Canadian Barrens, I’ll leave discussion of their construction to someone else and instead discuss two types of snow shelters that are easy to build wherever it snows.

3/21/2018 6:30:31 PM

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