Here we are at shelters already. I’m going to cut to the chase and (possibly) tick off a few readers at the ‘get go.’
Forget a tent. Period. It’s too bulky, too heavy, and is not a ‘multiple use’ item. Further, when you’re inside one, you won’t have an advantage of increased warmth (without generating it by a heat source), and you’re blind. Imagine, if you will, the photo above, and you were snug in your tent, not hearing anything….until right before you unzipped the fly and looked out….to see an inquisitive bear (not necessarily a Grizzly, as pictured). Now you’ve got to do something about the bear and all the shit inside your tent from involuntary bodily functions, possibly the bear has run off from all the screams of those in the tent with you, and the ensuing ‘circular firing squad as everyone with a weapon decides to shoot/kill/scare off the intruder.
The mind boggles with the comedy of it all.
Forget the ‘one man bivy tent’ as well. It’s a cocoon. You’re trapped and blind. If you must have a waterproof covering for just yourself, then get over to Wiggy’s and get one of his waterproof sleeping bag covers. They’re on sale at 20% off right now. At least you’re not blind. And they DO work. One caveat: They are truly waterproof, which means your bag will be wet from condensation when you wake up. This isn’t so bad in deep cold, because you can air the bag and literally ‘freeze dry’ the condensation on it, and then turn the bivy bag inside out and do the same. Warm weather requires a bit more airing out to dry it.
So, what’s the ideal SHTF shelter? In the simplest terms, a tarp shelter. It keeps the wind off (which is how you stay warm), let’s you see out at all times, at least in one, and up to 3 directions, depending on your set up, and is fairly cheap, depending on the material you choose. In deep winter with good snow cover, I’ve used a simple 6X8′ white tarp and had my shelter disappear from observation (camouflage is always a good thing). The drawback is that it’s noisy setting up and taking down, because the tarp is a heavy plastic and makes noise when being folded, except in really warm weather. Again, it’s all about the quality and how much you can and how much you choose to spend.
Here’s what I currently use and recommend:
I got mine here though I don’t know if they still stock it or have replaced it with something similar. I do know that I’ve used mine in all 4 seasons and it’s worked out very, very well. Room enough to configure as I need it for whatever I’m training for and I can fit me and 2 other people and rucks inside (tightly, but it works). There are other good ones; this is just what I use. I did add some 24 inch long bungees to the outfit to give me some versatility in setting it up, so I know the ounces I’m adding means I have to sacrifice somewhere else. The color is basic light forest green (kind of OD) that is flat with no shine, even when it’s wet. Blends reasonably well, especially if you site your overnight location somewhere off the beaten path in as much flora and fauna as necessary. Nice sunshade in super bright/hot weather, too.
When you set up your shelter, keep in mind that you want the opening to be pointed at your primary field of observation, and you want your shelter to be sited in an area that doesn’t attract attention and won’t be noticed by anyone passing through. You’ll also want to ensure you are at least slightly elevated (drainage) and about 30 to 50 meters away from any water source. Yes, I digressed again.
What shelter tips do you have?
Next installment: Tools.