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.


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




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



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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