Waterproof Debris Shelter

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1 Bushcraft Video Series: David Styles, creator of 'Deep Nature Mentoring' presents Waterproof Debris Shelter Transcript Of Video 1.

2 How Do We Make A Debris Shelter? Today we are going to learn about how to make a waterproof debris shelter from natural materials in the wilderness. We are in the bush and it has recently been raining. As you can tell, I have already made the skeleton of a waterproof shelter. However before I go further into the training I just need to outline that in a survival situation the majority of people die from exposure to the elements. So, if you are lost in the bush the first thing you want to do is to make a shelter. That's because you can go for three days without water; you can go for three or four weeks without food, however in cold conditions without shelter you can die within three or four hours. That is why it is always best to make a shelter in survival situation first. Selecting The Location For Your Shelter Ideally with shelter you, want to find a location that already provides a level of protection from the elements. For example we are underneath a canopy of trees - so in a light drizzle the leaves of the trees will actually stop some of the water coming down on this area. I also like to look for a location that is quite flat. When I am laying out the shelter I like to have my head higher than my feet if there is a slight slope on the ground. That way, when I am sleeping I am comfortable because if my head is below my feet then all of the blood starts to rush to my head. It is always good to have your head above your feet. When you are looking for a location for your shelter, also look for a place that already has a lot of leaves when building a debris shelter today. With conservation of energy, you don t want to travel a couple of kilometers to find sticks and leaves to build your shelter. That way, you don t have to expend as much energy to find the materials to make the debris shelter. 2.

3 Setting Up The Debris Shelter Structure I have already laid out the structure of the debris shelter. Once I found the location, then what I did was to lay down on the ground. So I am six feet two inches and I laid down on the ground and marked out where my body would be. So I marked out where my feet would be, as well as where my head would be. I also allow a space longitudinally of around half a foot extra beyond my feet and another half a foot or so above my head for the structure. That way I will ensure that the top of my head and the bottom of my feet won't get wet if it rains. Once I have marked out my body outline on the ground, then I start building the 'skeleton' of the debris shelter. For example, I will take a ridge pole which becomes the central pole for the structure. This forms the main support and is what the rest of the structure will be held up against. Down where my feet are I also placed two little logs underneath the ridge pole to make space for my feet to go. That's because if you make the central ridge pole go all the way down to the ground then your feet can t fit in the end of the shelter. So I raise that up about half a foot or so. That way my feet can have some room there to move about. For the entrance of the debris shelter, I make the height of the ridge pole a little bit below my waist. That's because if I make it up too high then there is more airspace within the shelter that I will have to heat up if I am in a cold weather situation. Also, if I have the ridge pole too high then I have to collect more debris to make the shelter waterproof - so that is more energy that I'll have to expend to build the actual shelter. 3.

4 Placing The Rib Supports With the rib supports, I firstly attached the two end supports where I enter into the debris shelter. Make sure to cross them over each other at the top near the ridge support. When you have them overlapping like that, these rib supports will actually catch the debris when you place the debris on top of the skeleton. If they are not crossing over each other then it is hard for the debris to actually catch. Once you attach those two ribs at the end, next place two more rib supports at the mid-point of the main ridge pole. Again, make sure they cross over each other at the top so that the debris can catch above the shelter. Then just place more supports at the midpoint of this point etc. Ideally you should have around 8-12 of these cross members as rib supports. This forms the actual skeleton of the debris shelter. Placing Material For Your Bedding Before constructing the structure, I also like to place a lot of debris on the ground where I am going to lay. I like to make this at least a couple of inches thick. The reason for doing this is to get me off the ground, because if I am laying on the ground then my body heat has to try and heat up all of the earth. So if you are in a cold situation you will lose a lot of body heat. However, if you form that vegetation layer below then it forms an air void much like a sleeping bag works to keep you warm because it's a lot easier to heat up air because it won't draw as much of your body heat. Plus it is also a lot more comfortable because you have got that that soft bedding beneath that you actually lay on. If you are not comfortable in your debris shelter then you are going to be tired when you wake up. That means you are not as clear with your thinking and you can therefore waste more energy because you are already tired. So make sure to put that layer of vegetation down underneath you to get you off the ground and therefore keep you warmer. 4.

5 Placing Longitudinal Ribbing Once you have the ridge support and also attached the cross-support ribbing in place, the next step is to place smaller sticks and branches that run longitudinally along the debris shelter. What this does is to form a much more intact skeleton frame for the debris shelter. The good part of this longitudinal ribbing is that then when I place the debris on top of the shelter, it actually gets caught by these smaller sticks and branches. That's when we can form a very solid warm shelter. When I was constructing the debris shelter, I wanted to tie it together with natural material. I always try to use elements from natural environment. So I found some rushes and I used these to tie the structure together. I just wrapped the rushes around itself twice and then just pull it tight. It forms a fairly solid knot. The bond doesn t have to be too tight because this structure is self supporting in lot of ways. So always looks around natural environment and just see what material is there that I can actually use. However, the other piece I often take with me in the bush is dental floss. That's because sometimes I get a smelly breath :-) However, I can also take the dental floss out to tie up the debris shelter structure. Dental floss is quite fine, however it is also quite strong as well. It literally weighs just a couple of grams and it doesn t take up much space - however what I have here is actually 50 meters of essentially 'rope' that I can use to tie up a debris shelter. It is always a good thing to carry a bit of dental floss - then if you get something caught in your teeth then you have got something to get it out :-) 5.

6 Placing The Debris On The Shelter So once you have made your basic debris shelter structure and you can see that it is like a skeleton. You can also see that beside it, I have gone out and collected a lot of debris. Then it is literally just a matter of piling the debris over the skeleton frame. If you make the debris a couple of feet thick, then it can be quite waterproof. For example, I live in the sub-tropics and I have actually been in torrential downpours inside a shelter just like this and have stayed completely dry. You want to pile the debris on so that it is around two to three foot thick. Not only will it keep you dry but it also captures the heat as well - so in a cold situation you keep that warmth inside the shelter to keep you warm. The other part I love about these debris shelters is that because there are so many mosquito s here, the leaves and debris actually block out the mosquito s. The worst thing you want is to have annoying mosquitoes all night keeping you awake. Now, because we have these fine longitudinal twigs over the main structural rib supports, you can just start to place the debris over the skeleton. Because we have these twigs, it actually stops the majority of the debris from falling through. A little bit of debris will fall through, however the majority of it will be caught by the longitudinal twigs. So just start piling the debris on top of the shelter. Pile it all over the structure. Once you have all the materials together, it can literally take you just ten to fifteen minutes to actually get all the debris on structure and make a waterproof shelter. That is why site selection is critical - it's good to find a location where there is a lot of debris and a lot of leaves. Collecting the materials for your shelter is what takes the majority of your time and energy. For this shelter, the debris is probably about a foot thick. Ideally I would like to make the debris about two to three foot thick depending upon the conditions. If it s going to be raining a lot or if it is snowing then you want a thick layer of debris for insulation. If you want your debris shelter to be more waterproof then you place the debris even thicker. If you are located in windy conditions, to stop all of the debris from being blown around then what I will do is place fine branches over the top of the debris layer. I find this helps to stop the debris from getting blown around everywhere, so that your shelter remains waterproof. 6.

7 Story Time Not that long ago, I was down in a place called Tasmania. Now, the thing about Tasmania is that it is really, really wet. It rains a lot and that's just the nature of Tasmania. My friend down there was wanting to spend more time in nature. He just had a new little son come into the world and because of the rain, he was like... 'Yes, I would like to spend more time in nature, but with this rain I am not sure what is going to work out.' So I suggested... 'Wow!!!!! We could find a spot for you and build a debris shelter - so that if it is raining and you wanted to connect deeper with nature, with your heart and the oneness with all things - then you will have a space to do that.' He was like... 'Wow!!!!! That sounds really cool - but I don t know how to do it.' So I said... 'Well!!!!! That s okay, I will show you how.' There is this beautiful gorge near where he lives that has white water rafting and steep bushland and that is where he was drawn to. So we parked the car and went looking for a spot to built the shelter. In the Heart Walk and some of the Deep Nature Connection work I do, there is a force that moves all things and when we get guided by this force then it sends us to quite magical places and where the synchronicity occurs. So my friend was following his heart through the bush and he got guided up to a ridge. There weren t many spaces up there for building a shelter, and then the pull was to go down into a tributary that went down into the gorge. There are lots of rocks everywhere and really steep terrain. I remember thinking... 'Well I don t know if we are going to find a flat spot here.' But yes, trusting the pull of the heart we came through some tree ferns and this space opened up. I saw some rocks and there was a flat platform. Surrounding the flat platform was a lot of leaves - a very thick layer of leaves everywhere. There were also big sticks around to build a shelter. I was like... 'Wow!!!! We've found the spot.' So we gathered all the material. My friend is around 6 feet and 7 inches, so I said we were going to have to find some pretty long sticks! 7.

8 We found the long sticks and some rocks that he used to put up at the end of the debris shelter near his feet. Then we got all of the leaves together and in a couple of hours we had built the skeleton for the debris shelter as well as a big pile of leaves gathered to put on it. So we put some of the leaves on the shelter as well. The debris layer probably needed to be a bit thicker and probably will if he has a bit more time. But yes, he was able to go back to that place to re-connect with his true nature in nature and also listen to nature s messages in that space. So, a debris shelter where it is really wet such as in Tasmania can provide a space in nature that will be able to keep you dry whenever you want to go and tap into oneness with nature again. Connecting Through Bush Skills It is through bush skills like this that we deepen the connection with the earth, with the planet and with nature. For example, once you have this direct contact with nature it is almost like nature comes into you. It is like the boundary between me now and this debris with the sticks that I gathered has dissolved. I always honor everything in nature that I take, so for example before I took any of the branches or any of the leaf matter I would honor the plant that provided that because that in a way connects me deeper. But yes, it is these bush skills that allow us to connect at a much deeper level with nature. Now when I am walking through the bush I have always got my eyes scanning the landscape. For example, I will be noticing that there are lot of leaves over in one direction, over the other direction perhaps there are lot of sticks. Right, so this would be a good location for a debris shelter. So it is through these bush skills that have really deepened my connection with nature. 8.

9 Even when I am driving my car, now I am looking out of the window... 'Okay, there's that sort of tree over there that usually has a lot leaves. Okay there are some grasses that I might be able to use as rope.' I fully encourage you to try building a debris shelter for yourself. You will find after you build your first debris shelter that you will be a lot more connected with the land and nature in your local bio-region. So I fully encourage you to go out and try this method of shelter - it works everywhere where you can find debris. That's fairly much in most places - except in desert places. However, in rainforest areas or where there is lot of tree cover, you will generally find a lot of debris lying around. Give it a go. It s a really magical experience to create your own shelter and spend the night in the bush. I highly recommend that - especially if you light a little fire it can be quite an awesome experience. Testing Out Your Debris Shelter Okay, now we have built a debris shelter and now it s just a matter of testing it out. So hopefully I will be able to fit in here! What I like to do is just come down onto the ground and I tend to go in quite slowly just in case I knock any of the supports. Sometimes you get 'dirty' doing this, but going in is sort of fun :-) So yes, I will just sort of wiggle my way down like this. You can turn around if you want, but always be careful - you don t want to knock any of the supports over. However if you have made your debris shelter wide enough, it should be all cool. I am just wiggling my way down - just feeling my way down to the bottom. You just keep wiggling your way down until you are completely in the shelter. If you haven t spent the night outside in your own shelter, it can be quite an experience the first night. You can also make a little door at the end, like a triangle with sticks and put debris in the middle layer. Then you can just pull the door in behind you and that will stop any of the outer moisture or mosquitoes from coming into the space. So okay, I fully encourage you to try this out. I am going to have a little bit of snooze now. Okay, Ah!!!! This is so comfortable :-) 9.

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