If you are in a survival scenario or just decide to spend a night in the woods you may luck out and find a plastic tarp or by chance have brought one. In nature there is little if anything that is as effective of a water proofing agent as a basic plastic tarp. This list will guide you through the basics of making a shelter with a plastic tarp and a couple other things.
How much is enough tarp? Bigger is usually better, however a piece as small as a 1 meter square can be more than enough when you are working to build a survival shelter.
If you are in an areas with lots of trees and canopy protection an overhead shelter is one of the easiest options. Use rope to tie the tarp to the frame of a lean to or debris hut. Both of these are described in past articles. You can use an old hut that is a bit rough.
Overhead Part 2
You can then put natural roofing materials on top of the plastic to hold it down and add insulation. If the plastic is too short for the roof then position it above the area where you will put your head and core. The plastic not only helps resist water and rain but helps keep warmth in. Remember in cold situations it can be critical to keep your core warm.
Ground Underneath Plastic
The ground can be rock or smooth but either way the ground is likely cold. It can suck the warmth right out of your body. If there is moisture on the ground you can loose even more warmth. Through some leaves underneath the plastic tarp. If you have limited dry leaves focus on the area directly under the tarp to maximize warmth capture.
What Should You Put Under The Tarp
What type of material should you put under the tarp to maximize warmth and comfort while minimizing the energy you need to spend to locate these materials. Some great options are grasses, hay, leaves, pine needles, corn shucks, and especially soft cattails.
If you happen to have some large fallen trees or logs nearby that you can put around your shelter with little effort that can be ideal. Containing the insulation material inside between two logs and under the plastic can make your bed even warmer.
Watch for Wind
Wind can come up from anywhere, particularly when you have water nearby. Wind won’t get through any area covered with plastic tarp but the other locations are susceptible to drafts. Therefore stacking logs around the shelter for a wind break.
Option 2 for Wind
Sometimes you have all coniferous trees around or for some reason there are not logs nearby to stack to block out the wind. In the absence of logs consider pulling in some leaves and pine needles with you as you enter the shelter. Once inside you can plug the entrance a bit with these to minimize wind chill.
Option 3 Wind
Sometimes there just is nothing around in nature that is easy to use to plug up the hill. If you happen to have extra plastic that can be a great option to plug the hole. Roll the opposite sides of the sheet of plastic around the two branches that frame the door and stake the plastic in place.
When you are using stakes it is helpful, if you have a knife, to sharpen the ends. This will help them go into the ground easier. As you stake them into the ground try to go at an angle if possible to minimize tear out risk.
Remember last but not least to keep things simple. Try not to overcomplicate it. Shelter is about function and protection from the elements. It doesn’t have to be pretty.