When you are out hiking you can really get into the zone. It can be so invigorating. Here are some tips on how to build a very simple almost idiot proof and lower energy expenditure lean to shelter. A tip before we start is to remember that when you are adding the roofing materials you want to start from the bottom of the shelter roof and continue upward. This helps the shelter to stay dry by ensuring that the areas of the roof closest to standing water and the ground are under the upper levels of the roof. It also helps any rain that reaches the top of the roof to just roll right down.
The first step is to make a decision on if a lean to will meet your shelter needs. Basically it is only good for situations where you need to protect yourself agains wind, rain, and/or dew. It provides very little warmth.
To Thatch or Not to Thatch
Many times, particularly when you have abundance trees and litter around it may be tempting to weave and thatch the roof. It is not uncommon to see lean to shelters with complex weaved and/or thatched roofs. However since you aren’t planning to use a shelter long, it is typically not worth the energy to do that. If you are building the shelter in a nearby locale where you plan to return for a few dozen nights, then you might consider thatching.
When is the Face
When building a lean to shelter remember to face the open area of the shelter away from the wind. This helps you stay warmer by keeping wind chill out. It also helps your body heat that is created inside the shelter as long as possible. Finally it helps with the stability of the shelter.
In terms of what to use for the framework, the easiest base for the lean to is a large fallen tree or three or so standing trees that are very close together. For beginners a very large fallen tree with a height greater than your width may be the absolute easiest option.
Sticks Step 1
The next step is to get a bunch of sticks and lean them against your tree as parallel as possible. They should be about 2 inches apart.
The next step is to lay some sticks perpendicular to the sticks you just laid down. These should be a couple inches apart also. This provides your frame. If you were looking for a longer term shelter you might weave the sticks but for a few days that likely is not necessary.
The next step is to cover this frame with leafy branches starting by laying branches at the lowest part of the roof and working your way up. The density of these leafy branches should be sufficient to make the ground underneath invisible.
Warms and Water Resistance
Now look on the ground underneath the trees and grab a bunch of leaves. Pile the leaves on the roof. Again start piling at the lowest part of the roof and move your way up.
If the ground underneath the shelter is rough, or if it is a bit chilly, you may want to throw some dry leaves into the shelter to serve as padding as you sleep.
Don’t Look Up
Finally to help keep the leaves and branches in place add some heavy foliage covered branches on top of the leaves on the roof. Start adding from the lowest part of the roof and move your way up. This will help keep your shelter in tact if the wind picks up.