1 Person Debris Shelter


We built a 1 person debris shelter on our 5 Day Bushcraft Course in November.  We went for the standard ‘A frame’ or ‘Kennel’ shelter.

I wrote a post recently about one that we built on our trip to the Isle of Arran in a coniferous woodland, but this one, built in our ancient broadleaf woodland, we covered with leaf litter.  This is an ideal time to use leaf litter as the trees have just shed their leaves and they are abundant.  Even so, we collected the leaves from all over the place rather than taking them all from one spot and leaving bare ground.

We took a few minutes deciding where to site the shelter, avoiding cold traps, scanning the trees for hanging dead wood and aligning the shelter with the predominant wind.

We then put together the basic frame of 2 ‘Y’ shaped sticks and a long central pole.  These parts of the shelter need to be strong and in good condition as they end up taking a lot of weight.

I usually go for ‘Y’ shaped sticks about breastbone height and a central pole twice my height.  The taller the ‘Y’ shaped sticks, the steeper the pitch of the shelter, which will help it shed rain easier, but the more air inside to warm up.  The shorter the ‘Y’ shaped sticks, the shallower the pitch, but less air to warm.  We butted the end of the central pole up against a stump to stop it sliding backwards.

Building a 1 person debris shelter

Just off to the left you can see a 2 person debris shelter I built last year.  It’s doing really well and is really dry inside.

For this shelter we used a mixture of sticks picked up from the ground and green hazel that was due to be coppiced.  Make sure that the sticks don’t stand above the central pole or there is a good chance that rain will run down the inside of the stick and into the shelter.  Whatever length stick you find should fit somewhere on the shelter without needing to be cut.  The more sticks you have, the less gaps for the leaf litter to fall through when you cover the shelter.

1 person debris shelter in a broadleaf woodland

1 person debris shelter using leaf litter

We started to lay the leaves onto the shelter at the bottom and worked our way up.  You’ll need a lot of leaf litter to cover the shelter, at least 30cm.

Leaf litter going onto a 1 person debris shelter

1 person debris shelter

The whole thing took 5 people about 1 1/2 hours to build.

You can see lots more photos from our 5 Day Bushcraft Course, and all of our other courses, on our Facebook page.


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About Gary

Lead Instructor at Jack Raven Bushcraft, teaching bushcraft, wilderness and survival skills to groups and individuals.

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