Maybe you're new to outdoor activities like hunting, camping, skiing, hiking, or climbing or maybe you're a survival expert—either way, there's one main important thing that all of us can agree with: to survive in accidents in winter, you need shelter. And, you need to know how to build that shelter with whatever you have on hand. The most common item found in outdoor supplies brought along in any backpack is the tarp.
If you know how, or whether you are just starting, let's brush up on how to build a winter shelter out of a tarp.
Time and Area
The moment you realize you need shelter is the moment you should start building one. The earlier, the better. Next and just as important is choosing the spot to build your shelter. Build it on snow and if possible, on higher ground. Also, if possible, steer clear of cliffs, rocky slopes, leaning trees, or stream edges. Look for a slope and build the head of the shelter on the highest point with the lowest part of the slope where your feet will be for runoff and a small trench around it to funnel rainwater away.
Rock, Limb, Tree
Once the area has been chosen, you'll need something to support your tarp. You can easily use a broken limb from a tree and prop it at an angle with a rock by a rock wall, use a fallen log, or a combination of leaning it against the side of a tree with a limb to create a standard survival A-frame shelter. This is important as these create a windbreak. Additionally, you'll need to keep your body away from the cold ground.
Keep the edges of your A-frame tarp in place by placing heavy rocks in the corners and if possible, wrap the tarp corners around the rock and tie the material, which will make a much more sturdy shelter than just rocks on the tarp corners.
Away from the Ground
Never sleep on snow, it steals body heat and soaks your clothing. Gather bundles of sticks, dry grass, pine branches, or even dead leaves to make a barrier between you and the snow-covered ground and prevent snowmelt from dampening your clothing. If you are in severe freezing temperatures, dig as much as possible down to the ground with a longer, more sloping entrance to take advantage of the building snow wall outside.
We hope this simple survival tarp guide covers the basics of how to keep yourself protected during winter in case of emergency. There are, of course, other dangers trying to survive in the winter, but keeping yourself warm, dry, and safe from freezing temps is first and foremost.