A debris hut is a simple shelter that you can make from easily found natural materials. It is not difficult to build a debris hut shelter, but it is very effective. It protects you from the elements with layers of natural materials that stop wind and rain entering, and insulate the interior. Your body heat warms the air in the debris hut shelter, while the layers of insulating material keep it warm.
Once built, the debris hut shelter will keep you warm and dry and will last for days without any maintenance. It does, however, take a lot of energy and time to build a debris hut shelter. Therefore you need to plan ahead if you intend to use this type of shelter; don’t start building just before it gets dark.
Where To Build A Debris Hut Shelter
Before you even start thinking about building a debris hut shelter, you should carefully select the location. You need to make sure that your debris hut shelter will be dry, safe and protected from the elements. Things to consider are:
- Water: Make sure the ground is dry and won’t gather water if it rains after your debris hut shelter is built. Check for depressions in the ground that may gather water.
- Shelter: Choose a sheltered site to build your debris hut shelter, with using areas with natural wind breaks if possible. Make sure there are no loose branches above if you build your debris hut shelter under a tree.
- Materials: Build your debris hut shelter in a location that has all the materials you need close by. This will save you from having to transport everything long distances.
How To Build A Debris Hut Shelter
A debris hut shelter consists of a frame made from branches and sticks. The frame is covered with very thick layers of leaves and other natural materials to create the insulation.
Step 1: The first step is to make the basic structure consisting of two branches to make an A frame. Lash the two branches that make the A frame together where they cross using paracord. Add a third, longer branch to make the ridge pole, as shown in this diagram. The ridge pole rests on the A frame and can be lashed to the A frame with paracord. Rest the ridge pole on a rock at the lower end. This will create a little more height inside at the lower end of the debris hut shelter. The entrance to the debris hut shelter will be between the two uprights of the A frame. Make sure it is big enough for you to fit through, but not huge so it lets a lot of heat out.
Step 2: Next, add insulation that will be inside the debris hut shelter. The interior insulation is what you will sleep in. Collect clean, dry leaves and fill the inside space of the frame you have built. When you have finished building the debris hut shelter and you climb in, you will push some of the insulation down and some up to create a hole just big enough for you in the middle of this insulation material. The dried leaves will trap small pockets of air, which act as a good insulator to keep warmth inside.
If the weather is warm, and you want to make a shelter without the internal insulation, just skip this step. The debris hut shelter still provides a dry place to sleep, and you can always add a mat and sleeping bag. The photo at the top of this article shows a shelter like this.
Step 3: After adding the internal insulation, the frame needs more branches adding to give it enough strength to support the external insulation. Add smaller branches on either side of the ridge pole, angled to match the A frame. The diagram shows the layout of the A frame, ridge pole and smaller branches. Lash these smaller branches to the ridge pole using paracord. If the branches have small side branches, leave them attached. Cross them over other branches as it gives a little more support to add the insulation on top.
Step 4: Once the frame is complete, add the exterior insulation layers. This consists of layers of dry leaves, pine needles and other light, dry debris that you can find nearby. The thicker you make the layers of insulation, the warmer the debris hut shelter will be inside. Two or three feet of thickness is a good amount of insulation. Once you have completed this, add another layer of branches on the top to prevent the insulation blowing away.
Climb inside the interior insulation and rest in your dry and warm debris hut shelter.