23 February 2014

Simple Winter Shelter

Simple Snow Shelter
Just a quick post about Winter shelters for camping or survival. As long as you have snow, you can have shelter.

This shelter is sometimes called a quinzee or quinzhee. It is constructed by making a pile of snow and then hollowing out the interior. This is not an igloo. An igloo is made from wind hardened snow, cut into blocks; that are then stacked to form a dome. 

For those reading other blogs that tell you an igloo is made from ice blocks, best stay clear of such sites. Ice does not have insulating qualities. Snow, on-the-otherhand, is an excellent insulator.
Entrance
When constructing a snow shelter try to keep in mind that heat rises. Your sleep platforms, ideally, want to be higher than the top of your entrance tunnel. If you do this, you create a cold well in that tunnel - thus all the cold air will stay there.
Interior Sleep Platform

Next you only want to excavate enough space to live in, no extra space. The tunnel in wants to be just big enough for taking snow out and gear in. The sleep platform(s) want to be at right angles from the tunnel. The entrance opening wants to be on the side with the least amount of wind.


When piling the snow allow at least 20 minutes before hollowing out, so the snow crystals can re-form. An hour would be better if you can afford to wait. Once the interior has been hollowed out, put a candle or lantern inside for 15 minutes to warm up, then remove for at least 15 minutes to "ice up" the interior. You are not really trying to create ice, but the heat-chill cycle will help harden and strengthen your shelter. 

These pictures where taken of a snow shelter I built on a pond some 3 weeks earlier. We had had some very warm weather between the build and returning to take photos and I was impressed the shelter had not collapsed. This unexpected discovery sort of removes the notion that a quinzee can only be used for one night as an emergency shelter. 

In my humble opinion, I also believe that having thicker walls and roof will help the shelter survive longer, as long as there is sufficient time for the snow to settle and the snow crystals to weld together.

Remember, knowing how to build a shelter 
will keep you warm and safe.

Mountainman.

1 comment:

  1. Hey MM great read, have used this shelter a few times, and it holds heat quite well.

    ReplyDelete