Friday, 29 May 2015

Survival skills - part two

Winter is coming, so it is a prefect time to practice building cold weather survival shelters. One of the most popular shelters is the debris hut. There are lots of instructions and photos on the internet. Looks like you can't claim to be a true survivalist unless you've slept in a pile of leaves.

I decided to go with a debris pod, kind of the next step up from a debris nest but not as complex as a debris hut. Seriously, making a pile of leaves gets quite technical.

First some tools, keeping it simple like it would be in a zombie apocalypse. The secret to the pod is using a Mylar space blankie. Otherwise it is pretty basic. The folding pruning saw is an excellent tool for this sort of thing. Grab one when the dead start to rise up. 

First up the bed. This is important as you can lose up to 80% of your body heat to the ground. I cheated a bit (actually a lot) and use two old planks as the edge. Made some stakes from saplings to fix them and filled it in with leaves etc. Yes that is a pizza box. Cardboard is a good insulator and survival is about "thinking outside the pizza box". 

Next lay down some soft branches. Lucky I had some shrubs that needed pruning. Couple of vital tips here. One - use a herring bone pattern when layering the branches as it increases the springiness. Thus improving insulation and comfort. Two - Add in some fragrant herbs (I used Rosemary). No need to smell bad when living like a hobo.

Next stick in the hoops. Jam in two long thin poles cut from a tree, one on either side of the bed frame, and weave them together. You need about six hoops. Again I cheated and used some wire to tie them together but it would have worked fine without.

Next lay the Mylar space blankie on top. I discovered mine had perished and the reflective surface had worn off. Keeping your gear up to date is important. When the zombies come and people start opening up the survival kits they bought back in 1999 for the Y2K disaster, they are going to be in for a shock. Anyway I added an extra layer of plastic to make up for the dodgy Mylar.

Next cover the lot in debris. Leaves, grass, pine needles, Mr Fluffy loose fill asbestos, whatever you have on hand. I had six garbage bags of leaves I gathered from the local primary school (they have oak trees and the leaves make great garden mulch). I told the neighbours it was a new type of compost heap, which is pretty much what it will end up as. 

Here it is looking inside. So what was it like to sleep in? Cold and dark. 

I understand how people can spend an entire day making a debris hut and still be cold. The pod is quicker and took be about 2.5 hours to build (including coffee break). It was certainly warmer in there than outside, especially as it was a frosty morning. It would certainly save your life as I may have been cold but I was not freezing. I also discovered the hard way how I can improve it next time.

Mmmm. Now to start thinking about building a super shelter.

Bite off more debris than you can chew

Mr Rimsky

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