Tips on Choosing The Best Survival Shelter

Shelter in forest for survival branches

If you’re someone who enjoys hiking and spending any amount of time out in the wilderness, it’s incredibly important that you know how to survive in a dire situation.

You should have the skills necessary to build a shelter and keep yourself safe so that you can restore your energy and get rest through the night.

Tarp Shelter in Woods

Because a shelter is so important, you might be wondering what qualities you should look for when you are trying to decide what is the best survival shelter. Stop wondering because we have some tips on how to choose the best survival shelter that suits your needs.

Make Shelter Your Priority

When you think of the top reasons why people parish when they are in a survival situation, it isn’t because wild animals attacked them or they starved to death, it’s either one of two reasons: dehydration and they lost too much body heat and caught hypothermia.

Be Survival reminds us that a shelter, be it one you built out of materials you find or you’ve erected a survival tent as shelter or used a survival tarp, it will be one of the components of your gear that will increase your chances of survival.

Either of these items is an excellent choice because they can protect you from the weather, the wind, wildlife, and other factors. It also helps to give you a little morale boost and give you a slight feeling of safety and normalcy, which in a survival situation can do a lot to keep you moving forward.

Choosing a Suitable Location to Set Up Camp

Before you start pitching your survival tarp or the survival tent just anywhere, you need to know how to choose the right spot. Be Survival outlines important factors that we should keep in mind when choosing our spots:

  1. Choose the driest spot for your shelter, but in a spot that is still close to water.
  2. Don’t set up on a mountain or on a hill where the wind hits, choose the least windy side.
  3. Avoid setting up in a valley or near a mountain base, as it’ll get much colder here.
  4. Avoid dried out river beds and ravines because it could flood without warning.
  5. Check out potential threats overhead. Avoid rotting limbs and overhanging rocks.

simple tenst in a forest survival

Deciding Which is Best: Survival Tent or a Survival Tarp

When it comes to choosing the best survival shelter, some people say that the best option is choosing a shelter that uses materials like branches, leaves, dirt, and the like.

These are great options if you don’t have a survival shelter in your bag. However, we hope you do plan on packing a survival shelter! You might be wondering which is the better option, a survival tent shelter or a survival tarp.

Survival Cache tackles that very topic and has some interesting points. A survival tent does provide you with better protection from the elements and wildlife. They are self-standing, which means you don’t have to use your parachute cord or look for branches and trees to help support it.

Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter Spread Out on Sand

On the other hand,  a survival tarp is going to be lighter to carry, which can make a big difference in your pack, it’s more versatile, and it is more affordable, but you won’t have the protection as you would a tent.

What Qualities Should You Look For In The Best Survival Shelter?

What is important to you when you are camping? Are you looking for comfort and protection or are you looking to travel as light as possible? Survival Cache mentions a phrase by John Mosby from Mountain Guerrilla, “Travel light, freeze at night.”

What this means is you should take a moment to take a look at your gear and decide what you do and do not need. Ultimately speaking, items like your shelter, clothing, and a sleep system, be it a wool blanket and hammock or a survival sleeping bag and a tent or tarp.

Shelter made in a forest with fire inside

If you are concerned about overall weight but don’t want to sacrifice security that comes with a tent, you can find lightweight survival tents on the market. These tents are easy to set up and they don’t take up much space in your pack, which is a great option.

If you want to use a survival tarp because they have multiple uses and configurations, then you’ll want to make sure that you are choosing a strong tarp that is made for survival situations. They may take a little more time to set up, but if you know what you’re doing, they can be set up and taken down pretty easily.

For both options, you want to choose a shelter that is made out of a durable, waterproof material like Sil nylon or a rubbery material as the old military-like tarps.

Survival Common Sense even recommends using Tyvek (yes, the stuff that lines houses) or the blue plastic tarps you can pick up at your local big box store.

Of course, you also have the option of creating a shelter from the materials you find around you, which is called bushcraft.

Folded military tarp survival forest


We can’t really tell you which option is the best survival shelter, as it usually comes down to personal preference, the environment that you are going to be, and what you are looking to get out of your shelter. On the one hand, you have a survival tent shelter which provides you with protection from the wind, rain, sun, and wildlife.

These shelters can be a little heavier than you may like, but there are lightweight options. They are free-standing, and they can be erected relatively easily. On the other hand, you have a survival tarp which is lightweight, versatile, and more affordable.

Regardless of what shelter option you choose, you will want to make sure your survival gear definitely includes one, as it could be the one item that can make a difference in your survival.

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