Every outdoorsman dreams of building their very own bushcraft shelter.
The kicker? These super shelters take a lot of sweat, muscle, and planning.
They’re intimidating to the uninitiated, so take a few notes from these hardcore outdoorsmen and women if you want to make a bushcraft shelter of your own!
What Is a Bushcraft Shelter?
Imagine a shelter largely made from wood and other natural materials, built by your own two hands, ready to be used for bugging out or camping.
That’s what a bushcraft shelter is. It’s not your usual emergency lean-to.
Nope, bushcraft shelters are bigger, sturdier, and—unlike emergency shelters—meant to last a long time. They can serve as a bug out location (BOL) when SHTF or simply as a “home away from home” whenever you feel like spending some quality time outdoors.
Laying Down the Foundations
Laying down a good foundation is the key to an awesome bushcraft super shelter.
In this detailed video, Michael from MCQBushcraft thoroughly explains the basics of shelter construction—from choosing the best place to set up camp to the tools you’ll be needing to build it.
The video also includes a neat tutorial on how to make a raised bed. Make sure to take notes—it discusses a variety of styles based on comfort and stability before moving on to construct the rest of the camp, starting off with the camp wall.
What separates this video from other tutorials out there is that aside from building the camp structure itself, it also teaches you to use the environment to your advantage. It covers topics like foraging for food, fire making using fungi, the advantages of staying near (but not too near!) a water source, and more.
For example, instead of building the standard camp enclosure, Michael stuffs moss in between the tree limbs for additional wind protection. He also hangs some herbs and plants, which he steeps in hot water to make bushcraft tea. Pretty nifty, right?
Hardcore Super Shelter (Complete with Hunting Tower)
This is probably one of the most impressive bushcraft super shelters ever built.
The whole dang thing looks like a fort: it’s a semi-enclosed shelter decked out with a raised bed, some sleeping areas, a couple of tarp-covered spaces, a cooking area, a bench, a sawing horse, and an actual hunting tower. It’s every outdoorsman’s dream come to life.
You gotta hand it to TA Outdoors for planning this whole thing out. Notice how the different shelter configurations mesh together to form one big shelter: there’s a lean-to in one corner, a nice A-frame, and an enclosure all around. These elements all fit seamlessly.
The video also demonstrates good use of modern supplies like tarps and heat reflectors. And, of course, who can ignore that hunting tower? What’s really impressive is that almost the entire structure is held together using knots and hitches!
Stick around until the end of the video to see an in-depth discussion on the construction process. Spoiler: you need a good knife, saw, and ax to complete a job like this.
Expanding Your Shelter
Okay, so maybe you’re one of those guys who already have a bushcraft shelter. Cool. Now expand it!
Expanding your bushcraft super shelter doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. Take a leaf out of Survival Lilly’s book and improve your bushcraft shelter using simple materials.
For example, you can build a standard lean-to and deck it out with a tarp over the incline to keep rain and snow out, a padded insulator on the inside to reflect the heat coming from the fire, and a clear plastic sheeting at the shelter’s opening for additional rain protection.
Add in a cooking area (flat slabs of rock help in heat retention), a bushcraft chair, and a door that actually swings on its hinges, and you’re good to go.
A Huge Treehouse Shelter
If you live in a tropical country or fear that you might one day have to survive in a rainforest, this bushcraft shelter is for you. It’s a super treehouse made almost entirely out of bamboo and grass.
Bamboo is a great material to work with. It’s strong yet very light and flexible. Many homes in tropical countries, especially in Southeast Asia, are made from bamboo.
Thankfully, you don’t have to live in these places to try this shelter out. If you’re somewhere in southeastern United States, chances are you’ll have some bamboo to play around with. If not, check out the next video, which uses reeds to make a thatched shelter for the winter.
Winter Camping in a Thatched Reed Shelter
This shelter’s not up in the trees, but it’s pretty darn cool either way.
Built using a ton of reeds, this thatched winter shelter can keep anyone warm during the colder months. Like bamboo, reeds can be quite flexible and can be woven into a lot of different things, including shelter walls, roofs, and even kayaks. The reed fluff can also be used as a great firestarter.
The downside is that it takes a lot of work…and a lot of reeds. Almost the entire shelter is made from it.
If you can harvest a bunch of them as shown in the video above and have a lot of time to wattle the walls, do a teepee roof and add a tarp over everything—do it! This shelter will keep you warm for many winters.
Building a bushcraft super shelter is definitely not a pipe dream. If these guys and girls can do it, so can you. You just need the right patch of land and the resources to build it.
Sure, bushcraft shelters of this scale take a lot of time, energy, and effort. You also need to have a sharp set of tools and skills like knot-tying, woodcutting, and whittling. But hey, if you’re really serious, you’d be willing to put in the time and muscle to make it work.
Good luck, and have fun building!