Colorado Outdoors Online

Shelter (Outdoor Survival Series Chapter 8)

Colorado’s weather can change in an instant and the ability to quickly find shelter in the backcountry is crucial to survival.

An unexpected change in weather over Ridgeway State Park. Photo by Nick Clement/CPW

A great option for an emergency shelter is a brightly colored 4mm thick trash bag.  The bags are affordable, easy to transport and provide a durable and effective shelter.

A strong trash bag will keep you protect you from wind and rain, you don’t have to hold onto it, and you can comfortably spend hours inside the bag. For easy breathing and to prevent condensation build up on the inside of the bag, simply cut a hole for your face. Fortunately,  I’ve never had to use my 4mm thick trash bag, but I have it with me at all times. The bag gives me the confidence that if I did need to spend a night out, it would simply be an inconvenience rather than a threat to my life.

Another very useful material for building emergency shelters is the 8X10 tarp. Tarps can quickly be erected as shelters in many different ways. One simple method is to string the tarp up with some parachute line. In this chapter, we will discuss emergency shelters and demonstrate precisely how to set up your 8X10 tarp as a temporary shelter.