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Finding shelter is one of the top priorities in any survival situation. Sudden rain, high winds, or even a cold breeze can cause your core temperature to plummet if you’re not adequately prepared, and that can lead to hypothermia. The easiest option is typically to look for an existing structure to take refuge in, such as a barn or natural rock outcropping. When natural shelters are unavailable, you’ll need to know how to build your own.
The A-frame shelter is one of the easiest and most recognizable survival shelter designs. It uses crossed pairs of diagonal posts to form the sides, and a long ridgepole beam at the peak of the shelter. This structure is much more spacious than a conical tipi, providing lots of room for gear, firewood, and tools. With adequate reinforcements and a thatched roof, the A-frame shelter can provide strong resistance against wind and rain.
In the following video, the host of Primitive Technology builds an A-frame shelter in the Australian jungle from straight tree trunks and palm fronds. However, since he uses no modern tools, he begins by crafting a stone ax head through the process of flint-knapping. This ax head is used to fell a tree and cut its trunk into an ax handle, which is then used to fell more trees for the shelter.
The side supports are bound together with bark strips, and a ridge pole is placed on top, completing the A-frame shelter’s structure. To keep out the rain, palm fronds are split and layered in an overlapping pattern on the sides, and wood supports called “jockeys” are added up top to prevent the peak of the shelter from blowing away in high winds. The host then tops off the shelter with a clay wall reinforced by woven vines, plus tool storage on the wall and a bed platform.
Check out the full video below: