Lean To Shelter

1. BASIC CHARACTERISTICS FOR SHELTER. (MSVX.02.04a) Any type of shelter, whether it is a permanent building, tentage, or an expedient shelter must meet six basic criteria to be safe and effective. The characteristics are:

a. Protection From the Elements. The shelter must provide protection from rain, snow, wind, sun, etc.

b. Heat Retention. It must have some type of insulation to retain heat; thus preventing the waste of fuel.

c. Ventilation. Ventilation must be constructed, especially if burning fuel for heat. This prevents the accumulation of carbon monoxide. Ventilation is also needed for carbon dioxide given off when breathing.

d. Drying Facility. A drying facility must be constructed to dry wet clothes.

e. Free from Natural Hazards. Shelters should not be built in areas of avalanche hazards, under rock fall or "standing dead" trees have the potential to fall on your shelter.

f. Stable. Shelters must be constructed to withstand the pressures exerted by severe weather.

2. NATURAL SHELTERS. Natural shelters are usually the preferred types because they take less time and materials construct. The following may be made into natural shelters with some modification. (MSVX.02.04b)

a. Caves or Rock Overhangs. Can be modified by laying walls of rocks, logs or branches across the open sides.

b. Hollow Logs. Can be cleaned or dug out, then enhanced with ponchos, tarps or parachutes hung across the openings.

c. Hazards of Natural Shelters.

(1) Animals. Natural shelters may already be inhabited (i.e. bears, coyotes, lions, rats, snakes, etc.). Other concerns from animals may be disease from scat or decaying carcasses.

(2) Lack of Ventilation. Natural shelters may not have adequate ventilation. Fires may be built inside for heating or cooking but may be uncomfortable or even dangerous because of the smoke build up.

(3) Gas Pockets. Many caves in a mountainous region may have natural gas pockets in them.

(4) Instability. Natural shelters may appear stable, but in reality may be a trap waiting to collapse.

3. MAN-MADE SHELTERS. (MSVX.02.04c) Many configurations of man-made shelters may be used. Over-looked man-made structures found in urban or rural environments may also provide shelter (i.e. houses, sheds, or barns). Limited by imagination and materials available, the following man-made shelters can be used in any situation.

a. Poncho Shelter b. Sapling Shelter.

d. Double Lean-To.

e. A-frame Shelter.

f. Fallen Tree Bivouac.

4. CONSTRUCTION OF MAN-MADE SHELTERS. To maximize the shelter's effectiveness, Marines should take into consideration the following prior to construction.

a. Considerations.

(2) Low silhouette and reduced living area dimensions for improved heat conservation.

(3) Avoid exposed hill tops, valley floors, moist ground, and avalanche paths.

(4) Create a thermal shelter by applying snow, if available, to roof and sides of shelter.

(5) Location of site to fire wood, water, and signaling, if necessary.

(6) How much time and effort needed to build the shelter.

(7) Can the shelter adequately protect you from the elements (sun , wind, rain, and snow). Plan on worst case scenario.

(8) Are the tools available to build it. If not, can you make improvised tools?

(9) Type and amount of materials available to build it.

(10) When in a tactical environment, you must consider the following:

(a) Provide concealment from enemy observation.

(b) Maintain camouflaged escape routes.

(c) Use the acronym BLISS as a guide.

B - Blend in with the surroundings. L - Low silhouette. I - Irregular shape. S - Small.

S - Secluded located.

b. Poncho Shelter. This is one of the easiest shelters to construct. Materials needed for construction are cord and any water-repellent material (i.e. poncho, parachute, tarp). It should be one of the first types of shelter considered if planning a short stay in any one place.

(1) Find the center of the water-repellent material by folding it in half along its long axis.

(2) Suspend the center points of the two ends using cordage.

(3) Stake the four corners down, with sticks or rocks.

c. Sapling Shelter. This type of shelter is constructed in an area where an abundance of saplings are growing. It is an excellent evasion shelter.

(1) Find or clear an area so that you have two parallel rows of saplings at least 4' long and approximately 1 V2 to 2' apart.

(2) Bend the saplings together and tie them to form several hoops which will form the framework of the shelter.

(3) Cover the hoop with a water-repellent covering.

(4) The shelter then may be insulated with leaves, brush, snow, or boughs.

(5) Close one end permanently. Hang material over the other end to form a door.

d. Lean-To. A lean-to is built in heavily forested areas. It requires a limited amount of cordage to construct. The lean-to is an effective shelter but does not offer a great degree of protection from the elements.

(1) Select a site with two trees (4-12" in diameter), spaced far enough apart that a man can lay down between them. Two sturdy poles can be substituted by inserting them into the ground the proper distance apart.

(2) Cut a pole to support the roof. It should be at least 3-4" in diameter and long enough to extend 4-6" past both trees. Tie the pole horizontally between the two trees, approximately 1 meter off the deck.

(3) Cut several long poles to be used as stringers. They are placed along the horizontal support bar approximately every 1 V2 and laid on the ground. All stringers may be tied to or laid on the horizontal support bar. A short wall or rocks or logs may be constructed on the ground to lift the stringers off the ground, creating additional height and living room dimensions.

(4) Cut several saplings and weave them horizontally between the stringers. Cover the roof with water-repellent and insulating material.

Double Lean


e. Double Lean-To. The double lean-to shelter is constructed for 2-5 individuals. It is constructed by making two lean-to's and placing them together.

Double Lean Shelters

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