Backcountry Skills: Lean To

Shelter is often a priority in a backcountry setting. A large fixed blade knife makes shelter building much easier. A folding saw is also quite useful... My knife of choice is the "Ratweiler" from Swamp Rat Knife Works.

For this shelter, only the knife and saw were used. "550" (parachute) cord is very useful, as are a couple of 10 penny nails, but none of those were used in this construction.

"Lean To" Building Sequence

A small fir tree is cut down, stripped of its boughs (branches), and the larger bottom end is notched.

This was done with a folding saw, but it could have been accomplished with a knife.

The distance between the two trees to be used is measured, the ridge pole cut to size, and the narrower top end is sharpened to a blunt point...

The notched end is fitted against a smaller tree - which, when bent slightly provides the tension needed to hold everything together.

The blunt point is worked into the bark of a larger tree...

... and when the notched end is forced down to make the ridge pole horizontal, it is wedged tightly enough to support the framework of the lean to.

A bough bed (at least 18" thick) could also be constructed under the lean to.

The frame is ready to be thatched with fir boughs.

The angle of the lean to may vary because of your intended use, terrain, etc. - here we just wanted a wind break, and and something to contain the heat of a fire.

Thatching is best done by starting at the bottom, with the boughs pointed down, and work your way up.

Orienting the boughs down is critical to the shelters ability to shed water.

Weaving the boughs together gives strength to your structure.

Continue adding boughs until the shelter is thick enough to block daylight. A lean to will provide a good, insulated wind/rain block.
Put a fire out front, and life is good!

With two people working, one on shelter and one on fire, the elapsed time was right around 40 minutes.

A reflector opposite the shelter would also help contain the heat of the fire.

Now for a cuppa coffee...!!

Practice, practice, practice...

Vary your sources, practice your methods. Another...