Editor’s Note: This tutorial on how to make debris huts is excerpted from The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide book.
What is a Debris Hut?
Just as people use lightweight, fluffy insulation in their walls and attics to keep out the cold, we can keep cold away from our bodies by covering ourselves with forest debris — leaves, grasses, pine needles, cattail down – anything that resembles lightweight insulation material.
Like insulation, piles of dead leaves, grasses, and pine needles create dead air space. Dead air is air that is trapped within the debris. A layer of dead air helps keep cold air from reaching you from the outside and keeps your body heat next to your body instead of letting it escape.
Debris huts are simple to make. Make a huge pile of leaves and forest debris and crawl inside. Be sure to place some debris under you as well to prevent the cold earth from sucking the warmth out of you.
Remember when I talked about building emergency shelters near important resources? If you build a debris hut, you’ll want to be near lots of leaves, grasses, or pine needles. The great thing is that in cold months, when you need lots of dead leaves, Mother Nature helps you out by dropping them on the ground for you to scoop up.
How to Make a Debris Hut
A debris hut involves building a simple framework of sticks and then piling forest debris on top of it. It’s also important to stuff the inside with debris as well to help retain heat.
Here’s how I build a debris hut:
Step 1: Using two Y sticks and one long, center ridge pole, create a framework long enough to contain your body.
Step 2: Lean a framework of sticks against the center ridge pole 1″–3″ (3–8cm) apart to create a sturdy roof area.
Step 3: Pile on a bunch of smaller branches, briars, or brambles that will hold the debris in place as you dump it on.
Step 4: Keep piling until the frame is covered with 2’–3′ (1m) of debris – the more debris, the warmer the hut.
Step 5: Fill the inside with debris and crawl inside. Be sure to plug the door hole with debris to prevent heat loss out the front of the shelter.
Your Turn: Ever Made a Debris Hut?
What tips do you have for making debris huts? Post them in the comments section below.