Survival Prep: What Type Of Shelter Should You Build?

Posted by Jessica Sims on

It's been a few weeks since I last addressed survival prep, but I feel like now is as great a time as any. As mentioned in our last post, "Rule of 3s", one of the first things to get set up in a survival situation is a shelter. Of course food and water come next on the list, but we explained why having a shelter tops the list of necessities. The main purpose of this post is to help you prepare for a survival situation. So we won't discuss worst-case scenario shelter ideas such as building with fallen trees and branches (although I plan on doing a separate post for that). Hopefully after this post, you will feel comfortable knowing what supplies to gather in order to set up a reasonable shelter for yourself. 

Types of Shelters

When it comes to choosing shelters, there are many different options to choose from. Now is the time to choose what type of shelter will work best for you and your family. Below I will list a couple types of shelters and some pros and cons to them. 

1. Tent (best for families)

By far, a tent is one of the preferred shelters for many people. They can range from 1-2 person-12+ person. You can find tents that connect with other tents. Some have multiple rooms in them. Some have built in lights. The world of tents is ever-improving to make having a shelter comfortable and enjoyable for everyone. If you have a family, buying tents will probably be your best bet for a reliable and comfortable shelter. They can sometimes be complicated to set up, but generally come with easy-to-understand instructions. One thing about tents though, they can be heavy and hard to get back in the carrying case. A tent is ideal if you're going to be traveling by vehicle to a camping spot. Not quite as good if you are going to be carrying the tent for an extended period of time. Just be mindful of your limitations. I really like the Ozark Trail brand from Walmart because they have good quality tents at a reasonable price. But if you can afford something nicer, by all means. At the end of the day, a tent is great for beginners, families, or anyone who wants to be relatively comfortable in a survival situation. 

Supplies: usually included with purchase of a tent

  • Tent
  • Tent Poles
  • Rain Fly
  • Tarp (to lay underneath tent) *optional

2. Tarp and Hammock (good for 1-2 people)

 Caption: It's me! Having a blast in my futuristic-style hammock. 

I decided if I'm ever stuck in a survival situation, this is my go-to. First of all, who doesn't enjoy laying in a hammock. This option is very lightweight and can be setup more quickly. A hammock and tarp fit very well in my survival backpack and it eliminates the need for a blow up mattress or sleeping bag like you'd have in a tent. I plan on using either an emergency blanket, or one of my plush blankets to keep warm. I also will have a fire pit near my hammock to help me stay warm. I love that a hammock is off the ground so you don't have to worry about flooding. The one thing I don't like about a hammock is you don't have as much protection from the elements. So as long as you have fair weather, you're fine. Otherwise you may want to plan on some other options. I like using a 2-person hammock with a mosquito net because it keeps bugs out and is more spacious than the average hammock. It feels great on my back and neck so I always feel more rested afterward. You can purchase one from our site and use promo code HMMK for 15% off!


  • Hammock (click to view hammock selection)
  • Hammock straps (extra set of straps is optional, but allows you to choose trees at further distances)
  • Tarp
  • Paracord/Rope
  • Pocket knife

3. Tarp Only (1+ person/ depends on tarp size)

Caption: This is a 66 tarp shelter chart that I found on Pinterest. Check out the website here

This is the lightest weight option, however it takes a little bit more skill. I'd say this falls under the intermediate category in terms of difficulty. I recommend practicing this method a few times before a survival situation arises. I will say that next to a tent, this offers the best protection from the elements if done correctly. A tarp shelter is great for nomadic living. If you aren't planning on setting up a base camp, but rather plan on moving day to day, this could be a good option for you. Tarp shelters range in complexity and there are so many different versions. I believe this is the most versatile options because with just one tarp, you can create so many different designed shelters. This is most likely the cheapest option as well. If you don't have a lot of money, but still want a fair chance of weathering a storm, this can do it for ya. I've never built a tarp shelter, but I have seen them at music festivals and they work great in the rain if designed correctly. Once again, tarps and all the supplies can be found at Walmart. I'm sure could probably get it all for under $15 or less.


  • Tarp(s)
  • Parcord/Rope
  • Pocket knife


Well that is all for this post. I look forward to making some how-to videos on getting these types of shelters set up. Our next post will discuss the next facet of the Rule of 3s, how to obtain clean water. Stay tuned :) 


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