Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Lean-To or Not to Lean-To

During our recent advanced winter survival excursion we had an opportunity to step outside our comfort zone and tackle a new shelter design not normally used by us in a winter survival scenario.

The shelter design was non other than the lean-to.  A shelter design known world wide for its effectiveness and simplicity.  However the lean-to has been long known to be used in spring, summer and fall type weather.

By design the lean-to is hard to visualize as a shelter of choice in a nasty winter survival emergency.  It is open faced and provides very little protection from the elements.

However, the opportunity to try something new in a controlled environment provided a challenge that was to good to turn down.

The lean-to was an "L" shaped two sided lean-to which provided protection from the north and west keeping the prevailing winds to our backs.  The shelter was quick to construct and provided each of us with our own bedding area and equipment storage location.  All and all we were excited about this opportunity and continued to fine tune the shelter.

If you read my last post about the weather you'll understand the discomfort we endured over the next three days. 

Although our fire situation caused us great grief and stalled our ability to dry out equipment, boil water, cook food and just generally feel merry, the shelter allowed the wind to nearly suck the life right out of us.

The two sided, and eventually four sided, shelter design creates an issue the minute the weather changes course.  The wind howls from all directions, often swirling and creating havoc on your ability to find shelter from it.  That same wind enters your area and steals the heat generated from your fire which is much needed for warmth and equipment maintenance.

It was a great learning experience and survival lesson.  Winter is like no other beast.  The conditions that mother nature forces you to endure and survive in a winter survival emergency will push you to the limits.  It will test your knowledge, your skills and your survival mindset.

I am grateful for the opportunity to try something knew, however I will keep the lean-to as a fair weather shelter which provides the panoramic view every camper is looking for.  When it comes to the winter in this great white north, I will continue to construct the enclosed "A-Frame" or better known as the debris shelter design which affords protection from all sides.  It has a peak ridge pole and your green bows act as shingles wicking away the weather.  Your body heat will not be sucked away by the wind and your fire almost feels too close for comfort.  Which, in -38 degrees, is not a bad thing !

To Lean-To or Not to Lean-To...It's no longer a question for me !

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