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Top 5 Shelter Building Survival Tools

Top 5 Shelter Building Survival Tools

Ask any survival expert what the most important skill in the bushcraft armoury is, and the answer you’re likely to get is the ability to build shelter. Having shelter is something we take for granted somewhat due to the fact that so much of our time is spent indoors where the temperature can be adjusted at the flick of a switch or the turn of a dial. But if we find ourselves in an emergency situation and exposed to the elements, either not having shelter to hand or not possessing the tools and knowledge to build it can threaten life in a matter of minutes.

Packing a few shelter-building tools in your outdoor survival kit can help protect you against both hypothermia and heat stroke, two of the biggest dangers to any bushman. Here’s a list of the top five essential shelter-building tools:

#5 – Folding Shovel

A strong but lightweight folding shovel is a worthy addition to any survival kit. For the purposes of shelter-building, this tool will prove invaluable if you’re in deep snow because it can help you dig a snow cave. Likewise, in hot dry weather it can help you dig a depression to escape from the sun and wind, and maybe even find water beneath a dry streambed.

#4 – Axe or Hatchet

These are incredible multi-functional survival tools and pack a lot of power into a relatively small package that you can wear on your belt or tie to your pack. They make it easy to cut timber to make poles and stakes for shelter frames and if you opt for an axe or hatchet with a hammer poll on the back, you can even drive stakes into the ground to secure tents, or the edges of a lean-to.

#3 – Knife

An indispensable piece of survival hardware, this offers much the same versatility as an axe, but in a smaller, more controllable package. They are perfect for performing close-up work that is likely to be needed in the construction of any shelter.

#2 – Paracord

Arguably the biggest rival to the knife in terms of the most valuable survival item overall, good quality paracord will enable you to still make a shelter even if you don’t have a shovel, hatchet or knife. Running a length of paracord between two trees and draping a sheet of plastic over it gives you an instant makeshift shelter, but if you have more time and have some of the other tools with you, paracord can be used to lash lengths of wood together to make a more solid frame structure.

#1 – Military Poncho or Tarpaulin

Ok so it may not be a tool but if you’ve forgotten any of the other implements listed, if you have a military poncho or tarpaulin you still have ready-made shelter. Most purpose-built ponchos and tarpaulins have reinforced grommets that are made to accept tie-downs or small stakes to secure them in place. They also double-up as ground covers to insulate you against cold, wet earth, and can also be wrapped around yourself for wearable shelter.


I'm trying to build up a good bushcraft kit and cant decide whether to buy an Axe, Hatchet or Macheti.

Some advice would be appreciated.

Many thanks

Colin 23-12-2016 at 21:12


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