Building a Tree-Resistant Shelter

Jul 31, 2002
Hi Guys,

Here in western Washington we have had some moderate windstorms lately. Around my place there are a bunch of trees down and/or broken. Trees have lost large limbs, blown over, and even broken in half mid-height. Many of these are over a foot in diameter. The forest floor is pretty much covered withlimbs in the 10 to 20 lb class, with quite a few pieces over 100 lbs, plus the ton-plus trunks and major limbs every few hundred feet in some stands. In many cases they hit the ground with quite a lot of energy.

Not a place you would want to be during the storm.

But, suppose you have to be. Suppose, for whatever reason, you are stuck out in the woods during one of these storms.

What would you do to take shelter from ground-bound limbs and logs, at night in a windstorm?

ohh, look for a rock out croping. Definetly not sleeping, as you'd have to be on the constant look out for debree
Put my butt against the trunk of a BIG OLE TREE, and hope it ain't the one tree to blow over. Other than than, your pretty much out of luck. Low points fill with water, open places you're a lightening hazzard (and yes, there is lightening here in Western WA occasionally!) and Up high - well - you are out in the elements. Hug a tree Scott, fire up the kettle, make some pine tree tea, wait for rescue - or the storm to pass.
yeah, the big ol' tree method would work too, my luck i'd doze off and a big ol' brach would put a whole new definition to the widow maker saying ;)
The nice thing is, the trunk actually protects you..
You'll notice, 99% of the branches are knocked AWAY from the tree, not down to it's base.. So it's actually a relatively safe place to hold up.
is a sense yes, But the way my luck goes, wouldn't happen, but it would be a good place to stay.
Was camping with a buddy one time.
He set up his bedroll under a big tree, head towards the trunk, feet sticking away.

Second day, came back to camp after walking around,
about a 8-inch by 15-foot piece of limb was laying right across his bed.
Would have smashed his chest for sure.

No big wind or such, it just came down.
After that he never slept under a tree with any big branches above him.
Lucky lesson to learn for him.

You just never know...
I don't know if these would be effective, but two things I came up with are finding a place under a tree that had fallen previously, and digging a hole.

The thought with the previous fall is the same as taking shelter in a doorsill during an earthquake, relying on the structure of the fallen tree to protect you. Lacking a fallen tree, the theory with the hole is that things large enough to smash you would bridge the opening.

Last night we had a windstorm that only lasted about 15 minutes. But right after my fire dept. pager went off and we had to go clear a bunch of trees off the highway. It came on fast and hit hard, then was gone. Just breezy the rest of the night.

Wow, think of the log cabin you could build with all that debris? :)

I like the rocky outcropping idea, and RMike's base of a big old tree idea.
If trees are uprooting, then find a species that doesn't tend to uproot as much, if possible. Try to see if one single species is uprooting and stay away from them.
Also, sometimes, the largest tree is the most prone to wind and lightening, as it catching more wind, and is taller, so maybe go for a moderate sized tree, that may also be getting protection from others nearby. Sit on the Leeward side, of course.
Lean two sizeable branches (as large as you can handle) at a 45° or 60° angle, up against your chosen tree, they may help deflect a "bomb", should one come your way.

Or, a non-water-path ravine, with a tree already blown over it, get under that tree for protection from any others.

Reminds me of the Ardennes portion of Band Of Brothers when the German's are shelling the forest with 88s. Timber falling everywhere!
you know, The idea of digging a hole is a good one also, digging like a fox hole or a small trench then covering it over with the needed debre would make a good shelter.
Find a fallen tree and use that as a shelter ! BTW most people have no idea of the weight of a live tree and the damage it can do . Cut down large trees near your house so they can't fall on the house . In a recent storm in this area one house was reduced to 'condemned' but a falling tree ,another was severely damaged and killed the occupant !!
is a sense yes, But the way my luck goes, wouldn't happen, but it would be a good place to stay.
Well, you know the old saying about how fast you have to be to keep from being eaten by a bear. :D

"Say, pal, why don't you set up about a hundred yards over there." :D :D :D
haha, nice one. Yah I only one I have to out run in that situation is the person im with :D:D
Asked my nephew what he would do if we met a bear on the trail, he said he would "just talk to it" :confused:
I asked him what he would do if the bear was chasing me, he said, "nothing" :eek:

(I decided I'd best not go into the woods with him) :(
Maybe you could snug up parallel to a large, already fallen tree. No guarantees about safety or anything, but it would offer some protection, and be safer than being in the open woods. If conditions are not too windy, you could put together a small, one person size shelter on the side of the tree. Good for body heat retention if tyou really pile on the branches, and the winds are not too heavy.

Camper in Windstorm ---> :eek:

Camper deciding what to do ---> :confused:

Camper has it figured out ---> :cool:

Camper back home after surviving ---> :)

Campers friends listening to survival story lies ---> :barf: