The group debris hut is quite an investment in time and energy. It is not a survival shelter, it is more like a semi-permanent dwelling that allows you to live comfortably in the bush. This shelter hoovers up lots of natural resources, especially dead leaves – so make your life easy and build where the resources are abundant!
To build this modified wikiup, start by collecting strong forked uprights. When hammered into the ground, you want the base of the Y’s to be at low-sternum height. Then add the cross beams… these should be strong enough to hang off – they are going to support a lot of weight!
Next add your longest and strongest rafters. Once each corner has three long poles jammed into place it should start to lock solid.
Then add lots of long, light ‘leaf trapping’ rafters. There is no need to weave branches (like in the survival books), this wastes time and energy… just keep adding branches and light brash.
Then comes the thatching. Lots of dead leaves, and forest floor debris are required to rain-proof and insulate this shelter, but it is worth the effort! Unlike the other one-man and two-man varities, this shelter allows for a fire inside, which makes it very warm. It is importand to insulate the interior from the wind to allow the smoke from the fire to draw upwards and not swirl around inside.
Try to sleep ‘head to head’ and ‘feet to feet’ to avoid anyone getting accidently kicked in the night!
Keep this shelter as small as you can get away with, it will keep you warmer and take less time to construct. Have fun!
Illustration are from Ray Mears – ‘Bushcraft’ and ‘Essential Bushcraft’ © Ben McNutt
Photographs are also © Ben McNutt