Building an Improvised Shelter


Depending on your usage, sometimes, building an improvised shelter (also called as Basha) can be more convenient than carry a tent. 

This is because an improvised shelter is lightweight and does not take up as much space as compared to a tent. 

Here, we will go through the basics of building a simple shelter.


Items needed:

  • Tarpaulin sheet / Flysheet / or any form of waterproof canvas or plastic sheet large enough to form the shelter
  • A few ropes. A longer rope to act as the main line, and 4 additional shorter ropes as guy lines
  • At least 4 tent pegs
  • Two Trees



  1. Find an ideal spot where the ground is flat and the two trees are at a suitable distance apart. Tie the main line across the two trees at a height suitable for your needs. 
  2.  Spread your tarpaulin across the line.
  3.  Secure the four corners using the shorter guy lines and pegs


Some Tips:

  • Things to consider to determine the suitable height: How big is your tarpaulin sheet? Do you need to stand underneath the shelter? Are you using it for sleeping, if so, do you need better protection from wind and rain etc?
  • Most shelter heights are at about waist level. This provides enough headroom while sitting down. 
  • While tying the main line, use the alpine butterfly knot to increase tension on the line. This will prevent the line from slacking when the tarpaulin is spread on top of it.
  • Tie off the main line using the round turn two half hitches. That my personal favourite knot for this usage as it hold securely.
  • While securing the four corners of the tarpaulin, do the opposite corners first. 
  • Use the tautline hitch to adjust the length of the guy lines so that you can achieve equal tension among the corners without retying.
  • Stake the pegs into the ground at 45 degrees for maximum hold.
  • Tent pegs always go missing easily. Bring extras with you. One of the easiest way to improvise when you do not have pegs is to tie off to a sturdy rock.
  • You can add a ground sheet on the ground if you intend to use the shelter for sleeping.


Credit: Jason Jones Flickr. Creative Commons License 

Posted in Campcraft.

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