Building A Wickiup | Creating Shelter for Survival

Building A Wickiup | Creating Shelter for Survival

A wickiup, also known as “tipi” or “teepee,” is a conical tent used by indigenous tribes a long time ago. Find out how to make a wickiup yourself!

Building A Wickiup | Creating Shelter for Survival

In this article:

What is a Wickiup?

The term “wikiup” originated from the Algonquian word “wikiyap” which means “dwelling house.” This type of shelter may be old but it’s definitely not outdated. During the olden times, Indian tribes use the wickiup as a shelter. This type of shelter allows you to build a fire inside without you suffocating. Its spacious area allows more than one person to sleep in it. This is the most fitting kind of a survival shelter in forests because it is easy to build and the materials to do so are readily available. It can be used as a temporary or a long-term home.

Location and Material Selection

Location and Material Selection | How to Build A Wickiup | Survival Life

Find a suitable place to build your shelter. It should be well above the waterline and away from any visible flood areas. You should also take care to check for animal tracks and other signs to avoid any late night visitors. And, don’t forget to collect branches for your campfire and all the other things you’ll be needing to maximize the hours left while the sun is up.

Base Frame

Base Frame | How to Build A Wickiup | Survival Life
How to Build a Wikiup Photo by Discovery [Youtube]

The base of your shelter is important because it will keep your house standing firm. Your wickiup is cone-shaped, so you should design the frame like a tripod. Use three strong poles or wood available around you and build a tripod that will secure its place. For it to be stable, look for strong vines that will hold your tripod in place, preventing it from being dislocated. Tie it around the upper end of your frame and spread apart the other ends of the poles to make a space for you to get in. You can also use rocks to keep your frame from falling apart.


Weatherproofing | How to Build A Wickiup | Survival Life
Building Shelter Photo by Gaby’s Outdoor Survival Guide

Animal skins are the material normally used for covering a wickiup but there are plenty of other options available in the wild. Branches, debris, and even moss are all fantastic options for covering. It’s also a great idea to keep a few contractor trash bags in your kit because they make an incredible covering that holds in heat and makes it waterproof. This will provide you with insulation and protection from severe weather conditions. Make sure not to leave holes or spaces to keep the heat from escaping, providing you warmth inside.


Bedding | How to Build A Wickiup | Survival Life
All Wilderness Survival Courses Photo by Wilderness Survival Skills

Look for large leaves or even small branches to create a nest for you to sleep on inside. Don’t collect branches or leaves with spikes or sharp ends to avoid discomfort and injuries. Make sure to have sufficient space for you to lie on.

Final Touches

Final Touches | How to Build A Wickiup | Survival Life
Bushcraft Wikiup with Chimney Photo by Pagan Woods Production

Add additional poles or wood to keep the debris stable. This will also support your framing. You can add another layer of debris to make sure the insulation is enough. Add leaves to avoid raindrops from running through your covering. Always store extra wood in case your fire burns it all up.


See how comfy you can be in a wickiup in this video by Driftwood george:

Forgot to bring your tent for your camping trip? No problem! Now you know how to build a wikiup, you can just make one as your temporary shelter in the woods. It would be a fun and satisfying experience for sure. Just don’t forget to bring your survival food kit so you won’t starve.

Have you tried building a wickiup? What was the hardest part in making one? Share your experience in the comments section below!

Up Next: 14 survival shelters you can build for any situation


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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Do's and Don'ts of Building a Rain Barrel | Survival Life

Do’s and Don’ts of Building a Rain Barrel | Survival Life

Last spring, I finally asked my friend, Bob, who does handyman work, to help me build some rain barrels. I had actually acquired two food-grade 55-gallon drums from the meat shop. It’s just a couple miles down the road, but they had been living in my greenhouse waiting patiently for installation. Make sure you use food grade barrels, not barrels that may have contained toxic substances. We decided to place the DIY rain barrel system under the stairs so they would be out of the way, but still close to the greenhouse and garden.

Rain Barrel DIY | Important Things to Note

Sturdy Surface for the Barrels

The downspout was rerouted down the stairs to the barrels. To allow room for a bucket to be placed under the rain barrel faucets, six concrete footings were placed under a small reinforced wood deck. You could also potentially use concrete blocks. Remember, once a 55-gallon drum is full of water, it will weigh over 450 pounds, so whatever surface you have should be sturdy and level. To create additional capacity, we linked two drums together.

Debris Filter and Drain Pipe

To keep debris and bugs out of the tank, we cut out the center of a two-part lid and inserted mesh window screen into the opening.

PVC pipe connects the two tanks, and an overflow pipe fits to the second barrel, along with drain pipe.

*Note – We found out after use that the overflow really should have been on the side of the second barrel, opposite the inlet. This way was easier to rig up but didn’t work very well.

Since we have high winds out here, we need to add strapping to hold the barrels down when they’re not filled. For winter, we drained the barrels and brought them into the greenhouse.

Cleaning the Barrels

Cleaning the Barrels | The Do's and Don'ts of Building Your First Rain Barrel

This spring, before putting them back into action, I gave the barrels a good cleaning. You really want to scrub them out at the beginning of the season to make sure you’re not starting off with contaminated water. Chunks and scum will clog up your faucets, and make your water foul.

You may need a long-handled scrub brushCheck out The Do's and Don'ts of Building Your First Rain Barrel at

, or have to crawl into your barrel. I improvised by duct taping a piece of firewood to a brush with a shorter handle.

If you’ve got open water, mosquito dunks may be helpful, but a screen works just as well (if not better). The active ingredient in mosquito dunks is “Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis” (Bt), which attacks the larval stage of mosquitoes. This is a naturally occurring soil bacteria.  However, there are concerns that Bt will be losing its effectiveness due to its genetic engineering into corn.

Some Benefits of Rainwater

Rain barrels are a great way to control runoff and conserve water. It lacks chlorine and fluoride that you can find in many municipal water supplies. Natural rainwater is softer and easier on your garden plants. My grandmother always washed her hair every Saturday night with water from her rain barrel. If you happen to have a good water filter, such as a Berkey, you can use rain barrel water for drinking water in case of emergencies.

If you want to learn more about how to design your system, plans for roof washing systems (to divert the first flow away from your storage to clean your roof before filling your storage), and just about any other questions you may have on rainwater collection, I recommend the book “Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged“.

Note:  Rainwater collection is prohibited in some areas and encouraged in others.  Please check this list of State Rainwater Harvesting and Graywater Laws and Programs to find out if it is allowed in your area.


Check out this video by envirosponsible on how to make your own rain barrel:

Rainwater can be useful in survival situations, too. When you start to run out of provisions inside the house, the water stored in your barrels is a valuable suppl– especially if your rain barrel system is well-maintained. It’s also a great way to save some money on your water bill by using rainwater for your garden.

Do you consider rain barrels a necessity in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Up Next: Container Gardening for Your Patio or Balcony


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2013 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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Building A Bug Out Bag

Building A Bug Out Bag

Want to be the BEST prepared
for the WORST to come? Click here to sign up NOW! We'll even throw in a FREE survival tool! (just pay s&h)

Want to be the BEST prepared
for the WORST to come? Click here to sign up NOW! We'll even throw in a FREE survival tool! (just pay s&h)

A 72-hour bug out bag or “Go Bag” isn’t just for end-of-the-world scenarios. A bug out bag is handy to have around in case of other emergencies such as power outages, car breakdowns, natural disasters, and other instances where you might be without services for a few days.

A Better Bug Out Bag For Greater Chances Of Survival

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, wildfires, or ice storms, this type of bag will help keep you and your family safe at home or during an evacuation. If you keep the most necessary items in one central place (the bug out bag), it will be easier to get your hands on them when you need them.

A Brief History

What is a bug out bag? “Bug out” is British military slang for “leaving quickly under fire.” The origin of a bug out bag is with the military—a survival kit for use when you need to exit an area quickly. Aviators during World War II had bug out bags or “bail out bags” to take with them when skydiving out over enemy territory.

Bug Out Bag Or Survival Kit

A bug out bag is different than a survival kit in that it is meant to give you the items you need for the first 72 hours of survival. Bug out bags are more focused on lightweight, emergency, and short-term supplies as opposed to long-term solutions. Choosing a military style bag or backpack has become a very popular choice due to its durability. But it may not be the best option…

Choosing A Bug Out Bag

You’ll want the bag to blend in with its surroundings. If you have to travel through an urban area, a blue or black nylon backpack is a good choice. For traveling through the wilderness, a camouflage pattern is ideal. The key is for the bag to not stick out like a sore thumb. As a side note, your bug out bag doesn’t have to be an actual “bag.” It can be a Rubbermaid container or another type of box that fits in your trunk. It could even be a large purse. The size and type of bug out container depends on whether you will need to be carrying it and walking (in which case a backpack is a better choice) or if you can drive to your alternate location.

Bug Out Bags For The Family

If you have more than one person to pack a bug out bag for, consider packing a smaller bag for each member of the family so that everyone has his or her supplies. This will also help you organize your supplies.

Bug Out Bag For Your Vehicle

Transportation is something that could occupy an entire article in and of itself, but there are a few brief considerations to think about regarding vehicles when planning for bugging out:

  • If possible, try to acquire and maintain a vehicle manufactured before 1981. These vehicles have fewer electronics that are likely to be affected in the event of an EMP attack.
  • A diesel engine is preferable.
  • It should have enough room for the people and cargo you need to transport when “bugging out.”

At your safe location, it’s a good idea to have a bicycle and cart for transportation that doesn’t require fuel.

There are 3 rules that one has to remember when building a bug out bag. Let’s start with the first one…

Rule 1: The Right Supplies

Rule 1: The Right Supplies | Building A Better Bug Out Bag

Your bug out bag is only as good as the supplies you put in it and the skills you have to use them…Here are a few suggestions for stocking your 72-hour bug out bag. But take this with a grain of salt… you need to customize this kit for your area, your needs, and your family. Here’s a list of the supplies that you can put in your bug out bag:

First Aid Supplies

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gauze pads
  • Tourniquet
  • Aspirin & Ibuprofen
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • 30 days of prescription medications
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Pepto Bismol

Clothing (per person)

  • Three pairs of wool socks
  • Three pairs of underwear
  • Two pairs of pants
  • Two t-shirts
  • One long-sleeved undershirt
  • Jacket
  • long underwear (thermals)
  • something a little more risque?

Food and Water

  • Water bottles Water (two liters per person)
  • Electrolyte tabs or salt
  • Iodine tabs and cheesecloth Protein and nut bars Dehydrated fruits and meats MREs


  • Compass (practice so that you know how to use it before you need it)
  • Local maps
  • Small tool kit (screwdriver, pliers etc)
  • Hatchet
  • Collapsible shovel
  • Knife
  • Knife sharpener
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Small pan for heating water


  • Tent or tarp
  • Rope (to hang the tarp)
  • Foam pad (to prevent hypothermia)
  • Space blanket or emergency blanket (one per person)
  • Sleeping bag


  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Ziploc bags
  • Trash bags
  • Duct tape

Rule 2: The Plan

Rule 2: The Plan | Building A Better Bug Out Bag

Something almost nobody thinks to include in a bug out bag is a written plan. When disaster strikes, you’ll be distracted. The plan should include:

  • A list of what to take
  • Directions for getting to the alternate location
  • An alternate meeting place, should that be necessary
  • It’s possible that you could be injured or incapacitated and somebody else in your family or group will have to lead the group to safety.

In the event of a catastrophic failure of all systems, if you’ve written out your plan, you’ll be better able to safely and confidently get from point A to point B without forgetting anything.

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Rule 3: The Execution

Make sure that you’ve practiced using the items in your bug out bag. A compass is useless if you don’t know how to use it—and using one is harder than it looks! Practice starting a fire without matches. Check your food and medical items in your bag to make sure they have not expired and rotate them out as needed (practice FIFO- First in First Out). Otherwise, leave the bag alone.

A Word On Premade Kits…

You can buy premade bug out bags that come with supplies. But keep in mind it may not have the items that you want or need, so your best bet is to build your own from scratch. Or use the premade kit as a springboard to create your personalized “ultimate” bug out bag.

Watch this video posted by SensiblePrepper on a DIY Walmart Premium Bug Out Bag:

Do not “borrow” items from the bag for non-emergency situations. If you do, you might forget to put the items back, and in the case of an emergency, you’ll be stuck without something vital that you need. While a bug out bag won’t prepare you for every scenario, it will help you get to the place where you have prepared for every eventuality.

What do you put in YOUR bug out bag?  Have something “weird” or uncommon? Leave a comment below and let us know.


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Last update on 2018-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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