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How to Build a Bed for an Outdoor Shelter

Learn how to build a bed for an outdoor shelter from NYC Outward Bound instructor Marko Yurachek in this wilderness survival skills Howcast video.


The bed itself is going to be right down underneath here. Before I even think about sleeping in here, the ground itself is really, really wet. It's been raining for the last couple days. That's something that I wouldn't lay on. This ground will suck the heat right out of you and reduce your temperature to about 45 degrees, which is about the temperature of the ground. So one of my concerns is going to be building a platform or a bed, and then covering that will a really nice, well-insulated mattress.

Since my bed slopes downhill, what I'm doing is building kind of a backstop. And the backstop is going to both keep me from rolling down hill and give me a place to put crossmembers for my bed to keep it level. This is going to be both for comfort and insulation. I'm kind of sweeping the duff over in this direction, which is the area that's going to be our bed. This, again is wet, so we're going to take some of the grass that we've harvested previously and cover that with the nice dry grass from the field.

So I want to put a nice bed in here. I want to get myself off the ground. I want to break some sticks in order to do that. If you had a saw, it would be ideal. A lot of times, you don't have a saw, you don't have the tools that you want, but you can still break pretty big sticks. If you find a fork in a tree, I believe if you put this is here like that and pull back on it, it breaks pretty easily.

Without having to stomp and do things that might otherwise injure you, you can sort of get these pieces to make crossmembers for your bed. This is going to keep me off the ground, and that'll keep me a lot warmer. When I'm working on my bed, what I often do is test it out, try it out for size, see if it fits and how comfortable it is, and which way my head is, up or down. So this way is pretty flat. I could use a pillow, but other than that, I'm not rolling in one direction or another, and it fits. It's not to too short, not too long, so I'm not rolled up in a ball. It's just the right size. It's kind of a Goldilocks thing.

I've already piled leaves under. I'm going to throw some grass on top, and we'll be good to go. Here we are in a beautiful lean-to. Nice fire, nice heat-reflecting wall. Totally protected from the weather up top and from all directions. It's a great place to spend the night, and quite warm and cozy.

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