Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter Project - Wikiup Debris Shelter

Decided to replace my current lean-to shelter on the archery range in the local woods with something a little more functional. A place that would store my (stuffed) feed bag arrow targets but also offer more versatility for usage and comfort.

The lean-to was a project I completed a few years ago and has held up remarkably well to the elements. Unfortunately it is too small for anything other than storage - I can lay under it but cannot sit within it. I was looking to create something I could use as a base camp (so to speak) for snowshoeing so needed a (wind) shelter I could place a camp chair within along with some additional stowage.

I considered an A frame but was limited in available flat ground space so opted to go with a Wikiup debris hut using a teepee styled design. It would fit nicely on the spot between two trees where the existing shelter lies and offers an entrance facing the rising/midday sun with the rear wall facing the Northwest. Four poles for stability with cross braces near the peak and also at the midway point. Secured with  cordage that was then wrapped with hockey tape. Its versatile and cheap. I always have a roll in my hockey and bush craft bag.

I planned this shelter with enough stand over height so I can stand comfortably under the peak`s cross braces.

I had originally planned to enclose the frame in heavy duty plastic painter`s drop sheeting to completely waterproof the structure but opted out for a couple reasons; I wanted to build this as naturally as possible and also did not want to harvest too much green material in the construction. With the sheeting I would be forced to cover the frame with lots of six foot poles which would mean cutting a fair amount of saplings/trees. Not the footprint I wanted to leave?

Considering my options I noticed the frame work from my discarded lean-to and had an "a-ha" moment. I salvaged some of the lean-to`s framing and strapped it to the middle sides of the wiki frame in a modular type approach. For the remainder of the upper exposed frame sections I began to add a lattice structure out of recycled lean-to wood and dead fall. Once each section was done I then weaved among the latticework various debris; smaller branches and pine/spruce boughs.

The winter snows came earlier this year and caught me mid build. I had the latticework completed but before I could add debris and boughs we had a few days of snow. As a result I was unable to complete the base of the wikiup. My plan was to stack some deadfall trunks as a base to cover the bottom two feet. Instead I just banked some snow along the exterior and shoveled out the interior snow. Should do the trick for the rest of the winter.

On top of the debris I added some fresh pine boughs to flesh out the exterior of the shelter and help make it more snow/rain proof.

Winter in Nova Scotia is unpredictable and after of week of cold temps and snowfall we had a thaw roll in on Dec 18th. Temperatures up to 10C with rain. I managed to get out in the morning and build a temporary door. Essentially I stayed with the modular idea and constructed a frame with latticework in which I quickly wove some pine boughs. I had left about a foot of the bottom braces extending on each side of the entrance in anticipation of building some kind of door jam. Using those I simply placed the modular door across the doorway and secured it in place.

  I still need to add some boughs to the frame to fill in the gaps, especially near the peak and also on the door frame until I can come up with a better design for the entrance. In the meantime the wiki-up should function for what It was designed for; a place to store my feedbag archery targets out of the elements and a sheltered spot to facilitate gearing up for some winter snowshoeing. I may also reconsider adding some interior sheeting to water/windproof the interior depending upon how effective the natural cover performs.


I did manage to add some plastic sheeting to the interior of the shelter around the peak and the Northern side of the midsection to help ensure it stays dry. I also added additional boughs near the peak and debris along the foundation. Despite subsequent rainfall and heavy snows the shelter retained it`s functionality and remained quite waterproof.

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