A debris hut is a survival shelter constructed from small limbless dead trees
8' to 10' long, sticks and leaves. Debris huts are designed for fast easy
construction without special equipment and capable of keeping the body dry and
warm with the body as the only heat source.
The conventional debris hut constructed in Tracker School’s Standard and
Advanced Standard has vertical ribbed walls running from the ground to the
ridgepole. The horizontal ribs debris hut ribs are laid like log cabin walls. In
log cabins each horizontal layer of logs is referred to as a course starting
with the 1st course, 2nd course, etc. Chinking describes both the material and
the process of sealing the spaces between the logs.
The Standard’s vertical rib debris hut is the simplest to construct using
universally available materials. Structurally, the vertical rib debris hut
requires one 8' ridgepole, many short, small diameter sticks for the vertical
ribs and large quantities of leaves. In wet, cool [40’s & 50’s F]
conditions where hypothermia is a risk, 24" of debris covering the top is
required. For vertical rib huts, the leaves covering the walls support the roof
leaves. Therefore, 24" depth of leaves on the roof will require 24" deep on
the walls. An entryway with a door is added on the front of the debris hut to
retain body heat within the shelter in colder weather [<40F]. The depth of
the leaves covering the tops and sides is also added for warmth [36" to 30F,
48" to 0F and 60" -40F].
Conversely, the wet weather horizontal rib debris hut requires at least eight
8’ long logs or ribs for the walls, sticks to cover the roof and 24" of
leaves just for the roof. The cold weather debris hut requires sixteen 10'
long 3" to 6" diameter logs for the walls including the entryway, two rows
of sticks for the roof and leaves for chinking the walls and roof.
The optimal conditions for heating a space with body heat are: space
conforming to the body shape, no heat leakage and optimum insulation material.
The optimum shape that most closely approximates the body is a trapezoid. The
trapezoid area should reduce in size with the body size from hips to feet. Heat
leakage around the door and structural members should be minimized with the most
impervious layer possible so heated air does not leak out or into insulating
debris. The optimum insulating material available should be used.