19 October 2013

Exploring The Super Shelter

Shelter with Reflector in Place.
The Super Shelter. Have you heard of it? Have you ever built one? What are the advantages? What are the secrets?

The Super Shelter is the idea of Mors KOCHANSKI. An author and Wilderness Living Skills Instructor @ Karamat Wilderness Ways (www.karamat.com). You may have a copy of his book: Bush Craft - Outdoor Skills & Wilderness Survival or one of his many mini-manuals: Survival Kit Ideas or Tools Of Survival & Survival Training or The Two Kilogram Survival Kit Field Manual.
The Super Shelter is explained in great detail in the mini-manual: The Two Kilogram Survival Kit Field Manual. The basis of this cleaver shelter is understanding how infra-red wave energy is transmitted. The heat (infra-red energy) from a camp fire will pass through a sheet of clear plastic and reflect off the mylar space blanket to be absorbed by the person inside the shelter. The best $4 investment you can make is to purchase this mini-manaul, to learn all steps of the shelter's construction.
The biggest challenge, I found when constructing this shelter was attaching the mylar space blanket to the underside of my tarp. But I think I have found one of the solutions to this challenge. Duct tape might work, but in cold weather it would not work for long. Sewing the mylar would be tricky, and then it would probably just rip away from the stitches. But, clothes pegs, will work in the cold, in the wind, in the rain and in the snow. Best of all, you do not need to pack any with you. In a few minutes, I was able to whittle the required number of pegs to hold the mylar to my tarp.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. An opportunity presented itself to me, to test out some survival skills during a weekend campout. Although, I have been aware of the Super Shelter I had never tried to build one. Now that I have experienced this once, I would like to share what I learned.

First I better explain the components of the Super Shelter for those who have never heard of it before. This shelter consists of: A lean-to, a sleeping platform, clear plastic sheet to minamize heat loss, a small campfire and a reflector. 

The hardest part of this shelter system is keeping the reflector in place. But, as alluded to earlier, I believe the solution is in the use of clothes pegs you whittle onsite. They are free. I used the branches from Spruce Trees that had been drying since Christmas. The branches were still pliable, but dry enough not to get pitch or sap on everything. Not a concern in a survival situation, but this was a fun campout after all.

I did not employ the clear plastic sheet over the opening of my lean-to, as I was not expecting real cold temperatures. Further, in place of a campfire, I used a large candle. Think tea lights that are 3 1/2" in diameter and an 1 1/2" thick. They had a large wick and produced more heat than I was expecting. 

My sleeping gear was on the light-weight end. A bike & hike summer bag, a poncho-liner, 3/8" foam pad and a bivy bag. The campout took place at the end of September. It was not really cold, but a propper sleeping bag would have been smart planning.......but, this was a test.

How did it work? To my surprise and pleasure, I did not get cold. I had only the foam pad to insulate me from the ground, but had the weather been more wintery, I would have taken the time to construct a sleeping platform. And if it was more wintery, I would have used the clear plastic sheet to prevent the warmth from being stripped away by the wind and a campfire instead of my candle.

In conclusion, I recommend you learn more about Mors Kochanski's Super Shelter. This one skill could save your life, if you have to survive with an improvised shelter.

A note to those having to survive in an urban envrinoment without heat in your apartment or house. If you ever had to shelter-in-place, without an alternate heat source for your home, I recommend you have a few mylar space blankets on hand to build a reflector sleep chamber in your home. With just the heat from a few candles, you may survive while others perish. Just remember, to have a source of fresh air or you may perish by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep learning new ways to survive,



  1. The only suggestion I would make is to get an All Weather Blanket (sometimes called the Grabber A.W.B.)
    A heavier duty version which can be had in four outer colours (OD, orange, red and blue) and is infinitely more durable than the little space blankets. I have never been able to make one of those last for more than a night or two.

    I’ve had an A.W.B. for 6 years, and it is still going. Bulkier, heavier, sparks will damage it, but I have used it as a ground sheet and tarp, and it has survived it all.

  2. Exploriment,

    Thanks for the feedback.


  3. ?? If you didn't include the plastic sheeting, you didn't make a super shelter. You made a lean-to with a reflector roof.