How to build a bivouac

How to build a bivouac

Then again, if it’s a hot summery night, camping out with friends and knowing that you’ll be sleeping under whatever you managed to build together in the way of shelter is actually more than half the fun…

First, figure out which way the wind is coming from. Lick two fingers and stick them in the air to feel which way the wind is coming from. If you still can’t tell, pick up some grass or dust and drop it lightly – that should tell you the direction of even the lightest breeze. The back of your bivouach shelter should stand up against the wind and your fire should go in front of it.

Hunt around a bit for dead wood. Get two great big stakes. If you’re really desperate, use saplings, although using fresh live wood is a bit unfair on the poor old trees. Both your long bits of wood will need to have a fork about three or four feet up. Now stick them in the ground really firmly, around four feet or a stride apart.

Now you need a third pole that’s long enough to stretch across the other two upright bits of wood. Lay it across the forks of the two stakes. If you drove them into the ground firmly enough the whole thing won’t fall over.

Now you’ve got a cool shelter framework but it needs a bit more support. Find some more branches and lean them against your horizontal pole, especially on the more windy side of the bivouac. You might want to weave some extra branches in to make your shelter really solid.

Starting at the bottom, weave branches, grass, twigs, reeds and whatever you can get your hands on up the frame of your bivouac in a criss-cross fashione. This will make it nice and waterproof because no-one likes to go to sleep with a damp arse. Make sure the whole thing has some nice heavy branches on the top so your shelter doesn’t blow away in a storm like the little pig’s house.

Of course, if you’re planning to camp out a lot and fancy a bit of rough, you could just keep a bit of tarpaulin handy… that works as well as any thatch. A bit of tarp, and a rope, and you can string your plastic roof between two trees, or a tree and a gate, or a man and a cow – anything that will stand still long enough.

Job done, nature girl! You’ve built your own bivouac!