I’m not sure how the early settlers along the Oregon Trail or the western frontier got along without duct tape, WD-40 or trash bags, but life surely would have been easier with them!Trash bags, in particular, are included in all my survival kits. They have a multitude of uses, including being containers for picking up trash! But in an emergency, when correctly used, trash bags can prove a quick, temporary shelter from the elements.
This shelter will keep the wind and rain off you (Peter Kummerfeldt photos)
Your best protection from the elements is your clothing. Always dress for the weather conditions, and never depend on a shelter to make up for inadequate clothing. Obviously, if you anticipate bad weather, be prepared for it, stay home or take along a lightweight, four- season backpacking tent.
But, c’mon, how many of you are going to lug around a tent on every outing? Most of us will carry it a time or two, and eventually, the tent will end up getting left at the trailhead. Then, some day late in the afternoon, you realize you’re lost or in a survival situation. You’ll have to build some sort of shelter before it gets dark.
Reality shows to the contrary, you probably won’t be able to build a shelter out of natural materials, says survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt.
“I believe it is impossble for the survivor to build a waterproof, windproof shelter from natural materials,” Peter writes in Surviving a Wilderness Emergency. “Shelters made from natural materials require time, natural resources, a cutting tool and a fully-functional survivor who has practiced building emergency shelters in the past! The survivor needs a waterproof, windproof shelter now!”
Large, heavy grade (3 or 4 mil)can make a good short term shelter. But don’t just crawl in and hunker down. Like any survival technique, you need to prepare and practice to use this shelter.
“Totally encapsulating yourself inside a plastic bag is not a good idea,” Peter advises. “Apart from the need for oxygen, the water vapor in the air you exhale, and your perspiration, will condense on the inner surfaces, and you will get quite wet.”
To avoid this problem, cut an opening in the closed end of the bag just large enough to allow you to pass your head through. The bag is then passed over your head until your face aligns with the hole and the moist air is exhaled outside.
A group of us went to the Route 66 Music Festival a few years ago and it turned into a giant mud fest. The Festival continued, but many were in tents and could not find a dry spot. Our group got the idea of selling portable dry spots they were industrial trash bags! We sold so many we paid for our trip plus we had money in our pocket. We made a small fortune! Point being they worked very well!