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Summer or Winter Shelter Basics Part Two

Saturday 1st February 2014

Summer or Winter Shelter Basics Part Two

(go to part one or three)

In Part One of this series we discussed cautions about ways of heating indoors. A more specific suggestion is to focus on either wood or pellet fired stoves (see the Minus 40 Stove/Oven and the WiseWay non-electric pellet stove) and also propane fired heaters intended for indoor use. The Mr. Heater brand has a good variety of products that may meet your needs. In particular, they have a combination heater / cooker that runs off of a 1lb propane canister.

This week I want to turn our focus to outdoor shelters. Because in hot or cold weather you need to maintain a reasonably constant temperature so your body does not go into shock. In the heat you need shade and free flowing air (within reason) and in the cold you need a way to contain heat and eliminate free flowing air (wind). Compare the two figures below (double click on them to enlarge).

The summer shelter is nothing more than a Mylar blanket or tarp with the reflective side out to help protect you from the sun's heat and rays. Everything is reflected away from you as you sit under, but as far from the tarp as possible. The blanket does not go all the way to the the ground because you need to allow natural air flow to move the hot air up and away from you.

http://basicliving.com/images/Newsletter_Images/Winter_Shelter.jpgThe winter shelter wraps all the way around from the ground cover  to the top plus maintaing a flap starting back down. This prevents airflow and reflects the heat back into the shelter. With the reflective side towards the inside you capture more of the heat. The effectiveness of this shelter is increased many times by doing two things. Add sides if possible to reduce airflow even more and build a fire in front of the shelter. The fire's heat is reflected off the walls and back to the person/people sitting in the shelter. In this case you sit as far back in as possible. This is the perfect use for the Oversized Emergency Blanket 6 ft. x 12 ft.

As we have discussed previously, Mylar can be very effective when used properly. Basically, Mylar has the heat transfer properties of a piece of glass, such as a window. When it is cold outside but warm inside, the inside of the window will be cold to the touch. So will Mylar. This means you need to do at least two things and three if possible. The first requirement is to insulate your skin from the Mylar so that the cold Mylar doesn't make your skin cold. If your skin is cold your body heat can not overcome the cold. The second is to insulate the Mylar from the cold. In other words, wrap yourself in a Mylar blanket and then put your jacket, another blanket or something outside the Mylar to keep it from transferring the cold to you. These two steps, each requiring a very thin layer to make a difference, will allow your body heat to help keep you warm.

The third option is to add an external source of heat. In the diagram above it is a fire with additional Mylar or other reflective material used as a shelter which reflects the additional heat back to you. This is ideal and can actually overcome extreme cold temperatures. You can increase the efficiency of Mylar even further by using a multilayer Mylar blanket/sleeping bag/tent etc. The multilayer versions include a non-woven nylon laminate on one side that gives the mylar device tear resistance so they last longer. They also help collect the suns heat in the winter instead of reflecting it away. You still treat them exactly the same as plain Mylar as far as the steps mentioned above; you just get a couple of additional benefits.

(go to part one or three)

About the author: Jim Higgins

Jim Higgins