After years of tenting and spending as a lot time as potential within the outside, I can say that information to sleep underneath the celebrities requires a sure studying curve. It doesn’t matter in the event you camp in good or unhealthy climate, in case you are doing it for pleasure or in an emergency, there are at all times three key components that you must think about.

These three variables are well-known by skilled campers and are at all times thought of when establishing their shelters. I discovered about their significance some time in the past by utilizing the “IOU” acronym, which stands for Inside, Over, and Below.

I first discovered about this idea from Ray Mears, a survival and bushcraft knowledgeable who introduced it in his books. This precept applies to everybody, regardless in case you are an outside fanatic, a survivalist, or a prepper, and mastering it’ll ensure you construct a correct shelter in any setting you’ll be able to probably think about.  

The precept follows the common sense guidelines of shelter constructing and contains one thing to sleep in (the I), one thing to sleep over (the O), and lastly, one thing to sleep underneath (the U). This, after all, will rely on the setting and will probably be dictated by the state of affairs you’re dealing with. It goes with out saying that each local weather has its personal challenges, besides, you’ll be able to deal with these numerous challenges by following these three variables.


When discussing this variable, most individuals will assume that it refers to a shelter (pure or man-made), however that’s truly the second layer. The primary line of protection towards the chilly and the weather are literally your garments. It is best to have sufficient garments to spend at the least 24 hours outside, dry and heat.

Your clothes must be modular since you ought to be capable of sleep and work in your garments with out issues. Relying in your stage of exercise and the weather, you need to be capable of peel off or add a layer as wanted.

Your garments will get moist and soiled and received’t insulate your physique effectively, leading to failure to manage your physique’s core temperature. Whilst you ought to have a set of clothes for sleeping, you even have to contemplate a second insulation layer. This can be a sleeping bag, quilt, tent, or pure shelter. While you lack man-made gadgets to sleep inside, you need to think about using pure insulation or numerous fire-heating strategies.

What it’s additionally essential to say right here is that what you select to sleep inside can typically rely on numerous components. For instance, packing one thing to sleep inside requires backpacking room, and that you must be certain what you’ve packed is right in your setting. One other instance can be a state of affairs through which the “sleeping inside” issue is deliberate for, or maybe it’s an emergency state of affairs through which you need to make do with what’s obtainable.

You want to match the insulation layers to your setting, and you have to be certain it stays dry, freed from tears and that you’ve got sufficient area to hold these insulation layers. Additionally, examine that they’re rated for the suitable temperature as a result of it will make no sense to get a summer time tent if it’s snowing outdoors.

In case you are pressured to improvise utilizing pure sources, you shouldn’t overlook supplies comparable to dried leaves, grasses, needles, and others since these can be utilized as an additional insulation layer together with your present setup by layering them on high of it.

A trash bag, for instance, it’s light-weight and doesn’t take a lot room in your backpack. You need to use it for materials assortment and improvise a mattress or insulation layer, or you need to use it to maintain your garments dry.

Concerning the belongings you choose to sleep inside, you shouldn’t neglect a couple of safety layer that can preserve you protected from bugs and different critters that need to feast on you. For instance, a hammock has insect netting, and such a layer will be improvised for different sleeping gadgets as properly.

One other factor value mentioning is that you need to preserve your shelter every morning by including further insulation the place it was worn or matted down. Additionally, don’t neglect to aerate and dry your garments within the solar or round a hearth.

It is best to by no means assume that your outside “expedition” will final as anticipated, and every day you need to work on enhancing your shelter to make it stronger and extra sturdy with no matter gadgets you’ll be able to collect or repurpose.


The layers we talked about above will defend you from the chilly setting round you, however they received’t do an excellent job of separating your physique from the bottom beneath you. Warmth switch happens when a heat floor touches a chilly one, and on this case, your physique, sleeping bag, or clothes will switch warmth to the bottom beneath you.

That is typically the primary reason behind hypothermia, even when you end up in a heat setting. You want to create a dead-air area to sleep over to stop your physique from dropping warmth and succumbing to hypothermia.

When you deliberate for this journey, you’ve most likely packed a closed-cell pad or some kind of inflating pad to maintain you off the bottom. In some environments the place the bottom is unhospitable, bringing a hammock is right because it enables you to sleep over damp floor, uneven terrain, and even sharp rocks.

In an emergency, what you sleep over requires a substantial amount of improvisation, and it’ll aid you survive the chilly night time. The trash bag we talked about can come to your support on this state of affairs since you’ll be able to fill it with fluffy particles and use it as a beanbag chair. In case you have a tarp, you’ll be able to place it on the bottom to create a water-resistant protect and forestall your clothes from absorbing moisture if the bottom is moist.

In case you have the instruments, you’ll be able to construct a raised mattress from logs and use a poncho or a tarp as a wind insulator. That is often really useful in a winter state of affairs when you need to make an effort to maintain your physique above the icy floor. 

When you do end up in an setting with dry and chilly floor, you’ll be able to improvise a sizzling mattress by digging a gap (the size of your physique) and filling it with heated rocks or coal. Add a small layer of filth over the heated materials, and you may sleep instantly on the bottom. Nevertheless, that you must concentrate since there are some dangers concerned. For instance, heating porous rocks with water trapped inside may cause them to blow up, and it’s possible you’ll get injured. Additionally, talking of accidents, you have to be certain the heated rocks or coals are fully buried because you don’t need to roll over and get up with a burn or gentle up your sleeping pad or some other flammable supplies.


Relying on the setting, you’ll most likely want a roof over your head, and what’s thought of a roof might range from one particular person to a different. The tent you convey alongside will provide a roof over your head, and so will a tarp or a poncho. A tenting hammock has a devoted cover that may defend you from falling bugs and the weather.

A roof is not going to solely defend you from falling rain, however it could possibly additionally act as an insulation layer, trapping the warmth of your physique relying on what it’s product of. Much more, having a shelter with a roof can change into a morale booster since you might have a roof over your head, much like again dwelling.

There are all kinds of recent supplies obtainable in the marketplace for campers and preppers, and leaving dwelling with out some emergency gear that can be utilized for improvising a roof, for me, is unacceptable. For instance, an emergency blanket is light-weight and can be utilized to improvise a shelter or make a roof for a shelter you’ve constructed from pure supplies. Carry some cordage as properly and use it with the trash luggage full of grass and leaves to improvise a roof.

The shelter you construct isn’t solely your sleeping place but in addition the realm the place you reside, so in the event you carry a 10-foot-by-10-foot tarp, you need to use it to assemble an A-frame or lean-to shelter with loads of room for different actions as properly.

Your shelter will be created from repurposed gadgets, and your car or a small cave will be transformed into a correct shelter if in case you have the gear and sources at hand. On this case, the IOU components are lined, and you’ll have to work much less to improvise a shelter. Even sleeping underneath an overturned raft or canoe might be an choice to create a shelter within the subject.

In case you are pressured to work with solely pure sources, you could possibly search for pure shelters comparable to caves, downed timber, or a heavy evergreen cowl so long as you be certain there aren’t any inhabitants or construct a shelter from obtainable sources that may fit your wants. Make the most of pure options and use your creativeness.

Keep busy and at all times enhance your shelter

By no means assume that your shelter is non permanent or that you would be able to’t do something extra to enhance it. There’s at all times room for enchancment no matter what gadgets you’re working it. Whereas a broken-down automotive might cowl the IOU variables, that doesn’t imply it’s the right shelter. For instance, sleeping inside a sleeping bag in your automotive is significantly better than sleeping in your garments in simply the automotive’s lifeless air.

Bear in mind to replace your emergency or bug-out bag because the season adjustments as a result of it accommodates gadgets that may be helpful all 12 months lengthy, and there are gadgets that have to be changed relying on the anticipated temperatures. To not point out that some gadgets might expire or get broken if they aren’t correctly maintained.

When sleeping within the wilderness is a deliberate motion, you must also ask your self if the IOU components are lined and what that you must do to ensure you make your state of affairs comfy. The identical goes if an emergency forces you to evacuate and you end up in an unhospitable setting. Ask your self what you’ll sleep inside, over, and underneath. 

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