How to Quickly Choose a Temporary Shelter

J5 Tactical Flashlight

How to Quickly Choose a Temporary Shelter


There are a number of scenarios that may require you to quickly seek shelter in order to avoid being detected by someone.  However, it’s important that you quickly evaluate which option is the safest one to consider in the heat of the moment.  Let’s look at some basic criteria that will help you to identify and choose the best available temporary shelter.

Blending and Concealing

An escape shelter is different than a shelter in the traditional sense of the word for a couple of reasons.  First, it is designed to get you under cover until your pursuers move on.  Second, it is not intended to be  a place where you can set up camp and stay warm, dry and safe.  That being said, you want to quickly assess locations in your immediate vicinity by asking the following questions:

Does the shelter blend in with the surrounding area?

Does it keep a low profile and is indistinguishable with surrounding objects or terrain?

Does it have an irregular shape that will help to mask it against its surroundings?

Is it small and nondescript?

Is it as secluded as possible?

A good shelter will have these characteristics.  They are intended to help you find a place that will attract the least amount of attention and interest.  It’s essential that you think of these questions as you are making your assessment.  Keep in mind that a shelter doesn’t have to be a building.  It can be anything from a creek or ditch to a ridge on the backside of a hill or behind a corner that is dark and hard to see from the main road.

Choose a location that is least likely to be searched.  Choose an area that is not susceptible to sudden dangers such as flash flooding or a rock collapse.  Use common sense and think things through, albeit quickly in order to get out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.

Keep Options Open

It’s important that you also have an escape route that you can use at a moment’s notice in case you become detected.  You never want to paint yourself into a corner, and it’s better to pass up on a perfectly good shelter if there isn’t a second way out. Remember that you need to consider the level of exposure you may encounter as you escape to your plan B as well.

That being said, you also want to try and find a shelter that allows you to see who is approaching.  This will give you the maximum amount of time possible to decide whether to stay put or bug out.  How much lead time you will need depends on your particular situation, but it’s important to consider this point as you evaluate your options.Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 11.39.04 PM

Moving in the Shadows

Using shadows and natural cover is a great way to shelter yourself from detection. However, you should be prepared to adapt your movements to match the cover that your surroundings provide.  For example, limit your movements during daylight.  Take advantage of rainy conditions.  Use terrain and the shadows they cast to hide your profile.  Move in small bursts and hunker down beneath brush or behind rocks or trees.  Assess the situation as you stop.  Listen for sounds, try to detect the direction of the movements of your pursuers and plan your next move.

Moving in the shadows is more like a chess game as opposed to a hike.  You make one move, stop and hide until it is safe to make another.  Be patient, think what your next move will be, calculate the risks, and choose the most opportune time to jump to the next point of concealment.

The process of choosing the best temporary shelter, especially when you are on the move in enemy territory or someone is pursuing you is very fluid.  You need to quickly assess, move, wait and adapt to each step that you take in order to be able to hide and avoid detection.  Part of mastering the art of temporary sheltering comes from situational awareness and good assessment practices.  However, a big part comes from practice and experience.

Take time to get outside and play an adult game of hide and seek, increasing the level of difficulty and complexity as you go.  The more practice that you get can pay big dividends if you are ever faced with being in the wrong place at the wrong time and need to get out without getting caught.