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Bushcraft or BS: Constructing Shelter From A Trashbag

In the video below we demonstrate how to make a last resort tent out of nothing more than a heavy duty trash bag and some string.

Every survival kit should include some kind of string/rope commonly referred to as cordage by survivalists. I also strongly recommend carrying a heavy duty trash bag because it is such a common sense multi-purpose item. With those must have items you already have what you need to make a tent.

The key to making this work is first setting up a sturdy horizontal line to drape the unfolded and slit bag over. It needs to be tight enough that it doesn’t sag much and low enough to the ground that it will keep wind and rain off of you and your gear.

Once the main line is up you need to anchor the four corners of the bag to the ground using string and makeshift tent stakes. Sticks work well. If there are heavy rocks around you can tie off on a rock instead.

Making grommets by creating pouch with a small twig or pebble, and then tying off on the pouch is a must. If you pierce the bag thread the string/rope through it, it’ll rip very quickly in the wind. To see more detailed instruction on making a grommet click here.

Once in place and anchored the trash bag will keep you dry, shaded, and insulated from wind. A standard large trash bag works as an A-frame tent for 1 person. It’s not the Ritz but it works.

It’s as simple as that!

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27 thoughts on “Bushcraft or BS: Constructing Shelter From A Trashbag”

  1. The line should be inline with the opposite corner. What is shown will let the tarp slide down the line and shorten the area covered.

  2. You give great , practical advice. Keep up the good work.
    These tips are useful to ALL folks who want to be self-sufficient and able to cover their own @@s!

  3. I thought that the original main topic was ‘Will a trash bag make a good poncho’?
    The answer is ‘YES’ & it works a little better with ‘cordage’ around the waist. I fished all day in a steady rain & did okay catching fish. And yes it should make a good lean-to type of tent & if ‘very’ carefully cut along the two seams with a ‘very’ sharp knife & unfold on the folded side & due to the size, it would be fairly roomy.
    REMEMBER, it’s not worth saving money on the thinner, typical, ‘garbage’ bags. Get the thickest, heavy duty, lawn & garden bags available at any do-it-yourself, hardware, & some multi- purpose stores!!
    And if you are going to carry one, carry a few of the extra large, extra thick, extra bags. They’re not that heavy, and may just save your life &/or the life of a friend !! If you carry a backpack & a fanny pack, carry the bags in your fanny pack or even both, that way if you stow your gear & just have your fanny pack, you’re still covered!

  4. Awesome. Thank you.
    Soooo, we have 41 acres surrounded by State Forest in South Central OHIO. A 3 story A frame house, discreetly tucked over a ridge on a slope, above a spring-fed open-top cave. Oldest of 9 member family is 65, youngest is 25. Young ones will be soon bringing spouses and babies. We older ones will be passing away. Big question is, HOW DO WE START “PREPPING”? What’s first?
    How much? If we have a couple rifles & a couple pistols, how much & what kind of ammo should be stocked? Etc. Etc. Etc.
    Bill & Annette

    1. You’ve already started the first and most important thing: RESEARCH! Then practice. Go camping close to home with some of the new survival hacks you’ve got tucked under your belt and see how they play out. If it’s REALLY not working, you’re close to home just in case.

      I’d also recommend this video: http://fightfast.com/nbcv/ABASG2/ntbt.php

  5. I have been using 55 gallon trash bags for poncho’s for over 35 years. Also have used them to make a shelter from very heavy downpours. I have also used them to keep body heat in when it’s well below freezing when hunting from a blind.

    1. If it’s raining and the ground is damp, I use another trash bag or 2. You can’t go wrong having a few trash bags handy in your pack.

  6. cool, I would use if I did not have anything eles I know I nave used them for a rain poncho before. great Ideal bob

  7. I’ve never needed one to make a survival tent, but have used them a few times as a quickie pancho…not only for myself, but had spare ones for friends who were along one time and when an unexpected blizzard hit us while above timberline on Pike’s Peak. What wasn’t covered with the bags was plastered with ice and snow by the time it stopped….we’d have been in bad shape without them. I always try to keep at least one around for emergency.

  8. Honestly a trash bag has so many uses in a survival situation. I always carry two or three if going camping or hiking in the deep woods or back country when I go hunting in the Rockies of Colorado.

  9. Show how to make a prussic knot with a stone and how to anchor the “tent” to the supporting rope so it does not slip down the line.

  10. Makes perfect sense to me. I never kept trash bags in my vehicle, because I have a shovel, . Cops may think I’m a murderer .

  11. Well done. It may not be the Taj Mahal but it may be the difference between death by hypothermia and a rough night.

  12. A large black trash bag is a great survival item, it can be a serviceable poncho and provide adequate shelter, I keep several in my dugout bag!

  13. I will tell you this “trash-bag tent” does work very effectively – I am speaking from (military) experience here. The ONLY drawback is that you are sleeping on the ground, and thereby exposing yourself to the “critters” who occupy the same space and are also looking for shelter & warmth (spiders, scorpions, ticks, etc.) themselves. Of course those are not a concern in the colder climates or colder times of the year.

  14. Hate to have to depend on this never go hiking without the 10 essentials including a poncho. Also a few aluminum or plastic tent stakes don’t weigh much.

  15. I’ve used a large trash bag as a poncho several times in the past. With a hat to cover my head, I remained reasonably dry.
    Ya do what ya gotta do with what ya have.

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