Survival Shelters – Experience Could be the Key That Saves Your Life

When it comes to survival shelters, experience could be the key that saves your life. I talked about that on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio with Anthonio Akkermans, author of The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook.

Below I’ll share a combination of thoughts about the book and our conversation.


Experience of the Author

Anthonio is definitely experienced in wilderness survival skills and the outdoor life. What he writes about isn’t merely theoretical. If you spend much time outdoors–whether camping, hunting, or whatever–you’ll appreciate his book.

Here’s info about him from the book.

Born in the Netherlands, Anthonio Akkermans studied wilderness skills since he was a child. While still a youngster himself, Anthonio established a youth group that allowed children and teenagers to come out into the woods and learn earth-living skills once a week. This youth group gradually evolved into a school called Wild-Live, based in the United Kingdom.

From the early days, he traveled regularly to a number of states in the US, Yukon territories, Israel and Turkey, where he learned more native skills while teaching what he already knew. He still enjoys traveling and regularly teaches primitive skills in the most unique environments.

An active journalist for various publications, he previously published a book about earth-living skills titled Bushcraft Skills and How to Survive in the Wild, which is sold worldwide.

When not teaching adults on his courses, Anthonio has other commitments. He teaches teenagers through various local charities and shares skills in the archaeology department at Queens University Belfast and other expositions about how our ancestors lived their lives through demonstrations and lectures. He reproduces a huge array of artifacts for various museums, universities and television companies. On several occasions he has worked as a consultant on television and radio programs. He enjoys learning new skills, traveling locally and in different terrains around the world.


The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook


Experience the Book

This book is informative and easy to read. Instructions are thorough. Plenty of black and white photos complement the text.

You’ll find knowledge of primitive skills, use of modern materials, and the survival mindset or attitude. You’ll also become informed about the pros and cons of the various shelters described. I hadn’t heard of a few of them before.

Chapters cover…

Shelter Fundamentals

  • Shelter Starts with Good Clothing
  • Sleeping Equipment
  • Choosing a Place to Shelter
  • Materials
  • Making Cord
  • Making a Hammer

Making Debris Shelters with Your Bare Hands

  • Natural Shelter
  • Rock Shelter
  • Debris Hut
  • Lean-To
  • Stacked Debris Wall
  • Round Debris Wall Shelter
  • Bent Sapling Shelter
  • Subterranean Shelter
  • Snow Shelter
  • Improvements and Basic Furnishing
  • Living in Primitive Shelters

DIY and Modern Material Shelters

  • Emergency Shelter Bag
  • Reflective Foil Blanket
  • Basha/Tarp Shelters
  • Scandinavian Lavvu
  • Ger/Yurt

Modern Store-Bought Shelters

  • Hiking Tent
  • Hammocks
  • Bivvy Bag
  • Bell Tent

Mental Preparedness

  • Drilling
  • Understanding Emotions and Stresses
  • Gaining Confidence
  • Adopting the Right Mental Attitude


How should you and I use The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook? Like a cookbook. Instead of finding a few recipes and working with them, pick a few shelters and learn by doing.

When it comes to instruction, Anthonio doesn’t teach others skills he hasn’t mastered himself. Because of his extensive experience, he says this book was easy to write. It was doing the pictures that took the most time.


Experience You and I Need

The Value of Experience – Anthonio doesn’t sugar coat his subject matter. He tells you and me that reading a book is no substitute for experience and practice. As wonderful as it is to read about it in a book or watch a YouTube video, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Experience will change romanticized notions we may have about living in the wilderness. It’s easy to become over confident or arrogant about what we think we will do. In the proverbial SHTF scenario, taking off to live in the wilderness isn’t realistic, especially if you haven’t done anything like it before.

Experience also makes evident the need for mental preparedness. Living outdoors isn’t easy. Tasks can take more time than expected, and they can sap our energy. You and I might get depressed and frustrated by life outdoors. Don’t underestimate the importance of something as basic as a good night’s rest.

Try making various shelters. Discover what there is to know. And have fun with it, too because it’s not all drudgery and mistakes.

First Things First – Anthonio makes the case that having shelter should be what we think of first, instead of starting a fire or gathering food and water. Shelter is of the utmost importance because, if you need to find food and water or build a fire, you need a safe, warm and dry place.

Shelter helps us stay warm and dry, which is essential. In hot conditions, shelter can help keep us cool.

It sounds obvious, but the first thing we should consider is our clothing. You don’t want to get too hot or too cool. There’s a reason we’re told to wear layered clothing in winter. In the book Anthonio tells you the best fabrics for layering.

Be sure to carry a tarp when you’re out and about because it can serve multiple functions.

You’ll want a sleeping mat to keep you and your sleeping bag off the ground. You don’t want to lie on the ground because you’ll lose a great deal of body heat.

Finding a Place – Location of your shelter is critical, too. Choosing a spot calls for situational awareness.

Consider several questions. Is it safe? Is it legal to be in that spot? Are materials available for building your shelter? Is it subject to water and wind? Can you safely build a fire there? Is food and water accessible?

When you’re assessing your situation, look for a natural shelter, such as a cave. We talked about this some during our chat.

Going the Modern Way – If you’re not inclined to make a shelter with your bare hands, you don’t have to. Go with something ready-made. Do you have a good tent?

By the way, when I asked Anthonio for some tips about buying a tent, I didn’t get the answer I expected. Rather than talk of how a tent should be structured, he once again emphasized experience.

For example, what’s the situation where the tent will be used? What have others experienced with a given tent? What do reviews of specific tents say?


Experience Our Conversation

Interviewing Anthonio was a challenge for me because I’m not the outdoorsy type. I wasn’t sure my questions were suitable to help you get a handle on the content of the book. I made it through, as usual, and I encourage you to listen to our conversation. Hear it by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for November 19, 2015. (Right click to download.)

Get your copy of The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook by clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post. That takes you to the page where you can place your order.

You can contact Anthonio and find out about the instruction he offers at

If you’ve been camping or hunting and have had to make any of the shelters mentioned in the book, I’d love to know what you think of what you’ve read above or heard in this week’s show. Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.