Last week a friend and I decided to go on a winter bushcraft/survival skills trip. The projected low for the night was 15 degrees with a wind chill of 9 degrees. Actual was 12 degrees, with wind chill at 6 degrees. So it was cold to say the least. The perfect night to build a debris hut!
Our first order of business was to select a suitable camp location. The property we were on had a large stream running through it, so water was not an issue. We eventually settled on a location right along the stream, and slightly elevated to stay out of the cold sink. We decided a two-person debris hut would be the most appropriate shelter given the cold conditions, so we began constructing the frame. We placed the foot end towards the wind, and constructed the hut much like a traditional debris hut, but built a flat roof connecting the two hut frames.
The sides and roof were constructed by lashing a few cross pieces to keep the framing sections from rolling off the frame.
The sides were then filled in with leaves. As long as you pile leaves starting at the bottom and building upwards, they don't fall through the framework. At least 2 feet of debris is necessary to insulate and keep the wind out.
We then started a fire, which carried us through the evening. 12 degrees was manageable with a good fire, and the woods provided plenty of dead wood for the fire. The shelter turned out to be pretty warm. We did cheat and use camp pads (hey, we can't leave ALL the luxuries behind) and sleeping bags. Without them we would have been cold, but alive!