Finding Shelter: The Time Factor

When you are stranded in the wilderness or in some other survival situation, one of the most crucial components of finding adequate shelter is time. 

You need to base your decision on how much effort to put into your shelter on whether or not you have enough time to seek out shelter or build one. Here are some crucial components of the time factor when determining how to pursue shelter.

Time of Day

One of the most obvious time constraints to your need for shelter is going to be the time of day. If you have most of the day left for shelter, it might not need to be your top priority. Sometimes, water and food might be far more essential. However, if it is evening, shelter will probably be your top priority as you will need to be safe and well-rested to find food and water in the morning.

Time Required

You will of course also need to be realistic about how much time you can put into building, or locating, a shelter. If you only have a small part of the day left, give yourself an hour, and resolve to work with whatever you have after that. Your time and calories burned working will be valuable, so you’ll want to allocate them wisely.

You will also want to make sure you have time to test your shelter out, if you find something seemingly great and go off to find food, you might discover the hard way in the night that your shelter was not as effective as you thought.


On your first day, you will probably want to settle for a minimal shelter to get you through the night, then plan out your time carefully for the next day in terms of finding food, water, and building yourself a better shelter.


You will of course probably want to put some effort into learning shelter builds now if you’ve got any chance of an effective plan in the wilderness. Here are some shelter builds we’ve shared before:

Debris Shelter

Desert Shelter for Heat Relief 

Fast and Easy Emergency Shelter


Remember, a failure to plan is a plan to fail, allocate your time smartly when seeking shelter so you can preserve your energy, strength, and maximize the daylight hours.


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