Where to start?!

“The Survival Rule of 3s” is a good place.

  • 3 Seconds to make a decision – Take no longer.
  • 3 Minutes without oxygen to the brain – without any long lasting brain damage. (also bleeding out!)
  • 3 Hours without Protection from the Extreme elements before you succumb to Hypothermia or Hyperthermia.
  • 3 Days without water – Extreme dehydration.
  • 3 Weeks without food – Starvation.
  • 3 Months without seeing the colour Green!
  • 3 Years without Human/Physical contact.

The Rule of 3s is just a rough guide.

This shows us how important protection from the “Killer combinations” is. The Wind, Rain, Cold, Heat and Sun. So to understand how the killer combinations can kill us we need to understand how our bodies deal with temperature change.

As Humans we are “Homotherms”. We keep our core body temperature at a constant level. When we get hot we sweat, this is our bodies way of cooling us down. When we get cold we shiver, a reflex action which makes our muscles move which in turn creates warmth by expending energy.

Our inner core body temperature is normally around 36.8°c – 37°c. If your core temp goes higher then 42.7°c or lower than 28.8°c, you will die of Hyperthermia or Hypothermia.

So this is why we need to know how to Shelter from the killer combinations.

The Layering System

Your first line of defence is the clothing on your back.

  • Base Layer – Against your skin to wick sweat away.
  • Thermal Layer – Traps the warm air inbetween your base layer and itself.
  • Outer Layer, Soft shell or hard shell layer – Protection from the wind and rain.
  • Hat, Gloves, Buff (scarf)  70-80% of your body heat is lost from your head.


Your second line of defence is to find some sort of personal protection shelter such as a tarpaulin or a storm shelter (bothy bag). If you are unlucky enough not to have any other protection that is where natural survival shelters come into play. If we get to the point of having to build a shelter we will need to think about certain things like what equipment you have if any knife, saw, axe, digging tools, cordage, etc.

Site selection: What hazards are there– like dead fall, game trails, dry river beds, rock fall. If possible close but not too close to a water source. Are there enough building materials in the area? What is the terrain like? If you need to consider a search and rescue attempt!

Construction: The size and strength of your shelter, how is it going to stand (lashings, foundations, gravity) what are you going to thatch it with and how are you going to heat it (fire or body heat)?

What ever you do and how ever you do it, your main aim is to get yourself out of the elements and get your core body temperature back to 36.8°c – 37°c.


Andy’s love of the wilderness started at a young age and as soon as he could he joined the Air Cadets where his thirst for knowledge of survival skills really took off. Then whilst attending basic military survival training within the Royal Marines he fell in love with the art of wilderness survival,
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