Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, a mud hut is a great option for a survival shelter, as well as a semi-permanent economical dwelling place. Even better, they are fairly simple to make, and require minimal materials. In fact, most materials you need can be found among your natural surroundings.
-Poles or sturdy saplings- semi-uniform height and as straight as possible
-Paracord or sturdy twine (Paracord is something that should be in all survival kits)
-Mud (best if it's clay based)
-Rocks and/or twigs for stability
-Knife to cut twigs
Step 1- Draw a basic blueprint for your plans. You will need to have plans for a door, 1 or more windows, as well as size and shape for your hut. This will determine how many poles/saplings you need.
Step 2- According to your plans, dig anchor holes deep enough to support your poles (about 10-12 inches deep). Space these holes 8-10 inches apart.
Step 3- Insert your poles and fill in the holes with mud/clay. Let these holes dry completely to set in the anchor poles. Depending on the weather, this may take a day or longer. (Note- stronger poles should be used as crossbeams to lash your roof onto. These poles should be longer than the other poles.) Use saplings/long twigs to lash horizontally around the vertical poles.
Step 4- Create a roof frame. Using notches cut on crossbeam poles and notches cut into the roof frame, connect the two frames and lash them together.
Step 5- Use thatch, straw, sticks, etc. to latch onto the roof frame. It's a good idea to layer the roof, criss-crossing the material to minimize holes and leaking. Remember to not make it too heavy, however.
Step 6 - Mix mud and grass to form a thick mud using a 2:1 mud/grass ratio. Remember, the thicker the better.
Step 7- Using rocks you've gathered around the area, alternate mud and rocks around the perimeter of the hut. The rocks will help stabilize the mud. Just make sure you fill any holes between the rocks with mud. Make sure you allow for window ventilation and a door. You can create a frame with your excess poles for both and embed them in the mud.
Check out THIS video of somebody who use palm fronds instead of rocks to stabilize his hut.
What are your off-the-grid shelter ideas?
Images from: http://www.sethbarnes.com/post/building-an-african-house-stepbystep-guide