How to Build a Snow Shelter

Playing out in the snow can be a lot of fun, but getting suck outside in freezing temperatures is not. A quinzee or snow hut will keep you dry and warm. It is a simple hallowed out shelter made from a pile of snow. A quinzee can be made out of any type of snow. Ice crystals break and reform when the snow is piled up, soon it will be strong enough to walk on. Hollow it out into a snow cave for the night.

Materials Needed 

  • Shovel
  • 12-inch long sticks


  1. Start by shoveling the snow into a large pile, 7 to 8 feet high. It should be big enough to hold two people after it is hollowed out.
  2. Allow the pile to sit for at least an hour until the snow becomes hard.
  3. Place 12-inch stick all around the exterior of the snow pile. These will act as a measuring guide when hollowing out the pile. Exterior walls should be left thick, stop digging when you run into a stick.
  4. The floor of the snow hut should be 6 inches higher than the ground outside. The cold air will move down and away from you this way.
  5. Shape snow into two raised sleeping platforms if possible. Dig a trench between the sleeping platforms to allow the cold air to flow down and out.
  6. Cut a small vent into the ceiling and only partially cover the entryway. This will prevent harmful carbondixocide from building up.
  7. First place a tarp over the snow, followed by a wool blanket, and then a sleeping bag. Staying dry will keep you warm. Layering your sleeping area will prevent moisture from soaking leaving you wet and cold. Layers between you and the snow will also prevent the cold ground from stealing your body heat.
  8. Building a quinzee will take a few hours and could make your sweat. Be sure to change into some dry clothes for the evening.
  9. Mark the entrance with something bright that won't blow away such as a pine tree branch. This will allow you to find the opening when you return with firewood. Another snowstorm could easily cover the door leaving you more work to dig it back out again.

Practice building a quinzee in your own backyard.You can even bury your water bottles in the snow, the snow will insulate them and prevent them from freezing solid. Building a snow shelter is fun for the whole family and its an excellent way to practice real-world survival skills.


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