How to Make Shelters from a Parachute

A parachute canopy is a good material to use for a shelter because it is wind reisitant and versatile. Also, because of it's large size, they can be used to make shelters large enough for several people and/or equiptment. Teepes can serve as a signaling tool by focusing a small amount of light provided by a small fire or candle(s).

The Parachute Teepe

You can make a parachute teepe if you have a parachute and three poles. This type of shelter is fairly easy to construct and takes little time to do so. You will use all or part of the parachute's canopy as well at least 3 poles that are 10 to 15 feet long and about 2 inches in diameter.

To make the parachute teepe:

  1. Lay three poles down on the ground and bind them together at one end.
  2. Stand the poles up and spread them apart to form a tripod. If you wish to use more poles for additional support and form, you can prop them up against the tripod. There is no need to bind the additional poles.
  3. Fold the parachute's canopy in half
  4. Determine which way the wind is blowing and plan to have the opening at least 90° from (perpendicular to) the average wind direction.
  5. Attach the canopy to your frame by securing one edge of the canopy to the top part of the pole closest to where you want to place the opening.
  6. Attach the rest of the canopy to the fame by circling your teepe and attaching the other end of the canopy to the same pole.

NOTE ** If you plan on having a fire inside your teepe, you must leave a 12 - 20 inch opening at the top for ventilation purposes. **

Alternate Parachute Teepe

This alternate way of constucting a parachute teepe involves using a parachut canopy, a sturdy tree with forking limbs, a long pole (about 20 feet long), and about 14 stakes or sharpened sticks.

To make a One-pole Teepe:

  1. Attach the apex of the canopy to the pole
  2. Mark a circle on the ground that is about 12 feet in diameter
  3. Place the pole in a tree's forked limb and secure the bottom of the canopy to the ground with your stakes or sharpened sticks

NOTE ** Whenever you are construction your shelter near tall trees, be aware that you may be in danger of lightning strikes should a lightning-storm pass through. **

One-Man Parachute Shelter

If you are alone, you can easily contruct a shelter with your parachute and three poles. One pole needs to be about 15 feet long, the other two poles should be about 10 feet long.

To make a one-man parachute shelter

  1. Secure your 15 foot pole to a tree at about waist height.
  2. Place the other two poles on either side pointing in the same direction.
  3. Fold the canopy and lay it across the 15-foot pole so that there is the same amound of fabric on each side.
  4. Tuck the canopy under the two 10-foot poles and spread it out beneath the 15-foot pole to make a floor. Stake down the canopy near the 10-foot poles so that they will not slide together.
  5. Use whatever material remains to cover the entrance.

NOTE ** You may carefully use a candle to keep the inside of the shelter confortable. However, this type of shelter tends to collapse under significant snowfall. **