1 Know that there is nearly always a way to build a shelter in the wilderness and that it is not very hard to do.
If it is night, don't move from where you are. It is very easy to get lost in the dark, and being separated from the area you do know can be even more frightening.
Find an area clear of large rocks and roots. Building your shelter in a ditch is a good way to stay out of the wind, but rain might make you wish you had dealt with a light breeze. It is also dangerous if you are in a region prone to flash-flooding. So keep out of ditches.
Find a tree, boulder, rock face, or other large object to be the base for your shelter. It should be tall enough for you to crouch behind, and wide enough to accommodate your resting body.
Begin gathering wood. It is your most important survival tool. You will use it for your fire, your shelter and hopefully for making some traps for animals. Get anything you can find.
Starting with the larger pieces of wood you have collected, lean them against your object. As you are left with smaller and smaller sticks, start slanting them across the larger ones to avoid gaps. (Bear in mind that some gaps are okay.) Use enough sticks to make sure there are no holes otherwise, it will be hard to cover these with leaves. Do not forget to leave an entrance and an exit.
Make your shelter wind and waterproof. There are two ways of doing this. If you are in the snow, pile snow up around it. Of course, if it hasn't begun to snow yet, you can't do that. Instead, cover your shelter with leaves. First, dry leaves. Then, wet muddy leaves if you can get them. This will keep your shelter insulated, and stop it from falling apart. Lay sticks on top of the leaves so that they don't blow away with the first breeze.
Be creative. Almost anything you can find has a potential use in building a shelter. A net may be useful for making a hammock (useful in warm weather) and rope has hundreds of uses.
If you find a fallen tree with the roots in the air, it will protect you from wind and rain. But, if you make a fire, make sure that none of the roots catch fire.
If you are in a jungle, keeping yourself off of the ground is a must, since the insects below will have nasty bites and you may catch deadly diseases. Have a mosquito net and if you are not able to, find a plant that may act as a substitute repellent. Rub mud all over exposed skin to avoid sun burns.
If you have time before dark, start a fire.
If it doesn't look like it is going to rain, you may not need to build a waterproof shelter the first night.
A lean-to is an average and easy way to make shelter. Put a cross beam in between two trees approximately 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) apart. Lay some sticks on a downward angle and dig them slightly into the ground to avoid movement and sliding from the base of the sticks. Take spruce bows and poke them downward into the sticks starting from the top. Walls are optional and always build a fire in the front of your camp with charcoal.
Be sure to get your shelter organized by putting a certain section of your shelter as food storage, a sleeping area, and a place to make tools and useful objects out of wood.