Sunday, January 16, 2011

bmatt’s New and Improved Lavvu Shelter and Overnight Trip

Today in the News:  bmatt returns!  This was originally posted on the BCUSA forum and he gave me permission to repost it here.  This is real-deal camping.  Every post that Matt writes makes me respect him more.  Beyond that, I've always said that I never cared much to get out of North America.  Between bmatt in Finland and the things I've seen of Sweden, I'm slowly changing my mind.  Beautiful........even more so in the winter.

Link of the Day:  Check out Alex's blog at . He's in Greece and doing some really cool things.  This is another blog that I follow, read and enjoy regularly.  Go on over, check out his stuff and give him some love by clicking "follow"!

New and Improved Lavvu Shelter and Overnight Trip, by bmatt, an American Bushcrafter in Finland

Last May, I made a small lavvu or wikiup-type shelter that stood about 6 feet (185 cm) at the tripod “hinge” in order to see if I would like camping in this kind of shelter. It worked pretty well, so I decided to make a more permanent one in its place using more poles, better cover material and larger dimensions overall.

I hiked out to my regular campsite, which was covered in 32 inches (80 cm) of snow. Managing to find my fire ring, I dug it out and a 12 – 14 foot (3.5 - 4 m) circle around it as well. I then searched for the poles I used last spring and found them frozen and stuck to the ground. The only way I could remove the paracord holding the main tripod poles together was to make a fire and thaw it out. I had to return the next day because it started to get dark.

When I returned to my campsite, I cut some additional poles from the forest nearby, limbed them and cut them to size. I tied the three strongest ones together and set them up as a tripod. The next step was to place the remaining seven poles around the tripod to form the lavvu frame. At this point, it was getting cold, and my gloves, pants and fleece were getting clogged with snow. I had to make a fire to start thawing things out. After some struggling, I managed to get the 20 x 26 foot (6 x 8 m) tarp up around the frame. The hinge is about 9 feet (2.75 m) above the ground, and the floor diameter is about 12 feet (3.5 m) or so. Unfortunately, I was having trouble getting the camera to work properly in the cold (the temperature dropped from 1.5*F (-17*C) to -11*F (-24*C) in the evening and then slowly rose to 12*F (-11*C) by the next morning). That’s why some of the pictures are foggy. Anyway, I made a bed of spruce boughs, put my sleeping gear on top of it and moved the rest of my gear inside. I kept on feeding the fire, chopped and split wood inside the shelter, ate some grub and went to bed exhausted at about 9 p.m. I woke up several times overnight because I was slightly cool and had to add more wood to the fire. So far, this is the coldest weather I have camped in (one other time, the temperature had dropped to 28*F (-2*C) overnight).

This shelter worked really well as it is. I will use it in this state until the spring, when I can set it up directly on the ground, make some adjustments and tailor the cover to its intended shape. It will look and work much better then.

The last few pics show the snow depth on the dirt road 20 inches (50 cm), me all decked out in my gear and some landscape shots. The sun looks really golden in two of the shots because an eclipse was actually going on at the time (I didn’t know it then, though).

I hope you all enjoyed this post as much as I did!

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out


  1. This looks like a tarp covered wigwam (instead of bark) or a tipi without an ozan (liner).

  2. Yes, it is similar to a wigwam or tipi, but is simpler in design than a tipi. In Northern Scandinavia and Siberia they are called by several different names: kota, lavvu, chum etc.