Three-Pole Parachute Tepee
If you have a parachute and three poles and the tactical situation allows, make a parachute tepee. It is easy and takes very little time to make this tepee. It provides protection from the elements and can act as a signaling device by enhancing a small amount of light from a fire or candle. It is large enough to hold several people and their equipment and to allow sleeping, cooking and storing firewood.
You can make this tepee using parts of or a whole personnel main or reserve parachute canopy. If using a standard personnel parachute, you need three poles 3.5 to 4.5 meters long and about 5 centimeters in diameter.
To make this tepee:
Lay the poles on the ground and lash them together at one end Stand the framework up and spread the poles to form a tripod For more support, place additional poles against the tripod. Five or six additional poles work best but do not lash them to the tripod Determine the wind direction and locate the entrance 90 degrees or more from the mean wind direction Lay out the parachute on the “backside” of the tripod and locate the bridle loop (nylon web loop) at the top (apex) of the canopy Place the bridle loop over the top of a freestanding pole. Then place the pole back up against the tripod so that the canopy’s apex is at the same height as the lashing on the three poles Wrap the canopy around one side of the tripod. The canopy should be of double thickness, as you are wrapping an entire parachute. You need only wrap half of the tripod, as the remainder of the canopy will encircle the tripod in the opposite direction Construct the entrance by wrapping the folded edges of the canopy around two freestanding poles. You can then place the poles side by side to close the tepee’s entrance Place all extra canopy underneath the tepee poles and inside to create a floor for the shelter Leave a 30- to 50-centimeter opening at the top for ventilation if you intend to have a fire inside the tepee.
One-Pole Parachute Tepee
You need a 14-gore section (normally) of canopy, stakes, a stout center pole, inner core and needle to construct this tepee. You cut the suspension lines except for 40- to 45-centimeter lengths at the canopy’s lower lateral band.
To make this tepee:
Select a shelter site and scribe a circle about 4 meters in diameter on the ground Stake the parachute material to the ground using the lines remaining at the lower lateral band After deciding where to place the shelter door, emplace a stake and tie the first line (from the lower lateral band) securely to it Stretch the parachute material taut to the next line, emplace a stake on the scribed line and tie the line to it Continue the staking process until you have tied all the lines Loosely attach the top of the parachute material to the center pole with a suspension line you previously cut and, through trial and error, determine the point at which the parachute material will be pulled tight once the center pole is upright Then securely attach the material to the pole Using a suspension line (or inner core), sew the end gores together, leaving 1 or 1.2 meters for a door.
No-Pole Parachute Tepee
You use the same materials, except for the center pole, as for the one-pole parachute tepee.
To make this tepee:
Tie a line to the top of parachute material with a previously cut suspension line Throw the line over a tree limb and tie it to the tree trunk Starting at the opposite side from the door, emplace a stake on the scribed 3.5- to 4.3-meter circle Tie the first line on the lower lateral band Continue emplacing the stakes and tying the lines to them After staking down the material, unfasten the line tied to the tree trunk, tighten the tepee material by pulling on this line, and tie it securely to the tree trunk.
A one-person shelter you can easily make using a parachute requires a tree and three poles. One pole should be about 4.5 meters long and the other two about 3 meters long.
To make this shelter:
Secure the 4.5-meter pole to the tree at about waist height Lay the two 3-meter poles on the ground on either side of and in the same direction as the 4.5-meter pole Lay the folded canopy over the 4.5 meter pole so that about the same amount of material hangs on both sides Tuck the excess material under the 3-meter poles and spread it on the ground inside to serve as a floor Stake down or put a spreader between the two 3-meter poles at the shelter’s entrance so they will not slide inward Use any excess material to cover the entrance.
The parachute cloth makes this shelter wind resistant and the shelter is small enough that it is easily warmed. A candle, used carefully, can keep the inside temperature comfortable. This shelter is unsatisfactory, however, when snow is falling as even a light snowfall will cave it in.
You can make a hammock using six to eight gores of parachute canopy and two trees about 4.5 meters apart.
Information courtesy of the U.S. Army Survival Manual.