Outdoors

How to build a quinzee snow shelter




A quinzee is a simple shelter made by hollowing out a big pile of snow. They can take several hours to build, but are an effective way to stay warm when camping in the winter. Here’s how to build one.

quinzee-1.jpgBUILDING A QUINZEE

Step 1: Shovel a pile of snow into a mound seven to eight feet high and big enough around to hold two people once it is hollowed out. Mix snow of different temperatures to cause it to harden, or “sinter.” Flip the snow over so it mixes when you pile it into a mound.

 

quinzee-2.jpgStep 2: Shape the mound into a dome and allow it to sinter for about 90 minutes. Then begin to hollow out the mound.

Dig a small entrance on the downhill side. Smooth out the walls and ceiling. The walls should be one to two feet thick. Poke measuring sticks through from the outside of the mound, so you will know to stop hollowing out the inside when you see the ends of the sticks. Hollow the shelter out from the top down.

 

quinzee-3.jpgStep 3: Use the last foot of snow to make elevated snowbeds. Dig a narrow trench between the beds all the way to the ground. This allows cold air to flow down and out of the quinzee. Poke a small ventilation hole near the top of the dome.

 

quinzee-4.jpgStep 4: Building a quinzee will make you sweat. Prevent hypothermia by changing into warm dry clothes after you finish building your shelter.

Make sure you mark your entrance in case it gets covered with snow while you are away having fun. Keep a small shovel inside in case you need to dig your way out.

 

WINTER CAMPING TIPS

- If you have to visit the latrine in the middle of the night, eat a snack afterward to help warm up your body and get back to sleep. Don’t worry about keeping the snacks in your quinzee — when you camp in winter, you don’t have to worry about bears.

- Jell-O gelatin mix makes a great hot drink. Store Jello-O powder in refillable backpacking tubes and add it to hot water. Try cherry Jell-O in instant hot chocolate!

- Eat your meals from their packages. Vacuum-sealed meals and packages of oatmeal can be opened and used as “bowls.” If you don’t rip the top off completely, you’ll have only one piece of trash to dispose of.

- Bury your water jugs in a snowdrift. The snow insulates the water and keeps it from freezing.

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Comments about “How to build a quinzee snow shelter”

  1. bob the builder says:

    im from china

  2. @=||=====> says:

    they work great! so much fun to build

  3. boo says:

    my class is making this for a school project thanks for the tips

  4. joe1265 says:

    Our troop built these at their campout this past weekend. We have a LOT of snow in Michigan, so there was no shortage of building material! I was worried about the roof falling in so we tested them. Each held four scouts standing on top of the roof without any problems. Thanks for the info Boys Life! :)

  5. Mr. Fixit says:

    When I was little, we had huge drifts that my siblings & I used to hollow out for the same effect! We had a blast playing in the snow!

  6. frankie says:

    Awesome! Wish I could attach photos in the comments. thanks for posting this!

  7. Awsome says says:

    Me and my friend built one and we are going to sleep in it tomarrow

  8. Anonymous says:

    it is awesome thats so cool

  9. fred says:

    great idea i will use it today

  10. Anonymous says:

    cool

  11. Anonymous says:

    Today we cut the work a little by burying our rucksacks, which we dug out when hollowing the quinzee.

  12. Anonymous says:

    great article!
    made a mini quinzee today in meagre UK snow
    the measuring sticks are a stroke of pure genius – you know exactly when to stop
    : )

  13. Cam says:

    My troop is going camping his Saturday up in NY. This looks really cool!

  14. thomas says:

    my Troops going snow camping this weekend and i and my buddie are going to build a quinzees for are snow shelter

  15. matt says:

    My outdoor ed class is building them tomorrow and i really want them to turn out! This is practice before our actual camping trip in 2 weeks.

  16. snow-mum says:

    Our son first learned how to make a quinzee while in Scouts years ago. He is 22 and still makes one every winter just for the fun of it. He has slept in it each year too and the dog loves to go in there because it is quite warm. When they went winter camping the Scout leaders stayed in tents and the boys were way warmer! A great winter activity for us Canadians!

  17. rtore says:

    I have no snow yet. :3

  18. Not aYeti ... at all ... says:

    Where I live, there’s a ton of snow in the winter but i never knew how to build a Quinzee =-P Thanks for the article!!!

  19. crasher says:

    I wish that it would snow often here, that looks fun

  20. The Major says:

    Sounds pretty cool. I always try to build snow forts but it never works. Once I even succeeded in making one but my dog wrecked it before I even went in it :(

  21. wiilover says:

    i am going to try this when it snows. I cant wait!

  22. proffesional snow builder says:

    If you want to save time just build a quinzee in a snow bank created by snow plows.

    • flagger says:

      have you tried that? you do realize the snow is very hard packed when they do that, plus it’s not very even either so will have many air gaps and hard chunks that make it less structurally sound

    • Snow warning says:

      Please please please, don’t build this in the snowpile created by the road plows. You could easily get hit and trapped inside if they return to push another foot or two off the roads OR if a car parking on the street pushes into your quinzee without knowing it.

      • IT IS Cool but dangerous says:

        Snow warnings is right that is dangerous and you could get hurt doing that personally I wouldn’t do it dude just my opinion so please don’t do that

  23. Argonian says:

    Dont light a fire in your quinze unlees you wanyt all of your stuff to get wet if you want to cook somthing bring along a back packing stove and use that to boil water for hot chocolate just make sure you keep all flamables away from it and make sure you put it under the vent in the top(prevents melt-down)

  24. Origami Guy says:

    ME TOO

  25. Origami Guy says:

    cool I’ll try it next time it snows

  26. james1234567890 says:

    can you build a fire inseide one of these?

    • mountaineersam says:

      No you cannot light a fire in one on these because then it melts and gets your gear wet and then you get hypothermic. build a small vestibule so if you want to cook with a stove you are shielded from the wind but can cook and avoid carbon monoxide poisining so dragon fly dont light a fire if you dont want to barf blood and go to the hospital

  27. Texas Yall says:

    So we are building these this weekend not sure how well it will work.

  28. monkey dude says:

    i went winter camping this weekend with my troop, and we built snow quinzees. for the most part we were very warm. these quinzees take quite a lot ofwork to build. one thing that you want to remember is to dig out shelves in your quinzee and light about three candles. this will help warm up your quinzee tremendousley. it gets kind of cold after they go out though.

  29. i says says:

    my troop is going winter camping this weekend and we are building quinzees. ive never made one before but i am looking forward to it. ive been tld they are very warm but i dont know i guess i will find out soon.

  30. Anonymous says:

    my troop is planning on camping out this weekend and we are planing to build quinzees. ive been told they are very wrm but i dont know iguess i will find out

  31. dragonfly says:

    Do you ever build a fire in a quinzee to make hot chocolate or cider?

  32. Wise Ninja says:

    Very cool!! 8) My troop is going snow camping, and I’m going to use this(harness the power of snow!!)!

  33. pwn says:

    Quincy’s are awsome

  34. Simmy!! says:

    what do you need to make a quinzee???

  35. Up State NY says:

    Our troop is doing a winter camp out this weekend and we are building quinzees and sleeping in them over night. It is going to be a blast!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I build one every time it snows!! It so much fun!!

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