How to Build an Igloo

Snow shelter construction

A wonderfully illustrated guide to making snow shelters. How to build with snow, how to work with snow rather than against it, and what not to do. Amazingly informative, succinct and fun. This book is the kind of expert you dream of.

-- KK 11/28/08



A surface entryway should have a header block, or lintel (shaded), bridging the top of the arch opening.

One of the challenges faced by the beginner quinzee builder who excavates the interior of the snow mound is not to weaken the structure by breaking through to the outside of the mound or causing a thin spot in the wall. It is difficult while digging inside the quinzee to maintain a uniform wall thickness. To overcome this challenge, try this trick: After completing the snow mound, and before it begins to sinter, gather a few dozen foot-long (30 cm) thin, dead twigs, dried plant stalks, or stiff lengths of straw. Completely push them into the snow mound at various places all over the dome. They will act as depth gauges. During excavation of the interior, if the ends of the twigs or stalks become visible, you will know that enough snow has been removed from that section of the dome. Digging to the point where most of the ends of the twigs become visible inside ensures a uniform 1 foot (30 cm) wall thickness.


Placing twigs of approximately the same length into the snow mound will help to keep the dome of the quinzee a uniform thickness.


Mounding the snow on several backpacks and then removing them once the mound has sintered saves a lot of shoveling.

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