When all is said and done the goal of the debris hut is to keep you warm and dry.
The debris you use is whatever material you can scrape up in your local environment. Grasses, leaves, pine needles, and general litter from the forest floor (including dirt and small rocks) can be used. It is best if you can gather long grasses to put a final layer on top to help shed water.
Basic Debris HutThe debris hut at its most basic is simply a pile of whatever dry material you can scrounge up. The pile must be big enough for you to burrow inside and be insulated, not only from the weather but also from the ground beneath you.
Think about that really big pile of leaves you made as a kid. This is the idea. If you have readily available material, it will be one of the quickest shelters you can literally scrape together.
A Better OptionIf you have the time, a more substantial debris hut can be constructed. A simple lean-to or small A-frame is constructed and covered with small sticks. Then the debris you gather is piled on top to form the (hopefully) waterproof cap. If it leaks add more material.
This is a really good option for stealth camping, since once you are done and the shelter has aged a bit, it will just look like a mound in the forest.
First Class Debris HutFor a top of the line debris hut that you can actually live out of, think about an eastern longhouse, or a double lean-to design. You can make them as long as you need for your required space.
You can put them together with woven saplings or a more rigid framework of limbs. Once the framework is in place fill in the gaps with smaller sticks woven in, and then cover the shelter with a couple feet or more of debris.
You can continually add to this layer as you go about your daily living, and it will continue to get better and better.
If you are short on traditional shelter coverings such as evergreen boughs or tree bark, the debris hut makes a serviceable alternative.
Randy Augsburger writes form an old homestead that has been in his family since 1866