Basic shelter is cover from the elements. The first simple layer is an umbrella. An umbrella shelters the head and shoulders from the sun and rain. It is great to have portable shelter with you for daily use. A rain poncho may not be as fashionable as an umbrella but the rectangular shape is useful in creating a pup tent for the night or as a useful cover for gear when sleeping out in the air.
Of coarse most of us have camping equipment of some kind, maybe even a tent or two. A pop up tent is great when you have the right size and quality for your immediate need. The draw back to counting on a tent in your bug out bag, or bug home, is a tent won't fit under your desk. A tent is extra weight when travelling on foot, sometimes less truly is more (and I mean "more better!")
When traveling, a tarp, some cord and some upright poles are a shelter from the day and night. This shelter is temporary and can be adjusted throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. A tarp can also be quick shelter from wind or a rainstorm. It can be thrown over the head and shoulders covering a well packed back pack or all of the gear in the back of a vehicle, depending on the size of the tarp.
When traveling without heavy or bulky poles to erect a lean to or tent you can travel with the tree line in sight. A tarp shelter is lighter than a tent with stakes and poles. When traveling on foot for short trips away from permanent shelter, a tarp is light, quick and easy to carry.
In a pinch, a roll of plastic can substitute for a tarp. We use a product called, “visqueen”, here in Florida for a number of uses. We use it to cover window screens to keep out the cold in winter, by removing a screen from a jalousie glass window and covering the screen in the opaque plastic and resetting the screen in the window. Also it can be used to enclose a screen porch or as a roofing material for a green house. It comes in thicknesses from 3mil (a garbage bag) to 14 mil (it will hold the water of a fish pond with the right
supports). It is a cheap common material.
WARNING! Black plastic can absorb so much heat that it can take the air out from under the lean to, suffocating plants, animals and humans.
The next shelter upgrade from plastic or tarp is the tent. The average family summer camping tent is made for average use by a family under nearly best case scenarios. When summer rolls around, the family doesn't wait for high wind and rains to test out their new gear. Most people wait for optimum conditions to go camping for fun. This is what these products are meant for. They will stand up under less than perfect conditions for the most part, but they are not made for long term heavy use under most stressful conditions. Buy the best you can afford rated for the broadest spectrum of temperatures if you are so inclined.
Stakes should be sturdy. If you use plastic, remember over time it breaks down and brittle stakes should be replaced. Use them in the garden to keep the hose off the plants as you move it around the yard. Re bar is sturdy but rusts and with no tetanus shots available in a total end of the world as we know it scenario, go aluminum or be sure to handle rusted elements with gloves and caution.
Store ropes with the tarp, by rolling it up in the tarp with the stakes you take with you. Check ropes before leaving permanent shelter behind. Store a variety. Climbing ropes are for climbing, they are best long and uncut. Store a nylon clothesline rope and some twilled cordage for making temporary shelters.
I pass along these notes as suggestions for temporary shelter: An olive drab tent is best in general for staying unseen, steer clear of orange or trendy patterns. Tarps come in white, for snow camouflage and gray as well as a printed tree pattern or basic camouflage. Purchase for your foreseeable needs. Fashion is not an issue!
If you are able, try to include bug netting in your prep for shelter.