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Zeltbahn Shelter

Posted by Ivarr Bergmann on October 11, 2019 at 5:05 PM

One of my first serious uses of a Zeltbahn shleter back in thye 90s. These are Austrian Zeltbahn- IMO some of the best around. This is about 6 buttoned together to make a shleter large enough for 4 men and all our kit with lots of room for Admin and living. It rained for 3 days. A HARD autumn rain and we never saw a leak.I was using Zeltbahn before they became "cool" to the bushcraft crowd. I was using them before most ppl ever even knew they existed. And I dont plan to stop.


Another view of the same shelter.


Zeltbahn are not "pup-tents". These are not the same design or intent. I get asked often as to why it is that I use heavy canvas zeltban in my kit inventory. The answer is quite simple and very easy to put into words. Simply put- You will never get the durability and longevity of service from a nylon shelter section that you will get from an old school-Military issue canvas zeltbahn shelter section. End of Explanation! I have been using Zeltbanh since the 90s and I have yet to have a wet night sleeping under one. Nor have I had a cold night sleeping under one with a simple lantern or candle burning through the night.

I slept SOUNDLY this night under a double Hungarian Zletbahn. It went to near 0-F but with a simply three wick candle and my military issue sleep sack the temp was comfortable enough that I remember crawling out of my sleep sack to get cooled off.

Above (not my pic) is a German wartime Zelt sections are identical to many used by nations right up to the 90s. 2 versions made in Sweden come to mind- With sections added you can make a HUGE shelter. This one is made from 16 conneted together.

Above is a clear picture of 2 attached together and me using them as a roof for a shelter with pine limb supports. The other picture is me using one as a wind-breaker on a sub-0... Sadly all of the above Zelts pictured were failures do to their commercial manufacturing. GET REAL ONES! These were just good enough until i could locate Military issued ones i wanted but I DO NOT recommend going the commercial route for these. A zeltbahn can be used as a rain-cape, CAMCON garment for extra concealment, a stretcher, raft for water crossing, wind-breaker, a sling seat, a hammock, a throw down tarp and whats more is the size of your Zeltbahn shelter is only limited by the number you have on hand and the practice you have put into building them up to a desired size. You can make a single lean-2 shelter, a closed in shelter or a barracks sized shelter with MULTIPLE shelter sections (depending on the design)


Mid-1950s Hungarian Zeltbahn i used on a rain soaked night in the Carpathians. I was totally dry the entire night as the wind whipped and rain slammed the RON. I used a deactivated AK74 as my center pole.


Durability and longevity of service will serve the Evader well when the hammer drops. These can handle not being babied. The are resistant to hot ambers and they are easy to repair without further damage or fraying of the canvas materials like you get with modern nylons. Whats more is most have simple button connections to attach to other Zelts so If you cannot sew a simple button-please get out of the idea that you're a survivalist! You can treat these canvas shelters with all sorts of water proofing if one so desires and some (Like the Hungarian version that I had) come pre-oiled for extra water protection. They are also much more stable in adverse weather conditions that thin modern nylon shelters. Yes these are much heavier then nylon. 2 is about the max I will carry, but 2 is planty for a one man shelter for me and my kit.  So It will cost you more energy to move these in a rucksack or pull sled. But like everything else its a trade off. These are far from a single use item so for me the trade off it well worth it. In my experienced opinion nylon simply will not last when the hammer drops. I have used Zeltbahn from the late 30 in bad weather and still stayed dry through the night. Looking back through my picture files today its clear i used a nylon type shelters FAR FAR FAR less then I have used Zeltbahns since I been here.


I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time this time last year. (Wow how times flies and I wont miss 2019!). I was able to acquire 8 Austrian Zeltbahn sections (that's 2 full size 4 man shelters) with poles and stakes for 20$ and some trade items I had set aside. They were dates from the mid 70s to mid 80s but all in superb condition and 100% absolutely serviceable.

Zeltbahn generally come in a triangle shape and square shaped panels. I'm partial to the triangle shaped ones though they can be a bit of a rubrics-cube to sling up tight between some seemingly simple trees if you're not use to it. Im pretty use to them now. however. Above is a Norwegian version I put up one time. I hate these and this one did not last long in my inventory. The Norwegians and a few other countries make these diamond shape one. In my opinion they are to be avoided because you simply cannot make a closed shelter without using a lot of them and even then they are sloppy and messy. For the lone Evader id stay with diamond ones or second best the squared ones.

One the left is a fomer DDR/East German Rain Camo square Zelt section and on the right a Swiss Splinter Pattern Zelt section. These two are two of the best Ive ever used but it was long ago before i was worried about pictures.


I don't know the various weighs of these zeltbahn mentioned above. Some ppl count ounces-I do not. I don't get into all that. You take the gear you need and that you know works or pay for it later for not training and learning to use it. There's enough to drive me nuts getting kit sorted that I don't need more math to look at. If a piece of kit warrants taking with- it goes and I find a way to make it happen as long as its making sense and not causing a liability or burden with its weight. If you decide to try these do some research. No matter what one you get you should practice with these. Set them up in the back of your house and let them stay there a while. Watch what they do in the passing days and weather. And if they pass the durability of prolonged exposure to the weather then pack them up on your ruck and give them a few miles on your back on multiple trips before you decide. I think they're worth the weight and fuel needed to move them on my back- Do what you like, and whats best for you. Its all we can do for ourselves..


Remember.. Escape..... Evade..... Survive!!


Ivarr



When the wife asks how my day went.. I sent her this..

 



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16 Comments

Reply Apollo26
1:38 PM on June 11, 2020 
Just last week it was hot as hell here. I'm pretty confident the canvas will hold up to the heat. I might try and mod a welder type blanket onto the shelter were the stove itself sits but I dont plan on using the stove 24 seven if the hammer drops just if it's a permissible environment or it gets your gonna die cold.
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
3:55 PM on June 5, 2020 
Apollo26 says...
I ended up buying a polish lavvu and a titanium tent protector for the stove pipe and put the Pipe through one of the arm holes did a few burns seems to work just fine


Outstanding! Im VERY glad it worked for you... was this over the winter or recently? (reply in a whole new comment so it shows, please)..

Ivarr.
Reply Apollo26
3:51 PM on June 5, 2020 
I ended up buying a polish lavvu and a titanium tent protector for the stove pipe and put the Pipe through one of the arm holes did a few burns seems to work just fine
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
10:16 AM on January 23, 2020 
Terry Marlor-Gage says...
Interesting post and some good variations of use which is great


Good morning, old friend.. thank for stopping in..!
Reply Terry Marlor-Gage
3:40 AM on January 23, 2020 
Interesting post and some good variations of use which is great
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
10:50 AM on October 18, 2019 
Selfreliance Quest says...
Do you recommend the Hungarian Zeltbahn even though it has more of a trapezoid shape?


Absolutely. You can find pictures of my Hungarian version throughout my site. They came pre-oiled. They are excellent shelter sections and can be employed basically the same as the triangle versions. I think most good Zelt are getting increasing hard to find these days though..

Thanks for stopping in..

Ivarr
Reply Selfreliance Quest
6:41 AM on October 18, 2019 
Do you recommend the Hungarian Zeltbahn even though it has more of a trapezoid shape?
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
4:19 PM on October 12, 2019 
Lone Wolf says...
I would highly recommend putting a stove jack in the canvas...otherwise the canvas immediately around the stovepipe will eventually dry out and become a fire hazard...I learned the hard way that canvas can be ignited even if the pipe isn't touching the canvas...other than that the canvas should handle it just fine...it won't get that hot inside to affect it...from my experience


Thank for the advice/input. Its appreciated..... In the end Ill probably just stick to a lantern to warm the inside.... at the mo i have no means to procure an actual stove or improvised stove at that...

Ivarr
Reply Lone Wolf
3:52 PM on October 12, 2019 
I would highly recommend putting a stove jack in the canvas...otherwise the canvas immediately around the stovepipe will eventually dry out and become a fire hazard...I learned the hard way that canvas can be ignited even if the pipe isn't touching the canvas...other than that the canvas should handle it just fine...it won't get that hot inside to affect it...from my experience
Reply Lone Wolf
3:49 PM on October 12, 2019 
Ivarr Bergmann says...
My main concern with installing a stove is how much can the canvas take with prolonged use? Seeing how its thin and not really designed for such heat exposure...

Ivarr
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
12:27 PM on October 12, 2019 
My main concern with installing a stove is how much can the canvas take with prolonged use? Seeing how its thin and not really designed for such heat exposure...

Ivarr
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
10:06 PM on October 11, 2019 
Journeyman says...
Excellent post Ivarr. They are a great piece of kit. I have a couple Polish Lavuus and a couple of theHungarian versions. Both work well. Always have thought about modding the Polish one into a permanent tipi with a wood stove but didn't want to take away the versatility of having the 2 separate pieces. Maybe in the future. Would like to get ahold of the one of the triangle versions that you pictured above as the wind breaker.


The one I wore as a windbreaker was an SS reproduction from "At The Front". As far as reproductions go they are good but they are not made like military versions or even ass good as ones from the war. The Swedish version will wear like that and its white/camo. I think Liberty Tree militaria has them in stock..

I never really thought about a whole stove in one-until last night.... This will take some pondering. For winter sled use it be an easy slide into that ..

Thanks !

Ivarr
Reply Journeyman
10:01 PM on October 11, 2019 
Excellent post Ivarr. They are a great piece of kit. I have a couple Polish Lavuus and a couple of theHungarian versions. Both work well. Always have thought about modding the Polish one into a permanent tipi with a wood stove but didn't want to take away the versatility of having the 2 separate pieces. Maybe in the future. Would like to get ahold of the one of the triangle versions that you pictured above as the wind breaker.
Reply Odinswulf
9:12 PM on October 11, 2019 
Apollo26 says...
Awesome shelter option I use a modern tippi style tent with a backpacking stove for really bad weather, do you think a zeltban could have a stove jack modded on one. I'm looking for new durable type shelter options now that it's my wife and a little one now no more lone wolf for me lol


I know you can with the Polish ones, so I don't see why not. Lot's of Yoo Toob vids on the Polish ones with a stove. You just have to put the chimney through the arm opening, keeping it from contacting the canvas. One guy used a couple of sticks to spread the opening apart.
Reply Ivarr Bergmann
8:07 PM on October 11, 2019 
Apollo26 says...
Awesome shelter option I use a modern tippi style tent with a backpacking stove for really bad weather, do you think a zeltban could have a stove jack modded on one. I'm looking for new durable type shelter options now that it's my wife and a little one now no more lone wolf for me lol


I was pondering that very question last night! Im looking into it. A zelt it totally appropriate for such an idea... I dont see why i cant do it.. Ill post what i find soon..

Ivarr.
Reply Apollo26
7:58 PM on October 11, 2019 
Awesome shelter option I use a modern tippi style tent with a backpacking stove for really bad weather, do you think a zeltban could have a stove jack modded on one. I'm looking for new durable type shelter options now that it's my wife and a little one now no more lone wolf for me lol