Mat had the idea to build an igloo (a.k.a. iglu or igluvijaq in the Inuit language) after two weeks of watching snow pile up in my parents backyard in northern Ontario while we were visiting for the holidays. It sounded like a fun project and since we love small spaces, we decided to build a tiny snow fort and sleep in it.
We watched a bunch of YouTube videos to learn how to build an igloo, and when the weather finally warmed up (transforming the fluffy snow into compacting snow) we got started. It took us three days to build.
On the first day we got organized and made sure we had everything we needed to build the snow shelter: snow pants, gloves, a saw and knife, a ladder, bins to make the snow blocks, rope, sleeping bags, lanterns, etc., and we made 50 snow blocks in about 2 hours using a couple of plastic storage bins to compact and shape snow into building blocks.
On the second day we measured and marked out the circle for the igloo using rope and then we started building the igloo in one continuous spiral wall. Apparently this is the traditional way of making an igloo. The spiral is supposed to make the structure stronger and make it easier to build because each new block is resting on the one below it and the one behind it. As the angle of the wall becomes more and more steep, these two anchor points help hold new blocks in place.
Once the wall of the igloo became too high to step over, Mat stayed inside to build the igloo and fill cracks with snow, and I stayed on the outside to make more blocks (we needed way more than 50 blocks), fill cracks on the outside, turn the cameras on and off, and run around getting water, dry gloves, etc.
By the time it got dark, the igloo was complete and it was time for Mat to cut a small hole in the side of the igloo to get out. The weather was warm (+4 degrees Celsius) so the snow was melting and getting a bit slushy and we didn’t think it was safe to sleep in it right away. We decided to wait 24 hours so that the structure could solidify.
On the third day, we built a small entrance to block the wind and to reinforce the doorway. We also set up the inside to get it ready to sleep in. We put a tarp on the snow floor to protect our sleeping bags from getting wet and then we layered 4 sleeping mats and 4 sleeping bags to make a warm and cozy nest for ourselves. We also had a couple of lanterns and a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.
The night we slept in the igloo, the temperature was approximately -10 degrees Celsius outside (14 degrees Fahrenheit) but it was about 7 degrees warmer inside the igloo. We were warm and cozy inside our sleeping bags and only our noses were cold.
The only negative thing about winter camping in the igloo was that I woke up in the middle of the night and started to feel claustrophobic.
While researching and planning our igloo building project, we came across some interesting information that I wanted to share because it turns out that igloo is not the correct spelling nor is it the most accurate term for the structure.
From Wikipedia (
“Although igloos are stereotypically associated with all Inuit, they were traditionally associated with people of Canada’s Central Arctic and Greenland’s Thule area.
The Inuit language word iglu (plural igluit) can be used for a house or home built of any material, and is not restricted exclusively to snowhouses (called specifically igluvijaq, plural igluvijait), but includes traditional tents, sod houses, homes constructed of driftwood and modern buildings.”
Last but not least, a huge thank you to my parents for letting us use their backyard (and their tools, and their winter gear, and their sleeping bags!) to make this project possible. Thanks also to my brothers family for lending us their camping mats!!
And thank YOU for watching!
Mat & Danielle
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Music & Song Credits:
All music in this video was composed, performed, and recorded by Mat of Exploring Alternatives.
Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives