HOW TO – Build a Quinzee

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Rick writes – “A while back, Make had a post about the Icebox the Igloo-making tool. Why bother fiddling with making & stacking blocks of snow? Just build a quinzee instead. Quinzees take a whole lot less time and are really easy to make. The only tool you need is a shovel – heck I’ve even built one with a rolled up krazy karpet! When you are winter camping, you don’t want to waste a lot of time building your shelter. In an hour & a half you can have your quinzee finished & ready for you to move in for the night!” Link.

Previously:
Make an igloo – Link.
Icebox the Igloo-making tool – Link.

6 thoughts on “HOW TO – Build a Quinzee

  1. With a quinzee you have to shovel 3 times as much snow as an icebox just to make a pile. Then you have to remove another twice as much to hollow it out. This means you will be shoveling 5 times as much snow. Hollowing it is much harder than simply packing the snow and you will get wet unlike with an Icebox. An Icebox will also last much longer as the shape is based on a catenary curve structure. If you don’t get the shape correct with the quinzee it will sag much faster and possibly be in your face by morning.

  2. I didn’t realize the structure we biult a few times a winter when I was 7 had a name other than “Snow Fort”.

    What exactly differentiates this structure from the ones every kid that lives near a parking lot in a town that gets snow builds inside of the mounds the plows make?

  3. Yes, you are correct that you do move more snow when building a quinzee, however doesn’t need to be a precision operation – you just scoop & toss. That means you get your pile built up really quickly. I’d rather do that than fill up a small box with snow dozens of times.

    Also cold, dry snow doesn’t hold it’s shape with just packing (I’m talking below -15°C or so). It has a consistency similar to sugar when it gets that cold. However if you shovel that same dry snow and then let it sit for half an hour, it will settle into a solid mass, perfect for carving out.

    As for catenary vs dome, yes technically the catenary has more structural integrity, but a dome works just fine. I’ve never had one sag or cave in on me. In fact, we’ve had wild dogs climbing all over our quinzees in the night without any problems. The dome shape is structurally sound.

    For a sleeping shelter, dome shape has the advantage of less volume compared to a catenary curve. This is an important consideration since of the air in that space is mostly heated with body heat. The more volume inside, the more air you need to heat. Sure the catenary curve give you lots of head room, but for over-night use the dome is a better choice.

    Finally, just in terms of gear needed for these structures, quinzee can easily be build with just one shovel, an Icebox igloo needs a shovel and the whole Icebox set-up. The only thing I can think of that would use with less equipment than either of these would be a traditional igloo which only needs a snow saw to cut blocks of well drifted snow.

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