How to Build an Igloo

Finishing Touches
By Jeff Creim
  |  Gorp.com
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Caulk all the cracks and trim any irregularities on the inner walls to keep them from dripping. Make sure the platform is smooth and flat. Cover it with a tarp and sleeping pads only after construction is finished.

Entryway, kitchen, and home remodeling: While you're inside the dome, have somebody outside poke a hole so you can locate the entry trench. Cut an inverted U-shape doorway in the lowest layers of the dome, then cut and dig open the rest of the door. Use the snow blocks that are removed from the door area to build an arched roof over the entry tunnel. If it's really windy outside, you may want to put a right-angle turn in the tunnel. Cut the exit to the shape and size of a sled and use the sled as a door.

Add a cooking area by cutting a platform alcove on one side of the entry or igloo wall and stacking a tall, cone-shaped chimney above it to draw away stove fumes, heat, and steam. If you don't put in a kitchen and chimney, poke an air vent somewhere in the ceiling.

Cut out a sitting bench opposite the kitchen. Carve out shelves and alcoves as needed in the deep snow below the wall level. Light up the inside with chemical light sticks and candles. Very important: Keep the snow shovel inside so you can dig out in the morning after a heavy snow.

The Snow Condo

Over the years, we've experimented with a variety of igloo designs. Our favorite is an igloo-tent hybrid dubbed the snow condo. We attach a dome-shape tent to a second door in the igloo via a custom-made, ripstop nylon sleeve. The sleeve is a rectangle cut to the length of the tent's vestibule pole. A hemmed cuff on the tent side contains an elastic cord that fits snug over the pole. There are grommets in the corners for the ends of the pole, and every six to eight inches along the igloo side of the sleeve to stake it to the igloo.

The snow condo allows for a snow-free sleeping area, and an extra-large vestibule for storing wet and snowy boots, equipment, and other supplies. Since the igloo area doesn't contain a sleeping platform, we carve out more substantial sitting, standing, and cooking areas.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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