Site Preparation
The ICEBOX requires at least two people for construction of an igloo. One person, referred to in this manual as the Form Handler, holds the ICEBOX in position while one or more shovelers fill the form with snow.*
Note *
Though we include instructions for a solo build in this manual, (see solo build on page 22) an individual must not expect to be able to take the ICEBOX out into the backcountry and single-handedly construct an adequate snow shelter.
We also recommend that first-time users practice igloo construction under non-crucial conditions at least once. Carefully following directions should result in a perfectly adequate igloo the first time but we prefer you to make any mistakes without jeopardizing your safety.
  • Preparing the Foundation
    An ideal site for your igloo is open ground with a minimum snow depth of 
    two and a half to three feet before packing. This will help prevent damage to underlying vegetation. With skis and/or snowshoes, pack a level area three feet in diameter bigger than the igloo size you are building. Make sure your platform is level.

  • We find it best if you make your floor on a flat area that has a small drop off along it, or a bit of a slope. If you do build on a flat area and you have steps going down into a trench, you will want to keep in mind that if you are in the wind, your trench will fill with snow and be difficult to dig out. A short level trench that comes out the side of a slope is much easier to remove snow from.
  • Igloo foundation and first layerFor best results, try not to walk in the area where you will be gathering snow. Enter and leave the area by the same path to avoid compacting the surrounding snow. This will make shoveling easier when construction begins.
  • Continue to pack the base by foot until it is solid and level. For sugar snow or depth hoar, you may need to let it set for 15 minutes or so.  The Form handler, who works within this circle, should be able to walk, stand or kneel on this surface without sinking in, stumbling or otherwise jarring the form. It ‘s particularly important that you make the center of the base rigid so that the stake will not shift once you’ve planted it.
  • If you have enough snow, you may want to pack down a platform 12-18 inches deep so that you can later cut out a trench. This way you can sit without being cross-legged and stand fully upright if desired. This platform should extend 10” from the outside edge of the igloo. Remember to maintain it while you are building, so it can be used to reach the top later on.

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