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What's the deal?

Build your own igloo and spend a night outside in the snow, in comfort.

Where's it at?

Quintessential Canadian icon or cultural cliché, the igloo is a highly functional winter shelter. Building one can be both fun and rewarding - anywhere there's about a metre of snow on the ground will work. Begin by stamping out a circle with skis or snowshoes, the diameter of which equals the height of the tallest person in your group. If the snow is light and fluffy, you'll need at least 15 minutes to pack it down, then let it sit another 15 minutes to harden. Now, use a pruning saw to cut rectangular blocks of snow, about 60 x 45 x 20 centimetres in size, from that base. A two-person igloo will require about 40 blocks and take two hours to build.

Put your first row of blocks around the base at a 45-degree angle, then continue adding blocks in a giant spiral, using your saw to fit them together, until you get to the top. The final height should be no more than 120 cm. A door lets cold air in, so dig the entrance tunnel rabbit-hole style. Smooth the interior walls to let moisture run down, and poke a few holes in the roof for ventilation. To spend the night, you'll need a waterproof mat, air mattresses and down sleeping bags. Finally, build yourself a snow kitchen beside your igloo, fire up a camp stove and enjoy a hot meal and a bottle of wine. Call it luxe survival-style.

Who's it for?

Survivorman types in training and those who want to impress American friends.

Westcoast Adventures offers overnight igloo-building courses in the Vancouver and Whistler area starting at $300 for two people (

To experience sleeping in an igloo without having to build one, Quebec's Monts-Valin and Parc national du Bic ( have igloos for rent from $25 a person a night until the end of March.

Darryl Leniuk Special to The Globe and Mail