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Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios
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Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 10:49:04 MST Print View

I was wondering how many folks choose gear based on it's ability to handle unusually extreme and/or very uncommon emergencies for a given trip plan?

-A Sleeping Bag or Bivy with an full long side zipper in case you injure a leg and want it to be easier to get into injured.

-A larger more robust knife in case you get into a true survival situation and need to build shelter or to cut off your own hand.

-Extra clothing to handle the very odd and unpredicted once-in-50yr low temp drop or super freak snowstorm.

-Rountinly go with a stronger shelter than the regular/average seasonal weather might demand just in case.

-What does your first aid kit weigh-Do your carry Sam Splints?

I am guessing we all do this (or at least think about it) on some level, but I wonder how much this thinking/planning drives gear choice.

Do you plan for a 1 in 100 situation or a 1 in 10,000 chance of disaster or generally just go for it?

Have you ever had to use that gear in one of those unusual situations of wish you had brought it?

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 11:04:57 MST Print View

On the very first backpacking trip I went on with my son's Scout troop, one of the other adults slipped and broke his ankle.

We used the Sam Splint from his first aid kit, his trekking poles, and Velcro straps from his pack to fashion a splint. Since we were in a State park, another adult used a cell phone to call the park office for help, a 4WD truck was used to evacuate the injured adult. While waiting for evacuation, we kept him warm with a sleeping bag and pads.

In retrospect, the Sam Splint and Velcro straps really weren't necessary. We could have used a foam pad, tape, and cut strips from clothing.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Thoughts on 11/19/2008 11:23:10 MST Print View

I have not put thought into carrying a full-zip bag incase of leg injury. My 3 season bag has a half zip.

I carry a small knife (Buck Mini, no longer made) that has about a 2" non-serrated blade. As long as it is sharp, I don't see the need for a longer blade.

I do carry clothing for extreme temps. I do almost all of my camping in Minnesota, where. What does this amount to? I now always take at least hat, gloves and a Montbell Thermawrap UL as puffy insulation for 3 season temps. Temps can plunge into the 30s easily in the evenings, especially in northern MN. As for winter, I always have a down jacket with me, even though I may never need it, I may use it.

I'm not sure how to gauge the strength of my 3+ season shelter systems. I have a poncho tarp that I have yet to use, a 9x5 sil tarp that I have not had a real chance to use in inclement conditions and a TarpTent Double Rainbow. When solo, either of the tarps will go, and I plan on adding a bivy sack soon (either a MLD or TiGoat). Whenever I am with another person and there is no snow on the ground, the DR goes no matter what. It is quite light for two people and it quite strong, as some wind tests posted on this forum show. With another person, I guess the DR is probably overkill versus what is available. In winter, I recently purchased an ID MK1 XL; its first serious trip is going to be a 2-week snowshoe trek in northern MN in January. I went for it because I wanted a shelter that I knew could handle strong winds off Lake Superior and deal with a heavy snowfall (caused my lake-effect snowstorms). In that case, it is probably overkill, and a pyramid shelter would be fine. (I am currently putting serious thought into an MLD Duomid for future trips, but I cannot justify purchasing another shelter and/or returning the MK1). So yes, I probably take a more robust shelter.

My first aid kit and repair kit weighs in at 3.7 oz. It has duct tape around a straw, strong thread, needle and seam grip. The FAK allows me to deal with blisters, bleeding, the runs, pain. I do not carry SAM splits, but I believe if the need arose, I could fashion something out of foam pad and rope.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 11/19/2008 11:28:02 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 11:26:10 MST Print View

On my multi-day hikes, I'll bring a reasonable amount of extra food and fuel -- plus a spare BIC lighter and spare LED light. I pick my sleeping bag to deal with expected temps, and my insulation layer serves as "insurance" if nighttime temps should drop below expectation.

Beyond the above, I don't plan for 1 in 10,000. Having said that, I think much depends on where and when one hikes!

Edited by ben2world on 11/19/2008 12:08:06 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
hiker hell blog on 11/19/2008 11:36:46 MST Print View

Recently had a backpacker dies from exposure near hear
even tho she had normal gear including a tent, cell phone,
sleeping bag and was wearing Goretex and pile.

Here is another site for learning about disaster when

Hey--- come on an buy some of Ron Bell's stuff so he doesn't
have to waste time on these forums.

Edited by oware on 11/19/2008 11:37:34 MST.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 11:37:53 MST Print View

Very interesting questions. Thought I'd chime in with my thoughts on shelters:

I have concluded that a highly breathable wp/b bivy, such as the eVent bivies you sell, combined with a poncho tarp (I personally use a Gatewood Cape), provides an excellent combination of UL comfort and disaster preparedness.

UL philosophy assumes you to have an ability to descend to lower, protected areas. But I've never felt comfortable when crossing a high pass on a solo trip knowing that, if I were to be seriously injured, I would not be adequately prepared to spend a few days up there.

Even though a wp/b bivy and tarp are technically both complete shelters, I think of them as complimentary rather than redundant, and they are both multi-use items.

I'm not sure how helpful a long zipper would be on a bivy for survival situations. You'd still have to be able to reach down and zip it up, so you might as well be reaching down to get it over your legs. but a shorter zip would certainly help.

One of the reasons I like a quilt is the ease of getting it over my legs in an emergency situation. I combine a 20 degree down quilt with a cocoon pullover and pants. It's overkill for most situations, but I feel will keep me safe in pretty adverse 3-season conditions and is still lighter than a 20 degree synthetic quilt and jacket.

Actually, I would be very interested in your thoughts on the following matter: The reason I have selected a Gatewood Cape, aside from its poncho feature, is the full protection from all sides, which is helpful above treeline. Of course, I don't need this protection with a wp/b bivy. The real reason is that I believe I am creating a quasi-double walled shelter with this setup.

Even though I am reducing ventilation somewhat, I am creating a temperature gradient from the outside that allows the eVent to breathe properly. My experience with eVent is that I can keep myself quite dry inside so long as the outside surface is not too cold or damp from dew. The more protected Gatewood keeps the temperature inside warmer, thereby keeping the inside of the bivy drier, even if the ambient humidity is a bit higher in the Gatewood vs. an open tarp. Perhaps the same could apply to your shaped tarps, including your new Trailstar?

Of course in warmer weather below treeline I will not use the bivy, and I will keep the gatewood awning partially or fully open.

But this is based less on experience and more on extrapolations from various articles on this website. I'd be interested to hear what our expert shelter manufacturers on this site think about this.

Edited by jcarter1 on 11/19/2008 11:44:19 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: re: Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 12:06:37 MST Print View

I live and hike in a region of the world where we expect the unexpected, so I am always prepared for extreme cold, meg-wet and windy, thundery, snowy, steaming hot weather, as well as flooded rivers. It is NOT overkill, and many's the time I thought the forecast looked good but I was grateful I still brought full winter gear. This always includes a bivy in case my '3-season' tent or tarp is not up to the job, and a comprehensive emergency kit. As noted above, things like broken legs can be splinted using what I'm already carrying, and don't need a separate, dedicated splint.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Multi Use Gear Disaster Scenarios on 11/19/2008 13:54:37 MST Print View

>-Extra clothing to handle the very odd and unpredicted once-in-50yr low temp drop or super freak snowstorm.

Although I generally check the weather forecast up to the start of a winter trip, for winter trips longer than 2 days I do tend to prepare for the 20-25-yr lows, just in case of a freak storm. But it's also nice to have the extra warmth in case I happen to get a sick while I'm out there, or if I don't get enough dinner some night before I go to sleep and wake up shivering.

>-Rountinly go with a stronger shelter than the regular/average seasonal weather might demand just in case.

Large tarps are nice if I know it's going to rain. It's nice to be able to get out of the rain and just chill out without having to either re-pitch my small tarp higher up or otherwise be stuck in a prostrate position laying under a solo tarp pitched A-frame style.

>-What does your first aid kit weigh-Do your carry Sam Splints?

1-2 ounces. I carry bandaids, Neosporin, alcohol and iodine prep wipes, gauze, a few paper towels, fingernail clippers, a whistle and duct tape. In the desert, I'll add in a snake bite kit as well.

In terms of multi-use gear disaster scenarios, in the winter, I always bring full top and bottom rain gear plus a separate shelter, and never a poncho tarp to serve both functions. I hate the prospect of accidentally destroying a poncho tarp and then being both without rain gear and without shelter. Though, that doesn't stop me from poncho tarping in the warmer months.

Another example is that in bear country, or if I know I'll be camping in someplace like a river bottom where I'd expect there to be a lot of nasty critters sniffing for food smells (skunks, racoons, possums, etc) I'll tend to bring a shaped tarp that can be pitched all the way to the ground, or even a full tent. Though it's mostly psychological, I'd rather discourage animals from coming inside under a tarp with me.

Edited by artsandt on 11/19/2008 14:14:01 MST.