Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit
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Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit on 02/17/2012 12:59:24 MST Print View

So this summer I am going to start doing some long distance trail runs in Banff. The distances I am looking at are between 50 and 80k (30 to 50 miles). Given the remoteness of the area I figure if I were to sprain an ankle I would have to spend the night out. And since the terrain is rocky and has significant elevation in it I expect that there might be a 5% chance of that happening so I want more than just a space blanket that I carry on shorter day hikes. I need to be able to surrvive (not die and be able to self evacuate if I can still walk) down to a temperature of about -10 C (15f). (-10 is an extreme temperature for where I will be in July but 0C 32F is common.)

My thoughts of suitable options are as follows

1) Blizzard Bag (half to buy) plus Montbell UL down and 1/8" sulak pad (have to buy). Total weight 13 + 8 + 2 = 23 oz

2) Montbell #3 down hugger plus space blanket bivy plus 1/8 sulak pad 20 + 3.5 + 2 = 25.5 oz

3) Montbell #3 plus Monk tarp from MLD (Have to buy) plus 1/8 sulak pad 20 + 10 + 2 = 32 oz

I will also be bringing a touque and mitts with all the options as well.

I am leary of the second option because I think the sleeping bag will get soaked from condensation using a non-breathable space blanket and become useless in the night. With option one the blizzard bag will give me 40 deg insulation so even if the jacket becomes useless I still have some insulation. The 3rd option might be the best in terms of warmth but it is the most costly, bulky, and heaviest. I also think that it might be useful to have an insulating layer to use at rest breaks so bringing the UL down jacket would have other benefits as well.

For active clothes I am thinking just a long sleeve base layer plus a wind shirt. And for rain protection just a 2oz emergency poncho and a check of the weather forcast before I go (although it can always change in the mountains).

So any thoughts or alternative ideas.

Eventually I want to expand these runs to two days and 100 miles and then I need to consider whether it is a good idea to intentionally plan on using a blizzard bag

Dan Johnson
(Seattle)

Locale: PNW
Blizzard bag on 02/17/2012 14:43:15 MST Print View

I'm in the same boat as you. I'm getting into running further and I'm looking at trying to create a sleep system that I'm comfortable with. I wasn't planning on going when temps drop significantly (maybe 45-50* nights or higher only). I considered the Blizzard bag but I am worried it will take up too much space once it's unpacked. I've seen videos of it compressed after it's been used and it looks really bulky and big. That's why I'm still considering using my down bag.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit on 02/17/2012 15:33:45 MST Print View

An idea:

One of the only times I have ever watched the show "Dual Survival" was when Cody Lundin made a shelter similar to a tube tent, but without a floor. The "front" wall was a plastic sheet, like a polycro but probably thicker. The "rear" wall was a space blanket, probably a thicker survival blanket-type rather than a thin mylar sheet like you'd get after a race. He then built a fire about 5+ feet away from the front wall. The plastic allowed radiant heat from the fire to enter and the space blanket reflected the heat downwards. I guess you wouldn't want the plastic up with a roaring fire but once it died down a little, it could be ok if you watched for embers. The floor was probably gathered leaves, duff, etc. According to the show (for what's it's worth), it was around 70* F inside, but maybe in the 20s or 30s outside. Think a low small portable greenhouse.

It isn't that often that one of those shows has something that seems to relevant to actual hikers in non-extreme situations, but I thought that was a clever idea. You'd still need insulation clothing, however.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Blizzard bag on 02/17/2012 16:44:46 MST Print View

I am not too concerned we the repacked size as blizzard sells a pouch to put it back in. It is 7.75 x 5.75. So assuming the 5.75 is a diameter and a cylinder shape the volume is about 3.3 liters. My sleeping bag is at least 2 and probably closer to 3. So there probably isnt to much difference

http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/product.php/108/blizzard-pouch/fbe254410832a7221274950e4bd628ee

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
pack on 02/17/2012 17:54:34 MST Print View

when you consider that there is a "5%" chance youll use it each trip ... it only comes to ~2$ per trip even if you bought a new one every time you use a blizzard

im not aware of anything that is tested to 8 togs, water/windproof and packs initially as small for the same weight and price ...

the military and rescue services use it ...

if you havent already seen it ...

http://greenbeetlegear.me/2012/02/09/blizzard-bag-review-video/

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/17/2012 17:55:35 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: trail running emergency gear on 02/18/2012 08:38:11 MST Print View

A 5% chance of getting stuck out seems like too little reason for a sleeping bag. In summer I'd think I'd need something approaching 50% to carry that weight when trail running.

My suggestion: a small tarp, good fire starting kit, and perhaps a light synthetic insulated jacket (ex: Rab Xenon). The tarp will keep rain off, with good site selection keep wind off, and the fire will provide enough warmth for safety and even napping. In my experience the tarp is more comfortable than an emergency bivvy.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: re: trail running emergency gear on 02/18/2012 17:45:34 MST Print View

Thats an interesting option. What would you bring as a good fire starting kit? Esbit, vasoline soaked and a small to cut small pieces of wood? Or would you add something else as well. I do question my ability to get a fire going in a storm. I can do it in a light rain but when i would really need the heat would be when my skills might fail.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Emergancy Gear on 02/18/2012 20:17:23 MST Print View

If you're carrying a minimal tarp why not make it a poncho tarp (assuming you don't already have a rain coat)? If you sprain an ankle and have to hobble out a poncho helps keep you drier and you can picht it as a shelter if you need to.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
bad ankles and fire on 02/18/2012 20:46:48 MST Print View

If you're stuck out there and depending on a fire for warmth, you might have a hard time gathering sufficient wood for a night long fire with a bum ankle. It takes more wood than you would think for an all night fire. And your sleep times will be short!

The space blanket/plastic sheet shelter in front of the fire can be very effective. As can two space blankets (the two person size) pitched facing each other with a fire in between. Just don't let the fire get too big - the mylar won't survive!

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Cuben quilt/bag on 02/18/2012 21:08:36 MST Print View

Why not a cuben shelled quilt/bag. Tim Marshall's quilts are seam sealed. He doesn't recommend from what I gather using them in rain, but I'm sure for one night in an emergency situation its not a big deal. A 40 degree rated quilt would be down around 12oz. 40 degrees you'll shiver, but you'll be alive with a reasonable mat. Cut down a Neoair Xlite to about 30 inches. The new ones would likely come in well under 6 ounces for that weight.

A minimalist tarp made of 0.33oz cuben could be pretty light. Something like an MLD Dog tarp in cuben would be relatively easy to pitch if you are injured, would provide a lot of comfort for the weight, and I'm guessing would be sub 2oz with some basic guylines. You could take a couple of light stakes and rely on some natural anchors.

No reason why a simple tarp can't be also worn as a cape. Quilts can be wrapped around you for warmth too, or stuffed somehow under your top (whether that be a shell or even a running singlet).

Cut down a Neoair Xlite to about 30 inches. The new ones would likely come in well under 6 ounces for that weight.

The blizzard Survival Bag looks good though for the weight. I'd probably pick that myself; so much cheaper, lighter, compact, and SIMPLER. If you are knackered having run a long way and injured, you don't want to have to fiddle around too much with stuff. Maybe add some small pieces of bubble wrap for padding your hip and shoulder.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Terra Nova Bothy Bag on 02/19/2012 05:02:47 MST Print View

I'm not really sure why I'm so fascinated by the Terra Nova Superlite 2 Bothy Bag (BETTER link), but I am.

I suppose I should get one ;-)

Edited by JohnJ on 02/19/2012 05:13:33 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
emergency shelter on 02/19/2012 09:46:40 MST Print View

I agree w/ Dave, if the likelihood is remote (but still possible) then a smaller kit might be a more realistic option

my emergency shelter setup for trail running consists of a small AMK bivy 3.5 oz, AMK heatsheet 2.2 oz, small yank of spectra line 0.5 oz and a good fire kit 1.0 oz- I use a Talon 5.5 pack or Talon 4 lumbar pack, so space is an issue and this setup takes up very little volume

I've got a couple of options w/ this setup, I can setup a small lean-to w/ a long fire or a debris shelter (using the heat sheet over the frame to keep moisture out)

neither are the Taj Mahal, but I've made it through the night just fine w/ both setups :)

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fire on 02/19/2012 12:24:13 MST Print View

if yr incapacitated a fire may not be a realistic option ...

there have been instances where people have the fire starting materials but cant start fires for whatever reason

before someone says "they dont have enough skill' ... try this in temps of 30-40F... jump in freezing cold water for a few minutes, get out, and try to start a fire and collect enough wood without moving from a certain spot ... its not as easy or realistic as people make it out to be ... just make sure you have a friend with a VERY warm sleeping bag/hot liquids, and dont have any medical conditions before hand ... hypothermia is very possible

a blizzard, you tear/cut it open, and crawl in ...

if its really an emergency, you dont want to mess around ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/19/2012 12:27:41 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: fire on 02/19/2012 13:28:01 MST Print View

I got to do it at 5F after dumping a canoe in the Bighorn River (duck hunting in December), wasn't a lot of fun, but there was no viable option- get a fire going or croak- learned several lessons that day

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Going with the Blizzard on 02/19/2012 19:03:59 MST Print View

Thanks for all the comments. I think I am going to carry the blizzard bag as i dont want to bet on my fire making skills in a true emergency. I will bring along a fire making kit though as it would make an unplanned bivy more plesant.

I am still considering weather or not to bring an insulaing layer for breaks. I am bringing a windshirt for sure. Alot might depend on the bag i decide to use. If i use something larger i will need something to expand and fill the empty space but if i get a small running hip pack then space will be at a premium.

Lots of time to figure this out though, I still have a few more months of basebuilding to go before the trails melt.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Going with the Blizzard on 02/19/2012 20:04:50 MST Print View

Given the weight and size of a small firemaking kit, I think its definitely worth taking it along in the off-chance you can light a fire of some kind. Even if you can't collect that much wood, a couple of hours warmth for the night is better than none at all.

Warning, bit of thread drift...I might start another thread soon elsewhere to discuss this idea...

Do runners ever use Gillets like cyclists do? I've been thinking lately a cuben gillet (vest) with say WPB cuben upper panels and .5oz cuben lower panels (~bottom 9-12 inches) could supplement a windshirt really well in all but the worst rain. With a half length light zip, would probably run under 1.5oz...? I find my arms always get wet anyway even with the cuffs cinched up super tight when I cycle due to wind driven water (and when walking in technical terrain and always lifting my arms above my head), or just from exertion, so I'm thinking there's not that much point in having WPB on the arms, may as well just go for windproofness, DWR, and better breathability; may as well dry out quicker when it stops raining and have a more versatile garment. I couldn't imagine the windchill between the two options would be that much different if both are wet inside.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Insulation on 02/19/2012 21:45:56 MST Print View

I would encourage you to carry some sort of insulating garment with you, along with the Blizzard bivy and fire kit.

While running, you're going to be as stripped down as conditions allow, because you're generating tremendous amounts of heat.

Injured and waiting for rescue, you're not going to be generating any heat, so you need as much insulation as you can afford to carry. I'm not saying to bring a three pound sleeping bag, but do carry something like a light synthetic (or down) sweater and pants - something that will back up the bivy when you drag around trying to gather some more firewood!

Not meaning to paint too grim a picture, just that I've been in such a situation, and every bit of warmth-conserving stuff helped. I wish I'd had a Blizzard bivy back then!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: trail running emergency gear on 02/19/2012 21:52:56 MST Print View

I bring a lighter, firesteel, a few esbits, and a tiny nalgene with lint and alcohol.

A few years ago I got pinned down by a thunderstorm during a mountain bike ride/race. Too much lightning to move out of the trees, and drenching rain at 9000'. I had a Houdini and the equivalent of two base layers. Getting a fire going wasn't easy, but I did it and managed 45-60 minutes of sleep at a stretch all night before the fire died down and I woke up shivering. Surprisingly restful.

So motivation can produce good results.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit on 02/19/2012 22:44:22 MST Print View

You should honestly consider blasting a fire in your face all night long. It works, and is not that complicated. The past 7 nights out in the woods I have slept by the fire to keep warm because I only have a 35 degree bag. Maybe a small folding saw and mora should be in your kit for wet weather fire making.
Throw a piece of semi translucent plastic over the front of a tarp shelter and you just created a mors kochanski super shelter than can raise the inside temp to like 60 in 0 degree weather through a greenhouse like effect. Also you could throw up a space blanket on the other side of the fire as a reflector.
Seems like a better plan to me than trying to squeeze in little bits of insulation. Instead of shivering all night you could be a toasty cinnamon bun.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
bothy vs bivy on 02/20/2012 06:30:28 MST Print View

I'm still not giving up on the bothy ;-).

My question is whether a bivy has the right shape for this. If it itself does not have too much insulation, and the hiker or runner may not have much, isn't a huddle in a bothy more heat-conserving? I picture my knees up, and my arms around them.

And of course, the bothy should be sized to the size of the party, so that it's all group-heat. When one person is cold, two in a bothy is better, no?