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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

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

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 ...

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?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Training runs on 02/20/2012 10:24:39 MST Print View

A friend that goes on 30 mile training runs by himself for ultrarun prep, carries a fanny
pack with two trash bags (bivy or rain gear)a set of expedition weight polypro long johns,
and fire making materials.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
bothy bag on 02/20/2012 19:49:34 MST Print View

I think the bothy is the best choice. I have the brooks range alpini shelter. I started with the 2 person, but then sent it back for the 4. I wanted room for my two kids and ski boots inside. the two person version will fit one nicely or two tightly. The 2 person bothy weighs 8 oz, the 4 around 16.

the bothy is more versatile then any other option IMO. It can be shared with others. It can be used for fun, or lunch, or just a break. it can help avoid emergencies, by allowing you to treat someone injured while covered, or repair gear, or sit down and study the maps and gps out of the wind and rain and at your leisure.

In my informal testing, mostly with my daughter in the yard in the snow, it warms up 15-20 degrees F very quickly. But it feels even warmer than that, maybe it is the humidity inside, which also goes to up 90% over time. But even on a cold (5-10 F) day in the wind, it is warm enough inside to sit around comfortably with hat and gloves off and coat zipped open and relax. I carry a small candle and that would help too, but I haven't tried that. They would be tight to sleep inside, since they are not designed to lay down inside, more sitting up and leaning back. The only downside is that it is very hard to restuff, and it although it breathes it is moist enough to flash freeze as soon as I get out, so my hands would get cold almost instantly trying to stuff it. So in actual use, I will use a larger bag to restuff, or just shove it in my pack with my gloves on.

You would want something else for warm for cold temps, like a down jacket. But the two would make a nice combination. I haven't tried a blizzard bag, and they sound useful too, but I have a hard time seeing how that would be warmer or more comfortable or more useful than the bothy for an emergency.

Edited by mbenvenuto on 02/20/2012 19:51:52 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
My emergency running kit. on 02/20/2012 20:46:21 MST Print View

I'll be going out to Joshua Tree soon for a bike/run across the park. ~40 miles of biking, followed by ~38 miles running in a day. On trips like this I carry a little more just in case I bonk, get hurt, or something happens and I have to bivy. (Though there are actually few places on the CRHT across Joshua Tree where you're REALLY remote...I feel it's pretty safe.)

Assuming lows in the high 30's and possible rain, on a trip like this I'd carry (in pack):

*Golite Poncho Tarp (older model): 10 ounces with guylines (no poles or stakes carried, I can improvise). Would LOVE to replace this with an MLD cuben poncho at 5 ounces. Anyone wanna sponsor me?
*Patagonia Houdini: 5
*Montbell Dynamo Windpants:3.2
*Beanie: 1.2
*liner gloves: 1.2
*First aid: 1.2
*Firestarting (firesteel + tinder): 1
*Whistle + microlight (on lanyard with firesteel): 1
*Headlamp: 2.5

I'll already be running in a long sleeve synthetic top.

If the weather were colder, I'd throw in a Montbell Theremawrap jacket: 10 oz.

Listed here is the most I'd ever carry (or have ever carried so far) on a run.

~26.5 oz. without insulated jacket.
~36.5 oz. with insulated jacket.

Yes, I could shop for cuben and SUL gear galore and lower my weights, but this is what I have. Again, sponsors welcome :)
In the past I've skipped the poncho and carried a TiGoat bivy instead (6 ounces). On other runs I skip the bivy and carry a trash bag and space blanket. (improvised trash bag poncho really helped me on my last long day out). I usually carry much less than what's listed here; just windshirt, first aid, firestarting, headlamp.

Any more than this and pack bounce starts becoming an issue; it's not purely a matter of weight, but also bulk. I need gear that packs small, flat, and close to the body to fit in a running pack. A quilt or sleeping bag is overkill to me; though they can be really light, they're bulky and bounce too much.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Sleeping warmth? on 02/21/2012 14:17:09 MST Print View


With lows that low you don't even bring a AMK Bivvy sack or HeatSheet blanket?

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: My emergency running kit. on 02/21/2012 14:22:45 MST Print View

That is a nice list and similar to what I will end up with but a blizzard bag instead of a poncho tarp. What bag do you use to Carry everything? I am looking at a small 10 L backpack with stermum strap and hip belt. I don't think I will get a specialty running pack as they seem to have too many extras that just add weight. I have looked at hip packs but they seem heavy for the space you get and most of them max out at about 8l which would be tight once I add food.

Also what is in your first aid kit? The more I think about what kind of injuries I want to be able to self treat the more I come down to Duct Tape, IBprofin, and Tylenol with Codine, and a needle. For any significant bleeding my shirt becomes the bandage. The tube from my water bladder is a turnequete. Blisters and hot spots can be treated short term with duct tape and ankles and spints can be taped with it. Beyond that IBprofin to reduce swelling and T3's as a fairly powerful pain killer should do it.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: My emergency running kit. on 02/21/2012 19:51:25 MST Print View

^ that's pretty close to what I carry for a first aid kit; I add small tweezers (from a SAK Classic), a couple of Benadryls and a couple of Imodiums

Mike Philip
(mphilip) - F
gear on 04/02/2012 15:32:21 MDT Print View

We do the same type of running as you (just in southern alberta instead of Banff) and what i carry is listed below:

-zip off pants. Normally run in the shorts and then if we stop for a break i can zip on the legs, these only weigh 1-2 oz more than most running shorts do. other advantage of these is they dry super fast.

-either a Titanium Goat bivy (5-6 oz) or a emergency bivy 3 oz

-emergency poncho if rain is not in the forecast, if possibility of rain i take lightweight rain coat

-MEC Uplink Hoody. This is great to throw on if we stop or if you got stuck overnight, with it and the bivy you will survive.

-Duct tape wrapped around a lighter/ small piece of fire starter. Tape for blister repair and gear repair and fire starting with the lighter and stick

-I always run in my long sleeve Merino the sun burns, a bit warmer in the mornings and evenings and I hate short sleeves :)

-Under Armour Toque and some really lightweight gloves in the early spring or fall

-Water and Food

-Spot transmitter

-Bear Spray

Thats about all i carry other than a camera or cell phone depending on where we are running.



Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Gear on 04/02/2012 17:50:05 MDT Print View

What type of pack do you use on your runs? I have tried on everything at MEC and don really like anything. Also how do you attach your bear spray. I was thinking about strapping it to a shoulder strap but havent tried it yet.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit on 04/03/2012 08:25:55 MDT Print View

What I would take, based on Ten Essential Groups

Medical- first aid kit, drivers license, ID tag, medications
Shelter- heatsheet bivy, rain jacket
Fire- lighter, matches, tinder
Hydration- containers, chlorine dioxide tablets
Communication- safety plan, whistle
Navigation- map, compass, light, wristwatch
Nutrition- few bars
Insulation- insulated jacket, hat, gloves, foam pad for torso
Sun Protection- sun block, running hat
Tools- swiss army knife

Edited by jshann on 04/03/2012 08:37:00 MDT.

Mike Philip
(mphilip) - F
pack on 04/03/2012 09:17:39 MDT Print View


I currently use a Gregory that they dont make anymore...

this one is close to what i use

I know there are lighter packs made but this one has served me well over 5-6 years of hard running and adventure racing, has never let me down.

I tried to weigh all my gear last night but my scale batteries crapped out...will try to get some new ones for tonight and post the whole package weight.



(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Bothy on 04/10/2012 14:42:26 MDT Print View

For those who don't know much about them, here's a little info: "The Brooks-Range UltraLite™ Alpini Shelter is a simple concept — effectively a frameless tent.
• Weight 8.11 ounces (230 g)
• Packed Size 4" x 4" (10.16 x 10.16 cm)
• Dimensions (LxWxH): 47.6" x 38.7" x 25.2" (120.9 x 98.3 x 64.01 cm)
• Color: Red, Yellow (color varies)
The UltraLite™ Alpini Shelter is a hi-tech fabric box that provides highly effective protection from wind and rain, trapping and retaining the body heat from one or more people. By creating a warm local environment, the UltraLite Alpini Shelter provides protection from the threat of hypothermia and wind chill.

The UltraLite Alpini Shelter is used for lunch and rest stops, when pitching a tent would be too time consuming and impractical. The UltraLite Alpini Shelter can be quickly and simply pulled overhead, to provide shelter from the wind, cold and rain while eating lunch or just taking a break. "Ounce for ounce one of the best pieces of outdoor gear you can carry."

The Brooks-Range UltraLite Alpini Shelter 200 is made with high tenacity ripstop nylon, giving this shelter superior tear and abrasion resistance, while keeping it light and compact. Ideal for one or two backcountry travelers, the relief from cold and inclement weather is immediate once inside this simple shelter. With two people inside, it warms up in less than 10 minutes. Condensation is kept to a minimum thanks to breathable fabric and generously sized vents.

For most people going out into the backcountry, the UltraLite Alpini Shelter 200 will become an essential item on any equipment list, an attractive alternative to the standard bivy bag that weights less, packs smaller and is more versatile."
[I have no connection with this company.]

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Bothy for me also on 04/10/2012 15:26:19 MDT Print View

I have been carrying a Terra Nova Superlite Bothy 2 for many years on day hikes.
Mainly has been used above treeline in Ireland and Scotland.

Weighs the same as the Brookes Range shelter.

During Winter I carry both a Blizzard and Bothy bag.


Edited by stephenm on 04/10/2012 15:28:10 MDT.

Colin Krusor
(ckrusor) - M

Locale: Northwest US
Emergency gear on 04/18/2012 09:20:01 MDT Print View

There is a lot of good feedback here already, but I can't resist adding my opinion to the lot. In the past I did a lot of overnight runs in the Sierras, the Olympic mountains, and the Cascades. I learned that radiant barriers are surprisingly effective (as Neoairs and the Blizzard Bag demonstrate).

I carried a 9oz MYOG down quilt with bonded seams and a 0.33 oz shell, and two mylar emergency bags. One mylar bag went inside the quilt, aluminized side out. The other bag went outside the quilt, aluminized side in. This reduces radiant heat emission where it is produced (in the warm inner layers), and what little is emitted is reflected inward at the outer layer.

I carried a light down parka, and I added snaps to the cuffs, hood, and hem. I added matching snaps to the outer surface of the quilt. When inside the quilt, I snapped my parka to the outside of the quilt, under the outer mylar bag. The air in there is dry and on the seven occasions that I used this setup I never found that anything in that space became damp. I also brought a pair of women's nylon stockings (fuzzy, winter weight). They weigh almost nothing (less than two ounces), and are fragile, but they are ridiculously warm. They will inevitably get a run in them when you use them outdoors, but you can just throw a new pair into your kit when you get home.

I also had a 0.51oz cuben poncho tarp (which I still have). I think the suggestions to use a bothy seem a bit silly when a large poncho tarp can be used as a poncho, a grounsheet, a tarp, or a bothy (with a drawstring hem).

I never carried any kind of sleeping pad, but I made nests from grass and debris that not only elevated me a bit from the ground but also provided plenty of insulation. The edges of the oversized mylar bag drape down over the nest, trapping a bubble of warm air beneath you.

I also always carried a firestarting kit, but I never used it. I have to disagree with those who advocate taking inadequate insulation and relying on fire. That's foolish. A good, lightweight, well thought-out insulation kit will never fail you, and it works even when it is wet and windy and you are immobile. You cannot always count on making a roaring fire. Even for the proudest bushcrafter, wet fuel, a sprained ankle, and a bad storm can make a good fire impossible.

For under two pounds (and 25-30oz if you pay for cuben), you can have a down quilt (from Tim Marshall, say), two mylar bags, a down parka, a pair of winter-weight nylon stockings, a poncho tarp, and a firestarting kit. This in the same weight range as the options you proposed in your original post, but it will keep you much warmer and drier.

Arlan Beeck
Absolute Minimum for Survival on 05/22/2012 23:49:43 MDT Print View

The British Army did some tests a few years ago to discover the absolute minimum gear for survival for a night in severe Alpine weather conditions.

The winner?

A one-ounce plastic poncho.

You put on the poncho, sit down on a low rock, pull your knees and your arms up under the poncho, and that's the way you spend the night. Not exactly hotel-quality comfort, but at least, after storms and blizzards, you'll still be alive in the morning...

The poncho not only protects you from wind, snow and rain, but, ccording to the British Army , it reflects your body heat almost as efficiently as silvered Mylar.

I'm not a trail runner, but a little pack for day-long peak-bagging contains a plastic poncho. Period.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
small candle on 05/23/2012 07:45:02 MDT Print View

^ technique of wrapping up, sitting w/ knees drawn can be added to w/ a small candle (or two) in addition to a emergency blanket or poncho, could significantly add to the heat to the "shelter". This technique goes back to at least pre-Revolutionary days when scouts would travel into enemy territory in the winter and couldn't give their location away w/ smoke. They used a very small fist sized fire (dug down slightly) and then wrapped up in their outer garment leaning w/ their back against a tree. Hence the name "scout fire".

The heat is in close proximity to the femoral artery and thus pretty effective at keeping core temps up.

the ones I use are beeswax and are small & pretty light at 1.3 oz and burn ~ 4 hours continuous, double that intermittent

obviously need to be cognizant of the open flame, imitating a roman candle would take the fun out of it :)

they work well in a debris shelter as well


Edited by mtwarden on 05/23/2012 07:45:48 MDT.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Scout fire on 05/23/2012 08:44:16 MDT Print View

Mike, maybe I originally picked up the scout fire idea from you a couple years ago. Carried a bivy and storm candle many times since then, especially when day hiking or running in winter. Gonna read this thread later when I have more time. Thanks gang!