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Trail running Emergency Bivy Kit
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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!