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Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use
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J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use on 01/05/2014 21:21:55 MST Print View

I've been pushing my dayhikes and trail runs as I rehab an injury. I'm also mostly hiking solo these days. I'm even adding bushwacking and bouldering into my routine, and this takes me farther off trail. I currently carry a mylar blanket, 1oz poncho, and DriDucks jacket, but luckily never needed to use the mylar blanket overnight.

So my question is, what is the best UL CYA shelter for an emergency? Where I live, temps rarely drop below 20F even in winter. However, it can be very wet. I've read about the Blizzard Bag, Terra Nova Bothy, and AMK SOL emergency blankets and bivys. All of these seem to have mixed reviews. I'm not looking for comfort. Just something that will keep me alive so I can complain later on about how uncomfortable I was in my emergency shelter:) Also, something lightweight, preferably under 8 ounces.

I'm curious if anybody has real survival experience with these systems?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use on 01/05/2014 22:39:12 MST Print View

Large contractor bag or flat tarp to wrap up in.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use on 01/06/2014 01:41:10 MST Print View

The ZPacks Hexamid Pocket could do the trick for down there. Will be around-about 5.6 ounces with stakes. I got one, love it. If you will be at the GGG in a week or two you can see mine.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Blizzard Bag on 01/06/2014 09:12:06 MST Print View

I have spent a night out in a blizzard bag this past summer. It got down to about 0C. With tights, and base layer shirt it was quite effective though a little cold. It is a legitamate 40 F bag. It certainly doesn't repack as well as the brick it comes in. I used it for a 2 night trail run.

I think it is well worth the 13oz for 3 season mountain survival, It is cheap and works albeit somewhat disposable. The other much more expensive option is what John is using. A zpacks pocket tarp plus an 10-12 oz quilt.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use" on 01/06/2014 10:02:41 MST Print View

A bothy bag really warms up fast, and keeps the wind off. But you'd need to stay in a sitting position all night. Still, lots warmer than a bivy. This is why I take a bothy for a winter emergency shelter: but I've never had to use one overnight, so who knows?!

I couple this with a 15% down jacket and a pad.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Best emergency bivy/shelter for 3-season day use on 01/06/2014 10:17:41 MST Print View

Assuming you carry a windshell already for use in most precip, I'd ditch everything else in favor of a poncho-tarp. Golite is still the best balance of weight, quality, and cost.

Emergency blankets and bothys work. Condensation getting you damp is an issue. A skillfully deployed tarp will keep precip and wind off, and reflect heat from the fire, all while not trapping moisture around you.

I was pinned down by lightening during a day-long mountain bike ride years ago, and by the time the storm moved on it was dark and I was drenched. Already being off route (read: a bit lost) I elected to build a fire and curl up in my emergency bivvy around it. For one night this worked fine, though it was clammy. During the Wilderness Classic several years ago my partner and I used mylar bivvys and a fire for shelter, including an 18 hour stretch waiting out a storm. We bivvied three times, and moisture retention within the system definitly impeded comfort the second and third times. Two years ago during the Bob Open I bivvied around a fire under the Golite poncho-tarp during a snowstorm. I had fairly modest insulating clothing and no sleeping bag. So long as the fire was burning well I was quite comfortable, and most importantly the next morning all my clothing was dry, thus allowing me to keep moving safely.

Use like this will put pinholes in your poncho-tarp, but that's easy to repair.

Food for thought.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Fire on 01/06/2014 10:28:30 MST Print View

Ask yourself if you will ever be in a situation where you cant start a fire due to injury or environment

Start from there

The military and some SAR use blizzard bags


Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
I just stumbled upon this on 01/06/2014 16:01:22 MST Print View

I hate that my last 3 conversations have been inserting the Gatewood Cape haha, but I was wondering what was being said for this. I think a great emergency shelter/bivy that is weight conscious is a poncho tarp. With as many options as there are for poncho tarps, the weight benefits outweigh the negatives. A poncho tarp would cover your emergency rain gear and shelter 2 in 1. Check out the video I linked below to check out what sort of weather the Gatewood can handle.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Blizzard Bag ... on 01/06/2014 19:32:50 MST Print View

I'd also recommend the blizzard bag. It's compact, waterproof, lightweight and above all, warm. A standard emergency blanket or bivy sac has little to no thermal resistance. I've never used mine, but always carry it on day hikes.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Bothy on 01/06/2014 20:58:47 MST Print View

If you are with one other person, or more, a correctly-sized bothy bag such as the offerings from Terra Nova or Integral Designs will be warm enough to sleep reasonably in mild winter weather wearing whatever clothing you've brought. You'll sleep sitting up, but you can rely on tension and lean back and it is not so bad.

We've used them for lunch breaks when the wind made a rest stop unpalatable and find them indispensable for cold weather use. The best part is they are meant to be used over and over again so you'll never try to "save it" -- this is something you'll actually use time and time again.

As a solo shelter, I think it's a bit lacking. It only provides wind and rain protection, and does serve to create a protective bubble that gets warm but I feel it doesn't get warm enough to make it a worthwhile choice over the Blizzard Bag which is better suited to the solo user in an emergency. However, a bothy would be handy consideration even then as it serves as a safe and comfortable rest area and can also boost the weather protection of a Blizzard Bag.