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Traveler's Gear Box: Adventure Medical Kit's SOL Escape Bivvy


The new SOL Escape Bivvy from Adventure Medical Kits could be a key piece of gear that keeps you alive in an emergency in the backcountry. AMK photo.

None of us ever wants to be caught out in the backcountry in an emergency, but we should nevertheless plan for that scenario by being prepared for the unexpected.

And one good piece of gear, along with the usual matches, snacks, compass and mirror, is something to keep you warm and dry in an emergency.

I've long carried a small "space blanket" for use in conditions where I need to maintain my body heat to avoid hypothermia. While I've been fortunate to never have needed it, I've feared that it'd be a one-use piece of survival gear, and one not particularly resistant to tears.

At the recent Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, a convention where outdoor gear manufacturers show off their latest wares to retail shop owners, I came upon the SOL Escape Bivvy (MSRP $50) from Adventure Medical Kits.  Though a good deal larger than the space blanket of old, this bivvy represents a significant step up in durability and performance.

The Escape Bivvy rolls out to 84 inches in length and 36 inches across. Once inside it, it reflects 75 percent of your body's heat back at you, and yet is breathable, so you won't get clammy while you're wrapped in it. On the outside, the bivvy's fabric is windproof and water resistant, and the bottom has a polyurethane coating to keep you dry.

Weighing just 8.5 ounces, this mummy-shaped survival bag rolls up small enough (6.25 inches by 8.5 inches by 6 inches) to slip easily into your daypack for day hikes, or into your backpack for longer treks.

Made out of durable olefin, a "puncture and tear resistant" metalized fabric, Adventure Medical proclaims the Escape Bivvy to be not only "very strong," but "our most comfortable and most versatile fabric."

Said to keep you comfortable in temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I was told that some adventure racers or light packers carry the Escape Bivvy rather than a tent or other form of shelter.

The bivvy also is day-glo orange in color, something that could help searchers find you in worst-case situations.

As for that "SOL" preceding Escape Bivvy? It stands for "Survive Outdoors Longer." Good advice!


 Kurt-- Sometime it would be nice for you or others to make a "list"  of what a person would need for a typical backpack trip of say 2-3 days. It's been years since I've had the chance to do overnite backpack trips and now that we are getting close to retirement would like to start up again?? I'm sure there are all kinds of new things since the old days .

Dick, it's been in the back of my mind. One list for backpacking, another for paddling trips, another for day hiking. Unfortunately, water bottles and lawsuits keep distracting me;-)

That said, we'll get to work on it!

Dick, try searching on the net.  I've seen exactly that list discussed in flyfishing web forums, and posted on Boy Scout troop sites.

Hmm. Hypothermia can begin at extended periods of forty degrees and if the sol escape bivy is good down to 50 degrees and only water resistant, not waterproof, is it really any good or worth the bucks? That sounds like a poor hand hold to me! A Black Diamond Big Wall bivy, a good pad and and a decent bag are the real thing. Don't sell yourself short with poor preparation! And test your gear always! It's just like buying a pack. Put everything in the pack that you are going to carry at the store before you buy it. Climb on!

High crags, not to argue with you, but I've never heard of that 40-degree barrier you cite. I'd think that if you're wet for an extended period of time in 45-degree weather and can't find a way to stay warm, you could be in trouble, no?

The Mayo Clinic says simply that "Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it produces it. The most common causes of hypothermia are exposure to cold-weather conditions or cold water. But prolonged exposure to any environment colder than your body can lead to hypothermia if you aren't dressed appropriately or can't control the conditions."

That said, your point about being prepared is well made.

I guess I should've said that the big wall bivy, pad and bag are good 3 season gear. That clarified, have a great day!

That's very true. Water is most often the cause. As a nurse for quite some time, we often saw patients exhibiting hypothermic symptoms due to this kind of exposure. But being out without the proper gear can get you in serious trouble. Here in Oregon, we frequently have climbers who've die trying fast quick winter climbs up Mt. Hood only to be caught unprepared in snow storms. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about this!

As a nurse for quite a few years I've had the opportunity to treat a number of hypothermic patients and water is frequently the cause. However if the body temp drops 3 degrees for a sustained period this can bring on hypothermia and so I used 40 degrees as a for instance. It is certainly possible at this temperature.

Thanks for drawing that out. I also appreciate your comment about good preparation. Here in Oregon, we frequently have small groups of young adult climbers who try fast light-weight winter climbs up Mt. Hood, only to be caught in snows and die. I know it's always important for me and those I climb with.

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