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Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

Survival Lab: Gimme Shelter

Losing daylight and don't have a tent? Don't panic: We tested three shelter-making techniques that will help you survive the night. Plus: Three bomber bivies.

by: Ted Alvarez

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

Ultralight Bivy Sacks

Why build a shelter when you can carry one in your jacket pocket?

Burliest We slept like babies—with and without a sleeping bag—after unpacking Rab’s Survival Zone ($125; 11 oz.; 98”x34”; from its eggplant-size stuffsack. The Pertex Shield waterproof/breathable shell impressed: One tester, sweat-soaked after a night hike, expected to shiver in a tree hollow when temps in the Cascades dropped to 50°F, but after 10 minutes of venting, he stayed dry through an all-night drizzle.

Minimalist Terra Nova’s Moonlite ($130; 7 oz.; 78”x30”; is made of superlight micro rip-stop nylon (be gentle!) that compresses to the size of an orange, and the waterproof/breathable membrane kept us comfortable on cool nights in the Cascades. Fave feature: the easy-to-use drawstring. Drawback: A narrow cut that could compress bag loft and crowd broad-shouldered campers.

Bargain Essentially an emergency blanket welded into a tube, the SOL Emergency Bivy ($17; 3.8 oz.; 84”x36”; employs an aluminized coating that reflects body heat, adding 10°F of warmth. “It was enough to keep me from shivering through a 45°F night,” says one tester. However, the crinkly fabric doesn’t breathe, so prepare for a clammy sleep. It packs down to the size of a tennis ball and it’s inexpensive, which makes it a
no-brainer backup for dayhikers.

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

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So you are unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) makes learning how to use a compass easy. Felix! explains how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Anyone wanting to feel more confident about orienting ourselves outdoors might enjoy learning from this book. To refresh our skills, we read thru this book before every hike - it's only about 34 pages and illustrated. Felix! teaches the reader how to know where you are, what to pack for a day-hike, trail ethics, what to do if you get lost or scared, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail). Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."


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