Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

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.


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”; us.rab.uk.com) 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”; terra-nova.co.uk) 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”; adventuremedicalkits.com) 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 5 of 6« First...23456

Leave a Reply

W3 Total Cache is currently running in Pro version Development mode.