A while back, I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of my old buddies from Ranger Battalion. We thought, “Hey, it’s Veterans Day; let’s go to the woods, drink some whiskey, and talk about the good ol’ days!” No harm in that, right? I knew there was a cold front moving in, but decided to pack light and see how it would go up in the mountains. I brought the Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) Escape Bivvy with me along with a 20-degree-rated synthetic sleeping bag to see how much, if any, extra protection from the cold the Escape Bivvy would provide during our outing.
We hiked into a high lake in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. There was no snow on the ground, but the wind was ripping between 20-40 mph, and I was hoping this emergency bivvy was going to perform the necessary job. Due to the windchill, the temperature was ranging between 5 and -10 degrees F. I was expecting to have a very poor night’s sleep considering the temperature was substantially colder than what my sleep system was rated for.
To my surprise, I slept very comfortably, and only had slightly cold feet throughout the night. In very cold conditions, bivvy sacks tend to ice up substantially on the inside due to the moisture from the body freezing before it has a chance to travel through the fabric’s pores. The SOL Escape Bivvy was slightly icy on the inside near the opening, but much less than other waterproof bivvy sacks I have used in similar conditions.
The bivvy is made more as a survivalist mummy sack. Unlike a basic survival blanket that looks like a giant aluminum-foil cape, the SOL product is covered in a hunter orange proprietary fabric and lined with a metallic-looking material made to reflect body heat. This product is not made to replace a tent or a waterproof bivvy sack, but due to its light weight and compactness, it could work very well as a backup or standalone when the weather is dry and temperatures are no less than 40 degrees F. The bivvy weighs in at 8.5 ounces and is about the size of a Nalgene water bottle.
Considering its $50 price tag and compact nature, this product would do well in a go-bag or survival kit. Throw a couple of these in your vehicle, and they could very well save you during an unfortunate breakdown in a remote location. If SOL made these in more subdued colors, they could serve well in the kit of a soldier or hunter. Overall, if you are looking for a product to add some warmth, block the wind, and provide shelter in an emergency, this might be the product for you.
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