Author Topic: Emergency shelters  (Read 963 times)

Emergency shelters
« on: 16 October, 2021, 10:22:05 am »
I dont do any hillwalking these days. So maybe an idle question..  the news item about the hiker spending two nights out in the Cairngorms leads me to ask about bivvy bags.
Back in the day we carried huge orange plastic bags down the back of the rucsac.  Great for making sledges on a snow slope. I never spent the night out in one but I would imagine it would be clammy and cold.

I would guess these days there are bivvy bags or shelters which are light enough to carry for a day on the hills. Some tips please?


Wowbagger

  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #1 on: 16 October, 2021, 10:27:54 am »
https://www.jaxfirstaid.co.uk/large-foil-blanket-1-3m-x-2-1m/?gclid=CjwKCAjw8KmLBhB8EiwAQbqNoIFpMi1sXF0xel5ooErN4x247MDrCNDSUITt8UOiSVTtpGeBE2dziBoCbQEQAvD_BwE

seems like an obvious starting point. Kim carried one, or something similar, on the Dunwich Dynamo 2019 and put it to good use when we encountered J. Random Cyclist injured beside the road and waiting an hour or more for an ambulance.
Bach without a doubt.

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #2 on: 16 October, 2021, 11:09:08 am »
If you have a couple of people, a bothy bag could be more comfy for sitting around in. Even just stopping for a tea break, to get out of the wind.
eg https://www.lomo.co.uk/acatalog/emergency-shelter.html

For a blanket or bivvy bag, check out the stuff from SOL. Should be tougher than most of those cheap foil blankets anyway. https://www.surviveoutdoorslonger.com/shelters.html

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #3 on: 16 October, 2021, 12:12:21 pm »
I have one of those orange plastic bags. I use it, or used to, as a waterproof rucksack liner. Never had to use it as emergency shelter, I'm glad to say. I wonder how it compares in terms of warmth and dryness to a foil blanket? I'd expect a bag to be warmer than a blanket but foil to be warmer than plastic.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #4 on: 16 October, 2021, 12:14:22 pm »
https://www.jaxfirstaid.co.uk/large-foil-blanket-1-3m-x-2-1m/?gclid=CjwKCAjw8KmLBhB8EiwAQbqNoIFpMi1sXF0xel5ooErN4x247MDrCNDSUITt8UOiSVTtpGeBE2dziBoCbQEQAvD_BwE

seems like an obvious starting point. Kim carried one, or something similar, on the Dunwich Dynamo 2019 and put it to good use when we encountered J. Random Cyclist injured beside the road and waiting an hour or more for an ambulance.

Yeah, those are a good thing to have in your cycling toolkit, even if they do seem to mostly get used for other people's crashes.

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #5 on: 16 October, 2021, 12:33:13 pm »
We once used one of the orange plastic bags in the Brecon Beacons, after my friend failed to warm up in a cosy three person tent.

I have a foil blanket in my bag now, but the risk of being stuck for two days in the South Downs is rather less than in the Cairngorms.

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #6 on: 16 October, 2021, 01:58:02 pm »
We just got one of these shelters, Not used it in anger yet. But all I have read about it, best to have it around even if it's not you who use it or it will be backpack filler for years.
Current mood: AARRRGGGGHHHHH !!! #bollockstobrexit

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #7 on: 16 October, 2021, 02:56:10 pm »
I still carry one of those orange bags.

I have however sat in one of these new fangled bivvy shelter things on a cold, windswept snowy day in the Monadliath for lunch, and it was pretty good.



There is always this option


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #8 on: 16 October, 2021, 02:59:20 pm »
I have a foil blanket in my bag now, but the risk of being stuck for two days in the South Downs is rather less than in the Cairngorms.

One thing to watch out for if you go more than a couple of years between coming across casualties on a bike ride, is that the foil eventually peels off the mylar and turns into dandruff from rattling about in the bag.

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #9 on: 16 October, 2021, 10:49:08 pm »
Slept in one of those orange plastic bags back in the 1970s. Think it was Karrimor one.  This was on Kinder Scout. Sweaty as hell. In the morning we were soaked. 

If you have an orange bag you are better off cutting it along one side.  You can then either turn it into a shelter if you’ve got a dry stone wall or boulder.  where you can secure with rocks.  Else take four or more pegs and some cord so you can rig it like a tarp with a walking pole.  Pointy end into the wind / weather. Done that on Bleaklow. Worked a treat.

Bothy bags great if there are two of you.  You lean back against your end to tension it.  There is a small vent to ensure a fresh exchange of air.  You soon build up a nice temperature with no sweatiness.

Bivvy bags suffer from heat loss through conduction through the ground. Unless you have a mat or sleeping bag.  If you have a rucksack with an internal frame. That can work as insulation under your body.

Silver bags beat blankets in windy conditions where you need to get through the night. They are sweaty though just like plastic ones. That can undo the reflected radiation heat benefits as when wet heat conduction is about 25 times worse than dry. But they can get you through the night if you keep you head out.

Getting out of any wind and rain. Getting out of any wet kit.  Sitting on your rucksack to reduce ground conduction.  A beanie to reduce heat loss through head. Then you are most of the way there to getting through a night. Finding a naturally sheltered divot / land feature can help a lot with that to start. It won’t necessarily be comfortable but surviving the night is the aim not a comfortable bed.

You can also get collapsible camping candle lanterns for a bit of extra heat if you have constructed or used a shelter rather than bivvy bag.

https://www.bushcraftlab.co.uk/collections/candle-lanterns/products/uco-9-hour-original-candle-lantern

Clearly the lower down any mountain you can get the warmer you will be. Unless there is a temperature inversion that night. Old sheep folds often make good shelters provided the ground is ok. You just secure whatever blanket, bag, tarp material you have within its confines and you are protected from wind on most sides.

mmmmartin

  • BPB 1/1: PBP 0/1
    • FNRttC
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #10 on: 16 October, 2021, 11:59:39 pm »
the foil eventually peels off the mylar and turns into dandruff from rattling about in the bag.
i know this, and so does a bloke from Thanet Road Club who fell off on a 200k a few years ago and broke his pelvis and had to wait three hours for an ambulance wrapped in a bag like that. Since then i have bought and carried two foil blankets, because a bag is impossible to get into if you are injured.
Besides, it wouldn't be audacious if success were guaranteed.

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #11 on: 17 October, 2021, 12:22:25 am »
I've got a blizzard bag for energency use, so far untested. It's meant to provide enough insulation that carrying a sleeping bag as well isn't necessary.
https://www.blizzardsurvival.com/shop/blizzard-3-layer-survival-bag/

Back in the day we carried huge orange plastic bags down the back of the rucsac.  Great for making sledges on a snow slope. I never spent the night out in one but I would imagine it would be clammy and cold.
I spent the best part of 3 years using one of those most weekends.
Use a synthetic sleeping bag, and sleep on to of the plastic bag unless it's actually raining. There's often enough condensation to make a down bag fairly useless, and even the synthetic bag soaks up enough water that a second night in it would be unpleasant.

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #12 on: 18 October, 2021, 11:28:31 am »
When I was on a climbing weekend with an instructor we were waiting at a crag in the drizzle/wind and she got one of these out:

https://rab.equipment/uk/group-shelter-4-6 and put it over the group. It wasn't that we really needed it but she wanted to demonstrate to us how quickly it warmed up in there and how useful it could be in various situations. She said while it would be great in an emergency, she mostly uses it on bad days for people to have somewhere sheltered to eat their sandwiches.

I bought my own 2-person one after that. It's bulkier than I'd like but not heavy and useful to have. When out walking I always have one of those folding foam pads for sitting on too, which stops the cold from the ground.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #13 on: 18 October, 2021, 11:40:29 am »

If using an orange bag, often the better option is to cut the corner off, then put it over your head, an sit on your backpack with your knees drawn up against your chest. This minimises your surface area, protects you from the elements, and insulates you from the ground.

Adventure Medical Kits make some very interesting emergency bivvi bags. I have their escape bivvi, which I use as an actual bivvi (review on blog linked in sig).

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #14 on: 18 October, 2021, 11:46:27 am »
Agreed that the orange bags are pretty useless. I've tried sleeping in one; very wet from condensation, noise from the plastic flapping is dreadful.

The hikers seem to have been fairly well equipped, apart from navigation.

A lot of walking in Scotland is trackless, so navigation is a bit more difficult than in England or Wales. You need to have a navigation plan from the start, and to stick to it.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Emergency shelters
« Reply #15 on: 18 October, 2021, 12:10:46 pm »
In terms of survival bags / shelters etc, I think it depends on intended use.
Is it something you plan to put up and take down routinely, as a regular shelter?
Or is intended to remain packed, for genuine emergency use only?

I don't have any of the lightweight shelters, as that's not part of my general use scenario right now.
If I start to make longer multi-day ski tours, then that will likely change.
In that case, I'll be carrying a reasonable amount of kit anyway.

If I'm in hill-running mode, I will have a very small foil bag which permanently lives in a dedicated pouch in my hill-running vest. These are typically Required Kit on any serious hill run events. They are single-use items, pretty much.

Regarding nav: Many Scottish hills, in particular the more Easterly ones, can have fairly large featureless plateaus which can become very disorienting in poor viz. More rugged terrain with well-defined ridges  can be easier to follow. If the viz is closing in, you need to determine your location NOW, before you loose sight of any points of reference. A map and compass are useless if you don't know where you are to start with. GPS greatly assists with this, and my watch is configured to show me an OS 10-figure reference. Tracks on the GPS are great too, but the ability to determine your current location (and elevation) to use with an actual map is the main feature.