Thursday, October 5, 2017

Survival Gear Review: The S.O.L. Escape Bivvy at 14 Degrees F

Photo credits: © 2012 Rocky Mountain Bushcraft/Jason Schwartz

Photo courtesy of S.O.L.

Here's the scenario.....Your vehicle breaks down on a lonely, remote stretch of road in the middle of winter at 10pm at night. There's no cell phone signal, and due to its remoteness, you will probably be the last vehicle to travel this road that night. Temps are expected to drop down to the low to mid teens.

To make it even worse, all you have on is a shirt, light jacket, pants and stylish shoes, because you were one your way back from a party at a friend's house, so you dressed more for style than for warmth for the occasion.

Now you are faced with a serious dilemma -- walk 20 miles to civilization, which could take a full 6-7 hours, or, you brave the night out inside your vehicle, all without adequate winter clothing to stave off hypothermia. Things are beginning to look VERY grim.....

But wait! You just remembered you have an SOL Escape Bivvy in your trunk that you bought along for just such an emergency! 

Your excitement quickly deflates, however, after you fish it out of your trunk and see just how awfully small and light it is. This Escape Bivvy weighs a measly eight ounces--really? With no insulation? In low to mid teens? Are you kidding me? "I am SERIOUSLY screwed!"



Now, back to reality.

The above scenario plays out all too often in real life. Many unprepared motorists have died from hypothermia because they didn't bring enough warm clothes or a sleeping bag to survive a night in extreme conditions.

So what if all you had was an SOL Escape Bivvy, like in the above scenario? Would it keep you alive?

I decided to find out by testing it in similar conditions to the fictional scenario above.

The SPECS:

  • Weather the Elements- Highly water-resistant fabric keeps you dry even in wet, soggy conditions.
  • Stay Warm- Reflects 70% of radiated body heat.
  • All-season Durability- Hard-wearing fabric resists punctures and tears through heavy use.
  • High-visibility orange exterior- Makes it easy for rescuers to spot you even in areas with high tree cover.
  • Size: 84" x 31"
  • Weight: 8.5 oz
  • Street Price: $40

The TEST 

On a cold winter evening with temperatures hovering between 13 and 15 degrees F, I dressed in very light clothing, laid the Escape Bivvy down outside, grabbed my trusty Kestrel Portable Weather Meter, and jumped inside for as long as I could stand it!

For test consistency, I laid the bivvy on a winter-rated sleeping pad to simulate being insulated from the ground like I would be if I were laying inside a vehicle, or was using pine boughs or leaves underneath me for insulation if I were out in the woods. 

The goal -- measure the temperature inside the bivvy while I was inside, while also taking note of the perceived warmth (or lack thereof).

I wanted to make it as harsh as possible, so I wore just a thin long sleeved polypro t-shirt, cotton khaki casual pants, and a pair of socks. Since I was going in shoeless, I didn't want to risk frostbite on my toes, so I wore a pair of my heavier wool socks.

Just before jumping into the bivvy, I measured the outside temperature-- a bonafide 14 degrees Fahrenheit:


The view once I was inside- this sure ain't the Hilton!

Once safely nestled inside the bivvy, I pulled the drawstring as tight as I could make it. I then waited about a half an hour before taking the first temperature reading.

At the end of the half hour mark, I took the first temperature reading- 51.6 degrees! This means it was an amazing 37 degrees warmer inside the Escape Bivvy than outside:


A half hour later, I checked the temperature again -- 54 degrees!


I managed to rough it for 4 hours with just a t-shirt, thin cotton pants, and wool socks. Temps stayed in the low to mid 50s the entire time.

That's very impressive for something this small and light that also manages to be breathable. Speaking of breathability, the Tyvek material SOL used in the Escape Bivvy works very well. I did not notice any unusual buildup of moisture or ice while inside of it.

Once again, I find this very impressive.

I am quite confident that I would have easily survived the night inside the Escape Bivvy, especially with a light jacket and wearing shoes. That's impressive.


FINAL THOUGHTS

The Escape Bivvy is an impressive piece of survival gear. It weights just a fraction of what a sleeping bag weighs, packs up incredibly small, and has the breathability of Gore-Tex.

The material used in it is also soft enough to use it as a sleeping bag liner, without feeling uncomfortable. When I've used it in this role, it seems to have added 15 to 20 degrees to my sleeping bag rating.

The final verdict? Highly recommended.


For more information, visit SOL at: 

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft and the author of Edible & Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains Guides. Jason has also written for The New Pioneer and Backpacker Magazine, and has been featured in media outlets such as The San Jose Mercury News and The Columbus Dispatch. Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment