None of us ever wants to be caught out in the backcountry in an emergency, but we should nevertheless plan for that scenario by being prepared for the unexpected.
And one good piece of gear, along with the usual matches, snacks, compass and mirror, is something to keep you warm and dry in an emergency.
I've long carried a small "space blanket" for use in conditions where I need to maintain my body heat to avoid hypothermia. While I've been fortunate to never have needed it, I've feared that it'd be a one-use piece of survival gear, and one not particularly resistant to tears.
At the recent Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, a convention where outdoor gear manufacturers show off their latest wares to retail shop owners, I came upon the SOL Escape Bivvy (MSRP $50) from Adventure Medical Kits. Though a good deal larger than the space blanket of old, this bivvy represents a significant step up in durability and performance.
The Escape Bivvy rolls out to 84 inches in length and 36 inches across. Once inside it, it reflects 75 percent of your body's heat back at you, and yet is breathable, so you won't get clammy while you're wrapped in it. On the outside, the bivvy's fabric is windproof and water resistant, and the bottom has a polyurethane coating to keep you dry.
Weighing just 8.5 ounces, this mummy-shaped survival bag rolls up small enough (6.25 inches by 8.5 inches by 6 inches) to slip easily into your daypack for day hikes, or into your backpack for longer treks.
Made out of durable olefin, a "puncture and tear resistant" metalized fabric, Adventure Medical proclaims the Escape Bivvy to be not only "very strong," but "our most comfortable and most versatile fabric."
Said to keep you comfortable in temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I was told that some adventure racers or light packers carry the Escape Bivvy rather than a tent or other form of shelter.
The bivvy also is day-glo orange in color, something that could help searchers find you in worst-case situations.
As for that "SOL" preceding Escape Bivvy? It stands for "Survive Outdoors Longer." Good advice!