Survival gear – like, legit survival stuff, not “Hey I kinda hope Book of Eli comes true someday” is not something you want to take a chance on. We are constantly searching for survival and field gear that can be relied on someplace other than a Cormac McCarthy book. In the course of that pursuit we come across some great, some good and some questionable equipment. Many products seem like a good concept but when taken out into the tree line they fall apart or fail within minutes of use. One product we have been interested in for some time now is the S.O.L brand Escape Bivvy. Many of us know “SOL” to stand for “Shit Out of Luck”, which could be an ominous name for a survival-centric company. But luckily for Survive Outdoors Longer, this doesn’t hold true. S.O.L makes great gear at an economical price, and for this reason we purchase their equipment.
The Escape Bivvy.
S.O.L released their Escape Bivvy some time ago and it immediately captured our attention. It was designed as a backcountry emergency shelter, initially in hi-vis orange. This is great for those that want (or need) to be seen, but that is a huge turn off for us personally. For most of our minions that is a pretty rate requirement. So we waited. Sure enough, S.O.L released a more low profile Olive Green version of the bivvy – the Escape – and we quickly acquired one.
The Escape is made from a rugged fabric that reminds us of the frog tog rain suits fishermen commonly buy. The fabric is designed to breath, allowing moisture out but still retaining the ability to repel water. The bag is extremely compact, rolling up to fit inside a cargo pocket or small utility pouch. Fully open, the bivvy measures to 84” by 31”, making it ideal even for some larger dudes. At only 8.5 oz, the bag is a featherweight and easy to carry even for day excursions into the wilderness or desert. The company advises that with the Escape Bivvy, you will ‘no longer need to choose between staying warm or staying dry’. We have found this to be true, having used it in some light rain and on some chilly nights. The bag will reflect up to 70% of your body heat, much like a space blanket. With water proof seams, a beefy zipper and pull cord closure around the opening, you are set to weather a rough night of wind, rain,or even snow.
What we like about this bivvy is its ability to be used in multiple applications. As a stand alone unit, it’s a sufficient stand in for a “3 season” sleeping bag. The reflection of body heat can be even a little too warm at times, depending on the outside temperature. With the 3/4 length zipper, you can regulate comfort by opening the bag partially. The fabric is soft against the skin, and over all comfortable despite how thin the bag is. Paired with a lightweight conventional sleeping bag, the Escape Bivvy can be a light, effective alternate to a standard Gore-tex style bivvy. In extreme cold weather, its small size and weight could be a great added layer to plus up your temperature rating. Lastly, its just about perfect for a survival application (and so is perfect to keep in your day bag or vehicle).
As many people traveling in cold areas can have learned the hard way, there is often the illusion of safety when a vehicle has the heat on full blast. Should you find yourself stranded, in a disabled vehicle down a dark snow covered back road this bivvy could be a potential life saver. Think about it – if you try to keep four standard sleeping bags in a small vehicle (or enough for your own family size) you will quickly run out of room for other gear and supplies. This past winter alone, hundreds of motorists were found stranded from unexpected, sudden snow fall nation wide. Few residents of Atlanta or Tulsa would have predicted the road conditions they’ve seen over the last couple of years!
Meteorologists are already projecting this coming winter to be a particularly brutal one…..So you know, food for thought here. In the hiking, camping or military role, the Escape Bivvy also carries unlimited potential use. We think that as time goes on and the bag becomes more widespread people will start to find other applications for the Escape (if you already use it for something, sound off). Packed into a small day bag, with a lightweight tarp and other necessities, you will have a pretty handy survival kit.
Obviously the Escape Bivvy is designed ( and priced) to be a semi-disposable item, with its own long term use limitations. That is not a knock against the product, it’s just a fact. You cannot buy the Escape and think that you are buying an everlasting “do all sleeping bag.” It’s simply not a sleeping bag. It’s a warming layer that can get you through the night or keep your ruck light in warm weather. We wouldn’t want to rely on it for a year long deployment, but it would definitely be brought along on one. It has found its way into our current loadout of equipment, were it will most likely stay for the foreseeable future. It’s priced right, and is a lot of peace of mind for the cost. Simply put, we like it and recommend giving it a long, serious look here.