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#125613 - 02/28/08 06:42 PM Shelter options for backcountry day hikes
GoatMan Offline

Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 115
My background (Colorado): Long time hunter, hiker, backpacker, Eagle Scout w/3 palms back in the day - Long time reader of ETS but rare poster.

When I hit the trail for a day hike, everything is carried in an Ultimate Direction hip pack like the one linked below. When I do summits, like a 14'teener, I have a torso-pack version so it holds more gear and a more complete PSK, but you get the general idea. I'm focusing on improving my hip pack. Think of it as a little more than Doug's EDC+ fanny pack.

EDC Gear on person:
Wallet, keys, lip balm, phone, handkerchief/bandanna, Gerber folding lock blade, Signature SAK, mini REI whistle or modified mini FOX 40, mag fire stick, Princeton Tec pinch light or LED maglight or Surefire E2E. Some items vary depending on if I'm in the office, biking, or hiking.

Hip Pack:
Ultimate Direction hip pack
Modified version of Doug's PSP (better cordage, signaling, water purification, etc)
Modified AMK Pocket FAK .3 (personalized)
General snacks like granola/Power Bars
Adequate clothing*

The bulk of the items are water, food, and extra layers of clothing. I star clothing and shelter on that list because both play a part in protection from the elements and it is what I'm seeking feedback on. If you desire to comment on other items, that's fine, but I'm focusing on the most important - SHELTER.

Some common options (with links for convenience - you can get this stuff anywhere):

Gear Head options:
Basic foil emergency space blanket - familiar with benefits vs. limitations
Tacoma Mountain Rescue Storm Shelter - No experience with these
Extreme Pro-Tech Bag - No experience with this, claims a lot but may be too bulky for hip pack.
AMK Heatsheet Blanket - No experience - How much better is this than a typical space blanket?
AMK Heatsheet Emergency Bivvy - No experience - Is this basically the Heatsheet in a bag form?
AMK Thermo-Lite 2 Bivvy - Excellent product

Rain Gear options:
Garbage bag one dollar Emergency Poncho
Lightweight Vinyl Poncho
Military Ripstop Nylon Poncho
Military GI Poncho - Got mine from military surplus. Not sure what mine is made of, but it is tough as nails

Misc options:
X-mil thick plastic
Basic tarp
Tarp like " Thermal Blanket"
Classic Orange Tube Tent - have one, never use it, probably dump it

There could be much more listed, I'm sure, but it is a basic list for review.

When I know it won't rain, I skip any form of rain gear unless I throw in the one dollar plastic poncho. When I think there is a chance of rain, I bring an appropriate outer shell that works for warmth in clothing and will function as rain gear.

I always take at least a space blanket. If I plan on a high altitude or extended hike, I take the my AMK Thermo-Lite (v1) Bivvy and the space blanket. The space blanket is small enough (repacked smaller) that it goes anywhere. I really like the AMK Thermo-Lite Bivvy. It is light enough that weight is no concern. Bulk on the other hand can be an issue in a hip pack so I'm looking at some of these smaller alternatives.

How much advantage does the Tacoma shelter, AMK Heatsheet blanket or bivy have over the basic space blanket. Is there that much more durability? I'm interested in feedback from those who have used one.

I'm mainly interested in feedback on the gear head options (categorized that way for discussion purposes only), but the rain gear and misc options make a shelter option as well. Who uses one of them in place of the gear head options? Incorporating multiple items can always be of benefit and can be used on the larger pack, but space is of consideration for the hip pack. When I want the heavier and bulkier gear for the backpack, I'm thinking I'll use a ripstop nylon military poncho for rain gear and tarp like shelter options (in addition to my clothing / outer shell).

I wasn't sure how to put this together so hopefully this thread isn't too wordy.

Edited by GoatMan (02/28/08 07:35 PM)
Edit Reason: Added Pro-Tech Bag under Gear Head options

#125634 - 02/28/08 09:14 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: GoatMan]
raydarkhorse Offline

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 510
Loc: on the road 10-11 months out o...
All I know about the hip pack you use is what the write up says. When I lived in Colorado I used (still do some times) a military butt pack attached to a standard military pistol belt. It is about 400cu. inches vs the 300cu. inches yours has. I carried a AMK Thermo-Lite 2 Bivvy and a military rip stop poncho. I would take it out of it's bag and roll it up and put it in the bottom of my pack then do the same with my poncho, and if you use some compression straps they they pack very small. along with them I would carry an MRE removed from the main bag, and my survival kit including another space blanket. You should be able to carry along the same amount of gear because I still had room to spare. I spent several nights out in the feild with just the contents of this pack over the 4 year that I lived there.
Depend on yourself, help those who are not able, and teach those that are.

#125636 - 02/28/08 09:35 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: raydarkhorse]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 910
can I assume sunglasses/ hat?

#125638 - 02/28/08 09:42 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: raydarkhorse]

Functionally the AMK v1 and v2 bivy's are very similar. The 2.0 bivy only reflects 80% radiant heat compared to the v1's 90% because the inside is lined and can oly be described as fuzzy. This combined with thicker (reinforced?) material, lots of velcro, a foot vent, etc. make it overall bigger and heavier. The v1 uses material very similar if not identical to their heatsheets (silver one one side, orange on the other).

I use the 2.0 bivy in my sleep system as a vapor barrier for cold weather and because it works so well on it's own in mild temperatures. I haven't tested the latter use yet but plan to this summer.

I keep the v1 in my shoulder bag as EDC fare along side my siltarponcho. I've never needed to bivouac emergency style with it yet...and I hope I never need to...but since it's about the size of an apple when bundled, I hardly notice it's there.

I also carry a regular space blanket with the tarp/poncho (cheap Coghlan's) as a ground sheet or a backup to give to somebody else in need.

#125656 - 02/28/08 10:45 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: ]
SARbound Offline

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 503
Loc: Quebec City, Canada
I've been carrying a Heatsheet blanket and an extra-large orange trash bag and have been confident those two items would be adequate in a survival situation. I have considered one of those AMK bivies, however I changed my mind and kept the Heatsheet blanket. Here's why :

One day at the end of a dayhike, a lady went into anaphylactic shock after a sting. It was raining, she was cold, her speech was slurred, it was a real emergency. I asked for a survival blanket "or something", then one guy pulled out something that looked like an AMK blanket, and handed it to me. I went "perfect" and opened it up : it was a bivy. No time to slit it open, so I had to manage with this narrow bivy to cover the patient, knowing the reflective layer was inside. I wish I had my pack nearby but all went so fast, I felt it was better for me to care for her (raise her legs, watch her head, etc.) Since that event, I chose to go with the Heatsheet blanket.

You seem to pretty well know what you're talking about, my friend. I would just not worry too too much if I were you. Like Dale Carnegie says, stop worrying and start living wink
"The only easy day was yesterday."

#125659 - 02/28/08 11:00 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: GoatMan]
mtnhiker Offline

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 73
Loc: Nevada,USA
I carry all three, the thermo-lite bivvy,the heatsheat blanket and the heatsheet bivvy(during the colder seasons). I put one bivvy inside the other due to the velcro closing. I compressed the thermo-lite a little more and slid it down into a "ti" cup thus the cup takes up no space hardly at all since I carry the bivvy always. My Mil-spec glass signal mirror is stuck in between folds on the heatsheat blanket for prtection.
I have never had to use them(knock on wood) but lots of people say they are the way to go for good sleep/shelter when weight is an issue.
"If it's not with you it cant save you"

#125674 - 02/28/08 11:28 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: mtnhiker]
Blitz Offline
Gear Junkie

Registered: 08/23/07
Posts: 535
Loc: MA
For Shelter, in my day/survival/utility Vest. Which some day soon I'll post.

1 AMK Thermolite 2.0 Bivy bag

1 AMK heat sheet 2 person extra blanket, signaling

1 Ripstop Poncho tarp

1 Combat Casualty blanket x-tra ground cloth, signaling, tarp


This is for shelter only doesn't include everything else in the vest.


#125680 - 02/28/08 11:43 PM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: Blitz]
mtnhiker Offline

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 73
Loc: Nevada,USA
I like the casualty blanket and it's civilian counterpart/thermal blanket as well but carry them in my BOB and car kit just due to their bulk. great functional products though.
"If it's not with you it cant save you"

#125689 - 02/29/08 12:22 AM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: SARbound]
Hikin_Jim Offline

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
I personally like the bivvy style. If I'm in a survival situation, that bivvy is going to keep me warmer than a blanket made from the same material; the bivvy goes all the way around my body, and wind can't blow in from the sides and rob me of heat. It's the same issue as a down quilt vs. a down sleeping bag. Generally a sleeping bag is warmer.

The thermo lite 2 bivvies are a tad bulky if all you're going to carry is a hip pack. Since they're so light, you could tie or otherwise secure the bivvy to the bottom (or top) of your hip pack, leaving the pack to carry items not so easily suspended. I like that they are multi-use, quieter, and sturdier than things like garbage bags or items made from space blanket material.

Re the bulk issue, another option is to just carry a day pack. I personally use a day pack since a hip pack was just too small for me to carry sufficient gear to provide what I felt was an adequate level of preparedness.

Basic foil emergency space blanket - good for signalling, can be used for emergency rain gear, not as good as bivvy. Noisy, single use only, prone to tearing. See Doug Ritter's comments: http://www.equipped.org/shelter.htm#Space
Tacoma Mountain Rescue Storm Shelter - Doug Ritter says he carries one. See http://www.equipped.org/onyrown.htm#ishelter
Extreme Pro-Tech Bag - Looks like single use, easily torn, and noisy.
AMK Heatsheet Blanket - Haven't used. Highly recommended in Cody Lundin's book, 98.6 Degrees -- How to Keep Your Ass Alive
AMK Heatsheet Emergency Bivvy - Looks like it is a Heatsheet bivvy.
AMK Thermo-Lite 2 Bivvy - multi use, low noise, less tear prone. In warm weather, I've used this for back packing along with a sleeping bag liner. Worked great.

I still carry my old USGI coated nylon poncho. Of course it serves as a poncho, but it's big enough that it can protect your fanny pack or day back as well. It also makes a good ground cloth if you want to protect your bivvy from getting torn up. It can be snapped together length-wise to make a tube into which the bivvy can be inserted which will add more insulation and also protect the bivvy. A poncho can also be rigged as a lean to. Place your bivvy under the lean to and build a fire near your bivvy. The poncho lean to traps heat in the area of your bivvy. The lean to also can provide some shelter for your gear while you're in your bivvy. The USGI ponchos are a bit heavier than the sil or vinyl versions, but they're pretty tough and are multi-use. If you carry trekking poles and a little cord, USGI ponchoes can also be made into a little pup tent.
Adventures In Stoving

#125696 - 02/29/08 01:02 AM Re: Shelter options for backcountry day hikes [Re: GoatMan]
GoatMan Offline

Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 115
Thanks for all of the feedback.

It sounds like Falcon5000 has tried what looks like the Extreme Pro-Tech Bag. His new thread shows some screen shots of an identical looking product. Guess that one is out.

I guess I'm leaning towards the AMK Heatsheet bivvy or the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Storm Shelter. They seem fairly similar but I may have to do some additional homework.

For summits and backpacking, the Thermo-Lite bivvy will always be with me. I really trust it. I like the adjustable opening which keeps you from sweating.

I may also invest into a vinyl military poncho that snaps on the edges and is so versatile. Use it when wanting a light load in combination with the AMK Heatsheet bivvy or the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Storm Shelter.

Keep the feedback coming. I appreciate the input.

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