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Reader Poll: Do You Carry an Emergency Blanket When Hiking?

Emergency Blanket
Emergency Blanket

I know a lot of hikers who carry an emergency blanket or some kind of heat-reflective bivy sack with them on long day hikes just in case they need to unexpectedly spend the night out or to stay warm if they’re injured. I’ve never found these products to be very practical because they’re so flimsy. What about you?

Do you carry an emergency blanket on hikes?

Do you know anyone who’s ever used an emergency blanket or a reflective bivy sack?

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63 comments

  1. I do now! I was on a short(3 mile) hike on Mt. Rainier and a hiker slipped and fell 80 off the side of a trail. It took us 45 minutes to reach him and another 4 hours for rangers to get to him and have him helicoptered out. Had he not had a couple space blankets on him(in his own FAK), he would have been in much worse shape then he was. Luckily, we had a few nurses with us and they were able to stabilize him. But his main complaint was being cold(even after we gave him all of our spare clothing.

  2. I bought a bunch of them after the Kim family ordeal in California. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim I gave them to all my family members to keep in their cars. And I hike with mine. Not the cheap flimsy one time use mylars, but the bigger, stronger ones. I’ve used it a few times. Once during a blackout when we had no heat. And another time when I was day hiking with friends, they mentioned they had an extra spot at Greenleaf hut that night and invited me. I was not about to say no, so I went and with a couple of wool blankets (it was shoulder season) from the hut and my mylar I was very comfortable. It has held up to both uses and I’ve even been able to get it back into the bag each time.

  3. Yes , I carry a space blanket and a Solo bivviy and lots of other extra gear never want to be without

  4. Very informative article, Philip. I’ve never carried an emergency blanket but will now. I’ve always carried an ignition source but not an emergency shelter. Never can be too prepared.

  5. I carry an emergency blanket on all hikes. These 3 guys in the Smokies were not prepared for weather but had one and it sounds like it made a difference earlier this month. http://t.co/XMp3Gc4r11

  6. If I think there is even a slight chance Of having to spend a night out unintentionally, I just pack a tarp and a sleeping bag. Might be heavier than a space blanket, but it’s also a lot warmer. In the summertime I opt to take light insulation in place of a sleeping bag

  7. One of these saved my butt on my thru-hike of the AT in 2012. I listened to a lot of peoples advice like “it doesn’t get cold after Damascus”. I believed that as much As VA was “flat”. My summer bag wasn’t cutting it on a cold stretch through southern VA and I picked one of these up at an outfitter for about $5. I wore all my layers up top and wrapped my legs in the blanket. Kept me warm all night in 30* temps in a 45* sleeping bag for a week or so every night. I’d wake up moist, but comfy. This is defenitely something I carry in cold temps or as a group if some inexperienced people are coming. the price and weight are worth the cost.

  8. Yes and used it on a cold early fall trip when I had tried to get by with just a quilt.

  9. Yes always have it. Only used once assisting the victim of a head-on crash while waiting for ambulance. Was able to rollit back up into original sleeve in like-new condition.

  10. A mylar emergency blanket has all sorts of uses: I once witnessed someone tow a car with one that they had twisted into a rope. I buy them by the dozen on Amazon and keep them spirited away in the cars, all packs, etc. One everywhere.

  11. Yep absolutely a SOL Emergency Blanket. Given its negligible weight its a no brainer and can may also save someone else’s life out on the trail.

  12. I always used to carry one of the really light-weight reflective blankets in my pack (i first started using them when I was a paramedic and they were standard issue). They weigh so little that it seems silly not to have one. Mine have been on anything from day hikes to a major expedition up Mt Mera (6,400 meters). These days though I have moved onto taking a storm-shelter (these are popular in England) with me as it provides shelter for me and my two small boys.

  13. Has anyone intentionally punched a pattern of small holes in one of these blankets/bivys to allow it to breath? You’d lose a bit of the reflectivity but maybe it would work better on top of or inside a sleeping bag that way.

  14. I tend to take one on most of my hikes, just in case. I think it’s definitely always worth taking one as they’re lightweight and compact enough for you to not even notice you’re carrying it…and you really never know when you might end up needing it!

  15. I have 2 taped together with the clear duct tape (uv resistant ) I use as my 8×9 tarp tent I’ve slept in the same one about 20 nights now no long trips but it’s lighter than cuben fiber and a lot cheaper. $3.99 vs $399 had to repair one stake rip out in an extreme storm.

  16. I have carried various things that might serve my needs for an unexpected night out. It comes down to weight really. If I’m serious and going out in winter i think a gortex bivy sack, a blue foam pad and extra warm (puffy jacket, long johns, gortex pants) are minimum. On a day hike on a maintained trail I take rain gear, a very light MontBell down jacket and a cheap mylar bivy sack that weighs 3.5 ounces. It is always a trade off between weight, safety, and comfort. But with sites like this you should be able to make some intelligent decisions based on your risk tolerance vs. how much you want to carry.

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