Gear Review: AMK SOL Escape Bivvy…

I’m hosting my first Guest Post Gear Review!  This review was sent in from Tim B. of the Outdoor Adventure Team.  Tim and his friends explored the Ozette Triangle on the Olympic Coast in the Pacific Northwest, US.  I’d like to thank Paul and Tim of The Outdoor Adventure Team for letting me host this review of Adventure Medical Kit’s SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Escape Bivvy.  The Escape Bivvy was donated for review by AMK.  Click here to read more from The Outdoor Adventure Blog.

GUEST REVIEW: AMK SOL Escape Bivvy…

This past weekend a group of buddies and I went on a 9.4 mile overnight backpacking trip to the Ozette Triangle on the Pacific Northwest Olympic Coast. Early Spring is a beautiful time of year to explore the trails that are packed with hikers only a few short months later. When embarking on such adventures it is prudent to carefully asses one’s gear in order to avoid being too cold. Being freezing cold while out on an adventure can not only make one grumpy, but one could get frostbite or hypothermia and ultimately lose an appendage or two. It ain’t pretty. I’ve been that grumpy guy, and no one wanted to hang out with me, and certainly no one wanted to spoon me to keep me warm.  But, not this time. This time I packed the SOL Escape Bivvy.

The SOL Escape Bivvy is a light and compact sleeping bag-like sack, weighing 8.5 oz and measuring 36″ by 84″ rolled out flat.  The proprietary fabric is designed to release moisture created by your body, while external moisture from the elements remains on the outside. The inner lining is created from a reflective type material which helps to retain body heat.  Waterproof seams plus a drawstring hood closure and side zip mean you can seal out the elements entirely or use the bivvy like a traditional sleeping bag. In a survival situation the high-visibility orange exterior makes it easy for rescuers to spot you even in areas with high tree cover.

AMK SOL Escape Bivvy bagBeing an early Spring backpacking trip, I was concerned at first that I would become too cold at night. I’m a Texan boy, who grew up with the belief that 50F was freezing temperatures. While I have toughened up in my last 7 years in the Pacific Northwest, I still usually get cold at night while camping. I have found that I need to wear multiple warm layers in order to achieve any sort of comfort level for sleeping. Because the SOL Escape Bivvy doesn’t take up nearly any room in my pack I still packed my usual brigade of warm clothing just in case I needed them. I doubted something with material that thin could keep me warm at night.

I decided to test out the SOL Escape Bivvy in my usual backpacking setting inside my tent. I wore only one thermal underwear layer, socks, and a beanie and decided if I was cold I could add another layer, and then another if it became necessary. I slid The North Face Cat’s Meow sleeping bag into the SOL Escape Bivvy and slithered inside, zipping up my sleeping bag and the SOL Escape Bivvy once I was all snuggled inside. While the length was great for fitting my 6’5” body, it was a little awkward zipping up as the SOL Escape Bivvy zipper is on my right, while my sleeping bag zipper is on my left. I did not draw the SOL Escape Bivvy pull cord to tighten the hood around my head, as it was too frustrating to manage from inside my sleeping bag. As I lay there I could immediately notice a significant decrease of wind chill that was prevalent in the tent from the large gusts of wind blowing in from the ocean. I then quickly fell asleep.AMK SOL Escape bivvy bag...

I woke up the next morning, having slept well all night warm and cozy in my sleeping bag and the SOL Escape Bivvy. I was then surprised to find out that the others in my group had not slept well at all. My tent buddy is a natural warm sleeper; in fact, there was one trip where he was sleeping on top of his sleeping bag in his boxers, while I shivered and shook in my sleeping bag with every layer of clothing imaginable. There were others with the exact same sleeping bag as me, who also felt a certain chill throughout the night.

I had no condensation build up inside the SOL Escape Bivvy, and there were visible beads of moisture on the external layer from the condensation build up inside the tent. I could see this proving to be a beneficial outer layer for those with down sleeping bags for this reason, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of packing a silk or fleece liner or excessive layers of clothing, packing the SOL Escape Bivvy would also be a wise multi-use alternative for retaining heat. It is certainly less bulky than my usual brigade of extra items.

When it came time to pack up, I was able to quickly fold and roll up the SOL Escape Bivvy from a standing position and easily slid it back into the little sack. When I came home, I hung it up to dry and found it to be ready to pack away in less than half an hour while my tent and other waterproof items were still drying an hour later.

AMK SOL Escape bivvy bag...The SOL Escape Bivvy is designed as an essential piece of equipment in your survival pack, and I definitely can see where it would prove great benefit in an outdoor survival situation. The Outdoor Adventure team member, Paul Osborn, will be putting the SOL Escape Bivvy to the test in a similar scenario in a few months, and I certainly look forward to hearing his review.

Have you used the SOL Escape Bivvy before? We are interested to hear your experience with the SOL Escape Bivvy, and maybe you have a few tips for Paul before he heads out on his survival trip with this piece of gear. We look forward to hearing from you so please comment, tweet, and share on Facebook!

Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at WildernessDave.com. David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.

Comments

  1. I like how this can make your kit more modular. Use it when you need it and when you don’t just use your bag!

    • Yeah, I guess I never really considered using it as an add-on to your sleeping bag for wind protection and added heat. I always just imagined it as an emergency piece. I might have to get one myself that I can use in combination with my new down quilt.

  2. Woh! Nice find dude! I’ll definitely have to check this out.

  3. San Diego Plumber says:

    It seems like it’s easy to pack , too, right? Thanks for sharing your review on this. I’ve been planning to replace my sleeping bag because it’s too heavy and bulky.

    • It is very packable. I don’t know that it would replace a sleeping bag unless you do a lot of warmer weather camping/packing. I recently bought a lightweight down backpacking quilt to replace my sleeping back. The quilt barely weighs 1.5lbs and is supposed to be good to 20 degrees. It can also work with the Escape bivvy in wet or windy conditions. The two of them combined pack down smaller and weigh less than my old sleeping bag.

  4. Anyone ever take this on a multi-month thru-hike? I know it is a durable, breathable fabric, but how many uses can you get out of granted a a ground cloth is used and it isn’t abused?…30, 60?

    • Tim,

      The product is meant to be an emergency bivvy. One-time or occasional use. Using it 50-60 times over a two month trip is not what it was designed for. Having used it (significantly) less than that, I don’t know for sure. But speculating on how the material feels, and the usage you’re describing, I would say you’d be lucky if it lasted you more than a week with regular use.

      • The weight suggested a bivvy cut from Tyvek partnered with a mylar reflective blanket, so I searched “olefin” in combination with “sol escape bivvy”, and sure enough, I learned the fabric is made of “olefin with a metalized coating”. That’s a very durable breathable fabric used by many do it yourself hikers for ground cloths, and I’d suspect I could get at least 60 days out of one unit before the metallic coating started falling apart. Earlier emergency bivvys would fall apart in the time you suggested. This fabric is much stronger.

        • That’s very cool. The fabric just doesn’t feel that sturdy to me. But I would love to hear from someone who has tested it over that kind of time frame for real-world feedback on how long it could be expected to hold up. Good info, Tim. Thanks.

          • The interior metallized coating seems to also have a ripstop structure to it from close ups I have seen of the fabric. Now if they can just make one version of this in a stealthy olive or grey color for people who DON’T want to be found…haha…then I’d gladly sacrifice one Ulysses S. Grant to tell you how many nights you can go in this.

          • Well there ya go…hehe Obviously, it’s made for emergency use so the bright, obnoxious orange color fits. I wonder if you could retro-cammo the thing…

          • Can anyone tell me what size this is in the carry bag – I mean how much packing space it takes, once it has been used? None of the picture have anything in them to compare to and the descriptions just give full unfolded size and weight.

          • The carry bag for it is a thin mesh stuff-sack. So packed size is as noted, 3.8″ tall x 4.25″ diameter. When it’s unpacked and in use it’s taller (5.7″ tall) but same width.

  5. I just received my escape bivvy – It is a tubular 6 3/4″ X 4″ in diameter, smaller than I expected. Nice for a pack

  6. So the length when packed is 3.8″ or 6 3/4″?

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