SOL Escape Bivvy : A review


As part of my quest to make a summer backpack weight of one kilo for shelter and sleeping system I was intrigued by this product. A waterproof, breathable sleeping bag weighing 240g and good to 10C was very enticing. In addition I needed an emergency bivvy for day hikes so I took the plunge and got one.

The bag is cut in a mummy shape with a hood which has a drawcord to tighten it. Entry is via a fairly generous side zip. The inside of the bag is coated in a silver reflective surface to retain body heat. The outside material is an odd, almost papery material a bit like the stuff Frogg Toggs use on their waterproofs. However, it is quite durable and can withstand quite a lot of punishment. Overall, the bag is large enough to easily cover a fully grown man wearing lots of clothing.

Wonder of wonders, the stuff sack is large enough to repack the bivvy easily. Pack size is smaller than a one litre water bottle.

As a bivvy bag
I used a garden hose to thoroughly wet the bag through. Inside the bag was totally dry. I then hung it up to form a pocket and poured about a pint of water into the pocket. After an hour, there was no sign of a leak. I’m satisfied it is pretty much waterproof although the zip might be a weak point eventually.

I tested its windproofness by wearing it while laying down on the ground in a strong wind. Not a definitive test but enough to convince me it kept the wind out effectively.

I’m satisfied the Escape bivvy would protect anyone benighted and greatly increase the chances of their survival.

As a sleeping bag
I’ve used the Escape as a sleeping bag four times in temperatures ranging from about 10C to 13C. My shelter was either a Golite Shangri La 1 or a Gatewood Cape. It is very breathable with no internal condensation present even when I was too hot (see below).

I normally sleep in a T shirt and boxers when camping. However, the Achilles Heel of this bivvy is the metallic inner. Yes, it does reflect heat back exceedingly well but wherever my bare skin touched the material I was cold due to conduction. To be fair to SOL, all the images of the product in use show a clothed person.

The first night I had a two-season quilt with me and threw that over the bag. Pretty soon I was very warm, too warm in fact. Broiled might be a better word!  

The other nights I experimented with a silk liner, a fleece liner and long-sleeved shirt. Again, I was warm enough using all three. Of course, you could just sleep in the clothes you wear in the daytime. Whatever the choice, some protection is needed to avoid loss of heat via conduction.

To conclude, as a sleeping bag the Escape Bivvy is very breathable but bare flesh equals being cold.

Uses
1. An emergency bivvy when benighted.
2. As a sleeping bag cover when under a tarp to keep off water and wind.
3. As a warm weather sleeping bag in a shelter provided arms, legs and feet are covered.
4. Used inside another sleeping bag to give extra warmth. I estimate about an extra 6-8C of warmth.

All things considered the SOL Escape Bivvy is a very good and versatile product with a small weight penalty. Pack size is small too. Worth having for the above uses.

Below are some images taken from SOL.

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About ReidIvinsMedia

After working for many years in Higher Education I've decided to drop out and join, eventually, the self-employed. Here I blog about my interests which include education, politics, backpacking, poker, photography and real ale.
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