Survival Gear Review: SOL Emergency Bivvy

The Original SOL Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy from Adventure Medical Kits was something we had to try for ourselves.  We liked the weight and the cost but could it replace the emergency space blanket that people keep in their cars?  The answer, Yes.

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By the SurvivalCache.com Team

SOL from Adventure Medical Kits stands for “Survive Outdoors Longer” but if you are stuck in an emergency situation using one of these emergency bivvys it may as well stand for “Sh*t Out of Luck”.  We did a quick review about a year ago of the Original Emergency Bivvy and the Emergency Bivvy II available from Adventure Medical Kits (see review) and now we decided to take a more in depth look at each product to see if it meets the standard of an emergency tool. This is a review of the Original Emergency Bivvy.

First Impression

The first thing I noticed about the SOL Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy was the size and weight of the complete package.  It AMK Heatsheets Emergency Bivvytruly fits into the palm of your hand.  At only 3.8oz it could fit in a glove box, everyday carry bag,  a bike bag, backpack, under your car seat, etc.  Does this go in my bug out bag?  No.  With all of the other gear in my BOB, this would just be extra weight and I already have rain gear, a tent, and a real bivvy bag from Wiggy’s, throwing another bivvy in my BOB would be overkill in my mind.

SurvivalCache Video Review

I have played around with mylar emergency blankets a few times and they are painful.  People no doubt buy these mylar emergency blankets and never take them out of the package until an emergency.  Only to find out that these emergency blankets are built for anything but an emergency.  The ones that I have handled have been very hard to unfold and when you get them completely open, they are almost impossible to wrap up in.  They are probably better used as an emergency signal device or a way to catch water.  As an emergency blanket, well….I hope you wore warm clothes.

The SOL Bivvy on the other hand, comes in  a little nylon carrying case with a draw string.  When I opened it up, I had no problems unrolling it and getting my body completely covered in a matter of a few seconds.  If you had to sit or lay on the cold wet ground.  This emergency bivvy would keep you completely dry and keep the wind off of you.  If you had to stay on the move during your emergency, you could cut a hole in the bottom of the bivvy and put your head through the hole and use the bivvy as a windbreaker/jacket until you reached safety (arm holes are optional).  Off camera I will tell you that I did have problems getting the Bivvy back into the bag.  So if you get one, I would not recommend doing a lot of practicing with this bag unless you have little hands that are very good at folding small squares.  It comes out easy, goes back in hard.

The material of the SOL Original Bivvy is polyethylene and it seemed to work pretty well, much preferred over a Mylar space blanket.  I liked the fact that the SOL Bivvy was orange on one side and reflective on the other.  On sunny days you could turn the bivvy inside out and use the reflective side to signal for help.  The size is 36″ x 84″ and I can tell you that I am close to 6’0 tall and 195 lbs and I had no problems getting completely enclosed in this bivvy with all of my clothes on and my shoes.

The marketing department at Adventure Medical Kits says it reflects 90% of your body heat.  I am not sure how they are measuring that, maybe because your head sticks out of the bag and they are calling that the 10% of your body’s heat it is not reflecting.  Not really sure, however I will tell you that this is not a replacement for a real sleeping bag or a real bivvy.  On the other hand, for $13….if it fits your budget, it makes a great addition to an emergency car kit, EDC Bag or even a diaper bag.   I am not saying that you are going to be real comfortable with this bivvy but you will stay dry and that is half the battle of survival.

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15 thoughts on “Survival Gear Review: SOL Emergency Bivvy”

  1. Good review. I've actually been meaning to add one of these to my BOB, all I have is a e-blanket and I've heard pretty much nothin but negatives about them.
    I think I'm gonna get this one.

    Reply
  2. I like the idea of a smaller and thinner bivvy for temperate climates. Been meaning to get a small bag for an overnight kit. Because we travel to altitude often I got the Blizzard Bag. Basic features: 3 layers of Mylar, interwoven elastic for a close fit, and a drawstring hood. A lot warmer but if it's blowing and really cold it could save us from frost bite. Around $40. Comes in silver, green or orange.
    Check out a review at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MJsMc5mmzc

    Reply
    • The blizzard bag looks like a winner. Although I was thinking; If you can't find a blizzard bag you could double up on the SOL and have instant layers.

      Reply
      • Google them… Easy to find. If you had 2 SOL bags you could add insulation between the layers. Would add loft and conductive protection. Not exactly though… The Blizzard Bag has elastic threads that form the bag like a mummy bag around you. Additionally they created cells that trap air called Reflexcells. Like space blanket bubble wrap layers kind of… The little cells are not air tight. Still needs conductive insulation beneath it as your weight compresses the cells. The Mylar is thicker than e-blankets too.

        Reply
  3. Great review, looks like a solid product especially for the price which can't be beat for what the product is providing. Plus it was fun ( and reasuring) to see joel climb into one of these things. I definitly second that the mylar blankets are a pain in the ass. Never had to use one in a real situation but unfolded it at home and was constantly tripping over it while I was trying to wrap it around my body, still it is worth while to have a few of these in your bag because they are cheap, small and can be used in a variety of ways( signaling, reflector inside a shelter, cooking,etc) that a bag couldn't be used. I believe I will definitly be putting this on my list to obtain.

    Reply
    • The old Ranger Roll (a poncho and poncho liner) can be made substantially warmer by simply adding a space blanket. Used alone they suck but you can attach them to the inside of your tent, wrap one around yourself inside a sleeping bag, between you socks and boot, between glove and mitten, under a jacket hood over a ski cap, inside a snow cave. It is a delicate, thin, radiant heat reflector. They reflect radiant heat but loose heat by conduction (contact with a cold surface). To use it most effectively it needs to be combined with structural strength and conductive insulation such as a sheet, blanket, tarp, shirt, parka, pants, socks, hat, etc. In you car a couple of space blankets, a windshield accordion heat reflector, car mats and some duct tape could save your toes if you get stuck in a storm.

      Reply
    • I agree with the pain it is to wrap the e-blanket around your body. The only time I saw one being used, in an old hunter shack in Alaska, was as a top blanket. E-blankets are basically useless as a wrap.

      Reply
  4. Good video review. I would like to see more of these down the road. Keep it up. I have not had to use my e-blankets, but I was with someone who had, and they are not vey good; Noisy, rip easy, and are hard to fold back up. The SOL looked like it was a bit noisy, doesn't mean much but I am a light sleeper, but being able to get inside of it sold me, the toughness seemed good too. Did you get in with your boots on, it looked like you did.

    Reply
  5. Sounds like a good alternative to the e-blanket. The only time I use e-blankets is out in the desert. I wrap them around my Igloo coolers that I keep off the ground. Extends the life of the ice by almost a day and a half. Which by the way is about how long they last before they start to disintegrate!

    Reply
  6. I tried a bivy 2.0 and it trapped a lot of moisture and the stitching blew out near the top.

    It's a little better than an emergency blanket, but not much better than "disposable" from my experience.

    Reply
  7. My own personal 'vehicle kit' solution has worked well in a number of situations:

    At your local "VoldeMart":
    Any Time: Pick up a couple metallized mylar e-blankets (about 2 bucks in camping aisle)
    In the Fall: Pick up a couple "Fleece Throws" (about 5 bucks in bedding section)
    The day after local hunting season ends: Get a pair of insulated camo coveralls (about 15 bucks- a hood is a bonus), some thick wool hunting socks (about 5 bucks) and a wool watch cap (about 2 bucks)

    Seal them up in a "vacuum storage bag" (storage aisle) to stay dry and save space in your trunk.

    It has to get pretty dang cold to beat that combo. Smaller than a sleeping bag, and if it's cold the next day, you can wear the coveralls.

    Reply
  8. "Off camera I will tell you that I did have problems getting the Bivvy back into the bag. So if you get one, I would not recommend doing a lot of practicing with this bag unless you have little hands that are very good at folding small squares. It comes out easy, goes back in hard.

    it's not designed to be folded back into the bag. Instead, stuff the bivvy into the sack just as you would a sleeping bag. That's why the stuff sack is extra long. It won't be as neat and small as it is when brand new, but it all fits in the stuff sack without too much trouble. I have done this dozens of times with mine.

    Reply
  9. Like some opinions on this. I used my survival bivvy recently during a cold weather campout. I figured I was good to go, I had a mummy bag and a fleece liner to keep warm at night on top of sleeping in a tent. Temps got down to 1 degree and the wind was kicking up. I did have a tarp acting as a wind block so I figured no big deal, My bivvy is just in my bag as a back-up. Well on the first night, the zipper on my mummy bag broke. I was exhausted and just laid on my right side which pretty much closed the hole. The next night, I figure I'll pull out my bivvy and use it as an exterior cover around the mummy bag to keep the cold out. I went to sleep around 11:00 and was warm and cozy. Around 02:00 I woke to a wet feeling around my neck. I did not understand at first where the water was coming from until I slipped my arm out of the mummy bag inside the bivvy. The exterior of my mummy bag was soaked. Condensation built up inside the bivvy and was now on top covering the exterior of the broken sleeping bag. I managed to pull off the bag , get a fire started and spent an hour drying the sleeping bag and fixing the zipper. Any ideas as to why so much condensation built up in the bag? Would I have been better off just using the bivvy without the extra layers inside a tent? I've had condensation build up and freeze in a tent before, but using this in a true survival situation, I wonder if I'd be better off going without the bivvy.

    Reply
    • Dan I hear that's pretty normal. In Antarctica / on Everest they sleep straight in plastic bags, inside their sleeping bags, inside their bivvies, then they drink / cook with / otherwise tip out the water in the morning. They just deal with being wet but warm, and that way their bags stay dry for the next night.

      Reply

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