Cheap emengency shelter

I’m frugal and love DIY, but
I can’t make a mylar sheet or bag to compete with the “emergency blanket” at $2.49 nor the “space blanket” at $10-12 each. Can you? They both do their jobs well and very inexpensively, unobtrusive in your space, and weigh next to nothing.

Mylar Good For Signaling, Too
The shiny mylar “emergency blanket” can also be used for signaling – another reason to carry it.

I carry one of those bivvy bags

– Last Updated: Nov-29-11 8:45 PM EST –

in the daypack. they are available on Ebay $12.50 shipped

if you also carry a small silnylon tarp or tube tent, you would have a very lightweight combo that you could even spend the night in and be reasonably well protected from the elements.

looking at the bothy bag demos on youtube, I can't imagine staying in there for more than a couple hours.

Yup, the ugly house wrap - I’ve carried a 8x10(?)sheet of it, folded into the bottom of my ditch bag with a hank of light line, for years - it’s waterproof, tough, can be rigged as a tent/windbreak/wrapper, whatever - use rocks in corners to create tie points - cheap as dirt, works just fine - have a couple of space blankets in the ditch bag too…

I carry an orange, 50 gallon 4 mil
garbage bag. Big enough to crawl in if needed and durable enough for spending the night. The space blankets are too flimsy and would be difficult to use in windy conditions.

modifying one

Plastic tube tent
I must have sold thousands of these things back when I ran a local outdoor gear shop – I think every boy scout within a 200 mile radius must have bought one from us.

I have thought of getting one to take with me on vacations, not so much for emergency wilderness camping as for in case I have to camp out (again) for a prolonged period at an airport due to some emergency or flight cancellations. Instant privacy!

Also, one or more of them would make a good kayak or canoe storage cover.

Tip: carry a few of those black spring clips that you use in an office to clamp together large stacks of paper. Clipped to the ridgeline of a tube tent, they can be used to suspend it from trees or other overhead structure and to secure the rope to keep the tube from creeping. Also can roll up one end and secure the roll with a clip, like on a dry bag

Heads-inside method makes it work
I tried a Beach Igloo in a class a couple years ago. Being made of parachute cloth, it’s very light and compacts well. IF you have a group, the amount of heat generated when huddled in one is amazing.

However, part of the reason it heats so well is because everybody’s head is inside. This is exactly how I get extra warmth when my sleeping bag is not quite warm enough–I completely cocoon myself, including head.

If you only have a poncho or emergency blanket or tarp, you can gain warmth simply by wrapping the thing over your entire head as well as rest of body. That means your face is inside, too! Otherwise, it’s just a hood.

second the tyvek NM

the WaterTribe modded space blanket
is the ticket. I take two space blankets, duct tape the long edges and one short edge together, then cut a head hole in the taped shut short end to turn it into a space poncho. fold it up, stick it into a Ziplock vacuum seal bag with a couple lighters, and some waterproof matches and you have a great survival kit.

From experience, 3rd the plastic
bags as as well.

Pull on, crouch down and flop sideways into the bushes.

My take
I guess my inclination on this whole thing is that a nice tarp and/or tent is normally in my boat on a trip so I suppose maybe it would be worth considering one of the really light and small options mentioned here to have in my PFD in case I lose my boat. I’ve never carried anything like that - but it is worth considering.

Even better …
check out the plastic bags in the store on this site and read about how to use them. They are now available in blue which Peter has tested and is more visible than orange. Three dollars is pretty cheap insurance. I have one that I vacuum sealed to carry in my survival gear.

Valley Igloo
also check out the igloo made by Valley Kayaks on my blog,

It depends
If I was going somewhere with the potential to need to shelter for an extended time (I guess that would be relative) it would be great to have the Bothy. For shorter terms like waiting out a storm or getting out of the wind for lunch my poncho is fine. It is the large all purpose compliment to the bandanna. I’ve practiced staking out the corners of a poncho and using hiking staff, paddle, or limb as a center rib and can make a comfortable little pup-tent for heating water and taking a break out of the weather. Bonus points if you can find a big boulder or other backstop to block one of the open ends. Play with configurations for different circumstances on a nice day sometime.

I’ve also used a poncho as a tent ground cloth when I needed to. The only problem with that is you need another poncho if that is all you brought for rain.

You could carefully use it to carry small loads of fire wood and also as a tarp to keep it dry.

If really in need you could probably make a pretty good stretcher out of a rip-stop poncho, limbs, and duct tape or parachute cord.

I have ponchos in my large pack and my day pack. Don’t leave home without it.