Emergency shelter -- bothy bag

Brit instructors are always singing the praises of these kind of multi-person emergency shelters, but you can’t find them in American stores.

From searching, looks like they are called “bothy bags”. Here are a few…




Any experience or comments, in general or on specific models and brands? How do you buy them from the UK?

Thanks. --David.

The gro emergency shelter is available at New England Small Craft. So some shops in the US do carry them.

I would suspect that the BCU wants a shelter that can be used quickly and easily. ie. no tents, tarps or anything else that requires poles, guy lines, stakes, etc…

Is GRO’s, the Igloo?
I bought the small one of these ($115)by phone order to Atlantic Kayak Tours , and it’s plenty big for at least 2-3 people. Warms you up from a chill very quickly. Seems like you don’t get a color choice. Mine is mostly white.


not sure if my link will work, but try copy and pasting this if not:


make it yourself
That is an intersting idea, I’m still not convinced it works like it sounds, but I’ve yet to see it work. It would seem that if you are touching the fabric, the wind would still take your warmth away, I guess your front side would be warmer. Wouldn’t rain gear work very similarly.

To answer your question. If manufacturers sell them for 100 dolars, you could easily make them cheaper. Check out backpacking.net and check out the “make your own” forum. Ask this question there and see what you can descover about making one. It would seem that a heavier taffetta or supplex at 6-8 dollars a yard (60 inches wide) would do the trick. 8.3 yards would give you a piece of fabric 25 ft long by 5 ft wide and you could make a cube 5ft by 5ft by 5ft. Add some draw cord and you could do it yourself for around 60-70 dollars. The sewing would be real simple.

just an idea,


bothy bag/igloo
Sea Kayak Georgia also has an igloo. a little bit lighter duty than the GRO one. there is no webbing spanning across the roof to act as suspension if the need arises to carry someone in it. but sweet piece!

I like the VCP one
Got mine at NESC, One of the nice features is that it has webbing reinforced with grab loops so it can be used as an emergency litter as well. I carry that as well as a SilTarp that can be set up as wind break, or also be used to wrap someone up like a taco.

Look at this

Body Boat and Blade
I believe Body Boat and Blade on Orcas I. Washington has them also. You can warm a bunch of people fast.

call joel/alex
and tell them you want an vcp igloo. they had them in stock when i was last in there.

from personal experience, it keeps the wind off of you and chilled paddlers and warms fast. you get under and sit on the edges and voila - instant shelter. it is part of my standard kit - it always goes into the day hatch.

Why carry one? If you are prepared for emergencies and dressed properly then you won’t need to warm yourself quickly. Useless you plan on doing search and rescue I wouldn’t waste my money. Carry a Mr. Heater Jr and a bottle of propane if you need heat. I use one on a refillable tank to warm my hands and heat water. I just aim the heating element up. The propane tank if for my two burner stove BTW.

Why carry one? Well, it should be part of your standard kit to be prepared for emergencies. The VCP Igloo can be used as a shelter to protect you in a rain storm, hail storm, even a snow storm. It is invaluable to help warm a hypothemic victim, put four people inside one of these things, and it warms up inside very quickly. It can also be used as a stretcher to move an injured person. In my opinion, it is one of the best pieces of emergeny gear you can carry. It packs up pretty small, doesn’t weigh very much, and in a situation where you need it, you’ll sure be glad you have it!