emergency shelters

I’ve been carrying a tent fly as an emergency shelter lately, and it’s a fine substitute, but it’s not the lightest (and I’ll probably eventually end up somewhere with that tent and forget that the fly is with my kayak gear!)

So, what emergency shelters have people used. I think something in the 4-6 person range would be best.

Thanks, Nate

It won’t cover 4-6, but
4-6 people should each be carrying a good quality poncho for an emergency shelter and more. I’ve used mine, besides for rain, as a ground cloth under a tent and as a shelter. You could use it to carry things, like gathering up sticks and pine cones. You could string it up to collect rain and funnel it into a container. Use your imagination. I also carry half a dozen wire tent stakes and some parachute cord with the poncho.

Hefty Bag

– Last Updated: Jun-28-10 12:00 PM EST –

Yup! Used a Hefty bag as a tent once or twice. Reminds me o' a tale of waan ah' fell asleep in a Hefty Bag once. Next thin' ah' knows ah' wake up in a Joisey landfill in Secaucus wit a gull (or more likely some Bird of the Water);>)... peckin' at me noggin. Ah' noticed right next ta me wuz a rolled up carpet wit a very quiet occupant - me' recollects his name wuz Carmine "The Snitch" Gorganzola since dats wat wuz carved inta his forehead. Funny, he never did say anythin'..... so ah' reckon he wuz usin' a carpet as his emergency shelter.


The poncho and hefty bags work for keeping rain off, (and I carry a couple exposure bags for keeping one person warmer/dryer) but I want a shelter for covering and warming a handful of people. Protection from rain is really a secondary purpose - the main reason that I carry something like this is to pool body heat and help one or more members of the group to rewarm after an unplanned swim, or prevent cooling during a beach break, when it’s easy to get chilled in colder weather. Getting multiple bodies together in the same space creates a great deal of heat, if you can trap it somehow.

Emergency Shelter
Came across this a few weeks back when looking for something else.Not sure if this is something that you are looking for.


yep, like that
That’s what I’m talking about. There are a couple out there, and I’m wondering which are preferred, and whether there are some I haven’t come across yet.

Thanks, Nate

Emergecncy Shelters
We always carry a tarp ( usually a 7x9 silnylon weighing about 14 oz) on day trips along with 6 pieces of line. The tarp is large enough for a group to stand, and for the two of us to sleep under if things go bad. We have used the tarp when it is either too sunny or too wet to enjoy lunch, and once against a log for a night in a sudden storm. In addition to the tarp in the hatch, we both carry Tacoma mountain rescue storm shelters in ditch bags, which are attached to our PFDs. The ditch bags also include a robust emergency bivy weighing. Pictures of the ditch bag and the tarps can be found on http://www.flickr.com/photos/umnak/

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light and compact emergency shelter
I only occasionally carry an emergency shelter (my paddling locale is rather warm).

Since most commercial offerings were too bulky (and expensive) I made my own.

I used silicon impregnated nylon (silnylon) to sew together a basic ultralight tarp.

It packs down to the size of water bottle (1lt) and weight about 14oz.

It does keep me (and a few others) totally dry even in driving rain.

More details: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/04/shop-diy-lightweight-tarp.html

El cheapo blue tarp
We have made three different sojourns to the wildrness areas of Alaska, and the locals taught us on our first trip, that they don’t go into the back country, or paddling witpout a blue tarp stashed someplace in the kayak or canoe.

Jack L

I Have Worn A Hefty Bag Home
That was a bad trip…

And A SPACE Blanket
When they are new they are tiny. And cheap enough to dispose of (Properly) after use

vcp igloo
don’t know if they’re still for sale but it’s a great piece of kit…have used it only a few times and have been very happy to have it along.

Have the 3 person
From http://virginiaseakayakcenter.com/catalog.php?item=32&catid=Safety, mentioned above. The larger one is, I think, a special order. The parties under the thing had best get along, and I can’t say we’ve actually used it as an emergency shelter. But from what you can tell by taking it out on the beach, it seems like it’d work well.

The larger vcp one, of sil cloth I think, may not be something you can find any more. Really nice shetler though if you can.

For the OP stated use, I think the Black Diamond Mega Light would work well. http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/shelters/mega-light

Get a 3-4 mil orange 60 gallon garbage
bag http://www.outdoorsafe.com/ The garbage bags are small enough to carry in a day pack. Also recommended is some flagging tape and a permanent marker. You can mark any areas your in and leave dates, names, important inf. etc, on the tape if lost. Also, don’t forget a whistle.

Most importantly, tell people where you’re going and please tell them any change in plans. As a SAR member, I can say it is very frustrating bushwhacking all day and find out the missing person was found miles from where they said they would be traveling because of a change in plans.

If you can keep yourself alive a couple of days and give accurate information as to your travel plans, you have a an excellent chance of being found in time in the lower forty-eight.

good info
and I do carry one of those orange poly bags in the back of my PFD. But what I’m looking for is a multi-person shelter that I can throw over a handful of less-prepared people on the beach in a squall, or use to capture the group’s body heat to warm up a chilled swimmer.

Get one of these
Exactly what you looking for:


maybe I’m missing something , but …

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 10:28 AM EST –

....... what would be the negetives or drawbacks of a simple two or four person , two rod dome tent ??

It's sturdy , has a floor , totally wind and water proof , goes up in minutes ... plus it stakes down strong and fast , and withstands a decent blow if required . Doesn't seem it could get more effective and simpler than that ??

I mean if someone can't find a place to stow something as light and compact as a little dome tent ... I mean what are we talkin here , minutes ??

Tube tent
I usually carry a tube tent (a thin plastic tube about 15 ft long weighs less than a pound) You unfold it and string a line through it and attached to a couple of trees or whatever and then lay your sleeping bage inside with a couple of rocks etc to keep it open to form a triangle) It keeps wind and rain off. I often use one for backpacking expeditions when gear weight is an issue. They cost less than a couple bucks at most camping supply stores.

weight, packing size, and purpose
I have a very compact 2-person (at best) 2-arch tent, but it weighs 3 pounds, and can only hold 2 people, maybe 3 if really crammed in. It’s well ventilated which is good for sleeping in, but bad for trapping heat.

What I’m looking for is a shelter that is a permanent part of my guide gear - something that comes with me in the boat even for a 4 hour trip. Guests are not always as prepared as the rest of us, so there are some things we need to carry to cover their butts. If someone swims, even on a warm day, they might need warmed up, and one of the best ways to do that is to put them in a small space with other people.

There are sil-nylon shelters out there (like the one in the Virginia Sea Kayak link) which weigh less than a pound. That weight savings may not seem like much, but it all adds up, and I’d rather not load, paddle around with, and then unload 60 pounds of gear every time I get in my boat. I’m trying to keep it closer to 30, so every pound counts.