There are certain pieces of gear that you should always have at your disposal. An emergency blanket (also called a survival blanket or mylar blanket) or a bivvy are extremely critical.
Let's be smart about it:
We should always have one of these on us, regardless of the time of year or duration of our trip.
The reason for this is that most deaths that occur in the backcountry are not from hunger or dehydration, but from exposure.
Here's the thing...
Hypothermia is a real, life-threatening situation for anyone who ventures out into the wild. This is especially true for people out during the colder months of the year.
The CDC reported that 13,400 people died from hypothermia in the United States between 2003 and 2013.
That's about 1,300 deaths from hypothermia each year and there was no change in the trend through 2016.
It is critical for you to be prepared to deal with this threat when you are fishing, hunting, or backpacking in cold environments.
Blankets and bivvies are fantastic and lightweight solutions for survival situations.
In fact, they should be carried with you during any trek.
Most of these blankets, though not all of them, are made of Mylar.
Mylar is a plastic like sheet that is excellent at retaining the heat generated by your body. These days there are even better or more reliable materials that reflect heat just as well.
In this article, we are going to show you the best options.
As we go through these options, it is important to remember that just because they reflect most of your body heat, you can still lose a lot through conduction to colder items you are resting against.
It is important to use these items along with more insulating materials around you for optimal heat retention.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What To Look For In The Best Survival Blanket
There's a few things you need to consider when choosing the right bivvy or blanket for your situation. We'll look at the highlights next.
Single Or Repeated Use
One of the most economical solutions are the one time use blankets. They come in individual packets and are perfect for carrying in almost any bag.
They excel at providing you the minimal amount of thermal protection in bad situations, and are perfect to have on you just in case an emergency comes up.
There are also more expensive options that are designed to be used more than once.
They include features like zippers and more robust materials that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
Blanket Or Bivvy?
Choosing a blanket versus a bivvy comes down to personal preference.
A blanket is simply a rectangular piece of material that you will wrap around you. But a blanket can also be used to create a makeshift shelter, as a tarp, or to cover things up to keep them dry.
Whereas a bivvy (also called a bivy or bivi) is the same kind of material that is pre-shaped in the form of a bag. Some you will have to climb into, while more expensive options have zippers that make it resemble a sleeping bag.
In order for a blankets to be effective, it needs to cover your body entirely in order to trap and reflect heat back onto you.
Therefore, it is essential to make sure and get a blanket that is big enough to be able to accomplish this requirement.
The material type is important because first and foremost, you need it to reflect heat well, otherwise it won't function as an effective blanket.
The other thing to consider is if the material can hold up over time, and is it intended for a single use or multiple use situation.
Weight is important because if the item is too heavy, it's often easy to rationalize why it may not be worth taking on a trip.
This can cause us to take on risk if something happens where we actually need the item and may not have it on us.
Let's face it, for most of us, the cost of gear determines what we can and can't do in the outdoors sometimes.
We want to get a blanket that reduces our risk of exposure danger, but also is economical when considering the rest of the gear that we need.
Now let's take a look at 7 of the best blankets and bivvies that are available on today’s market.
Top 7 Emergency Blankets
We will go through the levels of options in order from minimum protection to maximum protection.
As the name suggests, these blankets are made from Mylar, a NASA approved material for spaceflights and offers great heat reflectivity at 90%.
Titan blankets are tear resistant, but constant use in rugged terrain can lead to eventual punctures and rips.
The pack comes with five blankets so they are more expendable than other products we have listed.
Each blanket is 52 x 82 inches and come folded in lightweight and compact individual packs.
This makes storing and carrying these mylar blankets into the field a non issue. Each individual blanket weighs 1.75 ounces.
These blankets are great for situations where warmth is needed quickly and conveniently. They come in green, orange, and camo colors.
Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) makes a great blanket that is extremely compact and lightweight, weighing in at only 2.9 ounces and designed for one-person use.
Regardless of the trip you are taking, this is the perfect blanket to have on your person.
It is designed to be more durable than Mylar, resisting punctures and tears that can render blankets useless.
Made from vacuum-metalized polyethylene, it retains 90% of your body heat.
The Heatsheets fabric is both water and wind proof, sheltering you from the elements and increasing your ability to survive in dire situations.
The blanket dimensions are 56 x 84 inches and can be used as a ground or gear cover as well as a first aid blanket, making this a versatile ultra-light blanket.
The outer covering of the blanket is a bright hunter’s orange making you visible in cases where rescue might be needed. The blanket also comes with survival tips from experts printed right onto the blanket for easy access when they are needed most.
This product has the same manufacturer and design of the previously listed item.
The only differences are the dimensions and weight of this blanket.
This blanket is 60 x 96 inches and weighs in at 3.2 ounces.
It is capable of covering two people and will retain 90% of the released body heat.
This is also a great blanket for individuals with large frames, as the previously listed blanket might not cover a larger individual effectively.
The Survive Longer Outdoors Emergency Bivvy can be a lifesaver when stuck unexpectedly outdoors for the night.
Unlike the SOL blankets, the bivvy is designed as an emergency shelter to encompass your body without you holding the material around yourself.
The material is identical to the SOL blankets.
However, this bivvy is designed with sealed seam edges with the Heatsheet fabric to prevent moisture and wind from moving into the bivvy causing more discomfort.
This is one of the more compact and lightweight bivvies that is available on the market. It weighs only 3.8 ounces and comes with a stuff sack for easy storage and travel.
When unpacked, the bivvy measures 36 x 84 inches, making it a comfortable fit for most frames.
An alternative to the SOL offering, but with similar functionality is the SE emergency sleeping bag.
This bivvy is pretty lightweight weighing in at 5.8 ounces.
The dimensions are 36 x 84 inches so it will accommodate most body sizes and can be rolled down and inserted into the included compression sack.
The inner lining of this sleeping bag bivy is made of heavy-duty PE material, providing outstanding heat retention.
The strength of the material also makes this a great bivvy for multiple uses before punctures and tears occur.
For a tougher alternative to Mylar and for overnight situations you were not prepared for this is an excellent emergency bivvy.
The greatest aspect of this bivvy is the amount of breathability that it offers.
It is made from metalized spunbonded olefin that allows moisture to escape while retaining heat.
This makes it an ideal emergency shelter and one of the best bivvy sacks available.
It is also designed to get you through longer periods of time stuck in the wilderness.
This bivvy only retains 70% body heat, but because moisture is allowed to escape you have less condensation.
Because of the lack of moisture you remain drier inside of this bivvy giving you a more comfortable situation.
This bivvy is easy to store and carry with a weight of 8.1 ounces. When unfolded, its dimensions are 36 x 84 inches, making it a good fit for most individuals.
The sealed edges keep rain, wind, and snow from seeping through. The SOL Escape Bivvy also features a hood with a drawstring to adjust snugness and keep in valuable heat.
Unlike the previous bivvy, the SOL Escape features a side zipper to make getting in and out much easier. If you have the extra money, this is by far the best bivy sack you can get.
As far as bivy sack reviews, I keep this item in my bug out bag and have used it several times. It's pretty darn awesome. One thing to note is that this bivvy only fits most people up to 6 foot 1 inches and around 200 pounds in regular clothes.
This blanket offers a great alternative to other poncho liners and is a warm, quiet blanket that can be used for hunting and camping.
The blanket can be rolled down to 6 x 6 inches and stuffed in a provided compression sack for easy travel.
Unrolled, this blanket measures 64 x 74 inches and weighs in at 25 ounces.
The inner lining of this blanket provides antimicrobial properties while the outer polyester casing provides wind and water resistance.
It is great for less harsh environments and temperatures in the low forties to high thirties, but we would not recommend this as your main blanket.
Used along with one of the listed blankets or bivvies would be ideal for both heat retention and insulation against conductance.
This blanket is a great companion to give you even more comfort in the outdoors.
No one ever expects to be put in survival situations while hunting, fishing, backpacking, or even just driving around in isolated areas.
Even if we don’t expect it, we should be prepared for it. This is especially true if you plan to be in extreme winter conditions outside of cell service or away from major populations.
Blankets and bivvy sacks are invaluable pieces of gear that you should always have on you when trekking.
They are lightweight and can provide instant heat when the unexpected occurs. We hope this article has provided you several solutions for blankets and bivvies.
For a SOL Escape bivvy review, I have all of these items that we covered, and the Escape bivvy is by far my favorite out of all of them.
I encourage you to get any one of these for your bug out bag, vehicle, and also always take one with you on your outdoors trips. It could save your life.
And once you get your shelter needs taken care of, don't forget that you can only survive 3 days without water, so you need a way to purify it.
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