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  1. #1

    Default Emergency Blankets for shelter/sleeping?

    They are light weight and can fold up into a really small size. I have used them before as a shelter and sleeping for one/two nights at a time and it's worked but do you guys think the extra weight lossed from not carrying a tent/sleeping bag is worth the lack in comfort for a multi week backpacking trip?

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    Are you talking about those cheap, aluminum-foil blankets? The one's that come folded in about the size of a cigarette package? If so, can't see how they can be useful for anything but a one-time emergency situation. If you are able to make them work for you and your situations on a day-to-day. hike, more power to you.

  3. #3

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    The key word here is "Emergency". These things are pretty much single use. If you can fold one back up into a really small size, you have more patience then I do.

    You really don't want to be trusting your life to one of these on a multi-week trip. It's definitely not a suitable replacement for a sleeping bag and a poor substitute for a tent.
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  4. #4

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    I have one I carry at all times. I have used it three times in "miss calculations". Luckily never for more than 1 night at a time. The weight savings in my mind do not come close to justifying the loss of comfort and sleep. As you know they do not fold back up to the same size once they have been used.
    Also what do you carry for back up? If you are already at the emergency sheet what is the fall back position?

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    I switched to one of these https://www.rei.com/product/891011/sol-escape-lite-bivy. They are more durable and more importantly breathable. The cheap mylar blankets dont breathe and if your gear isnt damp when you start using one, it will be.

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    Buy real gear for the conditions you expect to encounter.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average American View Post
    ...you guys think the extra weight lossed from not carrying a tent/sleeping bag is worth the lack in comfort for a multi week backpacking trip?
    I can't think of any multi-week hiking/camping scenarios I've been in where a space blanket would have been better than a lightweight shelter and sleeping bag or quilt. Usually it would be a very bad idea.

  8. #8

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    If there's a doubt, there is no doubt.

    If you find yourself questioning if an emergency foil blanket would be suitable for a multi-week backpacking trip, that's a pretty big doubt. Bite the bullet and bring a small shelter and quilt or bag so you are sure to not only survive the trip if weather turns sour but your disposition during the trek will likely be much improved over sleeping in the open on the wet ground with rain falling and a blanket that is unable to cover you from weather completely. However, what seems pretty clear to me at 65 may not have at 24.

    Good luck!

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    I'm going to play a little devil's advocate here . . . because, basically I agree that the right gear will allow the most rewarding trip.

    Where and when you are planning your multi-week excursion is a huge issues in this discussion.

    If you like sleeping under the stars (cowboy camping as it is often called on these forums) and there is a limited chance of precipitation during your trip, and you want to use the emergency blanket on the unlikely occasion of needed protection from rain, heck, go for it . . . as long as you've successfully used your emergency blanket in rain conditions before and been happy with the results. If not, you'd better figure out how to pitch your emergency blanket for rain and try it out, and be successful, or get the "right gear" to begin with.

    Good luck and have fun!
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    On my Middle East desert trips, I never carry a shelter of any kind, but just sleep under the stars.
    I'm carrying a space blanket in my pack all the time.
    Once it started to rain, hail and snow in earnest and I tried first time to really use this space blanket.
    It failed miserably. The wind tore it immediately. After minutes it was shredded to pieces.

    An emergency blanket is only good for one single task: In case of emergency, wrap it around your body to keep you alive for some more hours while rescue is underway.
    One might try to sleep in a bivouac sack, which is way heavier than an emergency blanket but more lightweight than a tent. Not comfortable, but could work for a bunch of nights.

  11. #11

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    If memory serves me, there’s a post over on Backpackinglight where a guy describes (with pictures) modifications he did to the window stuff—cryo-whatever. He used some packing tape to reinforce a few places, noted where and how he put on tie outs, and then used it like an ultralight tarp and it lasted for quite a while for him. I’ll stick with my tent, but I’ve thought about using some of the reinforcement ideas to make a super light tarp to sit and cook under at camp.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The key word here is "Emergency". These things are pretty much single use. If you can fold one back up into a really small size, you have more patience then I do. ...
    The space blanket, and those cheap plastic rain ponchos, are folded and packed by machine. Use them once.. get frustrated trying to get them back in the package... throw them away... go buy another! Great marketing ploy!
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I switched to one of these https://www.rei.com/product/891011/sol-escape-lite-bivy. They are more durable and more importantly breathable. The cheap mylar blankets dont breathe and if your gear isnt damp when you start using one, it will be.
    Thanks for the suggestion. How well does it keep you warm in late fall/early spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I'm going to play a little devil's advocate here . . . because, basically I agree that the right gear will allow the most rewarding trip.

    Where and when you are planning your multi-week excursion is a huge issues in this discussion.

    If you like sleeping under the stars (cowboy camping as it is often called on these forums) and there is a limited chance of precipitation during your trip, and you want to use the emergency blanket on the unlikely occasion of needed protection from rain, heck, go for it . . . as long as you've successfully used your emergency blanket in rain conditions before and been happy with the results. If not, you'd better figure out how to pitch your emergency blanket for rain and try it out, and be successful, or get the "right gear" to begin with.

    Good luck and have fun!
    This was more of a theoretical question (I don't have anything planned yet). I've successfully used them on one/two night wilderness survival campouts back when I was in boy scouts during late doing/early summer and outside of comfort didn't have any real issues so I was just wondering about the long term durability/use of them (which everyone has answered pretty well).

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    On my Middle East desert trips, I never carry a shelter of any kind, but just sleep under the stars.
    I'm carrying a space blanket in my pack all the time.
    Once it started to rain, hail and snow in earnest and I tried first time to really use this space blanket.
    It failed miserably. The wind tore it immediately. After minutes it was shredded to pieces.

    An emergency blanket is only good for one single task: In case of emergency, wrap it around your body to keep you alive for some more hours while rescue is underway.
    One might try to sleep in a bivouac sack, which is way heavier than an emergency blanket but more lightweight than a tent. Not comfortable, but could work for a bunch of nights.
    Thanks for the info!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pringles View Post
    If memory serves me, there’s a post over on Backpackinglight where a guy describes (with pictures) modifications he did to the window stuff—cryo-whatever. He used some packing tape to reinforce a few places, noted where and how he put on tie outs, and then used it like an ultralight tarp and it lasted for quite a while for him. I’ll stick with my tent, but I’ve thought about using some of the reinforcement ideas to make a super light tarp to sit and cook under at camp.
    Link by chance? I couldn't find it.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by atraildreamer View Post
    The space blanket, and those cheap plastic rain ponchos, are folded and packed by machine. Use them once.. get frustrated trying to get them back in the package... throw them away... go buy another! Great marketing ploy!
    Humor aside, I once had a heavier duty version of a space blanket that was similar to the ubiquitous blue tarp, but with one side having mylar bonded to it. You could use it as a tarp, a blanket, a tent ground cloth, shelter, or wrap yourself up in it like it was a sleeping bag. I also used it as the padding for my back in my day pack. The heavier weight was offset by its versatility. (NO...I don't sell them, although.....?)


    This listing is similar to what I had:

    https://www.amazon.com/UST-Survival-...gateway&sr=8-4


    Space blanket tarp 08292019.jpg
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  15. #15

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    This is the backpacking light thread about making a tarp tent out of Cryo stuff.

    https://backpackinglight.com/forums/...-a-frame-tarp/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average American View Post
    They are light weight and can fold up into a really small size. I have used them before as a shelter and sleeping for one/two nights at a time and it's worked but do you guys think the extra weight lossed from not carrying a tent/sleeping bag is worth the lack in comfort for a multi week backpacking trip?
    Shelter, no, absolutely not. To supplement your insulation when temps might stress it, sure. I agree that they are mostly single use, and probably not great for multi-week, maybe multi-day. That Sol Bivy at REI is more multi-use for sure, but looks like a haven for condensation. Personally, I'd state what your location and season will be and what gear you have to get some good weather info as well as advice on the best way to accommodate your needs. Multi-week means prep for anything. Multi-day means your choice on believing the dry, moderate temp forecast. Mountains tend to have their own weather system. For example, Siler Bald in October, forecast dry and low 40s for nearest town, but surrounded in clouds/drizzle on the bald with low of 29, big difference. Normally I take 10 degrees off town temp forecast, but didn't plan on the wet conditions.
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  17. #17
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    I use one as a ground cloth. I wouldn't rely on it for anything else. OTOH, you note that you've slept in it before for a night or two, so you have the experience to know if it's suitable for you.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by scrabbler View Post
    Buy real gear for the conditions you expect to encounter.
    EXACTLY!
    Ill bet you will freeze to death by 3am in the NE cold.
    How cold are you talking about?... BUT then again.... florida cold is at 70deg.

    Now as a tarp over the front of a lean to it will block the winds if properly hung. It will sound like ice crackling all night n slam with terror on gusts.

    Get the real deal for your temps for overnight situations.

    Another possable solution is to carry enough layers, or insulation layers, to stay in the woods a night? Tent isnt always the way to go. Bivys are cheap n light weight.

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