Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Search and Rescue Bivy System

Being up here in the somewhat frozen North and being a member of a SAR team, means that emergency bivouacs in the winter are a potential reality.  Yes, I could take the big Gregory Baltoro, throw in my Marmot Alpinist 4-season tent and my Marmot Col sleeping bag, but now my 24-hour pack is 12 pounds heavier.  Of course, it is a lot harder to walk through all that brush.

So, what I needed was a lightweight shelter system, mainly because we don't PLAN on being out overnight.  Sure if we were planning on spending the night, I'd hump all that stuff back there, but realistically most of our SAR missions don't last overnight.  Generally IC, likes to bring everyone in and prevent further injuries.

So, I've developed a system which is highly packable, lightweight, and that I've used in temperatures below freezing.  My test nights could be called - ALMOST comfortable.

My shelter contains the following:

Weather Protection: 
  • Waterproof breathable bivy sack - I carry the Marmot Alpinist bivy - weight 14 oz.  

Warmth Layer:
  • North Face Elephant's Foot - 3/4 sleeping bag - weight 1 pound 
  • Adventure Medical Kits Thermolite bivy  - weight 6.5 oz
  • Puffy Jacket - this varies per the weather conditions, but it is whatever I have on hand.  

Sure we could denude the forest of every pine bough, but most SAR-type folks have a bit of a "green" bent too. We can improvise.  
  •  We all carry partial closed cell foam sit pads - we can use this as part of our pad.  Mine is long enough to cover my upper torso easily. 
  • Use your empty pack as another part of the pad. 
  • Nests of leaves, and pine needles work well too - if you are in the snow though, this won't work. 

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