Anybody else try the SOL Escape Bivy? I found one on clearance for $35 shipped and…

Anybody else try the SOL Escape Bivy? I found one on clearance for $35 shipped and thought I'd give it a try. $50 is too rich for my blood given the mixed reviews and stories how it's a tight fit. Only been wanting one for 2 years.

The features I liked in the ads are the unobtrusive green color, heat reflective construction, and waterproof while being breathable.

I ran it through it's paces as best as I can with the temps running around 0 outside.

Initial test. I filled the stuff sack with water. The sack is made of the same material, without the nicer seams. The water poured out the seems, but no seeping on the main material. Sticking your hand in the bag, you do feel the 'space blanket' effect with nearly instantly warmer hands.

First night I climbed in it in bed, and tossed my usual quilt and wool blanket over me and the bag. I felt decidedly warmer than usual even with lots of skin contact to the bag. In the morning there was no clamminess so the breath-ability claim is substantiated in my book. If it didn't breath, I should have been swimming like a fish.

For the 2nd night, I decided to 'camp out' in my basement with my oldest 2 girls. The basement runs mid 60s during the winter. I rigged up a pair of hammocks for my girls out of bed sheets and lots of blankets. 
I slept in a hammock and the bivy wearing sweatpants and a tshirt. I froze! My trip out in 3 degree weather and strong winds in  down bags had me less chilled (although much colder in spots) than 65 degrees with this bivy. 3 am, I folded and grabbed my light down jacket and wool hat. Covering my torso and arms and I slept great the rest of the night.

This again confirms what I've known for a while. Space blankets need space in order to work. This bag is SO tight on me that I doubt I can get my summer weight down bag and myself stuffed inside. Warm thin clothes is the best I can hope for.

I think I may modify the bag by adding a heavy space blanket diamond to the bottom. Slit the bag about 3 feet and tape in a diamond shaped patch maybe 6 inches wide. I am going to try to seal the stuff sack with some Gorilla brand clear repair tape to see how well it sticks and durability before I cut the bag.

This isn't a down bag, for sure. I don't foresee any use for this in cold weather. It is also not a comfortable bag. Given the size and weight, it will be my ultralight summer setup. I will be using this bag a lot I expect simply because it's so svelte. Cowboy camping in my future in this bag for sure!

Anybody else try this bag?

In album 2015-02-22

244 grams for a waterproof bivy/sleeping bag seems like a great way to go ultralight.

Shiny on the inside. Supposed to reflect radiant heat back at you. As long as you don’t touch it.

Overnight in the hammock hung in the basement, 63-65f, and I froze wearing sweatpants and a tshirt. 3am I had to get my down jacket and a wool hat, and then I was good the rest of the night.

Some nice details such as nice finished seems on the inside, and a dart at the end of the 1/4 length zipper. Six foot four 235lbs for 2 nights really pushes out on the bag and the seems only settled a little bit.

I rigged up a pair of bedsheet hammocks for the girls, tied off the treadmill. They enjoyed it OK. Not a fan of the hammock yet. Practicing camping with them so they do better when we go for real.

I decided to 'fix' a blanket I got from freecycle

It is a military wool blanket. I love wool blankets for camping and hanging out outdoors. I don't much care for the olive green – even though green is my favorite color.
So I dyed one side of if grey. I couldn't find anybody else online (just a short search) that dyes a single side of a blanket. So I made it up as I went along. I'd picked up some Dharma Trading 'Twilight grey' and basically painted it on for lack of better description. 
Normally you soak whatever you want to dye, but that will get the whole thing. So I mixed up the dye, water, vinegar (a mordant, helps the acid dye work) and a bit later, soap, for better 'wetting' of the blanket.
I am really, really impressed with how it turned out.

In album Dye single side of wool blanket

The green is still green, the grey, is a dark forest green.

Something I’ve done with the grey blanket is made it more water resistant.

water beaded up in the center, soaked in on the lower right.

I’d treated the grey blanket last year with lanolin. The oil that naturally occurs in wool while the sheep are wearing it, It’s what keeps sheep dry in the rain. In one context it seems silly that it’s taken out, but the wool can’t be dyed with it still in the fibers. So I add it back, and make the blanket more water resistant.

I am dying my green wool blanket grey.

I am spraying the dye on. I am using a spray bottle rescued from the recycling. It works just as good as the ones that cost $3 – probably because it did cost $3, but full, not empty.

I mixed up the dye, vinegar, and water into a juice container rescued from the recycling, and poured it in a little at a time with the funnel. The second batch I added a bit of dish soap to ‘wet’ the wool. The dye spray was beading on the fibers, the soap helps it soak deeper into the fabric.

The light grey in the upper right is the dye as sprayed on. I worked it into the blanket surface so I got better contact with the fibers instead of the spray just sitting on top of the blanket.

I want a mildly dappled effect, so I heavily dappled the blanket with the dye. It spreads out, so the effect is much more subtle when dried.

I hope…

In order to set the dye, I microwaved the blanket while it was still damp. I misted the dye side with the dye right before folding it dye side together and rolling it up. Microwave the daylights out of it in couple minute bursts.  I took it out, and re-rolled it with what was on the inside on the outside so I get even steaming of the dye.

I re-folded the blanket and nuked it some more. It was probably cooking a dozen 2 minute bursts.

I stuck it into a kidde pool to wash. This is the moment of truth… did the dye bind to the wool or will it leach out?

The water just barely tinted, so the dye fixed to the wool! YAY!

Hanging to dry. The color is better than I expected. I really like the dappled effect, very subtle.

The still-damp blanket in the house. I really really like the dappled effect on the folded blanket.

Overnight trip. 10 mile hike in and out Late September, Chicago 'burbs

Water bottle carrier as the 'backpack'.
* Water bottle
* SOL 2 person space blanket
* .7mil plastic sheeting
* Airline wool blend blanket
* Stainless camp cup
* Mason cord
* Rain coat

I quick overnighter to a place a buddy has access to. Crazy lightweight, but I know the area, so I know there are cattails nearby to make a sleeping mat. Rained much of the night, I stayed dry. Mosquitoes where the worst part.

The 10 mile walk in was good, if a bit warm. The 10 mile hike out was brutal. Got badly dehydrated. Water bottle is too small at 32 oz.

I am just getting into backpacking and the concept of "Ultralight'

 I've done a lot of camping in the past, so I have all the heavy stuff. I've a limited budget, so most of my stuff is DIY or cheap bargain gear.

I am currently getting a hammock setup. I've some photos of my mis-adventures in my back yard.

In album Hammock Camping Tweaks

I like this setup. Easy up, easy down. pretty functional in the weather too.

I’ve even tested space blankets.

The little ones LOVE the hammock. It’s a lot of fun to hang out in.

I’ve done extensive research on sleeping gear.

I’ve spent the night in the woods with nothing more than a space blanket & really big mosquitoes. It sucked.

This is my older tent. It’s Huge. And Heavy – 47lbs. I could park a car inside if I could figure out how to get it through the door.

I own a couple of large tents. The kids love this one, it has a doggy door and play tunnel on the back side.

I’ve made my own under-quilts for hammocks. This one is a mylar space blanket and green bubble wrap. I’ve used it on single degree nights with a wool blanket on top of me in the hammock. I was cold, but I made it the night.

I’ve made and weighed my home made gear. This is a large tarp made out of window insulation film and duct tape. This tarp is my main shelter now when I go out.

I made a bathtub floor for sleeping on the ground if I was so inclined.

Space Blanket tarp made from 2 cheap blankets taped together and duct tape tie-outs. When used right, it can make the difference between a cold night and a really cold night.

Half a dozen tent stakes.

I’ve even weighed the bag. It was free, I will use it until I find something lighter for cheaper.

Under 4 lbs. for this shelter. Not great, but much better than the 47 lbs tent I hiked a mile into the woods once…

Taken during a ‘Blue Moon’. A clear roof means you can star gaze and stay dry. I turned on the flash so you can see the tarp.

My ‘new’ tent looks to be a nice one

I love Freecycle. I picked up a tent a couple of years back, and finally pitched it this weekend. I was told it was broken when I picked it up, so that’s why I’ve waited so long to pitch it. I needed an excuse to want to mess with it.

The excuse is that I am dog-sitting my parents dog right now, and this tent is a ‘dog friendly’ style.

The elastic shock cords that hold the tent poles together are completely shot. I’d guess that this means the tent is quite old or was stored in a hot place maybe?

The tent is otherwise like new. I bent the light weight stakes putting them into my recently rain-softened ground than they were already. There isn’t any dirt on or in the tent. A lot of the sewn loops look like they have never been used. I think the tent was pitched once, packed up, and never used!

Julie in the new tent
Julie in the new tent
Bella checking out Julie in the new tent
Bella checking out Julie in the new tent
The girls liking their new digs
The girls liking their new digs
Bella playing hide and seek
Bella playing hide and seek
There she is!
There she is!
The best I can figure, is this here is the broken part on the tent.
The best I can figure, is this here is the broken part on the tent.
The tie-out is supposed to look like this, so the tent pole has a pin to clip to.
The tie-out is supposed to look like this, so the tent pole has a pin to clip to.
This is the 'doggy den' feature of the tent and a small dog-door
This is the ‘doggy den’ feature of the tent and a small dog-door
She sure loves hide and seek!
She sure loves hide and seek!
The tent looks pretty sharp
The tent looks pretty sharp
Hanging out in the tent, enjoying a snack
Hanging out in the tent, enjoying a snack
The doggy den is an awesome play tunnel
The doggy den is an awesome play tunnel

 

Lucy checking things out
Lucy checking things out
The girls love the tent
The girls love the tent
Lucy likes the tent too
Lucy likes the tent too
The little ones
The little ones
So ready to go camping!
So ready to go camping!

I am going to make a ring with the tent pole pin and install it to the loop that lacks that device. The poles are going to get spray painted a different color for each pole so I can sort the pieces of poles easily.

I’m going to hose the tent down and see how water proof it is.

Once fixed up, this may become my main tent while the kids are little because that built in play tunnel is just so darn fun!