Survive Outdoors Longer Blanket and Bivvy

As we head into a new Fall season, temperatures are starting to drop at the same time as people travel for holidays and continue to enjoy the great outdoors. Every year, hundreds of people unwittingly find themselves in situations where they have to spend an unexpected night away from the comforts of the home. Regardless of the situation that put them there, the potential risk of hypothermia increases as the temperatures fall and without the proper equipment and know-how, that could be deadly. The Heatsheets Blanket and Emergency Bivvy from Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) are two products that are available to help prevent just such a tragedy from occurring.

The bivvy is just 2.5″ X 3″ in its bag while the blanket is 4” X 7″ in its pouch.

Space Blankets vs. Survive Outdoors Longer

If you have ever used or handled the legacy space blankets found in many emergency kits then one of the first things that you noticed was how noisy the material was. It seemed like the slightest movement of the blanket unleashed the crinkling of 1,000 plastic bags. The metalized polyethylene material that the SOL products are made is up to 50% thicker than contemporary metalized polyester type emergency blankets. This thicker construction not only makes it quieter but much more durable as the material will stretch and give before it tears. Even if a hole forms, it won’t shred like traditional space blankets do and can be easily repaired with duct tape. Finally, the orange exterior not only makes you more visible to rescuers but it’s also there to remind you which side is reflective. Traditional space blankets that are all silver can be easily turned inside out in stressful situations, essentially making it useless.  

Heatsheets Blanket

The SOL Heatsheets blanket that I bought is their larger 60” X 96” emergency blanket that is large enough for two people to wrap up in. The dimensions of the blanket also make it a multipurpose item, capable of being used as an emergency shelter if need be.

Heatsheets blanket and SOL Emergency Bivvy laid out side by side.

On the blaze orange side of the blanket, there are numerous instructions in multiple languages to cover survival topics such as first aid, water collection, and shelter building. The information was pretty basic but a good resource nonetheless. The blanket came packaged in a resealable pouch that’s expandable so you can repack the blanket later on.  

Emergency instructions are printed on the blanket and in multiple languages.

Using the blanket as just a blanket was pretty straightforward and the generous size made it easy to completely wrap up in it.  It also would’ve have been too hard to fashion it into a sleeping bag like I used to do with my poncho liner back in the day.

Obviously it’s summer when this photo was taken but in colder climates, this blanket can easily envelop you and your stuff to keep it out of the elements.

Of course, the blanket is windproof/waterproof so therefore not breathable and from time to time it was necessary to open up the front a little to ventilate. If I didn’t ventilate then condensation would have built up on the inside, potentially increasing my chances for hypothermia in an emergency.

SOL Emergency Bivvy

The SOL Emergency Bivvy was the smallest, most compact bivvy that I could find and is made from the same material as the Heatsheets blanket.  The bivvy is essentially a 36” X 84” bag that comes neatly rolled in its own drawstring pouch. Unlike the blanket, the bivvy isn’t as multipurpose but it is windproof, waterproof, and large enough for a full-grown adult to wiggle into. In use, I found I was able to easily get in the bivvy wearing boots, jeans, and a long-sleeved shirt by rolling it down towards the bottom and stepping into it. It was a little restrictive width-wise for my 5’10” 225lb frame but nothing too severe, no worse than some mummy sleeping bags I’ve been in.

Under the Heatsheets plow point shelter with plenty of room.

When I was in a seated position inside the bivvy, I was generally able to bring the bag up to the back of my head but not really completely over it.   This may or may not be an issue for some people, I felt it was worth noting. Just like the blanket, the bivvy doesn’t breathe either so with only one way in and one way out, periodically venting the bag to mitigate condensation build-up is crucial.

Shelter

I used the Heatsheets blanket to set up a hasty emergency shelter, which wasn’t difficult using some 550 cord, stones, and field made tent stakes. I used the stones to help tie off the corners of the blanket to form a simple plow point shelter with the back facing into the wind.

The blaze orange will get you easily noticed by search and rescue parties.
The nature of the material used in the Heatsheets blankets lets it stretch considerably, allowing me to get away with this technique using a stone to secure the corners.

My small camp was just temporary but it demonstrated to me the versatility and effectiveness of these two SOL products. If I had planned to spend the night out there I definitely would’ve needed a bed of dry grass or leaves about 8” thick to insulate myself from the ground. Without it, conduction would’ve robbed me of much of the warmth I was trying to retain using the bivvy. I started a fire using my Morakniv Companion Spark several feet away from the shelter so I didn’t risk burning the whole thing down.

The shiny side of the blanket did a great job at reflecting some of the heat from the fire and keeping within the shelter.

I did make some mistakes though, one of which could’ve been pretty bad with an inferior blanket, I caught it with my boot getting into the shelter. Luckily, all it did was stretch the material some and for the most part, the shelter was big enough to move around without too much awkwardness. 

The crinkled up area beside “Space” is the extent of the damage of swinging my leg in and catching my shelter with my boot.

The plow point shelter is easy to set up quickly but the blanket can be configured into variations of a lean-to or A-frame shelter without much effort. In hot climates, the silver side can even be turned out to reflect the Sun’s rays and provide a cool shady spot to rest. Further uses for the blanket include as a signaling device, water collector, and groundsheet to name a few.  

Observations and Closing Thoughts

According to the product literature, both of these items are reusable and from what I’ve experienced that is certainly true. Both of these picked up some wear but they are still completely functional and serviceable if I need to use them down the road. In fact, I was able to fold up both and fit them back into their original packaging for storage, just try and do that with a traditional space blanket.  

It was surprising how easily they went back into their packaging.

Before I wrap things up, I feel it’s important to touch on some emergency blanket best practices. Firstly, both of these products can only reflect heat back to you and have no insulating value in and of themselves. That means if you use one of these and just sit or lay on a bare surface, pretty soon conduction is going to suck the heat right out of you. Always insulate yourself from the surface you’re resting on to help make these two products more effective and keep you alive. Lastly, while you could make it through a night in reasonable conditions using either of these products on their own, I recommend using them with a fire whenever possible. Just don’t get either one too close to the flames, they will go up like a Roman candle.  

Sealed up and ready to be used again.

Overall, I liked both products very much and highly recommend them for your pack, your home, and/or your vehicle’s emergency kit. Life is too unpredictable not to have something as lightweight and compact as these items, which could provide serious help in a life-threatening situation. The SOL Heatsheets 1-2 Person Blanket can be found for approximately $8.00 and the SOL Emergency Bivvy costs around $16.00, so they’re incredibly affordable for the peace of mind they can provide.  

For more information visit Survive Outdoors Longer website.

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About the author: Ian Kenney Ian is a lifelong firearms enthusiast and veteran of the Global War on Terror. For over a decade, he has been actively competing in precision rifle and action shooting competitions. Ian has also contributed to multiple online publications, covering general firearms topics, precision rifles, and helping to improve the skills of shooters.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Irish-7 September 15, 2020, 9:52 am

    I put an SOL Bivvy and Heatsheet Space Blanket in all our Get Home Bags and survival kits. Although I never slept in either, I feel they are a lot more durable than the flimsy, foil models. I also purchase the All Weather Blankets, which are better for shelter building than the Heatsheets. SOL makes some really cool survival products! I gave all my family members an SOL Survival Tool Kits. Really compact, but handy gizmo containing multiple survival items!

  • Bad Penguin September 14, 2020, 11:09 am

    These are great to keep in a bug out bag or the emergency kit in your car but TYVEK is a great thing to keep around for the same uses and its reusable.

  • JCitizen September 14, 2020, 11:03 am

    When I was in the service, I found out that two simple items would get me through almost anything; a LC camo poncho/shelter half, and a synthetic material poncho liner – at least I think I have the nomenclature correct. There were both as simple as could be, but light weight, and could get you through a cold rainy night in the mountains. I almost felt like I was cheating; but we quit using our issue arctic sleeping bags, because they just weren’t necessary with the then, space age materials. I don’t know what they issue now, but these two items were light, compactible, and a super survival thing to have. You won’t find it on the LC-1 field equipment list, but they were the newest thing after ALICE was adopted last century. The poncho was capable of being buttoned right in with the older style shelter half, so it served both purposes.

    Of course, if you want rescued, orange is better, but if you are a prepper you might want woodland camo instead, and that what the ALICE type poncho/shelter half was colored like, the liner was a green color as well. Both fit in the fanny pack, and there was even room for our MOPP gear in there as well – I kept my MOPP boots tied outside the pack underneath, so was ready for anything. We weren’t straight leg infantry, but nuclear artillery, so we didn’t always keep a fully loaded back pack on our persons every waking moment, but we definitely kept the this arrangement on our LBE at all times and wore it religiously.

    • Irish-7 September 15, 2020, 2:35 am

      I started off in the Airborne Infantry. The poncho and liner were issue items for all of us. Straight leg Infantry were issued the poncho, but not the liner. It was common for us to put our protective mask inside the ruck, then shove the poncho liner in the mask carrier. It was quickly accessible when the leaders went off on reconnaissance. When you’re walking, your warm. If you stop for too long, you get cold quick! Forty years later (retired in SEP 10), I still use the poncho liner while napping in the house. My whole family, wife and 2 grown boys, all own one. Our pets love them, too!

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