Monday, March 17, 2014


Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) Shelter Systems (Equipment Review)
Price Range $15-$50 
Use: Survival, Sleep System, Shelter
This review will cover the vast majority of the Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) Shelter product line. I have been using this product line since it came out due to its compact nature and excellent heat retention capabilities compared to a traditional emergency blanket. For the most part SOL provides a very high quality and reusable product, I will start with the smallest type of shelter I have used from SOL and work my way up to the biggest shelter system I have used.
SOL Survival Blanket: This emergency blanket is 2-3 times thicker than a traditional Mylar blanket and can actually be used multiple times and folded backup and placed into its Ziploc container again. If you only have room for a flat shelter element in a BDU pocket or back pocket of your pants this is an excellent option. While it will not retain heat as well as the bivvy systems it does a decent job as a rapid wind and waterproof improvised shelter. While it does not have grommets to use as a tarp in a shelter element it could be utilized as a tarp using a rock with paracord wrapped around it; however in this configuration expect this shelter to fail after a week or two of rebuilding your shelter.  

 SOL Emergency Bivvy: The smallest of the SOL Bivvy products that is supposed to be a step-up from a survival blanket; however, its lack of adaptability without cutting it doesn’t give it much of an advantage over the emergency blanket in my mind. If you are a taller or bigger person this bivvy is not for you. I’m 6’1” and 250lbs and this bivvy will not work with my size frame, in order to make this bivvy usable I had to cut a slit on each side of the bivvy and re-tape it with gorilla tape on each side. I tested this product with a very small fleece blanket and the setup below in temperatures down the upper 20’s F. This test was conducted with the following clothing along with the shelter element: Mariano wool boot socks, BDU pants, cotton t-shirt, BDU jacket and a baseball cap. I would say that even with this clothing this shelter element was pushed to its maximum without a fire. I was by no means comfortable, while I would gladly utilize the shelter element again without pause, if you can’t handle being a little chilly don’t go this route if the temperature is going to be in the 30’s.

SOL 2-Person Emergency Bivvy: This shelter element is the same makeup as the SOL Emergency Bivvy however is twice as big as the smaller bivvy. If you are 6’ or taller or a larger frame individual then you will defiantly need to grab this shelter element over the former. While it is twice as big once unfolded in the package it is only ¼ or so larger. I will say that once you use it that you will need two people to fold the bivvy in such a manner to get it back into its stuff sack. Also remember both of the emergency bivvy’s are not breathable and thus condensation will build so this needs to be managed.

SOL Escape Bivvy: The most expensive and innovative shelter element of the SOL series. This sleeping bag is a mummy style heat reflective bag that is breathable and doesn’t build condensation. It also comes in OD green and is perfectly paired with the grabber heat reflective tarp (see picture below showing the tarp and bivvy in the same stuff sack). The zipper and larger size of this bivvy make it an essential element of any kit and would easily provide you with sufficient shelter stand alone down to 30 degrees F without a fire. If you add the grabber tarp, fire and a wool or fleece blanket this shelter system could keep you warm well below 0 degrees F. Notice the bottom left picture includes an inflatable pillow, bivvy and OD Grabber aluminized heat reflective tarp all fitting into the SOL Bivvy bag.

Recently SOL came out with a new product the SOL Emergency Shelter Kit. I have not come across one in my area yet; however, it appears to be a decent setup. I have serious doubts that this kit will be able to replace my SOL Escape BIVVY/Grabber Tarp kit but I will give you a review if I can get my hands on one in the near future.

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