The Witch of WenatcheeOutdoors shows off the finest in haute cagoule.

We’re giving away a sample of the product reviewed below. Instructions for entering your name for the giveaway are at the end of the review.

The Three W’s

In cold climates the hierarchy of survival needs boils down to the 3-Ws.

First and foremost comes warmth. In our mountains through most of the year (but particularly in winter) the unprepared will expire of exposure long before dehydration or starvation claim them. Fire can generate warmth in survival situations, but equally important in emergencies is conserving body warmth through clothing and storm shells. Preserving warmth through shelter is also vital for those spending an unexpected night outdoors. It is here that many adventurers visiting wild places find themselves underprepared for delays due to unexpected injuries, broken equipment, or navigation errors.

An extremely versatile warmth-preserving product filling the niche for emergency shelter is the Bivybag Duo made by Exped. Made of SilNylon (silicone-coated nylon) and sewn with swelling threads that seal seams when wet, this 14-ounce product is windproof, waterproof, tough, and has a surprising number of uses. Two people can crawl in and seal it off completely if foul weather warrants this, or two can crawl in and leave some of the vents open to reduce condensation, or two or three people sitting together on packs in the snow can pull it over themselves for a short or long break. In all these cases the amount of heat saved by buddying up in the same sack is startling. Skiers lunching together this way usually don’t need to don additional layers while lost skiers waiting out the night in this sack have a huge survival advantage over those whose heat radiates into the void.

The sack can also be pitched like a tarp allowing a few people to wait out a squall under an eave in comfort. In the tarp configuration, you can also keep warm by building a small fire just beyond the tarp’s edge.

Obivy-ously you don’t have to be hobbit-sized to spend a comfortable night in this spacious Billowed Bag-ins.

The Bivybag Duo has a few one-person uses as well. For super lightweight overnight trips, pitch it as a small one-person A-frame (the addition of two stake loops facilitates this) and you’ll have a tight but habitable structure with a little headroom and better ventilation.

Finally, the sack is designed to be worn as a one-person cagoule/poncho. A head hole and sleeves at one end of the bag lets the entire shebang slip over body and pack for complete and well-ventilated rain protection. You won’t win style points wearing a body bag, but with a sash around the middle you’ll look like John the Baptist wandering the wilderness and that’s pretty cool. As long as you’re not walking through brush where the cagoule’s bagginess will snag on branches, it’s effective rain protection.

All told, this high-tech Glad Bag is versatile enough that a person could take a weeklong wilderness rip with fire makings, a few items of clothing, and the Bivybag Duo serving as both your rain gear and nighttime shelter. You may look homeless walking through a storm wearing your tent, but this one 14-ounce product, used with a little skill, would bring you home safely.

Naturally, if you were out for a week, there’d be more than warmth to consider. You’d also need the two other W’s — Water and Wittles (food) — because everyone knows that man does not live on Warmth alone.


  • The Bivybag Duo (14 ounces, $79 ) functions as a bivy bag for two, temporary comfort for two or three people sitting together, a tarp sheltering two or three, a one-person tent, a one person-cagoule/poncho, and a religious costume in a Christmas play.
  • Made of silicone-coated ripstop nylon (SilNylon), which is waterproof and windproof but not breathable. The fabric is extra light and has tremendous shear strength, but sharp objects can puncture it easily.
  • The thread is nylon core with a cotton mantle that expands when wet. Tunnel seams along the length of the sack prevent the stitch holes from becoming exposed if strained.
  • Stake loops in the corners and at other strategic locations allow the product to be pitched and staked in multiple configurations.

Giveaway Instructions. Go to this post at the and leave a comment asking that your name be entered in the drawing. You can say as little as ‘count me in’ but we wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts on survival items you carry in your pack. If you are not yet registered with the forum, you will need to register first before you can leave a comment. This is easy and is a one-time process.

This post was originally published on 2/13/2013.

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