This is one of those items that we’re all told to carry in our day packs in case of emergency, a mountain essential that can be the difference between life and death. Although, we were amused with the picture of the guy floating in outer space on the packet. That’s probably outside the safety parameters of the bag and we don’t condone it’s use at altitudes no longer considered ‘still on planet Earth’.
We tested out a number of different survival shelters and while the orange bivvy wasn’t out no 1 choice, it’s still normally a reasonable option.
While this is a review for a Highlander bivvy bag, they’re all usuallyvery much the same product. If you find one for a couple of quid then take care that it isn’t flimsy plastic, it should be somewhere between a heavy duty carrier bag and a builder’s rubble bag. It should be sufficiently tough that you can’t push your finger through and damage it.
It’s also important that the user realises what this isn’t. Reading the user reviews on Amazon, some would have you believe this is suitable for planned nights out. You may well survive, and it’s something that all hill-goers should experience once perhaps, but it’s not comfortable and you will be drenched in condensation. If you get some sleep, then you’re doing well. You can get half decent tents for thirty quid or so, this is an emergency only item! Of course, it does take a bit of space in the pack, is extra weight and prone to wear and tear at the bottom of your pack.
The Highlander Survival Bag also has some survival tips printed on the outside. Although one of these is entitled Navigation and helpfully advises you to ensure that you understand how to read a map and use your compass before setting out. I’ve a feeling that by the time someone reads that, then it’s probably too late!
However, while all that holds true for your usual orange bivvy, we just can’t recommend this specific one from Highlander. Simply put, it’s too short for the stated purpose. While most bags have ample length, this one saw Tryf struggling to get in as the bag was just too short and tight. Most bags, and we double checked this afterwards, are sold as 2.1m bags, which is what we expected as standard. This was barely 1.83m, which in all fairness to Highlander is stated clearly, but not something we thought of checking while buying.
In summary, we should all be carrying some sort of survival shelter in the bottom of our packs, just don’t make it the Highlander one unless you’re significantly shorter than average. Carry a longer orange bivvy bag by all means, but then only if you can’t afford a Blizzard Survival Blanket.