SOL Escape Bivvy Review
Cons: Not waterproof, tight fit for taller individuals
Manufacturer: Survive Outdoors Longer
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|Pros||Light, durable, warm, affordable||Lightweight, weatherproof, roomy, ease of use, bug screen||Lightweight, versatile, stows easily, price is right||Extremely lightweight, packable||Weight, packed size|
|Cons||Not waterproof, tight fit for taller individuals||Stuff sack too large||Leaky zippers||Expensive, no zipper||Durability, no zipper/cinch|
|Bottom Line||The Escape is an excellent lightweight choice for cold dry climates or emergency situations||This very well may be the new standard in what we expect from a top-notch bivy sack||This model boasts an enticing weight, comfort, and versatility ratio||An effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist shelters||An ultra lightweight, reusable emergency bivy best suited for very occasional use|
|Rating Categories||SOL Escape Bivvy||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||MSR Pro Bivy||Survival Frog Tact...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||SOL Escape Bivvy||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||MSR Pro Bivy||Survival Frog Tact...|
|Measured Weight (oz.)||8.4 oz||16.3 oz||13.6 oz||8.9 oz||4.6 oz|
|Packed Size (in.)||4" x 7.5"||4" x 12.5"||3" x 9.5"||8" x 3.5"||2" x 4.5"|
|Waterproof?||Water-resistant fabric with waterproof seams||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Open Length (in.)||84"||82"||80"||88"||84"|
|Shoulder Width (in.)||31"||26"||36"||36"||36"|
|Material (top/bottom)||Metalized Spun-bonded Olefin||Top: Pertex Shield 2.5L 100% nylon Bottom: 100% 40D nylon||Top: 20D Nylon Ripstop
Bottom: 30D Nylon Ripstop
|20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm||Polyester Film|
|Sleeping Bag or Pad Attachments?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Poles?||No||Yes, one overhead shockcorded Delrin pole||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Barely tipping the scales at a half of a pound, the SOL Escape was one of the more impressive models we tested. Made from SOL's proprietary fabric (which feels similar to a DuPont Tyvec Lab suit) and an inner reflective coating, the SOL excelled at keeping us warm while also relatively dry on the inside. Before we go any further, it's important to note that this bivy isn't in the same ballpark as the much heavier, or even the mid-range adventure models. The Escape isn't suited for long expeditions or sleeping in snow caves unless you have tigers blood flowing through your veins; instead, it fills a niche for lightweight, durable warmth for ultralight endeavors.
All of this weight savings comes at a cost. The Escape is a one size fits all bivy. In the case of our 5 foot, 11-inch, 180-pound gear tester, it just barely fit. Anyone larger than this wouldn't be able to completely close the drawstring head closure and probably would be uncomfortable and constricted in both length and width. Additionally, we were using a 30 degree down Western Mountaineering bag. A loftier bag would also fill up the small space inside the Escape. Supposing you are smaller, this bivy is an excellent choice because some of the others in this review are large enough to create cold dead space inside the bag. All in all, this bag is hard to beat for its affordable price, weight, and relative durability.
The Escape is a minimalist bivy. There are no attachment points to stake it down or guylines. The side zipper is a one-third zip, and the top opening cinches with a drawstring, much like a mummy sleeping bag. Because the side zipper is a basic YKK style and the main closure is a drawstring, the top of the bag is vulnerable to the elements. The zipper also is very porous, and if getting directly blasted by rain, it leaks.
Having the knowledge of the SOL Escape's limits will go a long way in getting the most out of this bivy. We found excellent protection against light rain, wind, and especially cold from the SOL.
The metalized spun-bonded olefin (popularized as Tyvek house wrap) material of the SOL Escape does an excellent job at keeping moisture and wind out while remaining breathable. Except for situations when the wind was strong enough to blow snow and rain up and inside the bivy, we remained warm and dry.
The Escape is highly refined and well-suited for adding warmth and survivability in harsh weather conditions. Its Olefin material feels incredibly strong and tops other emergency bivies with its zipper/drawstring closure to keep the elements out.
The Escape is unique in this field of nylon polymer-based bivy sacks. The Escape is made from the metalized spun-bonded olefin, which is basically a layer of Tyvek house wrap coated with reflective aluminum.
This unique material rings in at 2.45 oz per yard, resulting in an 8.36 oz bivy, including its stuff sack. That's half a pound for an extremely functional bivy. The weight-to-performance ratio of this bivy is arguably at or near the top of the field. We found that unless there were big storms on the horizon, this bag found its way into our pack.
When compared side-by-side with the rest of the models in the field, the Escape is far from the most comfortable. This bag was designed to make extremely uncomfortable situations less unbearable, and it does well in those situations. We found the one size fits all SOL to be a little bit too short and narrow for our 5 foot, 11-inch, 180-pound frame. When we put our Z-Rest sleeping pad and 30-degree Western Mountaineering sleeping bag inside, there wasn't enough room to roll and turn as we slept.
Other bivy sacks have the same positive attributes as the SOL Escape but have a much larger footprint. We could fit a full-length inflatable sleeping pad, down sleeping bag, and a 6 foot, 2-inch gear tester with room to spare into other bivies. That said, if you're 5 feet, 11 inches, or shorter, the SOL Escape might be the more comfortable option for you as it wouldn't have an excess of dead space inside.
Another comfort issue arose when we wanted to zip or unzip our sleeping bag. When the zipper was completely undone and had to be recoupled before zipping up, we didn't have enough room to move both hands easily. The bivy had to be unzipped first to give us enough room/mobility.
It's important to note that universally, all of the models we tested ended up collecting condensation on the inside of the bag. The Escape is no exception. In extreme cold, when we had the bag fully zipped and cinched, we noticed moisture collecting on the inside of the bag by morning. This was enough moisture to dampen the outer shell of our sleeping bag but not enough to collect and diminish the down's ability to keep us warm. All in all, the metalized spun-bonded olefin seems optimized to breathe while retaining decent water resistance.
In conditions not requiring the bivy to be completely cinched closed, we found the venting of the zipper and head opening to be adequate. Even in colder temperatures, we remained comfortable having the top wide open. In this configuration, we experienced a nominal amount of condensation without any discomfort resulting from the moisture collection.
The Escape was one of the most packable and portable contenders we tested.
The no extras/minimalist approach in the design of this bag yielded an incredibly efficient and tidy package. Not only is the packed bivy, at 4 inches by 7.5 inches, easy to stow, it was also one of the easiest to unpack and repack in its stuff sack.
Upon first viewing of the Escape bivy, its price might seem steep. The first time you get caught out after dark with an unplanned bivy, you will realize the high value of this piece of kit. The SOL is much more durable than an emergency blanket. This thing is built to last and feels durable and puncture-resistant. In addition, it easily adds 10 degrees to your sleeping bag's temperature rating. When we had a sleeping pad with us, this bivy was actually pretty comfortable, too. We feel like while this isn't the most weather resistant or the most comfortable, it is definitely worth its weight and price tag.
The SOL Escape is targeted to those seeking to have a lightweight but functional kit in addition to those who just need an emergency bivy. We would not only use this bivy ourselves, we would recommend it to anyone looking for a lightweight, warm moderately weather-resistant bivy solution.
— Brian Martin
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