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Emergency Shelters

Top Picks

How we choose: The best emergency shelters highlighted here were selected based on 27 reviews of 11 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a emergency shelter that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

UST Survival Blanket 2.0

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

This emergency blanket/tarp is the best bang for your buck, hands down. Tough and durable at a price that anyone can afford.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durable material
  • Mylar side is fireproof
  • Grommeted for use as a tarp
  • Blaze orange for high visibility
  • Mylar side is fireproof
  • Extremely economical

Reasons to Avoid

  • Bulky
  • Noisy

The UST Survival Blanket is one piece of equipment that is a must have for anyone. I have purchased several of these to keep in the emergency kits in our vehicles, a BOB at home, and I have two of them in my pack when I am out in the woods. I am not a typical backpacker, making long treks cross country. I typically go in and set up a base camp and then spend the next few days hunting and fishing for my food. These UST blankets have been a part of my gear for a couple of years now. First of all, the price is unmatched.

Read more: UST Survival Blanket 2.0 reviews (3)

SOL Thermal Bivvy

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

Turns a light summer bag into an impromptu "colder weather" bag. Very compact, lightweight, and easy to use. Durable, and it's NOT a mummy style for us larger guys/gals.

Reasons to Buy

  • Seemingly very durable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Will fit over most full size bags
  • Water/weather resistant
  • Opens at feet for ventilation

Reasons to Avoid

  • Velcro tabs could be sturdier/closer together
  • Used as a stand-alone, condensation can be a factor

On a recent summer outing with my son, I made an egregious rookie mistake when packing and did not account for a "cold snap" that was moving through the area. While low temps had been in the low/mid 60's F for awhile, on our trip they dipped down into the high 30's and low 40's for several nights. I had only brought my Coleman light summer bag (generously rated at 50 degrees), no jacket, and no other blankets. Mistake...huge mistake. After getting virtually no sleep the first night (low 40's), grumpy and cold I remembered that I had an SOL Thermal Bivvy in my trunk (bought in 2016) for emergencies and my demeanor improved greatly.

Read more: SOL Thermal Bivvy reviews (5)

SOL Survival Poncho

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A light, effective emergency blanket/poncho.

Reasons to Buy

  • Packs small and lightweight
  • Not bombproof, but durable enough
  • Reusable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Could be slightly longer

I've been a big fan of SOL/AMK Heatsheet blankets for some time now. Much more durable and useable than the chintzy ones you so often see labeled as emergency blankets. I've got to test the Heatsheets out a couple of times and with a little work was able to refold them and reuse them. The SOL Survival Poncho is made of the exact same proven material. Obviously at this light weight (2.7 oz) it isn't bombproof, but plenty durable for its intended purposes—a survival situation. The poncho measures 50" across and 38" in length (excluding the hood).

Read more: SOL Survival Poncho review (1)

SOL Escape Bivvy

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

The SOL Escape Bivvy is excellent for campers who don't use tents, but prefer to use a tarp or sleep under the stars. It in conjunction with a sleeping bag can perform even in very low temperatures as a full shelter system.

Reasons to Buy

  • Extremely light
  • Very space efficient
  • Reflective interior keeps you warm
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Waterproof and breathable carrying bag

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very little 'elbow' room
  • A little bit expensive
  • Difficult to pack in case

SOL Escape Bivvy The escape bivvy, in my opinion, is a bivvy like no other. It’s durable, warm, and comfortable. It does have its downsides though like the fact that you can’t move your arms very easily while inside, especially when using a sleeping bag inside of it. Breathability When I first bought it, I didn’t understand what breathability meant. But I discovered its importance when I first used it. My friend and I went minimalist camping in the mountains, bringing only a tarp, our bivvy bags, and sleeping bags as shelter.

Read more: SOL Escape Bivvy reviews (5)

SOL Heatsheets Emergency Blanket

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

An emergency blacket that is small enough to fit in a large locket on your pants or jacket. If you become separated from your pack/camp (don't laugh, it happens) you will be glad that you had this blanket with you.

Reasons to Buy

  • Small and lightweight
  • It is better than nothing

Reasons to Avoid

  • You have to physically carry with you everywhere

Hopefully you never need it, but if you do it will be the best $6 you ever spent.

Read more: SOL Heatsheets Emergency Blanket reviews (2)

Space All-Weather Blanket

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

This tough space blanket can be used as a tarp or a groundsheet, but I like it best as a blanket reflecting my body heat back at me. Unlike cheap cellophane space blankets, this one is tough enough to use and reuse many times. Essential gear!

Reasons to Buy

  • Reflects body heat very effectively
  • Tough construction good for re-using many times
  • Can be a groundsheet or tarp or line inside of a tent
  • Lasts for many picnics and camping trips

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can build up condensation on inside when used as a blanket

This reinforced space blanket is tough enough to use as a tarp or a groundsheet, but what I like best to do is put it on the floor of my tent with my sleeping bag on it. If I get cold, I flip half the blanket over my bag. It reflects my heat back at me. A little condensation builds up but it tends to evaporate again if I leave the blanket loose instead of pulling it tight at my neck. My space blanket is ten years old and gets used every summer. I take it on picnics to sit on as a waterproof picnic blanket.

Read more: Space All-Weather Blanket reviews (2)

UST Base Tube Tarp 1.0

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A light and simple emergency shelter.

Reasons to Buy

  • Bright color
  • Light
  • Easy to set up

Reasons to Avoid

  • None?

I got this as part of the 10 Essentials prize pack as a 2016 Trailspace Reviewer of the Month. I haven't used it on some emergency situation since I luckily haven't had one. But I have set it up just to get familiar with it. The color is right to get easily spoted when waiting for resque and the weight is, as expected, very low. I think it was at around 700gr. Perfect for carrying as a safety net on an imminent bad weather. All it takes is two trees to make a rope line and a somehow soft terrain to form the triangle shape (the basic setup) and that's it! The beauty of the triangle shape is that you can use you trekking poles to form the base as well, ditching the pegs and shaving extra weight provided that you have the rubber caps for your...

Read more: UST Base Tube Tarp 1.0 review (1)

SOL Escape Pro Bivvy

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Escape Pro Bivvy blurs the line between an emergency survival shelter and an ultralight sleeping bag cover. While it is comfortable and functional in ways a mylar space blanket could never be, the Escape Pro can’t quite compare with full-fledged waterproof-breathable fabric bivvy sacks. In carving its own niche, it may have hung itself out to dry.

Reasons to Buy

  • More comfortable than other emergency shelter options
  • Small packed size
  • Lightweight for a bivvy
  • Provides a bit more warmth than a space blanket
  • A zipper!
  • Stretchy

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not sure what it wants to be
  • Expensive for what it does
  • Stretchy

Best For: Aspiring fastest-known-time record setters. Fastpackers and backpackers needing a just-in-case shelter. WFRs and WEMTs looking for an all-bases-covered hypothermia-treatment option. Prepper types in search of something to answer the “But what if I have to spend a night out?!” question. Big-wall climbers with a bit of room left over on their gear loops and a wily glint in their eye. Design SOL’s Escape Pro Bivvy is the only survival shelter bivvy I’m aware of made of Sympatex’s Reflexion fabric.

Read more: SOL Escape Pro Bivvy review (1)

More Reviews of Emergency Shelters

Trailspace reviewers have shared 27 reviews of 11 different emergency shelters.

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Other Types of Survival Gear

Find more survival gear reviewed in these related categories:

Fire Starters

Survival Kits

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+1 more type

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