20 Gram Raincoat

Let it be a golden rule with you that you always carry some form of shelter with you when you are out and about. You can lose heat very quickly in cold. soaking rain and soon be in desperate trouble unless you have some form of shelter.

The humble garbage (or trash) bag is quite good enough to save your life, weighs only around 20 grams, only costs cents and will fit in any pocket – and you almost certainly already own some. If nothing else always have one about your person. It can be configured in a variety of ways, though as a cape rather than as a vest (particularly if you are at all wide n the shoulders) it will probably keep you driest – though you will not have as much freedom of movement as you may like for your arms and hands.

If I wasn’t holding this (too small) bag for the photo it would at least keep me warm to the waist which would be enough to save my life. You need a smaller one for your dog!

A simple space blanket which may cost as little as $1 (also worn as a cape) will work even better and keep you warmer but as you perhaps do not have them on hand it may not come to mind quite so readily. For many years hunting in winter in the Gippsland mountains all I ever carried in my vest pockets was one of those ubiquitous flimsy plastic disposable ponchos which are available everywhere from $1-2. I have spent hundreds of  days (in wet sub-zero conditions) wandering through the bush in heavy rain wearing one. Doubtless by the end of the day it was always pretty shredded, but it served its purpose. I am still alive, as you can see.

I have recommended the Coghlans reflective version elsewhere as a better alternative. We always have a couple in our day packs. They cost $5-10 each so you should really buy a few. How much is your life worth after all? I have seen several people who would not stint from buying a Mercedes or similar extravagance beginning to suffer from hypothermia because they were wet and cold. I have even known a handful who are no longer with us at all for the want of a couple of dollars worth of shelter on an desperately inclement day.

‘Don’t be out of doors without shelter’ ought to be an absolute ‘golden rule. Another, which I try to drum into folks whenever I can is to never separate yourself from your pack when your are out in the bush – for any reason. Don’t just slip it off and leave it on the trail (or like) while you attend a quick call of nature or to take an ”opportune’ photo. So many times when rescue services are searching for lost hikers etc it is remarked how their pack was found lying against a tree on the trail with no evidence of their whereabouts at all. It is astonishing how easily you can be distracted, get turned around or slip and fall and suddenly be without all the essentials of survival which where ‘just a step or two away’ in your pack. Don’t let that be you either.

See Also:

Ultralight Mylar Vest

DIY Mylar Poncho


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