On a cold and stormy Ben Nevis, a humble bothy bag proves to be the most useful thing in Dan Bailey's rucksack. Here's why you should always have one on the hills.
Would you not expect someone with a dislocated shoulder to man up and walk out if you haven't even made it as far as the CIC? I'm assuming their pack could be distributed amongst the team...
In my experience dislocated shoulders can vary from mildly annoying (usually someone who has had it happen before), to outrageously painful to the point of delirium.
That said if it was me I would probably try to walk out 🤣
I wouldn't 'expect' anything of anyone. And if they say they can't move then I'd take their word for it. No one's going to sit out in a storm at night unless they have no choice. As for 'man up', what century are we in?
Thanks again for the use of the bivvy bag that night. It was a bit blowy.
It was extremely windy. My partner and myself had been blown over several times. If I had been blown over again, my partner would have had an unconscious casualty on his hand. At the time I believed I had a broken collarbone. I still think it was the right decision.
At the risk of bringing this thread dangerously on topic...
I have a Summit 2 Supalite Bothy. Its about the size and weight of a can of beans. You can get 2 people in there, but it works well for 1. I've used it when out running, for breaks. It gets surprisingly warm, quite quickly. A 10 min stop in light running gear might chill you, in the bothy, its a nice experience. Its good if you want eat your butties in comfort. If you're in the wind, keep your pack on, so the cold material is away from your back, for extra warmth.
I though of adding a few bits of string to go under and a guy rope or two. With some poles or a tree it could be an ultra light, but flappy, tent. However, my feet stick out the bottom, but nothing a bin bag couldn't fix.
I also have a 8 person one, that I thought would be great for family hikes and picnics. I've not used if for such, yet. I've stuck that in a compression sack, as its a bit of a pain to stuff it into its own bag.
I carry a 1/2 person bothy bag on the hills at all times of year and am absolutely certain that it could be a life saver if I became incapacitated. It weighs very little. I've never had to use it in anger but am always amazed at how effective it is when using it for shelter. Just a few days ago I sat in it on top of a mountain for an hour waiting for sunrise to take photos in a temperature of about -8C and considerable windchill. I was able to post bollocks on UKC with my phone without gloves on for about ten minutes at a time.
> Would you not expect someone with a dislocated shoulder to man up and walk out if you haven't even made it as far as the CIC?
Shoulder dislocations vary in painfulness.
Professionally, I have seen people who could voluntarily dislocate their shoulder painlessly as a party trick.
I like to think I at least make an effort to take care of myself if I hurt myself climbing: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/podcasts/series/factor_two_-_s1/ep2_par...
More recently, I climbed this https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/st_govans_head-7/gandhi-24767 and then drove back to London with what turned out to be a broken wrist.
I dislocated my shoulder on High Tor and it was the most painful experience of my life. After being lowered to the ground, I curled up in the foetal position in agony for what felt like hours before help arrived. It takes a lot of force to dislocate an immobile 50-something bloke's shoulder and there was considerable collateral damage including nerve damage. Had this happened on the hill I'd have got very cold, very quickly and some kind of shelter might well have been a life-saver.
> Shoulder dislocations vary in painfulness.
I dislocated mine falling into a crevasse in the Alps. I didn't even know I'd done so until I bent down to take my skis off so that I could put my crampons on to try to climb out and I found my arm hanging uselessly.
I've only used mine a couple of times for a bit of a breather from conditions. It turned type 2 fun into type1 fun both times. Definitely worth carrying.
I almost always carry one of these. I and another leader fell asleep in one at Sticks Pass waiting for a Gold group in windy weather.
Great things. I carry a 4 person one which is fine for two or three to sit comfortably and eat/rest in horrendous weather. I decided to buy one about 10 years ago after a dreich Cairngorms walk with a group, one of whom was very slow, causing another to get very cold.
What group shelters do folk recommend, then? I've got a two-person one and I've really liked having it, but it's bulky enough that I often don't carry it, so looking for more compact recommendations.
The summit bothy ultralight ones are smaller than a can of coke. It's small enough and light enough that there's no excuse to ever take it out of my rucksack (well, except if I need to use it obviously
You can also use them as makeshift stretchers. A couple of years ago we carried out friend most of the way down the path from stob coire nan lochan on a four person shelter with poles rolled into the sides to make it easier to hold. I've been meaning to stitch some straps with handles across the top of it since then but still not got round to it.
Another vote for summit supalite. The two person one is small enough to comfortably put in your jacket pocket if leaving your sac at the base of the route, or if walking dumping your sac to bounce an outlying top.
In fact they have a sale on at the moment.
Even the biggest summit supalite is still tiny! I carry the big one when I am with groups, and it takes up barely any space in the bag and also weighs almost nothing. I have the 4 person for personal use too.
My husband jokes that I take a group shelter and first aid kit even if I am only going to Tesco 😂 This is not very far from the truth, I often stick it in even if just walking the dog out of town as you just never know when it might be useful and it is so small that there really is no reason not to if you have a bag anyway
>"I carry a 1/2 person bothy bag on the hills"
The size of you, Bob, I'd have thought you'd need a full size one.
Only used mine twice, once after an winter ascent of the Bristly Ridge and arrived at the top in a raging blizzard. Got into the shelter to sort out my bearing to get off and scoff some food and drink. It was a life saver. 8 inches of snow on the car when we got back to Ogwen and the car registered-11C.
Another time on remote Gulvain and totally soaked to the skin.
Once inside the shelter, a complete change of clothes and refuel. Felt great when we carried on to the summit.
If you ski tour or do winter stuff, a good variation on the traditional bothy bag is the guide tarp: it is velcroed on 2 sides. So works like a bothy, or opens right out as a tarp. In tarp mode it works well as the roof of a big snow pit shelter. Also better at improvised stretcher use.
Rab do, or at least did, sell them.
Had a 2 person bothy bag many years. Make a great shelter for a break to keep warm whilst eating in poor weather up a mountain.
I like the look of smaller packed summit supalite , is it easy to pack back in bag or as bad as most tents are?
Sounds like an interesting concept. I don't do much winter stuff but the flexibility doesn't seem limited to winter from the way you describe it. I couldn't find such a thing from a quick Google though.
> Sounds like an interesting concept. I don't do much winter stuff but the flexibility doesn't seem limited to winter from the way you describe it. I couldn't find such a thing from a quick Google though.
What came up when you typed bothy bag?
Annoyingly, looks like Rab have stopped making one.
Here’s one from a Canadian company:
If you’re handy, could just get a standard silnylon tarp and apply Velcro tape.
Note the post I was replying to. Damowilk had suggested something very specific, not just a standard bothy bag, which is what I couldn't find.
Thanks. Definitely still an interesting idea but after seeing pictures, it seems like it would be a significant compromise for the group shelter part of the job.
As recommended by several people, I've ordered one of the Supalite Summit shelters. They are indeed on offer at the moment, £40 down from £60.
A long long time ago (92 or 93) I was on mountain leader thingy in coniston with a bunch of venture scout leaders from leeds. One of the guides at the time (wendy something) had a group shelter but she'd stiched tape loops across it so it could be used as an emergency stretcher at a push. Didn't add much weight to the standard shelter although it did take up a bit more room. We used it on an evacuation exercise from above Levers water down to the coppermines youth hostel. It did a great job but I couldn't bring myself to adapt my own shelter in the same way.
> Another vote for summit supalite.
Their website gives the dimensions of the two person one as 1.20(L) x 0.65(W) x 1.10(H). Thi seems tiny to me. I suppose it might just about be possible to cram two people in if they were in a foetal position, but it seems rather small for one person to me. The four person one 1.20(L) x 1.20(W) x 1.10(H). Really? Four people in something not much bigger than a 1 metre cube?
> The four person one 1.20(L) x 1.20(W) x 1.10(H). Really? Four people in something not much bigger than a 1 metre cube?
That’s around a 60% bigger volume than a 1 metre cube. To work that out, Robert, you multiply the height by the width by the length.
The human body is not much denser than water, i.e., 1000 kg (I metric ton) per cubic metres. That's actually quite a few bodies (10+) packed in like sardines, depending on their level of sociability.
Your comment about posting things on UKC, whilst in one of these bags, probably helps with the warmth, because you often get a fair amount of heat from that direction!.
Bit late now, seeing as you have bought one, but for anyone else looking at this thread. When I was looking for a personal use shelter (ie not group use) the Supalite Summit 2 person shelter was the best size/weight and came well recommended (as it still does).
However I couldn't justify the cost at the time so had a look around and settled on the Lomo 2-3 Storm Shelter, at £20 it is much cheaper than the Supalite one. Obviously it is heavier and has a larger pack size, but it was significantly smaller and lighter that the other cheaper ones of a similar size. I also liked the size as it was usable with one person, comfortable with two and in an emergency you could fit a third in. Ideal for it's intended use of keeping my sandwiches dry, but being ready to use in a casualty situation when out on the hills. It's small and light enough to chuck in my bag (about the size of a can of beer) without worrying about.
TL;DR - The Supalite looks to be the best choice, but the Lomo is a good cheaper option for anyone else looking to buy one.
Thread that got me thinking about it; https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/gear/emergency_shelters__group_shelters-6... (another thread with people reviewing what they have; https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/hill_talk/emergency_shelter-736773?v=1 )
Yes, the two person is ‘tight’. I had a Terra nova two person but found it was useless as due packed size and weight I general couldn’t be bothered to take it. So was unlikely to have it with me in the event needed.
> Yes, the two person is ‘tight’. I had a Terra nova two person but found it was useless as due packed size and weight I general couldn’t be bothered to take it.
"Useless" in that it was too big so didn't take it so couldn't use it? Because if so, that seems a bit harsh a judgement. I've got a Terra Nova 2 person both bag, I think I've had it 20 years. It's not particularly big and not heavy, I take it on every hill day when I'm on my own or with one friend. I've never needed to use it 'in anger' but years and years ago I lent it to some friends, a couple, who were going to climb Mount Kenya - their local guide fell and quite badly injured himself not far below the top. The young woman spent the night high on the mountain in my bothy bag trying to keep the guide going, whilst my other friend, the chap, soloed back down the route to go and raise the alarm. More local guides and I think some visiting climbers plus my friend went back up and managed to evacuate the poor injured Kenyan chap, but my friend who had spent the night in the bothy bag with the guide said she reckoned they might not have survived if it wasn't for the bothy bag.
And this reminds me, all my soggy gear -including bothy bag!- is still inthe back of my car as when I got home from the Lakes last night. I went straight in to say goodnight to my youngest and then was too lazy to go back out into the rain and unpack the car!
We keep one of these in the car for emergency purposes along with a couple of space blankets. The idea being that if the car broke down on a motorway in bad weather we can get the everyone out of the car into relative shelter behind the barriers.
On a grim day on the hill they are a great way of getting some respite from the rain driving into your face during a lunch stop.
We have a Terra Nova Bothy 4, it's not light or cheap, but it is durable. It's tough to get it back into its stuff sack mind.
I have one made by Alaska Equipment, whoever they are. It says small on the stuff sack but it’s comfortable for two, could probably squeeze three in at a push. Weighs 400g though. It’s a cheery orange colour so if we’re having a bit of a nightmare then popping into it for a cup of tea makes everything fine again. This would probably work in an office environment as well as hillwalking.
The packed size of these things is ridiculous. the small size is presumably used as a selling point but this just means that they are a nightmare, especially with cold hands, to bet back into the undersized stuff sack. Mine just lives scrunched up in the bottom of my rucksack. The same principle applies to tents, belay jackets etc. I just upsize to bigger stuff sacks for ease of use. Compression straps for the tent or just packing down into a rucksack reduces the size if necessary.
I intermittently carried the Terra nova 2 around for a decade or so, but found I took it less and less. I’m not one of those people that use a Bothy bag on the hill regularly, so for the size and weight it was mostly an inconvenience. Hence it was getting left out. However I’m firmly of the opinion that they are invaluable if things go wrong.
I now nearly always take the supralite, particularly since it can fit in a pocket, and I also don’t resent throwing it in the sack when back packing, or camping up a Glen to go climbing or walking. As I know full well that having a tent in the Glen is of no use if a calamity happens up high, and a green / brown tent when backpacking is very hard for a SAR helicopter crew / MRT to spot compared to a very bright orange Bothy.
There’s no point in having a Bothy if the day you or someone else really needs it’s at home, and that was the stage I was getting to.
Went for the supralite. Much smaller than my old Terra Nova 2 person. This one will go in bike seat bag for my ultra endurance rides. The other one being too big when packed.
> I like the look of smaller packed summit supalite , is it easy to pack back in bag or as bad as most tents are?
I have a small supalite, the stuff sack on mine is a little oversized so super easy to pack with cold fingers etc.
There’s been one at the bottom of my rucksack for about 25 years. It gets hauled out occasionally for a break (or even a nap) when the wind is blowing; it’s only once been used in anger, when 2 of us came across a bloke who had fallen from high up while soloing Crowberry Ridge’s Garrick’s Shelf; cracked pelvis (mimicking a spinal injury), dislocated elbow (as far as I remember) and a minor head injury. We waited in comparative comfort for the chopper for well over an hour. Never leave home without it now!
I've had a Summit Supalite 2 person for a long time. Lent it out a while ago & it was taking a while to get it back so I bought another. Now got two. Old one weighs 197g. New one weighs 280g. It's meant to be a bit bigger though. Looks about twice the size of the old one but still tiny compared to some others.
All that extra weight!
I've also got a Terra Nova Bothy 2. Weighs 369g & is about three times bigger (unopened) than the new Supalite. No idea how much bigger it might be when open.