Survival Bags – £5 to save your life

What can you get for £5 these days – not an awful lot really in the big scheme of things but £5 well spent could save your life.

A recent well reported mountain rescue in the Cairngorms has had its successful outcome attributed to the humble plastic survival bag “Rescuers say £5 bivvy bag probably saved lives of stranded Cairn Gorm walkers”.

So why is it then that so many people are reluctant to invest in such an item? Maybe it’s because we all like to think that nothing will happen to me or why carry something that never gets used. Whatever the reason, venturing out in to the hills without such an item is surely foolhardy. On a couple of occasions when I have organised hill walks for Fife Food Drink and Adrenaline Lovers, I have turned people away from walks if they didn’t have a survival bag. Whilst I am sure this did nothing for my popularity, I still stand by my decision. Although nothing went wrong on those occasions and survival bags were not required, a small incident could have meant things were very different.

The basic orange plastic bag really does only cost £5 (or even less for some sources). For a lighter weight option you can spend a bit more on a foil bag (although some experts have told me that they are not as good as plastic ones). Or you can really push the boat out and opt for a Blizzard Survival Bag which whilst being more expensive that other options, is no heavier than a plastic bag but offers added insulation.

People seem happy enough to carry sit mats but why not refold a plastic survival bag into a large ziplock bag and use it as a cushion to sit on? Cuts down on weight as the one item can now serve two purposes. I’ve even done this with a blizzard bag. The blizzard bag is supplied in a very compact vacuum packed package but I’ve unpacked mine and repacked it into a ziplock and then used a hoover to suck the air out. Actually I’ve got it packed into two ziplocks to reduce the risk of puncturing. Perfect although it does slide about if sitting in snow but you can’t have everything.

The photographs below show a selection of bags:

A very lightweight compact foil bag that can fit in a pocket – probably not very good but it was the first survival bag I ever bought many years ago when I was about to the walk the West Highland Way.

A more durable, heavier and bulkier foil bag (I think it is made by Life Systems)

An orange plastic survival bag folded up – usually its folded into a ziplock bag so that it can be used as a cushion – available from multiple suppliers

A Blizzard Active bag that doubles up as a cushion for sitting on

For more information on the different types of survival bags have a look at

So, still thinking that you don’t need to carry a survival bag when heading out in to the hills. It could be your life next time that is being reported on the news and social media. Let’s hope it’s also a happy outcome. Think about that next time you spend £5 on something.


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