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Shelters for SOTA activations


SOTA activations can often mean long periods of sitting still in all kinds of weather. This got me wondering what sort of shelters people used to keep them out of the weather


In reply to MM6ALZ:

This question comes up all the time (in the winter anyway). Search the threads for Bothy Bags and you will find details of them and various alternatives.

This document by John G4YSS is helpful:




In reply to G3CWI:

When I was active (!), although I have a goretex bivvy bag AND a very lightweight tent, I used neither. I’m pretty certain I carried the bag with me too. My problem was always hitting the sked time.


In reply to M0DEV:

My problem was always hitting the sked time.

Hi Mark

My priority is always to stay reasonably dry and warm on hilltops. Meeting specific alert times is much lower down the list! In reality getting inside a bivy bag or storm shelter takes less than 2 minutes - which is time well spent as it extends my potential activating period by a much longer period.




In reply to MM6ALZ:

These bothy bags are excellent value for money:




In reply to MM6ALZ:

I Use a “Vango Dart DS 200” a Pop-Up tent that i bought from Go Outdoors

it comes in a Round disc shaped carry bag and has handles for backpacking or carrying on shoulder/hand carrying


when i bought it a few months ago cost me around 40-45 pounds with Go Outdoors membership card but they seem to be alot cheaper now than they were then

Matt M3WDS


In reply to M3WDS:

Thanks to all for the ideas. What got me started on this was the thought of some sort of shelter for any kind of weather and at any time of year. There is not always a convenient wall or cairn to shelter out of the wind, even in summer!I have used emergency shelters for real when I was in Mountain Rescue, many years ago, but was thinking of less severe conditions these days.


In reply to MM6ALZ:
I bought an ex military Poncho-it has eyelets to peg it down in high winds and a drawstring hood. Packs up about same size as two man Bivvy but you can walk in it as well :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG


In reply to MM6ALZ:

I take a plastic tarp with me and some ground pegs. It can be configured to suit the ground conditions on each summit. If it is wet, I usually take a 2.4m x 1.8m tarp; if it is just windy I use a 1.2m x 1.8m tarp. Admittedly they aren’t the easiest things to pack up in a howling gale, but what shelter is? I also carry a bothy bag for survival purposes, a comprehensive first aid kit and some items that would be useful as survival aids - including the standard Kendal Mint Cake bar.

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OIG:

It may be old hat or forgotten now, but getting your legs inside an extended rucsac and pulling a cag down over it used to be considered to give enough protection for an alpine/Scottish winter bivouac, with a small square of closed-cell foam to sit on, and it has the virtue of adding virtually no additional weight to your carry.

Kendal Mint Cake is indeed a survival aid, you will concentrate your mind to tolerate almost any conditions rather than eat it! :slight_smile:


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G8ADD:

I have a couple of large backpacks - I think they may be 75 litres or maybe even more. I joked to the XYL that I should use them and get inside to operate… but I guess it might get a bit hot in there with the heat the 817 gives off!

I must admit to being a fan of leg-warmers, but they seem to have gone out of fashion. They were useful on a cold squash court in the middle of winter - I was never fit enough to get warmed up properly. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OIG:

I must admit to being a fan of leg-warmers

You are Jennifer Beals and I claim my five pounds! :wink:



In reply to G4OIG:

An 857 would be really toasty!

I’m trying to remember, but I think it was Joe Brown who came up with the idea of the extensible rucsac for bivouacs: have the rucsac lid in front of you and the rig could sit in the top pocket…

Leg warmers could be handy for sticking pens into, I always come back with fewer than I set out with: a black gel-pen on the summit means “Brian Wos 'Ere!”


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G4OIG:

I use either a Tarp, 2 man Bothy or a 160L rucksack rain cover (MOD issue), The Rain Cover is like a tent, back to the wall, feet first and then over the head. 817 on lap and I am away.

Bothy is okay but a right pain TBH. I dont carry it anymore, my tarp is less weight and far more usefull and flexiable.

The tarp is the best option though, I can make a home for three people with it in the worst of conditions. I have made a shelter with the tarp in 70mph winds. Its all down to how you pack it and what shape you create, and a bit of practice.

My vote would be a tarp anytime, but you need to master using one to get the best out of it.


In reply to MM0FMF:

You are Jennifer Beals and I claim my five pounds! :wink:

Andy, who’s she when she’s at home? If you are talking celebs, then you lost me at the first hurdle - I care not for the self-satisfied wallies that this world is currently producing. The majority are not “time served” and therefore warrant no more than a passing wave of the hand in acknowledgement - the Queen has the right idea!

And what’s this you claiming a fiver?.. you’ve been watching too much TV old son - about time you got up into them thar hills!

73, Gerald


In reply to G8ADD:

Leg warmers could be handy for sticking pens into, I always come back
with fewer than I set out with: a black gel-pen on the summit means
"Brian Wos 'Ere!"

I don’t think you get the idea Brian - I’d wear them as a base layer for the legs and therefore fiddling around to extract a pen would both be quite a task. Besides I now use pencils as my pens always seem to leak at altitude :slight_smile:

73, Gerald


In reply to MM6ALZ:

A little heavy, but I think it is a good shelter. Don’t know anything about it. Just found it in some catalog.

See: http://ameristep.com/blinds/outhouse.html

73 de Halvard