Safety is always first and foremost in the minds of the Walk Fife team.
Being prepared for the worst that nature can fling at you while hillwalking is a must for all walkers especially in the wild Scottish Highlands.
We always talk about the need for walkers to pack sufficient kit to aid them when the weather turns bad or, even worse, if they find themselves in an emergency situation. The LOMO Emergency Shelter is one such piece of equipment.
LOMO Emergency Shelter (Bothy Bag)
This compact emergency shelter (sometimes also called a bothy bag) is designed to provide temporary shelter from the wind, rain and snow for 2-3 walkers when the elements decide to make themselves known.
Design and construction
The shelter is designed to be lightweight (only 360 grams) and is constructed from hard wearing orange high-vis nylon fabric and measures a reasonable 1340x960x450mm when fully deployed.
I have seen so many cheap storm shelters come apart at the seams after only short use on a windy hill and this is something LOMO have addressed in their construction technique. The taped seams throughout the shelter are strong and secure which is important in a shelter of this sort especially if you have 3 people taking shelter within it. There are two draw cords along the bottom edge to help close the base up keeping the elements at bay.
Good ventilation in a shelter of this sort is essential as it keeps the conditions within comfortable for the occupants. LOMO have placed a snorkel-like air vent at each end of the shelter. These air vents each have a draw cord on it’s end to allow users to make adjustments while inside which is important when it gets really stormy and you are treated to a spell of horizontal rain.
To allow the occupants to monitor the conditions outside (or to watch out for the approach of rescuers) there is a generous and clear window on each side of the shelter. Thanks to the windows, the natural light that these provide is not overly orange in hue which is good as orange light may hamper some people from easily reading their map especially in low-light conditions.
As an added safety feature there are two large retro-reflective panels one side. These panels make the shelter even more visible and this is particularly important when used in low-light and at night.
When collapsed, the shelter is stored in it’s own stuff sack which takes it down to a pack-friendly size of roughly 200mm x 100mm. The stuff sack is also made from the same high-vis orange nylon fabric.
The manufacturer, LOMO, suggest that the shelter can accommodate 3 people but in practice this is slightly tricky especially if each occupant is wearing bulky waterproofs and over 5’8”. It wouldn’t be too comfortable for a long period of time and your backpacks would most likely have to stay outside but, if the situation you find yourself in is an emergency, then it could be tolerated.
We found that the shelter is more suitable for only two occupants sitting facing each other with backpacks placed in the centre of the shelter which allows for easy access to kit and, as a bonus, they can serve as a makeshift chart table for your map should you need check your position or plan an emergency route off the hills.
As well as providing refuge from the wind, rain and snow, the shelter can also be used in the warmer months to shelter from the dreaded midges giving fed-up walkers some respite from the tiny winged devils and allowing them to have their lunch in peace (make sure you first close the air vents!).
The shelter is easy to clean should it get muddy through use and this can be done using just warm soapy water and a sponge.
Having deployed the shelter in some pretty gusty and stormy conditions we found that it is superb in terms of being both wind and rain proof. It is well constructed and really quick to deploy and very easy to pack away after use.
The only improvement I would suggest to it’s design would be the addition of some fabric loops along the bottom edges of the shelter to act as handles to allow the users to get a good grip of it when deploying it in very windy weather.
This is an excellent and effective piece of safety equipment for the walker and, at only £18.95, the LOMO Emergency Shelter is excellent value for money. Top notch!