From Refuse to Rescue: How to Use a Garbage Bag for Survival - Appalachian Mountain Club

From Refuse to Rescue: How to Use a Garbage Bag for Survival

November 2, 2015

From Refuse to Rescue: How to Use a Garbage Bag for Survival

One essential item in any backcountry survival kit? A heavy-duty garbage bag, which you can quickly and easily transform into a potentially life-saving shelter. Here’s how to use a garbage bag for survival:

  • Holding the bag sealed end up, cut a slit no longer than your face along one side seam, starting about 8 inches down from the corner. This allows you to use the corner as a hood, providing warmth for your head and protection from wind and rain.
  • You may or may not want to cut arm holes, which create two additional entry points for heat-stealing moisture and wind. In dire situations when warmth and protection are essential to survival, your best option is to forgo them.
  • Pull the bag over your head, position your face in the hole, and do your best to seal the open bottom beneath you. A sitting position is often most effective. Remember: Comfort is not the goal. Staying alive is.

This column originally appeared in AMC Outdoors. Photo courtesy of Outdoorsafe.com.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.