What is a Bothy Bag?

Written by SQ

Bothy Bags are small portable shelters designed to protect you from the elements in an emergency.

Small and lightweight enough to be carried with you whilst out on the trail, a bothy bag is essentially a large rectangular shape of waterproof fabric.

It’s a bit like a having small tent that allows a group of people to quickly get inside and take refuge from the elements.

In the event of you being injured or in need of assistance a bothy bag will provide essential shelter to keep you warm and dry whilst waiting for help.

Bothy bag emergency shelters are now commonly carried by hikers, hill walkers and mountain bikers!

A typical two person bothy bag will allow two people to sit inside facing each other and still have an area in the middle for their gear. Some also have built-in flaps to sit on to help keep you dry. Bothy bags come in various sizes to accommodate from 2 to 20 people.

The benefits of a having a bothy bag in an emergency are;
  • They can be deployed in under a minute! (watch the video below)
  • Being waterproof they will protect you from wind chill as well as the inclement weather
  • They warm up quickly with shared body heat and I’ve heard of hikers using a small tea-light candle to add a few extra degrees of warmth, although I personally wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Most bothy bags are designed with air-vents (snorkels) to allow ventilation and these can be adjusted or closed in heavy winds and rain.
  • Most also have small windows so you can check outside without leaving the protection of the shelter. They also allow you to signal for help using a lamp or mirror.
  • They are made in high visibility colours and most have large reflective panels making them easier to spot in a search & rescue situation.

Here’s a video from LOMO that shows how just easy they are to carry and use…

Final Thoughts

I personally consider a bothy bag an invaluable piece of safety kit, that should be carried by anyone out walking on the hills, mountains or moors. Their small size means they easily fit in a rucksack or day pack, so no excuses!

They’re also great for simply taking a break whilst hiking in the rain.