KLYMIT HAS YOU COV­ERED

WARM AND COM­PACT, VERSA AND VERSA LUXE BLAN­KETS SERVE MUL­TI­PLE FUNC­TIONS

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - By Larry Schwartz

Warm and Com­pact, Versa Blan­kets Serve Mul­ti­ple Func­tions

There are many things we con­sider com­mon­place in our lives to­day that are ac­tu­ally out­growths of gov­ern­ment pro­grams. My­lar sheet­ing used as a light­weight way to re­flect heat is a byprod­uct of the space pro­gram when NASA started on its three-phased jour­ney to the moon in the 1960s. The com­mer­cial equiv­a­lent is some­thing we all know about, the space blan­ket. Your abil­ity to nav­i­gate with your smart­phone would not be pos­si­ble if the U.S. mil­i­tary had not de­vel­oped the Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem (GPS) in the 1970s.

An­other mil­i­tary in­no­va­tion that many of us know at least some­thing about is the pon­cho liner. Pon­cho lin­ers, or woo­bies as they are af­fec­tion­ately called, were de­vel­oped in the 1960s dur­ing the war in Viet­nam. They were a sim­ple and cost-ef­fec­tive way, when com­bined with the is­sued ny­lon pon­cho, to give our troops a way to stay warm and dry when they couldn’t use their is­sue sleep­ing bag or tent.

THE GREAT­EST MIL­I­TARY IN­VEN­TION SINCE THE M-1 GARAND

The U. S. gov­ern­ment-is­sued pon­cho liner is made by quilt­ing some polyester bat­ting in­su­la­tion be­tween two sheets of light­weight rip­stop ny­lon with a fi­nal size of about 82 x 62 inches. A tape rib­bon is sewn around the edge to pre­vent fray­ing. Ny­lon ties in the cor­ners and the mid­dle of each side com­plete the de­sign. They al­low it to be at­tached to the is­sue pon­cho or tied to trees as a shel­ter. The whole pack­age weighs just 22 ounces.

Orig­i­nally is­sued as a light­weight blan­ket, it very quickly caught the at­ten­tion and the af­fec­tion of the ever-in­no­va­tive GI. It has many uses:

• Blan­ket by it­self or with the pon­cho to keep the wind and rain off

• Light­weight sleep­ing bag

• Sleep­ing bag liner to in­crease its warmth

• Ground cloth or pic­nic blan­ket

• Field-ex­pe­di­ent ham­mock

• Overquilt or un­der­quilt in a ham­mock

• Makeshift stretcher

• Shel­ter against the sun or wind

• Pil­low

When I was in the Army, I even took a pon­cho liner and a mil­i­tary rain jacket to the tai­lor on base. They lined the rain jacket with the pon­cho liner and made what we called a Hawk jacket, which kept me warm and dry when fac­ing the wind and rain of the cen­tral Ger­man plains dur­ing train­ing ex­er­cises.

“WHEN PACKED, THEY TAKE UP LESS SPACE THAN A SLEEP­ING BAG AND CAN BE JAMMED INTO ANY COR­NER OR SIDE OF YOUR BUG-OUT BAG OR BACK­PACK.”

A NEW GEN­ER­A­TION ARISES

While some at­tempts were made to im­prove upon the woo­bie, they never seemed to catch on in a com­mer­cial way. They were ei­ther too ex­pen­sive or too heavy or didn’t hold up or didn’t pro­vide enough ex­tra bang for the buck. For­tu­nately, tech­nol­ogy is al­ways ad­vanc­ing and newer forms of syn­thetic in­su­la­tion have brought about a new gen­er­a­tion of tech­ni­cal blan­kets that I re­fer to as su­per-woo­bies. They are much warmer, they come in non-tactical col­ors, many have a durable wa­ter re­pel­lant (DWR) coat­ing so they can be used with­out a rain pon­cho in light rain

or dew, and they don’t weigh much more than their Viet­nam-era cousins. And they don’t cost an arm and a leg.

As a re­sult of these new im­prove­ments, these su­per-woo­bies are worth your con­sid­er­a­tion for in­clu­sion in your bug-out bag or other prep­per gear. They are warm enough to be used as a two- or three-sea­son sleep­ing bag and are not as re­stric­tive or heavy as their sleep­ing bag coun­ter­parts. They can also be used as a light­weight sleep­ing quilt which is more com­fort­able and ef­fec­tive than a sleep­ing bag when paired with a sleep­ing pad. When packed, they take up less space than a sleep­ing bag and can be jammed into any cor­ner or side of your bug-out bag or back­pack. They can even be used as a cloak to add warmth to ex­ist­ing gear.

“THE TWO VERSA BLAN­KETS WE HAVE IN THE SCHWARTZ HOUSE­HOLD HAVE RE­PLACED MY OLD IS­SUE PON­CHO LIN­ERS AS THE PRE­FERRED COMFORTER WHEN WATCH­ING MOVIES IN THE LIV­ING ROOM OR TAK­ING A NAP ON A COLD WIN­TER AF­TER­NOON.”

A VER­SA­TILE OP­TION FROM KLYMIT

While re­search­ing this new gen­er­a­tion of su­per-woo­bies, I came across two that re­ally caught my eye for their util­ity and non-tactical ap­peal. They are the Versa Blan­ket and the Versa Luxe Camp­ing Blan­ket from the out­door com­pany Klymit. Un­like some of this new gen­er­a­tion of woo­bie, the Versa blan­kets are de­signed with camp­ing and back­pack­ing in mind, with a blue and or­ange col­or­way rather than earth tone col­ors or other tactical fea­tures.

They are also well-suited for use at home or in an RV. In fact, I am look­ing at the Versa Luxe ly­ing on the couch in our liv­ing room as I type this. It has be­come one of those items that is in­te­gral to our home en­vi­ron­ment. Just like the re­mote for the tele­vi­sion or the plants in the win­dow box.

The de­sign for both ver­sions in­te­grates the good things about the orig­i­nal pon­cho liner and adds some mod­ern fea­tures to address some of the pon­cho liner’s weak­nesses. At just a few inches smaller than the pon­cho liner, it is still large enough to be used as a blan­ket on a bed or as a cloak to keep you warm on a frosty morn­ing while you en­joy your cof­fee and wait for the warm­ing rays of the sun to break the thresh­old of the hori­zon. The fab­ric is also wa­ter re­pel­lent so it keeps wind and rain at bay, which the orig­i­nal pon­cho liner did not do very well.

The in­su­la­tion is a pro­pri­etary syn­thetic ma­te­rial called Kly­malite, which is lay­ered be­tween two sheets of 20 D polyester on the blan­ket and a sheet of 20 D polyester and a sheet of high loft fleece on the Luxe Camp­ing blan­ket. Both shell ma­te­ri­als are strong with a light and soft touch and both mod­els are 58 by 80 inches in size. For ref­er­ence, that is just 2 inches nar­rower

than a queen-size mat­tress, so it is a big blan­ket.

There are black plas­tic snaps in each cor­ner and a draw­string at the top. You can use the snaps in a va­ri­ety of ways. You can con­nect two blan­kets at the bot­tom by the foot­box and use it like a back­pack­ing quilt, laid on top of your body and tuck­ing the sides of the blan­ket un­der your legs with your feet in the foot­box. Or, you can go to the other end and con­nect the two up by the draw­string, and then pull the draw­string tight to cinch down that end to keep the heat from es­cap­ing.

A sec­ond way to use the snaps is to con­nect two Versa blan­kets to­gether, ei­ther next to each other to make it wide enough for two or three peo­ple, or on top of each other to dou­ble the in­su­la­tion.

“FOR­TU­NATELY, TECH­NOL­OGY IS AL­WAYS AD­VANC­ING AND NEWER FORMS OF SYN­THETIC IN­SU­LA­TION HAVE BROUGHT ABOUT A NEW GEN­ER­A­TION OF TECH­NI­CAL BLAN­KETS THAT I RE­FER TO AS SU­PER-WOO­BIES.”

A third way is to wear it over your shoul­ders like a cloak and con­nect just two of the snaps in front of you. If you snug down the draw­string it will stay on your shoul­ders hands-free.

An­other mod­ern touch not found on the pon­cho liner is the ad­di­tion of two cor­ner hand pock­ets and a foot­box on the Versa and four cor­ner pock­ets and the foot­box on the Luxe Camp­ing blan­ket. These ideas were taken from back­pack­ing quilts which are gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the ul­tra­light camp­ing world. You can put your hands in the cor­ner pock­ets to keep them warm while hold­ing the blan­ket around you.

The wide foot­box pocket, which is cen­tered on the bot­tom edge of the blan­ket, will keep your feet warm. It also pre­vents the blan­ket from mov­ing off your body if you change po­si­tion at night. In ad­di­tion, it can be used as a stuff sack for the blan­ket and will form a warm and soft pil­low.

SUM­MARY

The two Versa blan­kets we have in the Schwartz house­hold have re­placed my old is­sue pon­cho lin­ers as the pre­ferred comforter when watch­ing movies in the liv­ing room or tak­ing a nap on a cold win­ter af­ter­noon. My wife quickly took to the Versa when I got it to try out; but she just as quickly gave it back to me when the Luxe ver­sion ar­rived. Both mod­els are light in weight, warm in use, soft to the touch, and are packed with fea­tures that the pon­cho liner didn’t have. All in all, ei­ther one will be a great ad­di­tion to your prep­ping gear.

One of the ear­li­est com­mer­cial prod­ucts that came from gov­ern­ment fund­ing of the space pro­gram was the space blan­ket, which was based on the re­flec­tive My­lar film used to help reg­u­late body heat in the suits astro­nauts wore.

The pon­cho liner, shown here in wood­land cam­ou­flage, was de­vel­oped dur­ing the war in Viet­nam and re­mains an es­sen­tial piece of kit for troops in the field.

Above: Versa Blan­kets come in their own stuff sack which has in­struc­tions and il­lus­tra­tions on how to use it. Since it isn’t at­tached to the blan­ket, you should stick it in the foot box so you don’t lose it.

Near left: The cor­ner snap, shown here on the or­ange and blue Versa Blan­ket, serves a num­ber of pur­poses, from at­tach­ing mul­ti­ple blan­kets to­gether to form­ing a sleep­ing bag and turn­ing the blan­ket into a cloak. Bot­tom left: If you want to wear the blan­ket like a cloak, you can cinch down the draw­string to form a hood af­ter you con­nect the snaps and put your head through the open­ing.

ithe or­ange and blue Versa Blan­ket can be folded into its foot­box pocket to make a con­ve­nient pil­low that is per­fect for camp­ing or tak­ing a nap while trav­el­ing.

Top right: The Versa Luxe Blan­ket is the big brother to the Versa Blan­ket. It has a stuff sack to keep the blan­ket clean be­tween uses and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about how to use it. i Right: The Versa Luxe Camp­ing Blan­ket can be turned into a pil­low when not be­ing used as a blan­ket. Just in­vert the foot­box and stuff the blan­ket into it. A nice piece of de­sign work puts the fleece side out when it is in pil­low mode.

Since the Versa is a blan­ket and not a zip­pered sleep­ing bag, you have more op­tions when you put it in your bug-out bag or other pack. You can stuff it into what­ever space is avail­able along the side of the pack. Or, you can use the stuff sack that it comes with and put it in the bot­tom of the pack to keep the heavy items higher to im­prove the car­ry­ing com­fort.

If you are a ham­mock fan, ei­ther Versa blan­ket would work well as an un­der­quilt, as shown here, to pro­vide in­su­la­tion un­der your ham­mock in cool or cold weather.

Top left : Tech­ni­cal blan­kets like the Versa Luxe are ex­cel­lent op­tions for a top quilt in a ham­mock or a tent. It can also be used as a sleep­ing bag liner to in­crease its ther­mal ef­fi­ciency.

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