Remember when you were a kid and were scared urineless of that loud, explosive thunderstorm outside? All you wanted to do was bury your face and torso in the deepest, most inwardly crevice of the house and create better times with your imagination.
You may not be that kid anymore, but getting caught in an onslaught of nasty weather can have you regressing in seconds. These shelters will be your proverbial dark closet with teddy bear. They're light in your pack, quick to set-up/get into, and protective in the likes of wind and rain.
Brooks-Range Ultralite Alpini Shelter
Unlike a tent, the Brooks-Range Ultralite Alpini Shelter doesn't require any pitching. In fact, you do exactly what you might have done as a kid: throw it over your head and try to forget about what's outside. The boxy ripstop shelter fits one or more, provides water and wind protection, and keeps body heat in. It's probably not comfy enough for a full night, but it will get you out of the cold or rain in a hurry. The shelter comes in two- (200) and four-person (400) versions and starts at $100. The 200 model weighs just over 8 oz and packs to 4 x 4".
Blizzard Survival Bag
Unlike your traditional single-sheet emergency blanket, Blizzard Survival's Reflexcell uses a multi-layer honeycomb weave of reflective material to better trap heat. It also uses integrated elastic to conform to your body. It blocks rain and wind while shining 90 percent of your heat back at you. It's a thick, reflective sleeping cocoon that wraps you snugly - basically the closest thing you'll get to a womb after birth. It weighs just 13.6 oz and packs down to 8.2 x 4.3 x 1.5 ". $40
"Oh @!#$!! We're not going anywhere in this wind!" I'm pretty sure that's the common phrase uttered just before crews slip into the Hilleberg Windsack. Essentially a wind shelter and emergency bivy, the Windsack has a waterproof nylon back and water-repellant/breathable nylon front. It holds up to three people, along with their sleeping pads and bags. It can work for sitting up and resting or as an emergency overnight shelter. Its bright red back can also be used as a rescue flag. It weighs 19 oz and retails for $140.
The entire E Series is a line of minimalist shelters, so if you're in the market, MSR is a good place to look. The E-Bivy is the lighter of two emergency bivies in the line. It offers a breathable silnylon top and tough, waterproof Durashield-coated bottom to protect you. It won't protect from heavy rain, but MSR says it should help in light rain. It also protects from wind, dew, frost, spindrift and other elements. The E-Bivy weighs just 9 oz and packs down to 7 x 4". $100