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Topic: Bivvy, Choosing a bivvy< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 27 2013, 10:16 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey all,

I have been thinking for some time about the idea of getting a bivvy. I have enjoyed tent camping for some time but I like the closeness to nature and the fact that gram for gram a bivvy/tarp combo is the lightest weight four season combi that you can get. I do a lot of four season camping and often walk in fairly rugged and mountainous terrain such as the Black Mountains in Wales.

My thoughts are leaning towards getting a hooped bivvy as I suspect that there are significant claustrophobia issues with the hoopless ones in the event of a storm. The key issue that I want to avoid is condensation. Price is not a massive consideration for me.

What are peoples thoughts on bivvies? Could you direct me to any resources or reviews? What bivvy would you recommend and why?

All the best,

OpeningGambit
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 27 2013, 11:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Weatherproof ones are as expensive and heavier than my tent.

The light ones are sometimes more breathable, and need to be under a tarp, and the combo is still about the same weight as my tent (which weighs less than two pounds).

If you're a mountaineer on high ledges, a real weatherproof bivy makes sense. If you're an ultra lighter the light sleeping bag cover/tarp combo makes sense to me if you are going cuben fiber and minimalist. But for the claustrophobia factor - I'll take either a tent or a hammock and tarp, every time.

I note that buddies who started out with those neat-o bivies (both styles, I hiked for a while with an ultralighter who had a poncho tarp and a minimalist bivy) now all have tents.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 27 2013, 11:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(AlmostThere @ Aug. 27 2013, 10:01 pm)
QUOTE
Weatherproof ones are as expensive and heavier than my tent.

The light ones are sometimes more breathable, and need to be under a tarp, and the combo is still about the same weight as my tent (which weighs less than two pounds).

If you're a mountaineer on high ledges, a real weatherproof bivy makes sense. If you're an ultra lighter the light sleeping bag cover/tarp combo makes sense to me if you are going cuben fiber and minimalist. But for the claustrophobia factor - I'll take either a tent or a hammock and tarp, every time.

I note that buddies who started out with those neat-o bivies (both styles, I hiked for a while with an ultralighter who had a poncho tarp and a minimalist bivy) now all have tents.

Yep. I have a great hooped bivy, an Integral Designs eVent Unishelter. Including stakes with both, my Tarptent Notch is about half a pound lighter. Throw in a tarp to keep the weather out when entering and exiting the bivy, and that difference turns into a whole pound. Plus the Notch has room to sit up, change clothes, etc.
The bivy is definitely warmer in winter, easier to set up in the wind, and is totally unaffected by 45+mph gusts that I worry about the Tarptent handling, so I still have a use for it, just not often.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2013, 2:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use my bivy (Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy). I use mine for serious weather - mainly winter snow/heavy rains. I use it with my floorless Golite Shangri-La 5. I'm still at four and a half pounds with oodles of space in a storm. I sleep on top of it normally and if the snows start a blowin' I climb inside and zip up to keep spindrift off of my shelter or if I want to shed off the wind. If I have wet ground, It's nice to know I can depend on a dry bombproof shelter. I like having a backup shelter in an emergency beyond my main shelter or if space is at a premium. I've used it in a pinch for warming up a hypothermia victim.

In summer, I still prefer my hammock most often. Off the ground, cooler, and sleepin' soundly. The bivy stays at home.

If I was ever to buy another bivy, I'd still buy the one I've got. It's a great design. The hoop keeps me from feeling as claustrophobic. It still gets to me every once in a while though.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2013, 6:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You could always look at Mountainlaurel Designs Event soul bivy..weighs just 13 ounces..though it does not have a hoop. I just made the switch from tent to bivy/tarp myself. I went with a MLD Patrol Shelter(cuben) and a Bear Paw Designs bug bivy. Combined they weigh in a total of 17 ounces. That's with stakes, guy lines and stuff sacks.  The bug bivy uses a small pole to create an arc over my head. The Patrol shelter is a palace. Together they leave me more options then any tent I have ever used.  I will be honest with you though, this is all new to me and I have not time tested this set up yet, but I do plan on useing this as my all seaSon shelter for a very long time to come.  As far a space and comfort of this set up goes..it seems to be more then enough for my needs. I can sit up, lay down, roll around, stretch out and still have plenty of room for any gear if needed.  Same as any tent I ever used.  If u plan to hike a lot and want a simple fast set up to get some sleep or relax and protect you from the elements, then a tarp/bivy may work for you. If you plan on lounging around and killing time and base camping..then maybe not so much. If you look in ultralight section I posted a few pictures of my combo in the "got it" post.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2013, 10:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Really interesting thread guys,

It seems as though we are covering the age old question: which is lighter, more bombproof and more versatile- the bivvy tarp combo or a four season tent?

In terms of the four season tent I think that we are on relatively safe grounds by benchmarking weight to:
1.  good ole' Henry Shire's Tarptent Scarp 1 weighing 1360g
2. Hillebergs Akto at 1600g

In terms of bivvy plus tarp, I really REALLY love my milesgear uber bivvy and there is a most excellent review of it on the link below:
Uber bivvy review

It is hooped and  weighs 740g but if you want to go lighter weight you could lose one or even both hoops. There are very few reviews about this bivvy but I love it and the review above is comprehensive and I have little to add.

You could use a tarp but I take everyone elses point that this effectively brings the weight up to Scarp 1 territory. If I was in a massive storm, I think I would rather be in a scarp 1 than a bivvy/tarp combination. However you have to ask yourself the question- when am I ever in a truly massive storm?

I think Tigger is on to a cracking idea with his bivvy/Shangri-La 5 combination. It would be great in the wet as you can sit in it, play cards etc and if its really stormy you can lower the pole or pack up the tent and survive in the bivvy.

I hope that's useful but I suspect that I have raised more questions than answers. The bottom line: it boils down to personal preference I guess...

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 12:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(obwan @ Aug. 28 2013, 7:35 pm)
QUOTE
However you have to ask yourself the question- when am I ever in a truly massive storm?

I think Tigger is on to a cracking idea with his bivvy/Shangri-La 5 combination. It would be great in the wet as you can sit in it, play cards etc and if its really stormy you can lower the pole or pack up the tent and survive in the bivy.

I've been in storms ranging all the way up to recorded 100+ mph in my Golite Shangri-la 5. I usually get in at least two per winter season that get relatively intense. I doubt I'll be abandoning my main shelter anytime soon, but if it happened, at least I'd be alright in the bivy.

After two days of snowshoeing in nice weather, we ran into this after reaching one mile short of our destination. This is the morning after that night's storm. After realizing that we weren't going to be making it that last mile, we reinforced the tent better and added extra guy-outs in between storms. I think the heavy snows had more of an effect than the actual winds (five feet in two days). I didn't even realize they reached that strong until I got back. It was loud like a freight train but the shelter itself didn't rattle like I would expect in winds that strong. The tent though took a beating. One of my wall guy-out points tore due to the strain of a rushed poorly setup shelter (thank God for Tenacious tape). I learned I had to be more attentive to ensuring the walls of the tent were tight and level. The second night, we actually got much more sleep before we turned around. I plan on reattempting that trip this coming winter and actually making it to Camp lake this time.





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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 12:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've had several bivy's over the decades with the last two, the OR Advanced Standard Bivy. Haven't used it much the last few years since buying a Big Agnes UL1. Backpacking never used bivys with a tarp-tent but rather with one of those small cut to size blue plastic ground sheets.  Never used bivys in snow as I have an old bombproof 4-season Moss Outland, but have during many rain storms.   Any backpacking trip I expected more than a little rain would bring a tent.  

All my tents and bivys eventually have leaked after some years of use usually due to wicking seams.   When that occurs with a bivy, the result is a lot more difficult to deal with away from the head end because of visual issues.   The result was I eventually began using a sleeping bag with a water resistant finish.  The UL1 plus my Pinnacle sleeping bag is more functional while weighing little more.  

Another issue with a bivy is if mosquitoes, night spiders, bugs, and or small critters are about at night, one ends up having to zip up the opening.  I'm not the claustrophobic type but the awkward gauzy visibility can be rather annoying any time one wakes up at night.  A bivy allows one to use a sleeping bag unzipped blanket style in cooler conditions without being as cold as one would be with just a sleeping bag in the open.  After bug season, where critters like mice are not exploring about, in fair weather, I prefer sleeping out in the open without a tent in a bivy especially in the High Sierra.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 1:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bivies are, in my experience, reasonable shelters in the shorter night summers but start to lose out as the nights get longer as for me they're fine for sleeping but not much else. In the winter I'm just going to be spending more time in my shelter than I find comfortable to spend in the confines of a bivvy. The same for heavy bug season.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 4:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Dave Senesac @ Aug. 29 2013, 9:06 am)
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Another issue with a bivy is if mosquitoes, night spiders, bugs, and or small critters are about at night, one ends up having to zip up the opening.

You have the OR Advanced Bivy? Doesn't that have the bug netting? That works decent for me.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 6:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Aug. 29 2013, 1:56 pm)
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(Dave Senesac @ Aug. 29 2013, 9:06 am)
QUOTE
Another issue with a bivy is if mosquitoes, night spiders, bugs, and or small critters are about at night, one ends up having to zip up the opening.

You have the OR Advanced Bivy? Doesn't that have the bug netting? That works decent for me.

Yep, that's what I meant to be zipped up.  And have an insertable pole too to hoop it away a bit.   Just awkward inches in front of my head like walking around wearing a mosquito head net.  An issue anyone using a bivy just needs to accept and not that big a deal but rather a basic minor minus when using any bivy.  Also own the OR Bug Bivy that is just netting.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2013, 7:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have owned several Bivouac Sacks over the years as well as a lot of tarps and tents. A16 Bivy, Moonstone Not-A-Tent, OR Advanced Bivy, and currently an Integral Designs Event Overbag- Which is my favorite of them all.

IMHO- Bivouac sacks are designed for one thing. A Bivouac.

Bivouac is French for "freezing your A$$ off on a rock overnight". If your climbing or whatnot and may end up in an exposed area overnight, they are great to have. Otherwise- get a tent.

Adding mosquito nets, poles, etc is trying to make it something it's not- and you end up with something heavier and less useful than a light tent.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 31 2013, 12:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey all,

Thanks for your detailed responses but as with most things it has left me with more questions than answers:

1. I had a look at the comparison site and the Uber Bivvy review on www.feistycamping.com (why 'feisty' I wonder?) and it seems like a really neat bag. A lot of you are suggesting the OR Advanced Bivvy, however the site suggested that there were some reviews stating it was prone to condensation. Have you guys ever had any issues with this?

2. Tigger, Im loving your photo about the shangri-la in the snow! You should send that to the company that make them. I read that the Advanced bivvy weighs 1100g. How much does the Shangri-La weigh?

3. If its blowing a hoolie and raining heaps, how do you manage to get into a bivvy and stay dry if you didnt have a tarp or some other shelter?

All the best,

OG
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 02 2013, 7:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't use the "current full Shangri-La 5" which includes the floor and a full bug insert. I use only the fly and center pole. I have made some minor modifications to it. I added two guy-outs at the same level as the existing guy-outs on the seams at the back of the tent (opposite of the entrance) to deal with excessive noise and some reassurance that I won't blow off the mountain. I also added a small silnylon flap along the inside edge of the tent that has velcro patches every couple feet so that I could sandwich in either a bug net made with wedding tool because it was lighter than actual bug netting or a silnylon flap for winter to help cut the spindrift in high winds and give me something to shove snow on without risking damage to the edge of my tent.

In regards to bivies, do I personally recommend an OR bivy? Yes. Bombproof, easily handles the worst of it. I've not had issues with condensation. I live in the PNW. We don't often get humidity levels like those in the south so take that with a grain of salt. The OR Advanced bivy is Gore-Tex but that only goes so far. I rarely have closed mine all the way up (using just the bivy - no tarp) - a few rainstorms and sleeping in heavy snow.

I've personally slept in mine mid-winter and been buried in snow (literally) and was comfy inside. It did make it difficult getting out because I didn't dig out a step in front of my shelter. I had a rather large looming snowdrift directly in front in the morning but made it out without any snow coming into it. I've also woken up with half my bivy in a stream after hiking in the dark and then a heavy rain made me aware that it wanted to go "my" way.

It really depends on what you want from a bivy. Do you want a "real" backup shelter you can use in any condition? Then a style like the OR Advanced bivy is for you. If you are wanting a lightweight bag cover that will help shed snow or the occasional drifting rain coming up under a tarp, I would urge you to look at lighter weight options - there are plenty.


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13 replies since Aug. 27 2013, 10:16 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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