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Discussion in 'Camping Toys' started by ClearwaterBMW, Jun 8, 2007.
I have a similar fear when the wife says " I was shopping today and"
My only comment is that I have used a bivy twice, years ago. I am a fairly experienced wilderness camper and decided that I wanted to try one. If you have never used one, I would suggest borrowing one and testing it first if possible. I have used it in the winter and the summer. In the summer if it rains and you need to close it up the temps go up to unbearable levels. Meaning you could melt solder. In the winter I was in a heavy snowfall and between the bivy being closed and the snow burying the bivy I had a build up of CO2 that caused a problem. In short, I would consider a bivy as a suitable emergency shelter only. Once in it, it is really difficult to do anything in it also. Even reading is very difficult and you cannot sit up or get dressed in it. It is a shelter but I personally would only consider it as a last ditch emergency shelter. I would pick a good tarp over a bivy in almost any condition that I can think of. And just to be clear. I have camped in 100F degree summer weather and in winter weather where several times I have been in -25F conditions without the wind chill.
Just my $.02
Good point. I once had a small tent that vented poorly when the flaps were closed on cold nights. I'd often wake up with headaches and shortness of breath until I figured out what was going on.
Yep, those are the symptoms.
And when that is your shelter in -25F conditions. You don't want to have to get out of it in the blinding snowstorm to try to breath.
Granted, I understand that most aren't going to be in those type of conditions. I just don't know of any situation that I can think of that a tarp isn't a much better option than a bivy.
All good points, I would consider the bivi I already have (Snugpak stratosphere) as a really useful item if a little small, too smll for spare clothes or a bag, that said I would never camp out in snow. I got paid to do that in the services, I did not like it then and still don't like it now. If you are a fair weather rider such as me given a tarp if the weather is uncertain and a bivi they are a useful lite alternative to a tent. I also like covered hammocks but there are not alway suitable trees, guess it depends on the trip location. If in doubt, I use a hotel. A bit of a pussy I guess. The bivi gives me the option without much weight or space loss, plus the ease of setup after what is in general a long hard day.
I’m a pyramid tent fan - only 25oz/2.5L pack size for fly, inner tent, polycryo footprint, 6 stakes; can add 2oz for a pole, but I just use a fallen branch. Tall enough to comfortably sit upright cross-legged or in my QwikBack ground chair, and big enough to store all my gear, move around inside/change clothes.
Mids are modular and versatile: can pitch it high for more headroom/ventilation, or low for shedding 360 wind/rain/snow. In a nasty wind-driven morning rain, you don’t even need to go outside until ready to pack the fly as your final step. Collapse the inner tent for more room; fold back the polycryo footprint for a giant floorless cooking area; get dressed/pack-up on the footprint; dig a cat-hole inside for a morning dump (wild camping only); and finally, go outside to pack-up the fly and leave.
This was a few weeks ago - long nights, lows into the 30s, stiff evening breeze, it was warm/cozy inside watching downloaded smartphone movies while lounging in a chair on a ground pad wearing a down poncho/quilt.
I’m typically <20lbs/30L (incl food/water) for ADVmoto and bicycle touring.
Sure the bivy is small but I really like having 2 decent vestibules on my tent.
That's where the tarp comes in handy-- you don't have to close the Uber Bivy up tight with a small tarp over your head. And since the Uber Bivy is like a lightweight sleeping bag (sort of like a sheet), on warmer nights you just use the bivy alone with no other cover.
As I said before, I don't have a large amount of experience with the Uber Bivy, but I did spend one (backyard) night in it on a hot evening. I found it to be fine-- even on a hot night, the material is a bit cool to the touch, so I didn't overheat. I've not tried any other bivvys-- only the Uber Bivy. My understanding is that all other bivvys are as you describe-- unbearably hot and tons of condensation.
On the hot night test I described above, it didn't rain but I did try closing it up tight, with a small stretch of the zipper left open. It would have been watertight as the open stretch was under the polypore lip. I could feel the fresh air, so pretty sure I wouldn't have had a CO2 problem. However, since I carry the tarp, I can't see myself keeping it zipped up tight all that often.
The Uber Bivy is very big (thus the name). Miles (the guy that designed it) is a pretty big guy and he specifically designed the Uber Bivy to be big enough to change clothes in. I have found that to be totally doable-- not fun or easy, but you can definitely change clothes in the Uber Bivy.
I generally agree with that. I've done a fair amount of study of bivvys, and they all seem to be a disaster-- too hot, too much condensation, too cramped. The Uber Bivy is the only one I've run into with reviews saying that none of those issues exist. Even it that's true, I still would bring a small tarp for the reasons both you and I stated. Tarps are a good thing.
I have that with my setup. The 5x5 (or 7x7) tarp over my head means I have the equivalent of very large vestibules on either side of me. Another reason that I prefer the tarp/bivy combo rather than the bivy alone.
Oh, yes-- I'm aware of your setup. In fact, I have found your philosophy on nearly all aspects of camping/motorcycling/bicycling/van camping/ultralight/bag trailers to be so close to mine, I think we may be long, lost brothers! In fact, about a year ago, I spent an entire weekend going back through your old posts here reading about all your setups. (I promise, it was genuine interest-- I'm not a stalker or anything! )
I thought you were a Mosko Moto fan, but that bag you show is different. I must have missed that change-- what are you using?
The pocket tarp/polycryo/bug net setup I outlined above is based on the same idea as your setup, but it's a little lighter. Yes, you can use a stick, but then you kind of need to carry a saw. I know you make all kinds of "Flintstone" tools on the trail, so I understand why you carry the saw that you do. But, for most people, it's probably easier/lighter to just buy the pole and know that you'll always have the right thing.
While I totally dig your setup and have done a fair bit of research on similar ones from MLD and ZPacks, I still think the Uber Bivy and a tarp may have some advantages over your setup. As I said, I'll be doing some testing next summer to see if I'm correct. If not, I'll probably get something similar to what you have.
Nice to finally communicate with you.
So the solution seems to be to take a bivy and tarp. I came to the same conclusion. But, I then realized, and I am talking about carrying all my camping stuff on my back, not the motorcycle. But I came to the conclusion that the weight and volume that I was taking up between both the tarp and bivy was about the same as a relatively small tent. So I went with a tent and other times my hammock in the summer. Winter camping for me was never a problem because most of the time I would use a pulk (sled) and could carry as much as I do on my motorcycle trips . I am not arguing with you. Everyone decides what works for them. I am just going through how I made my decision.
True, but to me a tarp is necessary even when I carry a tent. When coming up with a gear strategy, it seems that everyone (including myself, at times) assumes that the normal scenario is:
--Enter the campsite (paid or wild), set up your shelter, get it all secured.
--Set up your sleep system inside the shelter, store your gear.
--Make and eat dinner outside in nice weather.
--Get yourself inside your sleep system.
--Now that everything is all set up, safe, and ready, the storms come in the night and you're dry and comfortable.
--Rain stops by the morning.
--Get up and eat in nice weather.
--Take down and pack in nice weather.
However, I have found that numerous times the reality has been:
--Enter the campsite (paid or wild) and the rain is coming down hard.
--With no tarp, you gotta get the tent out and set it up in a hard rain.
--Tent is now pretty wet inside and out.
--Get your sleeping gear inside the tent as it rains; now it's wet to one degree or another.
--Get yourself in the tent and take off your rain gear; now the tent and sleep system is even wetter.
--Try to cook and eat in a crowded, wet tent.
--Close the fly down to deal with the rain as you sleep.
--Now your tent is a condensation disaster as water drips down on you everywhere.
--Wake up in the night to pee-- repeat all the above steps, making everything wetter.
--Wake up in the morning and want to eat but it's still raining-- same problem as with dinner the night before.
--Time to pack up to go and it's still raining; taking down and packing a sleep system and tent in the rain yields a complete mess.
Thus, when I consider my system, I always assume the latter scenario. And when I do that, it means that no matter what my system is, I want a tarp to give me protection to set up, take down, change clothes, cook, eat, etc.
So, for me the tarp is essential. Therefore, analogous (but opposite) to your thinking, if I am bringing the tarp, why bring a tent as the tarp will do everything the tent fly will do (and more)?
Since the tarp is now my rain fly, all I need is the "inner net + ground cloth" part of the tent, and that's what the bivy does. If I'm not sleeping, I don't want to be in a shelter-- I want a large covered area that allows a lot of space, free movement, and the ability to stand. A tarp will do that, a tent won't.
This is also the disadvantage (in my mind) to Snapper's setup with a Gatewood (shaped) tarp. No flexibility as far as the ability to stand.
I didn't take anything you said as arguing, and your perspective is not irrational. I'm also not arguing-- in fact, I want to make it clear that I'm no expert on any of this and totally allow that it's possible that I'm completely wrong on everything I've said!
I just saw that the Uber Bivy was mentioned, I had done some thinking on that system, and wanted to chime in. My goal is not to tell anyone what to do, but, rather, get some input from others as a check on my thinking on the subject.
Thus, really interested to hear if anyone around here has some experience with the Uber Bivy. If it works as well as the (admittedly very few) reviews on the web say, I think it could be the basis of an excellent camping system.
Cheers....brother from another mother
Nice hear similar philosophies.... I don’t post as much anymore since the UL philosophy seems so niche here.
Probably will sell my Mosko R40s - as an UL’er they add 60% to my BPW, and run foul with my bike’s bulbous side covers - can’t access the tool box and the extra width broke its mount when I dropped the bike in single track. I’m light enough where a backpack strapped to seat/rack is barely noticeable, and I like the option to quick release and backpack my gear for theftproof pedestrian duty.
Don’t need a saw for my pole, it’s not supporting much weight, anything you can break w/ a knee will do fine.
I’ve tried a bivy/tarp set-up but for me the wind (and its constantly changing direction) is the deal breaker.... too much convective heat loss in the cold, and wind-blown rain getting stuff wet unless the tarp is pitched so low you can’t even sit upright... or the tarp is so big, there’s no weight/space advantage.
Not just talking about sleeping - shorter/colder fall/spring days, waiting out a storm, and even stealth camping where you want minimize your light/movement signature = more time awake and inside. I also like swapping positions for comfort - from cross-legged working my hands (cooking, eating, gear fiddling), to lying down on my pad, to leaning back in my chair.
Yup, I can’t stand up inside my pryamid, but the rotating 3 positions are comfortable enough, I’m as protected from windchill and blown rain as possible, all my gear is protected and easily accessible from inside, and as mentioned above, with floorless modularity, I don’t need to go outside against a horizontal rain for a midnight piss, cooking/eating, or morning dump. Like a tarp rig, the fly goes up first, takes down last, so everything else is dealt with under protection.... it’s the driest set-up I’ve ever had.
In fact, so similar that I have carefully noted your gear setup (from your various posts over time) and in the spreadsheet I keep of various backpacking shelter combinations, your setup is one of the ones that I use as a standard. So, basically any setup I consider is compared to yours as a metric for weight and volume.
As I said, I'm very familiar with your setups! Still not a stalker, though.... :)
Which backpack are you using?
I'm not wild about using a backpack as a quick release system. I find it a total pain to get the backpack on/off when I'm wearing a MC jacket. The damned shoulder straps catch on every bump (armor, etc.) all the way up/down my arm.
For this reason, when I commute I often use a messenger bad instead. I'll be experimenting with how to get that attached to my bike in a quick-release way. I'm light/minimal enough that I think I can get all my camping stuff in my (large) messenger bag.
Wouldn't that make a jagged/sharp end that could damage the inside of the pyramid? Or is the support area reinforced enough that it's not a problem?
Don't disagree with anything you say (as usual!), but here's how I look at it:
Pyramid + Inner Tent Positives:
--Basically a tarp that is tethered to the ground on all four sides.
--Like a tarp, you can pitch it higher or lower as conditions warrant
--Great protection in bad weather, especially windy rain
--When weather is good, the doors can be left open, making it more like a tarp.
--Can get some privacy by shutting the doors.
Pyramid + Inner Tent Negatives:
--In nicer weather, can't pitch flat and high for extra space and the ability to stand
--With the highly sloping sides, the usable space is much less.
--While pyramid tents/tarps are very strong, they are still vulnerable to very high winds.
Tarp + Bivy Positives:
--Ability to pitch high/flat in good weather or light, non-windy rain.
--I generally use a lean to or Holden pitch, so much more usable space.
--In really bad weather, can pitch the tarp super low (or even just take it down all together knowing that the bivy will provide storm protection in up to tornado-level winds).
--While not as absolute as a pyramid, no problem getting enough view-blockage to allow a quick clothes change in public campgrounds.
Tarp + Bivy Negatives:
--Unless the tarp is really big, not gonna get four-sided coverage, thus a big problem in a windy rainstorm
So, to my mind, the tradeoffs are:
--If the weather is good or the rain is light, the tarp + bivy is clearly better.
--If the weather is windy rain, the pyramid + inner tent is clearly better.
--If the weather is really bad, the bivy is more survivable.
--In my experience, my campouts have been about 60% good weather, 30% rainy but little/no wind, 10% rainy and windy.
--Thus, the tarp + bivy is better in 90% of the trips, the pyramid is better in 10% of the trips.
--Conclusion: The tarp + bivy is better more of the time than the pyramid + inner tent, but I'm gonna be suffering more during that 10% when it's rainy and windy.
Note that this analysis is dependent on the Uber Bivy being as good as advertised. If it's not, than I totally agree with you and say that the pyramid is the way to go as most bivvys just plain suck as they are too hot and create too much condensation.
Also, I'm not really "all in" yet on the above analysis-- I'm totally open to critical review of it!
What do you guys think of my set up? Looks pretty comfy, eh?
Sheesh! You bivy (and the hammock weenie) guys are really over-thinking this camping thing.
But quotes this at the bottom of all his posts:
You got the right idea
Well, my experience w/ the bivy wasn’t so great (condensation/wet bag issues) so there is that. Good weather they’re equal, neither needs the roof. Bug/hot, I’ll take my inner net tent. Windy in all conditions I prefer the mid. Concede light rain w/no wind and hurricanes, though.
There’re more reasons, and I’m happy to discuss, but as flei suggested, way too much detail for the purposes of this thread. Let’s take it to the PMs..
I was in one of those in a winter in the Army in Germany once. It had a Korean era stove that burned everything from moGas to wood to Diesel. I thought that stove was the coolest thing I had ever seen - from the '50s. The tent was a little smaller than that one, a GP medium we called it. Anyway, I was about ready to leave the country so I had turned in all of my gear when we had an alert. Because of that, I had no gear so I was sent to the tent so I didn't die of hypothermia over the next two days and nights. Holy shit I thought that was the way to live. A Korean era stove and a canvas medium GP tent. Those were the days. That was in 1980.
Early October at Turner Falls Park, OK:
Probably over-packed, but this was our “shakedown” camping trip on the Bonnie, with this equipment, and with camping in general. (It’s been a LONG time since I was a Boy Scout.)
Chairs & self-inflating pillows fit in the tail bag, with the camp table under the tent on top. Table is through the bag handle, and also through the cinched-down tent bag’s straps. I’ve got a bungee net over that, but it doesn’t seem to need it. Lightweight sleeping bags are in the saddlebags, and frankly, taking up WAY too much space in there. We’ll strap them on top, in the future.
The Bonnie handled all this nicely, but wife may want something roomier, in the future. She’s not used to riding distance yet, so may be fine with experience. Two-up complicates the loading, but sure is nice to have company.
Nice looking set up. I like the side bags.