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Discussion in 'Camping Toys' started by Jedi5150, Feb 25, 2012.
I've owned one for many years, but that's different than saying I have experience with it. It stays in the bag. I keep it in my emergency supplies for SAR work. I think it is ideal for that role, and probably not great for anything else. It's too heavy to be an ultralight rain system, Frog Togs are both lighter and more comfortable. But for an emergency/ survival situation, in theory, it should work great. It was invented and marketed for Swedish Air Force pilots, and honestly, my guess is that that's about the only role it excels in.
I haven't looked into the category much but as a bikepacking shelter it looks like a respectable investment and what's not to love about the brand.
For bike packing, I think a Cuben tarp and a bug net would be 10000000% more comfortable. I love Hilleberg, but the Bivanorak strikes me largely as survival kit.
You wouldn’t go wrong to only get it for survival purposes though it’s a bit expensive for only that use compared to other bivy sacks. I think it has definite limits for bushwhacking and I won’t wantonly test mine for durability there. However there’s a range of uses between those two worth considering.
My experience this last year has taken it a few places. Firstly ski touring as a hard shell/ bivy that was compact enough to fit with a sleeping bag in my 40 liter avalanche air bag pack. Not many weather proof sleep systems fit in such a bag for winter ski camping in our climate and avoiding dragging a sled while breaking trail was priceless. As a system this made an otherwise daunting trip a straight forward alpine traverse. Without the need for a full snow shelter aurora viewing was allowed.
Spring climbing saw a few days with winds that would have cut short my breaks for food and view enjoyment. My usual shells pack a bit larger when combining top and bottom layers and require caution with crampons to don pants (usually I skip pants to avoid this). The bivanorak avoided the pointy parts easily and was so comfortable despite the wind I took a few accidental naps in it.
Late spring I used it as a day trip bivy with a sleeping pad to allow for longer sessions glassing for game in comfort. The lack of potential cold spots where tops and bottoms meet is great here and the larger airspace seems to warm up nicely. Getting the most out of a spotting scope seems to be largely about patience and comfort only helps.
It does rustle about when moving some, though most synthetics do to varying degrees. The surplus of fabric is great for somethings and a bit clumsy for others. I’m quite comfortable with it’s durability in an open alpine environment but not breaking through brush to get there. It may look a bit ridiculous in general and in the wind specifically but I seldom go where other people are and usually forget to pack my vanity on those trips anyway. The price is high and it’s not ridiculously small but the combination seems worth it to me.
So far it’s been packed into my bags and used more this year already than any other hard shell I own and I foresee that continuing. I’ll probably get one for the Mrs this Christmas. She can muck about with her insulin pump out of the wind in it. Since the cold causes issues with it when she has to access it through her other layers this should save some grief. I’ll count that as an everyday life saver in my book and if we need it for real I’m sure it will be up to task.
Last night she told me she’s looking forward to peeing in a semi sheltered crouch with the thing. I could see that feature being popular with both the outdoor winter adventurer crowd and also with the urban festival goers. This thing just keeps getting more and more versatile.
Maybe I’ll email Hilleberg and suggest they update their product video for it to include this use.