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Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip?
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Kevin Askew
(KevinA) - F

Locale: Midwest
Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/27/2008 15:58:23 MDT Print View

I am going on a 4 day trip to the Grand Canyon in a couple of weeks, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on whether an Equinox bivy would be enough protection in the Canyon. From what I have heard so far, dew is the main concern as far as precip is concerned.

Anybody have any experience in the Canyon as far as weather conditions?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
It can rain hard there, even in the summer on 03/27/2008 16:28:16 MDT Print View

Take some sort of tarp with your bivy.

Jeff C.
(CascadeJeff) - F

Locale: S.Cal/High Sierra
grand cyn on 03/27/2008 20:57:29 MDT Print View

Dew is your main concern until it pours rain, hail and snow

Kevin Askew
(KevinA) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/27/2008 21:06:33 MDT Print View

Hmmm... My problem is that I don't have either a bivy or a tarp right now. I'm just getting into UL gear this year basically. I have about $100 left to spend on gear before the trip and I have to buy food out of that. Should I just buy a tarp instead, and wait on the bivy?

Philip Wszolek
(pwszolek) - F

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
What's your itinerary? on 03/27/2008 22:02:08 MDT Print View

If you're spending any nights in the corridor campgrounds, then "site selection" is just taking the best of what's available when you get there. So you can end up pitched in a depression or on a slope, even though you know better.

On one of my trips last year, I can't forget the sight of the people across the way under their tarp in the downpour, trying to hold their bags and the rest of their gear up off the ground. Their site was away from the creek, up against the wall of the canyon, and all of the water coming off the wall was doing it's best to flush them right into the creek.

We fared better, our tent was in it's own little pond for about 30 minutes, until the water had a chance to drain.

Max Hoagland
(maxhoagland) - F
Canyon on 03/27/2008 22:17:31 MDT Print View

I've spent a lot of time in the Utah desert and can tell you that when it rains, it pours. Also, there are chances for big wind storms, especially in the spring. Even though setting up tarps in the sand is difficult (try using big rocks), I would still take a tarp over a bivy, to protect me from the rain. Chances are you won't have to use the tarp, but if the weather calls for it, you'll definitely be glad you chose the tarp over a bivy. Also, the canyon floor usually won't retain the rain well so it might run under your tarp, meaning you should take a ground cloth too, or a bathtub floor. This will also help with the sand.

Hope you have a good trip.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/27/2008 22:33:13 MDT Print View

Well, you could get a Golite poncho tarp and it would only cost you 50 bucks. You might find a larger tarp out there for simular money. I do hesitate to recomend a tarp that small to someone new at tarping. I would practice a lot at home in the rain setting it up if you choose that route.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/28/2008 16:01:40 MDT Print View


Honestly, it sounds like you're tempting fate here. Taking just a bivy might work...but then again, it might possibly ruin your trip or (worst case) put you in jeopardy.

If you are just getting into hiking and packing light, don't make the mistake of thinking you need to have 'ultralight everything' until you've had time to test and experiment with your gear in more favorable conditions. Pitching a tarp properly will take some trial and error, especially if conditions are less-than-favorable. I wouldn't want to try to learn those skills on the fly in a place like the Grand Canyon, where it can be a challenge for even experienced hikers.

My advice would be to get a cheap one man tent that you can count on to be watertight. It will be heavier than a tarp and bivy, but you've got all the time in the world to try those systems out when you can do it right.

If you're sold on the tarp/bivy idea, then you can always make your own tarp practically cost-free with some plastic sheeting or tyvek. Use a groundcloth, read up on site selection, and practice pitching it without driving stakes into the ground until you can get a good pitch quickly, hopefully in windy conditions.

Don't go ill-equipped just for the sake of going 'ultralight' and by all means, put yourself in a postion to enjoy your trip as much as possible. The Grand Canyon is one of the most magnificent places to hike on the entire planet!

Kevin Askew
(KevinA) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/28/2008 20:51:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the input, everyone. It certainly sounds like the Canyon can have worse weather than I was anticipating. I have been there several times on trips, but never spent more than a few hours on the rim. I will be hiking with a group of friends who for the most part are not UL campers. Actually, the plan was for me to share a 3 man tent with 2 other guys, but they are both about 6'2" so I'm thinking there won't be much room for me. I've never liked the confines of tents anyhow, although I love to camp and hike.

I'm kind of thinking that I will go ahead and go with the bivy. I've got an A16 for the "critters". Then if the weather starts to turn sour I can always wimp out and run to the tent. Eventually, I will definitely get a tarp of some sort, but maybe baby steps will be good enough for this trip.

Thanks again, everybody!

Edited by KevinA on 03/28/2008 20:52:34 MDT.

Andrew Richard
(fairweather8588) - F

Locale: The Desert
grand canyon precip on 03/28/2008 20:58:53 MDT Print View

April is one of the lowest precip months for the canyon, with the best water supply due to snow melt, and the most comfortable weather you will find out there...and as a result April is also the busiest month!
I suggest you try tarping, not only does it free your insecureties about adjusting/relying/living under questionable weather conditions it will enhance your knowledge of your surroundings...and you will be a better man when you can survive without fear of mice/raindrops/the boogyman.
so my point is, enjoy your ultralight hiking and gear but mooch a tent spot from anyone/everyone if you need to!

let us know what part of Grand Canyon you are going to hike in.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re:Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/28/2008 21:03:22 MDT Print View

Kevin, good call. It's a prudent decision to use an overhead shelter in the GC. The Equinox bivy just isn't enough by itself. I have used the same with different tarps. The bivy & tarp is a flexible solution.

A great beginning tarp for a reasonable price is at Campmor --

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/28/2008 21:33:42 MDT Print View

I've been off the north rim at Monument Point several times at this time of the year. You might have snow on the rim and temperatures in the 50's on the Esplanade. You also might experience 60° at the rim and 80° near the bottom. I've never had much trouble with dew. Later in the season thunder showers are common. The weather this time of the year is fairly stable and, unless there's a front moving through you should be OK.

I believe you can get up to date weather information from the US Weather Service office in Flagstaff at (928)774-3301.

Edited by redleader on 03/28/2008 21:38:35 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Me too! on 03/28/2008 21:46:39 MDT Print View


I'm backpacking the Grand Canyon April 15th through 21st. I'm taking my TarpTent Contrail. Since the Contrail does me fine for various weather here in the southwest and mountain west I see no reason to carry more... or less.

At 1.5 lbs. I'd recommend the T.T. contrail over a bivy/tarp combo any time. It's bug free, cooler (W/O a bivy). has a small vestibule for pack protection and has lots of room for one. Plus it sets up in only TWO minutes.

If you prefer a free standing tent T.T. makes the Rainbow but you need both of your adjustable hiking poles to do it.

To me, a winter camper, a good bivy must be eVent laminate(needed breathability)and should mainly be used in winter and in snow shelters. Bivys can be VERY damp and, without a tarp, miserable in a rainstorm. I've seen it and it wasn't pretty. The bivy camper got soaked getting in & out in the rain.


Edited by Danepacker on 03/28/2008 21:48:12 MDT.

Kevin Askew
(KevinA) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/29/2008 13:30:41 MDT Print View

We will going down the South Kaibab tuesday and spending two nights at Bright Angel campground, then spend the last night at Indian Garden before coming out on Bright Angel. Sometime in there a few of us might try a climb to the North rim and back. We'll see how ambitious we feel after the first day!

If I decide to try a bivy/tarp I'll try to let you know how it went.

ryan struck
(movingwalls) - F

Locale: East
me too haha on 03/30/2008 18:50:37 MDT Print View

Sweet I am excited to hear trip reports from you guys. I'll be staying in mather camp ground for my first trip to the canyon in late april.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Equinox bivy enough for Grand Canyon precip? on 03/31/2008 11:58:40 MDT Print View

Just be sure to bear in mind that the Equinox bivy is NOT waterproof, only water repellent, and even that is limited. If the dew is heavy it can eventually wet through, inhibiting the fabric from breathing, which in turn causes the insensate perspiration to condense on the inside of the bivy, which in turn wets out your bag. This could be bad news depending on whether you're using a down or synthetic bag. If you have only $100 to spend, I'd check out Campmor as suggested above and take a look at the Crazy Creek tarp they had for around $70 and pair that with your bivy. It's catenary cut with beaks and weighs about a lb. including the guy lines and stakes. But your plan B of ducking into a buddy's tent works, too!
Happy trails!

Kevin Askew
(KevinA) - F

Locale: Midwest
What kind of stakes for the Canyon? on 04/01/2008 21:58:44 MDT Print View

Well, I was able to acquire an Equinox bivy and a solo cat tarp for a very reasonable price(Thanks, Roger!) So now I guess I'd better figure out this whole tarp thing so my wife won't tell me I wasted my money!

I still need some stakes. Anybody have some input on what type of stake would be best for the Canyon? I was going to buy the LAZR stakes here on BPL, but they are sold out. So I was looking at these 3 designs:

Any thoughts on those? Are there any others I should look at? I'd like to stay as cheap as possible.

Edited by KevinA on 04/01/2008 22:01:41 MDT.

Michael Schurr
(mrschurr) - F

Locale: SW US
Stakes for the Canyon on 04/03/2008 11:32:42 MDT Print View

The ground where you are going is very hard and rocky. You may want to consider

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: What kind of stakes for the Canyon? on 04/03/2008 13:22:15 MDT Print View


I use Al gutter spikes with a washer in the Canyon. They still bend when you try to drive them in, but at that cost you don't whine as much.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: What kind of stakes for the Canyon? on 04/03/2008 16:33:17 MDT Print View

The ground at BA Campground is very, very rocky. The sites are small so you don't really have a ton of options to move around. Be prepared to get creative with tying off to things and using rocks instead of staking your tarp. Terra firma at Indian Gardens is a little more forgiving so staking might be easier.

I did the same hike a few years ago but with only one night at BA Campground. Even if you don't hike to the N rim from BA, at least head up to Ribbon Falls on the N. Kaibab. Make sure to take in sunset from Plateau Point when you hit Indian Gardens...that's a must see if the weather agrees...heck even if it doesn't.