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Poll: Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent
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Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: Tarp/Bivvy vs Tent on 08/18/2008 14:16:26 MDT Print View

My tent has a door that opens out the whole length of the tent Mike, so I see lots from it - I cant see tarping as comfortable on say, a two week TGO Challenge with bad weather most likely over several days. Plus the wind is a constant factor to consider in the UK hills. That and the fact I like camping high if I get a chance means tarps just don't offer me what I need from a shelter in the UK. Another consideration for me is: I live hundreds of miles from the hills. I need to book time to go so I don't always get to choose a good weather weekend - hence the need for good reliable shelter from the wind and rain when I get to Scotland as an example.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Tarp/Bivvy vs Tent on 08/18/2008 14:45:37 MDT Print View

That's fair Martin. I'm lucky i live close enough to the hills to just go when i feel like it, and choose the most suitable shelter.
As i mentioned before, i had hoped to use a tarp for a 2 week trek this summer in the Highlands. Unfortunately, injury has meant no walking for me this summer. Probably lucky, seeing how wet this summer has been! :)

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: Tarp/Bivvy vs Tent on 08/18/2008 14:56:02 MDT Print View

Hope you mend soon Mike and sorry that you have had an injury - read your comments (well i think it was you) and good ones too in the TGO on trail shoes. Lets hope you have a good reunion with the hills soon.

Edited by rye1966 on 08/18/2008 15:03:33 MDT.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Poll: Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent on 08/19/2008 01:15:41 MDT Print View

Depending on weather, trip length, season, etc I use a tent, a bivy/tarp, or just a bivy. Have never used just a tarp.

My preferred method in just about every circumstance, is an WPB eVent bivy. It won't win any weight contest, but it's small, simple, and provides a great close-to-nature experience.

My next choice is a WR Ptarmigan bivy with tarp or poncho-tarp. More fussy, but more flexible. Still don't own a tarp that I am perfectly satisfied with.

For bad weather in early/late season I will go to a tent. I've really never done much winter camping and no mountaineering, so haven't had to solve that dilemma (yet).

Mike Nielsen
(geophagous) - F

Locale: Pacific North West
Gatewood is my new friend on 08/20/2008 10:26:10 MDT Print View

I really like my Gatewood poncho. Went through a 5 hour rain and was totally dry. No bivy, just my montbell bag with a decent dwr on it. Worked great.

I have just brought along a big piece of no seeum that I drape over my head and attach to the poncho with a snap it has. Not the most elegant but simple and easy.

I am debating on adding the netting skirt or making an entire inner mesh tent, converting my Gatewood into a full on 2 skin tent.

Love the weight and ease of setup. Nice compromise for me as a solo with plenty of room to sit up and move about a bit.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Tarp/Bivy on 08/20/2008 11:42:47 MDT Print View

I never tent anymore but always take a tarp (well except maybe in mid winter). Mainly because of weight and because I find it quicker and easier to set up then a tent and its more flexible when camping in less then ideal tent platform conditions which opens up more potential campsites over a tent.

Depending on the time of year and weather, I bring the tarp and either nothing, a UL bivy, or a bug bivy. Unless the weather calls for it, most of the time I don't even set up the tarp and just camp out in the open or just in the bivy/bug bivy. I'm too lazy to set up something I don't need and much prefer just throwing my bag down on a small ground cloth and going to bed (which means I can use a really tiny campsite).

The 1st time I brought just the tarp and no bivy (because I expected great weather and no bugs), I encountered every weather condition in one night and wondered what I had been thinking. First had hard wind driven rain that latter turned to sleet and snow only to turn back to hard rain. I had to get up and reconfigure my tarp a few times for the changing conditions (a low flat tarp for wind driven rain doesn't seem to work when you are collecting ice water). But as my down quilt stayed warm and pretty much dry, I have more confidence in tarping even without a bivy. In fact, I much prefer dealing with hard rain in a tarp then a tent now (though I would prefer to have a bivy with me).

Dave Weston

Locale: NW
Tent on 08/21/2008 14:02:00 MDT Print View

I currently have a 2 person tarp tent that I love. I am going to buy the new Sublite 1 person next spring. It only weighs 18oz. I hate bugs, so a tent is the only answer for me.

David Long

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Gatewood is my new friend on 02/07/2009 19:39:39 MST Print View

to Mike Nielson:

I, too, have a Gatewood Cape and used it for a 5-week hike during Summer 2007, as well as other shorter trips last summer. Love it!

As to your pondering adding a netting skirt, here's my advice: Having used double-wall tents, single-wall tarptents, tarps, and bivies, I think that completely surrounding a tarp or tarptent with netting really exacerbates the condensation issue.

It's much easier to manage condensation if the netting is just a mozzie headnet or a hanging bug bivy that surrounds your head&shoulders. That way, air is freer to flow into the shelter and move moisture out.

Once you add netting around the perimeter, condensation rises dramatically. Thus, ironically, Henry Shires' TarpTent instructions say to leave the mosquito netting open whenever possible. I have 2 TarpTents (original Squall and Cloudburst) and love them, but they really do get a lot of condensation when closed up. Not a problem with one person, but with two in the tent your bags brush against the sidewalls and get really wet, in my experience. That's why I think his newer Double Rainbow design is so brilliant because it's configured so your bags are up against the mosquito netting, not the silnylon sides. Ron Moak at SixMoonDesigns has achieved similar breakthroughs with his Europa, Lunar Duo, and (I think) Refuge tents.

My 0.02,
David Longwalker

Jason Griffin
(JGriffinRN) - F
Tarp vs. Tent on 02/08/2009 01:59:45 MST Print View

I chose a tarptent contrail for a compromise between weight, bug protection, and price. It's a very practical choice. I haven't got to use it yet, but I like the idea I can set it high or low depending on how much ventilation I want. It gives me bug protection and a small vestibule to store gear/cook under in the rain. Did I mention the price.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
JMT mid October -- Bivy or Tent on 10/04/2009 13:13:43 MDT Print View

Planning to do JMT in early October. Need to decide between MH Gore-tex pac-lite bivy or MSR Hubba 1 HP tent. Don't have the tarp business figured out yet. Choice for me is bivy (alone) OR tent.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Re: Tarp or tent: on 02/23/2010 11:41:50 MST Print View

"On trekking poles tarp users say they are making use of something they use already, but they need them to pitch the tarp, and poles should count in the total shelter weight."

Huh? I normally count what I am carrying on my back in the weight, after all my "back" is why i went UL in the first place. Counting the weight of the trekking poles in the shelter weight makes no sense.

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
My new setup... on 02/23/2010 16:46:48 MST Print View

Or what I hope works :P Is a Montbell Breeze Dry Tec Bivy at 6.4 oz and a homemade Cuben half tarp at 1.4 oz. I have a Simblissity Inner Peace that I'm going to fool around with and see if I cant make this whole thing work out the way I want it. I like having a modular set up though. I can use what I I need depending on the situation.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Re: Poll: Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent on 02/23/2010 17:13:54 MST Print View

I like tents. Nemo, BD and MSR are brands I like.

I really like that when I'm zipped up in my tent I don't have to deal with bugs, which get quite annoying if you're hanging out at alpine lakes here. This is actually where I do most of my camping.

Also, because it is the PNW rain is something of an issue. Not heavy rain but usually sprinkly annoying middle of the night rain. This is actually the reason I switched from a double wall tent to a single wall tent. I had a double wall and I still had to use the fly. This negates the "moon roof" feature of mesh tents up here such as the Hubba.

Furthermore, I tend to go up with my dog, I think his den/crate instincts kick in when he goes in to the tent. He sleeps better, isn't on guard and we both get much better rest.

Lastly, I grew up being coached that you train the same way you compete. So, I use my weekend camping trips as training for longer trips. For example if you look at my gear list I bring those things with me at ALL times. I add other stuff depending on weather, length of trip etc. Typically, for me the difference between an over night and a two week long trip is a few pairs of extra socks and a few pounds of food.

I'm not a true UL packer I'm here to learn. I definitely don't mind having 3-5 extra lbs with me because they're usually in the form of booze, wine, cigars etc.

What I do love about my system is that I'm comfortable with it for the short trips (ok super comfy) and by the time most people gear up for a two week trip they're carrying as much weight as I am if not more. The difference at that point is my body is used to the weight.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent on 02/23/2010 17:57:05 MST Print View

I have a Contrail, Dbl. Rainbow, SpinnTwinn, The One and a Gatewood Cape. I now find myself using a bivy with the Gatewood. I hike in the Sierras and Southern California mostly. Most nights are dry so I just sleep out, not setting up my tarp or Cape.

I find that sleeping in a bivy, a simple Equinox Ultralight, under the stars is my favorite. At first I thought I would feel more confined in a bivy. Not so. After using this set up last summer I find that the bivy keeps me more together. I use a Torso Lite and I tend to move around a lot. The bivy keeps me from slipping or moving off my pad and when I wake up all my stuff is still together inside the bivy. If it does rain I can get under my Cape or SpinnTwinn and stay dry. I like the fact that the bottom of the bivy can handle moisture in case of poor set up (by choice or by mistake).

As far as weight goes, it is a mixed bag. The bivy weighs 6.6 oz., the Gatewood weighs 14 oz. Well, The One comes in at about the same and has a full bathtub floor with bug netting. The Contrail is a full 12 oz. heavier than that. That's substantial, so, I am pretty happy with the bivy/tarp set up. If I were heading into a prolonged rain period though, The One would be my next choice.