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Poncho/Bivy in the sierra's?
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Erich Langner
(Elrich) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Poncho/Bivy in the sierra's? on 05/15/2009 01:24:26 MDT Print View

im hiking south from la pine OR on the pct next week. its early i know but im fairly experienced in camping on snow. though as you can see from my pic, i was carrying a stupid amount of weight. well i learned my lesson and went ultralight. but im wondering if i can manage with a poncho and bivy combo. i have the sea to summit sil tarp poncho and the rei minimalist bivy.

im going to try this system out in the sisters wilderness first but i wanted to get some feedback from anyone whos hiked through serious mountains or bad conditions, with a similar system.
on a side note, is it worth it bring a ground cloth with a bivy?

Edited by Elrich on 05/15/2009 03:52:37 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Poncho/Bivy in the sierra's? on 05/17/2009 16:14:09 MDT Print View

Ground cloth with a bivy is kind of redundant. The bivy is your ground cloth. But for people who strew gear all over the place, a ground cloth could be of benefit... but really unneeded extra weight.

Poncho/bivy combo is good. However, if there is a lot of heavy snowfall, you need to know what you are doing shelter-wise. With a poncho/tarp you only need a water repellant/breathable bivy to handle spindrift or water splash.

My opinion on the Minimalist (which I own and use).

- Heavy at 16.4 oz. Many other options at 1/2 the weight.

- It is water proof and NOT breatable, contrary to what REI says. In cold weather/high dew point you are going to have condensation. In this case a vapor liner at additional weight is necessary (IMO).

So... a S2S poncho tarp and Minimalist combo is going to weigh 28.4 ounces. A MLD Sil Pro Poncho and MLD Soul Bivy Side Zip combo weighs 16.7 ounces which is a savings of 11.7 ounces and it works better. There are even lighter options.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Poncho/Bivy in the sierra's? on 05/18/2009 10:38:24 MDT Print View

If indeed the bivy isn't breathable, one issue you might have to deal with is insects, depending on exactly when you're there --- if the bivy isn't a credible place to spend your time then the bugs could impact your mental health (and blood supply ...). I used a single-wall tent through the Sierras in June of last year and didn't encounter too many bugs until towards the end, but in more common backpacking times I understand they can get fierce, and from what I experienced the last few tens of miles it's easy to believe.

Footprint: IMO a really light footprint (GG polycro is a good choice) can be useful if you think you might want to cowboy camp very often, either just for the pleasure of it, or because the bivy is too warm, but I guess you could just sleep on top of the bivy and use it as your ground cloth.

The potential for storms or generally bad weather bothered me for the Sierras too, but with a lighter pack weight and --- you should be in good physical shape by then --- it's not hard to "walk high but sleep low", and not have to camp in areas that seem particular exposed. Poncho plus bivy for me is a combo to use when I either don't expect or know I can reasonably mitigate really bad weather (and bugs).

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Gatewood Cape on 05/28/2009 16:08:14 MDT Print View

Here is a review on a Ponco/tarp"