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REI Bivy sack
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Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 11:33:23 MST Print View

i'm looking to pickup a bivy sack for use in shelters in mostly cold (below freezing) weather. the shelter will be my shelter and the bivy my protection from the wind, rain, and snow that always seems to blow into the shelter.

i had considered the Big Agnes 3 Wire bivy, but i'm not sure i will like using a bivy and the REI Minimalist is on sale for $70.00.

i'm not sure i will like using a bivy, so it makes sense to buy the cheaper one to see how i like it.

anyone have any experience with the REI bivy? i am reading the reviews here, just thought i'd see if anyone had anything else to add.

Edited by asciibaron on 12/30/2009 11:36:00 MST.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 11:52:15 MST Print View

Are these AT style shelters? If so the BA 3 Wire bivy is overkill.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 12:02:17 MST Print View

A few comments:

Most reviewers on the REI site liked it, but nearly all had problems with condensation inside the bivy. If you're using it in cold weather, you should consider a synthetic bag instead of down if, indeed, there is a signficant condensation problem.

Bring your bag and sleeping pad to the store and see if they, and you, will fit inside. Depending on your pad, you might have to have it outside the bivy. If you don't roll around a lot, shouldn't be a problem. If you do, then you'll probably roll off your pad if it's not in the bivy with you.

You might want to glue a small loop on the mesh, so you can lift the mesh off your face for sleeping. I notice a lot of the reviewers mentioned the mesh on the face thing, and they didn't like it (most people wouldn't, I'd think. A bit of glue, webbing and shock cord will take care of that.

It's a tad heavy.

Overall, looks fine for someone who just wants to try bivying without spending a lot of money. Just be prepared for its limitations, and realize not all bivies have those limitations.

Let us know what you think of it if you buy it!

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
overkillerz on 12/30/2009 12:16:54 MST Print View

yes, the BA 3 W is overkill for the AT shelters, but the grand plan is to shed the tent and pickup a tarp. i am a restless sleeper and can not sleep on my back.

how tough is side sleeping in a bivy? condensation would be a huge problem for me - i am a hot sleeper and that might be the biggest problem with the REI bivy.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: overkillerz on 12/30/2009 12:26:09 MST Print View

Side sleeping is not a problem at all, I do it anytime I use a bivy. Just ensure the bivy is big enough around (girth) to fit you and what you want to put in it.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 12:36:31 MST Print View

I agree with everyone else an AT-type shelter (guessing that's what you're referring to as you're located in the Mid-Atlantic) a full-on weather resistant bivy is overkill. I think you'd be able to mitigate any condensation issue by leaving the bivy hood open. In AT shelters the blown-in precip and wind never gets quite so bad that you'd need a fully enclosed bivy. I'd defintely be thinking bag cover. This will save you weight and be a simpler option.

How about a MYOG project? I think stiching or gluing together some Tyvek or silnylon would do the trick. You could maybe even go with a 3/4 style bag cover.

Alternately, Montbell sells sleeping bag covers made of a wp/b material (Breeze-Tec?) for about $130 and a Polkatex bag cover under $50. Titanium Goat sells a good value-priced, functional bivy (the Ptarmigan) for under $100. All of these are under 8 ounces- half the wieght of the REI.

Edit- just re-read your later post about moving to a tarp. I'd go with the Ti Goat bivy. I have one for use under my tarp and it would definitely do the trick, plus give you the option of weather protection from surprise precip should you choose to thrown down on the picnic table instead of in the shelter. I have yet to have significant condensation issues here around the Mid-Atlantic in mine, except minor condensation around my feet. I rarely zip all the way up...even in horizontal rain and 30 mph gusts the weather never gets that bad under my tarp.

You can spend a few hundred bucks for a sub-5 ounce Momentum fabric bivy but I'd give the Ti Goat a try and see if tarping is for you. And if oyu want to trade up, you'll get good resale out of it.

Edited by rswanson on 12/30/2009 12:43:24 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 12:43:22 MST Print View

"how tough is side sleeping in a bivy? condensation would be a huge problem for me - i am a hot sleeper and that might be the biggest problem with the REI bivy."

I have had issues in the past with side sleeping in any bivy with a non-breathable bottom. With the Integral Designs 100% all eVENT bivy, there has not been any issue with condensation. When I roll to my side, the bivy comes with me maintaining the opening to the side.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
REI Bivy on 12/30/2009 15:08:43 MST Print View

The REI Minimalist bivy to put it plainly is crap. You will have a huge problem with condensation and it not as durable as others on the market. Spend an extra $50 and get a really good one.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: REI Bivy on 12/30/2009 17:23:10 MST Print View

The material in the REI bivy does not breathe enough to prevent condensation.

Check out the Ptarmigan Bivy from Titanium Goat, coated floor and breathable nylon top, perfect for use with a tarp. They will add a side zip as a custom order. The base bivy (no netting) is $90 and 6 oz.

I'm a side sleeper and a big guy and use a full-length Therm-a-rest, so I found the Ptarmigan a bit tight with my pad inside. Plus, the pad prevents the bivy from moving when I bend my knees. With the pad outside, it is fine.

Mark Compton
(rasputen) - F

Locale: West of the Great Smoky Mtn's
MYOG Bivy on 12/30/2009 18:06:21 MST Print View

How about a MYOG project? I think stiching or gluing together some Tyvek or silnylon would do the trick. You could maybe even go with a 3/4 style bag cover

In accordance with the above idea. Is there any reason why 2 Dri-Duck ponchos couldn't be fashioned to accomplish this? A cheap experimental project especially for someone wanting to try it out for the first time. Slip one over the bottom and cut one in half, apply a thin strip of velcro and wrap it around and stick it together. Not to sexy but functional. Maybe even cut them both and apply velcro. Would this not be highly waterproof, breathable,light,cheap,although not greatly durable? Hmmmm?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ultralight bivy on 12/30/2009 18:08:33 MST Print View

Ditto on the bivy recommendations.
Mountain Laurel, Oware, Six Moon Designs, Equinox, Ti Goat and many others make highly breathable ultralight bivys that would be more appropriate or under a tarp or AT shelter. They are much lighter as well.

My favorite has turned out to be the SMD Meteor because it does a reasonable good job of blocking wind blown rain, but has a big bug net and is not so stuffy as others in the warmer months.

If I wasn't concerned about bugs and just want a good cheap water repellent bivy, I vote for the Equinox. The other bivys fall somewhere in between.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 12/30/2009 18:14:04 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 18:32:16 MST Print View

I found an Equinox bivy too narrow for my WM Ultralight Super sleeping bag. The bivy definitely compressed the loft even with the sleeping pad outside. It would be fine for a 30* (F) bag, but not a 20*F bag. I was actually warmer after I took the thing off!

As another poster mentioned, test any bivy over your bag and pad, with you inside, before deciding whether or not to keep it. Your bag may seem fluffy when you put it inside, but when you're inside as well it may be a different story.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/30/2009 18:36:16 MST.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: REI Bivy sack on 12/30/2009 19:18:28 MST Print View

I tested and returned the REI Minimalist Bivy. Instead, I went with the SMD Meteor Bivy. [Chris Valery pops up on this site from time to time selling some MYOG ones.] It is lighter, and has much better ventilation and mesh bug netting that does not touch your face.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Equinox bivy on 12/30/2009 21:08:42 MST Print View

I also started with an Equinox, but it didn't cover my head, so it didn't stop the breeze across my face, and using a right-zip bivy with my left-zip bag was driving me nuts.

I gave it to my son, who loves it, and I got a TiGoat Ptarmigan bivy.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
in the bivy on 12/30/2009 21:20:30 MST Print View

went to REI and picked up their bivy and will give it a try this weekend. can't hurt to try and then i'll know what i'm looking for if i don't like it. thanks for all the feedback - if anything, the REI bivy will be an education.

i'm not to keen on he SMD - doesn't look like the fabric comes up past the waist - i would really want better wind protection than that.

the TiGoat looks interesting.

Edited by asciibaron on 12/30/2009 21:44:17 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: in the bivy on 12/30/2009 21:49:12 MST Print View

And if you decide you like bivies and want a good one, I've got an MLD Soul side zip for sale!