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Standalone bivy?
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John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Standalone bivy? on 09/10/2010 12:14:51 MDT Print View

I've been thinking of trying out a new shelter. Right now I carry a small eureka tent that weighs about 3lbs, and Its alright, but I think I can save alot of weight and set-up time by carrying something simpler. I hate having to set up tents, especially in the wind, and I love the simplicity of a bivy, so I was thinking about just using a bivy. I dont get claustraphobia or anything like that.
Some ones I was looking at were the big agnes three wire, and the OR alpine and advanced bivys. They all claim to be waterproof, and the reviews seem to agree.
Tarps just really arent for me, I dont carry trekking poles, so its just a hassle to bring extra poles to tie off to.
Does anyone else do the same thing with bivys?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Standalone bivy? on 09/10/2010 12:36:52 MDT Print View

I've slept in a bivy once in the rain. I felt trapped because I didn't want to get my clothing and gear wet while breaking camp. I don't want to do that again, especially without a urine bottle.

I'm all about only using a bivy if it won't rain.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Standalone bivy? on 09/10/2010 12:43:39 MDT Print View

You could get your bivy outfitted with an aviator's tube.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
To bivy or not to bivy on 09/10/2010 13:02:36 MDT Print View

I tried one the Black Diamond Lightsabre bivies and I didn't care for it. (see

What I found out about bivvies:

*Bivies were originally made for someone hanging off the side of a cliff, where the options are a bit limited.

*Bivvies aren't very light.

*Bivies can be expensive for the features delivered.

*They are difficult to get in and out of. Not a deal breaker, but it is annoying and a real pain if it is raining.

*You can't do anything if is raining or the bugs are thick. Some like to use a small tarp or poncho in conjunction with a bivy to avoid this issue, adding to the weight and complexity. A simpler, lighter and less expensive "sleeping bag cover" is another option to use with small tarps-- just something to cut the wind and rain that gets by the tarp.

*You have nowhere to stash your gear-- your boots, pack and the rest are out there with the weather and critters.

*Bivvies are a single-wall shelter and suffer from condensation.

With all the nice UL tents in production, I don't think bivvies add up at all. I do recommend more flexibility as to poles and such, as it will open all kinds of options for you. Many designs use just one pole, so it's not a lot to deal with. If you are below treeline, a stick is all you need.

My SMD Gatewood Cape uses one pole, 6 stakes, one guy line weights 11 ounces and doubles as rain gear. There are shelter-only versions too. All are a thousand times more comfortable than a bivy, cost lest and weight less too.

I appreciate what you are after. I went with a GoLite Utopia 1 in an effort to have a simple freestanding shelter after dealing with a "freestanding" double wall tent that needed TWELVE stakes for a stable pitch-- which is ridiculous. I drool over Henry Shires designs too.

Scott Toraason
Standalone Bivy on 09/10/2010 13:47:52 MDT Print View

John, I think you have the right idea, trying out a new idea. I have multiple shelters including bivys; I use the Integral Designs Salathe, easy in, easy out and no condensation on any of my numerous trips that I have used it. Bivys aren’t just for the side of cliffs so I’m not sure where that comment came from as I use mine in so many places where no tent would pitch. Now for protecting gear I carry a 4oz 70 liter Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Pack Liner that keeps every thing dry including my pack when I’m in my Salathe, I’m not ultra light with helmet, ax, and crampons.

The biggest advantage of a bivy is versatility not so much weight as a good stand alone is around two pound and I do agree with the previous poster that in foul weather a tarp, I use Integral Designs but for two the BD Beta Light works great. Having said that I will emphasize for me it’s versatility of sites in high alpine areas and set up is a snap.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Standalone Bivy on 09/10/2010 14:38:33 MDT Print View

Scott wrote: "Bivys aren’t just for the side of cliffs so I’m not sure where that comment came from..."

Now, now, I said the *original* design was for climbing. A bivy has it's appeal for quick and dirty, throw it on the ground and sleep shelter, but it ain't no Motel 6 :)

Consider a cold wet morning and you want to cook a little breakfast, or read a little before nodding off with the mosquitoes plotting against you. It's more of a military/expedition sort of thang. Adding a small tarp over your head improves it a lot, but you end up with more weight, complexity and cost than a tent with a simple pitch and it is still an uncomfortable compromise. It might be great for drag racing hikes above treeline, but it's not *camping* to me. God willing, YMMV :)

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Standalone bivy? on 09/10/2010 15:47:50 MDT Print View

You could get your bivy outfitted with an aviator's tube.

I really don't need a more complicated way to accidentally make a mess of things.

Scott Toraason
Standalone Bivy on 09/11/2010 13:17:22 MDT Print View

Sorry Dale I couldn’t resist as a fellow resident of the PNW, no disrespect intended, I think we just go different locations where I often can’t find a place to pitch a tent unless I’m on snow. Having said that a bivy is not just for a military expedition sort of thing or for drag racing above the tree line and I agree a tarp makes a big difference during inclement weather. Just for the record I’m talking about more of a four season style bivy like my ID Salathe, be that as it may for using established campsites I would agree that tarp tents like my Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo E offers a better solution for camping.