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is a bivy neccessary
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william hutchinson
(okuncool) - F

Locale: midwest (boo hoo)
is a bivy neccessary on 11/08/2006 21:11:51 MST Print View

i sleep under a glite cave 1 in a mountain hardwear phantom sleeping bag. i typically use my poncho as a ground cloth, and the sleeping bag has a microfiber fabric, but i have never really been in any crazy rainstorms, (i live in the midwest.) i am thru hiking the pct this year and i am asking for suggestions about whether or not i need a bivy. it seems like a bivy might be overkill, but i might be wrong. it also seems like a tarp bivy combo might not be the lightest option. any suggestions for the lightest options, while still being fully protected for a long term hike?

Edited by okuncool on 11/08/2006 21:16:55 MST.

(lamanite) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/08/2006 23:46:01 MST Print View

This has never happened to me so maybe it's not true. But from what I understand tarps do collect condensation and sometimes dew/mist and rain or wind can splash it onto your bag. I have a BMW nano-bivy that weighs 4.6oz. or something like that. Haven't tried it yet as I am still partial to my tent and usually need to sleep a wife or kid with me as well.

(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Re: Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/09/2006 02:09:34 MST Print View

If on the PCT and your trip takes you through Oregon then here are a few words of advice from an Oregonian.

Outside of August and September it rains here alot, and all the time. Even in August and September there are some rain showers. On extended trips I ditch the down and donn the synthetic. With ever the chance of rain, your ability to dry you down bag is limited especially when traveling high mileage days. I take a BMW VAPR Bivy which keeps the rain at bay while being breathable enough to partially dry out my synthetic sleeping bag. It's enough until I can catch that one nice day to fully dry it.

As Den guessed, your tarp will collect condensation and dew. Here in Oregon the ground gets saturated with water and it has to go some where. You guessed it, into the air and onto the under side of your tarp. Also with the air saturated with moisture you sleeping bag will also absorb water. Another reason for the bivy, water proof bottom and water resistant top.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
bivy for the pct on 11/09/2006 10:44:39 MST Print View

I use a down bag like a quilt and often bring a bivy
on the PCT.
I carry a Goretex PFTE one in the North Cascades and Oregon all seasons for rain splash, wind and bugs and as a backup shelter if the party has to split up.

In the Sierra I carry a lighter, more breathable version during early season for wind,
and bugs. I don't use one in later summer in CA.

A bivy is a good thing to have in a bounce box.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
is a bivy neccessary on 11/09/2006 10:49:29 MST Print View

I've lived in the Portland, OR area for the past 20 years and have hiked from Yosemite to Manning. You should reach OR in early July when the rainy season is essentially over. Yes, we get a lot of rain Oct thru June, but so does WA and you'll probably hit some of it from Stevens Pass north. I use a WM down bag, also with a microfiber shell, and a single wall tarptent. I saw no need for a bivy with that system. Only once did extended rain run me off the trail; every other time I found periods in which to dry out my gear on trail. Be flexible. Stop when the sun comes out, cook and your one hot meal of the day, and use the time to dry or partially dry, your damp gear. Do it religously until conditions improve or you get to a supply point where you can zero indoors and thoroughly dry out everything.

CAVEAT: When the humidy is 100% and you're walking/sleeping in the clouds or fog - not uncommon in WA's North Cascades - any system will get wet if you stay out long enough. That's what resupply stops and zero days are for. Sometimes the weather rather than your home-made schedule will dictate when those are to occur.

That said, those incidents are few and far between. A microfiber shell will protect your bag from incidental contact with tarp condensation and splash-back. Consider a larger tarp to better control the latter if it bothers you.

Using you raingear as a ground cloth on the PCT will quickly turn it into a sieve. Do yourself a big favor - add a Gossamer Gear Polycro ground cloth (2-1/2 oz for a 36x96) and keep your poncho whole.

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/09/2006 10:51:08 MST.

Dane Burke
(Dane) - F

Locale: Western Washington
Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/09/2006 18:25:35 MST Print View

"it also seems like a tarp bivy combo might not be the lightest option"

With the availability of 4 ounce bivies and 4 ounce tarps, I'd say that a tarp-bivy combo is most definitely the lightest option that will provide that level of weather resistance. If the tarp you use is a poncho tarp, the next lightest system that doesn't make use of tarp and bivy isn't even close.

jeff woods
(jeffwoods) - F
Re: Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/10/2006 16:16:13 MST Print View

dane, where do you get a 4-oz bivy and 4-oz tarp?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/10/2006 16:52:57 MST Print View

> dane, where do you get a 4-oz bivy and 4-oz tarp?

On this website. There is a poncho tarp and bivy available on this site that both weigh in at 4.6 ounces.

I've hiked quite a bit with a tarp-bivy combination, and think they are generally excellent in all but monstrously buggy conditions. This works for me in Washington and British Columbia from about march through early july and then from mid-august until it is time to ski. Which should be soon.

Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/11/2006 22:46:17 MST Print View

I was going to do the tarp/bivy combo until I talked to Ron over at Six Moon Designs and dawned a new Gatewood Cape. 11.5 oz on my scale, requires less guy line and stakes than a tarp, doubles as your raingear (with 2.5oz chaps) and pack cover. I can see having more condensation in it than a tarp tho.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/12/2006 02:31:41 MST Print View

William, as some else has mentioned here, you can get a Bivvy in the 4 to 5 oz range. For the sake of that relatively small weight and the extra peace of mind it will bring you. Take a Bivvy along. I carry more weight in my pockets going to work in the morning! If the rest of your kit is lightweight, then this little bit of extra weight wont really make that much difference to you.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/12/2006 03:56:03 MST Print View

Johnathan, less guyline maybe but not necessarily less stakes. You can put up a tarp with four stakes.

Scott, that 5 oz bivy will cost nearly double what the gatewood cape will cost, unless you get the Equinox version which weighs 1-2 oz more.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Re: Re: Re: is a bivy neccessary on 11/12/2006 06:45:13 MST Print View


You're right about the cost. I'm quite lucky at the moment as I'm currently single, so I don't have the 'Other Half' moaning about what I spend my money on. So pretty much anything(within reason)that catches my attention, is in my hands in about the time it takes to enter my credit card details into a web page.

There are cheaper Bivies out there at which point you probably do start to need considering the weight. After all, a heavy bivvy and tarp can weigh more than the latest double skin tents!

Edited by waterloggedwellies on 11/12/2006 08:09:17 MST.

ryan g
(ryan_g) - F

Locale: around
re: bivy on 11/13/2006 13:15:15 MST Print View

I thru-hiked the PCT this year (finished on 9/26). I had a GG SpinnShelter, a polycryo groundcloth, and a WM Ultralite sleeping bag. I rarely set up my shelter until WA, when I went through 9 straight days of rain/snow/fog/etc in the Cascades. By the third or fourth night out, basically everything was wet from condensation, but by then I was a day from town. So, is a bivy necessary? Nope. Didn't see any out there, either.

Edited by ryan_g on 11/13/2006 13:23:07 MST.

william hutchinson
(okuncool) - F

Locale: midwest (boo hoo)
Re: re: bivy on 11/13/2006 18:31:50 MST Print View

thanks ryan,
that was the most helpful advice. i think i am going to start without a bivy and then if i need one in oregon and washington i can just buy the rei bivy. it is heavy but cheap.

Paul Howlett
(paulh) - F
Re: is a bivy neccessary on 12/15/2006 21:08:06 MST Print View


If it's not too late, I too use the Cave 1 with similar microfibre fabric s-bag. In brief:

1. It mightn't be the lightest at 15 oz. c/w 8 ti-stakes & 50' of triptease (stuff sack is unnessary, but it's the hallmark of simplicity and function on the trail.

2. It is possible to stay dry in some pritty nasty conditions above tree-line. Done it several times in hinge-season weather and, after (4) years, never once had a soaker. High levels of hummidiy/dampness will be your constant enemy with down regardless of tarp or tent.

3. I've tried a silnylon & epic bivis for above conditions, and it's fine, but, really unnessary as you suggest. Simply rigging one end low to ground (i.e., one pole only) is more than effective. If I may suggest: sew an 18-20" foot-box into end of tyvek ground sheet and sleep with your head at the low end for those wind/rainy times (you'll do just fine).

4. I think bug pressure is far more of an issue. I drape a swatch of no-see-um netting (from REI) over my upper body, but can't say I recommend it for everyone. Q: If you're starting at Mexican boarder, would you not be pritty trail worthy/toughened buy the time hit the Origon bugs? This system may just work!

To conclude, I've learned alot about going light from thru-hikers. With the time, your skills and confidence grow, and your and wants & "perceived" needs become more modest. KISS and confidence is the key, and I believe you'll really come to appreciate the CAVE or equiv.

P.S. as a further note, check out the stats page for fellow through hikers on TRAIL JOUNRALS, and note how may nights they spent under the stars vs a shelter - It's a commonly reported stat, and I think you'll find the result rather illuminating.

Very best of luck