Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
To Bivy Or Not To Bivy
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
To Bivy Or Not To Bivy on 09/11/2011 14:42:18 MDT Print View

Just a little info first here. I hike primarilly in the Sierras from May-late Sept. I use a down bag and have a GG SpinnTwinn tarp that I love. I have a bug bivy that weighs in at 8 ounces that I am now thinking is dead weight. I am trying to find options to lighten up. My question is to those that are experienced Sierra hikers that know the conditions that we encounter during this time period. With using a lightweight groundcloth and my tarp is this sufficient coverage for those afternoon thundershowers???

Edited by kennyhel77 on 09/11/2011 15:02:54 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Bivy on 09/11/2011 14:50:11 MDT Print View

I am not in the Sierras a lot but do use a Spinntwinn. I find that I do not need a bivy. The Soinntwinn is pretty wide. My pad keeps me off the ground well. I get very little spray. My bag has dwr for any spray. I would feel comfortable going in the Sierras with a Spinntwinn and no bivy.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
My two cents on 09/11/2011 15:39:11 MDT Print View

For many years I have cowboy camped in the Sierra and find that the skeeters go away shortly after dark. So I would find the bug bivy of little value. Plus if you have a sewn in bug net like TiGoat offers then you just zip that up for a couple of hours. I have used this more for ants than skeeters. And since it weighs 8 oz. I get all the extra protection for free.

I like the bivy because it offers you the option of setup without the tarp and you stay protected from wind and dirt from the bivy and its faster to setup and tear down. On my PCT hike I only setup my tarp 3 nights. It only rained once and I will admit that I got very wet after a 16 hour rain that blew straight in from the foot of the tarp. I think what happened is that it pooled on my bivy and soaked through. So in this case the bivy did little to add extra protection over the tarp. But most of that was my fault. We were in the middle of several miles of very exposed ridgeline. I will definitely not repeat this again and will get wet before I setup in a location like this. The reason I mention this is that this would be similiar to the afternoon thunderstorms in the Sierra. But you would also be awake and would notice what was happening.

The biggest downside I have found with the bivy setup is warm nights. I had a couple on my hike and ended up covering myself with only the bivy starting out the night. But you won't see these conditions in the Sierra.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: To Bivy Or Not To Bivy on 09/11/2011 16:09:26 MDT Print View

Ben, exactly why I want to ditch the bug bivy. The size of the SpinnTwinn makes it easier for me to get protection.

Greg, welcome back from your PCT're a stud!

The reason that I bring this up is that I love cowboy camping and find myself rarely putting up my shelter. I am thinking a groundsheet and then a tarp should suffice. I have a poncho that I use as my rain protection which could double as a sleeping bag cover at the feet. I would like to hike without a bivy if possible

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Sublite a possible alternative on 09/11/2011 16:14:41 MDT Print View


I am trying a Sublite(Tyvek) this year for the first time. I haven't encountered any precip so far, so can't comment directly on its storm worthiness, but Henry assures me that it is perfectly adequate for typical Sierra rain storms. Still, the proof is in the pudding. I am heading into McGee Lakes in a week or so and that area typically encounters more precip than my usual Southern Sierra haunts. I will report back to you on the results one way or the other. If it proves up to the task, it would be a very attractive option at 20 oz, because it provides bug and rain protection with minimal/n condensation. The thing I don't like about a bivy, even with a built in bug net, is that it is very confining and can have a lot of condensation buildup. OK if you are thru hiking, but if you happen to want to hang around a buggy area for a day or two to fish or day hike, it is nice to have a place to retreat during the day that isn't like a coffin.

My 2 cents.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Bivy on 09/11/2011 16:41:13 MDT Print View

I keep my poncho handy for the same reason but have never had to use it.

Stephan Doyle
Re: To Bivy Or Not To Bivy on 09/11/2011 17:42:24 MDT Print View

Ken, I love using my bivy in the Sierra. It's my groundcloth, windbreak, bug proofer, and adds a great deal of warmth to my sleeping system.

Kind of like my windshirt–-it's some 4.3 ounces and does a million things well, it's so versatile––just the nighttime version.

sun thechip
(sunthechip1) - F
To Bivy Or Not To Bivy on 09/11/2011 19:54:27 MDT Print View

That is the question