Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy?
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Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? on 05/14/2012 10:23:05 MDT Print View

Does it make sense to use a quilt under a tarp with no bivy?

As background, I am 6'4" and 190 lbs. I am primarily a side-sleeper. I primarily backpack in the southeast Appalachia. I usually make it out west to the mountains about once a year. I have been using a Montbell bag under a GG Spinntwinn tarp on a large neoair for quite awhile. I have not been using a bivy. This has worked really well for me. I have only occasionally had any rain spray on the foot of the bag and the dwr has worked well on the spray.

I just gifted my Montbell bag to my son and am considering the purchase on an Enlightened Equipment quilt. I have never used an outdoor quilt before. Will this fit into my existing system well without the use of a bivy? Am I better off staying with a full bag when sleeping under a tarp with no bivy?

Any input is appreciated.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
2 Cents on 05/14/2012 10:42:52 MDT Print View

My experience has been that since I like to camp high up - there is almost always a breeze. My quilt use in temps down to 20* has always been with a bivy to help against blowing snow and wind (even a 5-10 mph breeze seems to sneak under the quilt on very cold nights). For summer 50* and above temps, no bivy (but an adequate ground cloth to protect the quilt) is needed, if not a net tent for the bugs.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re My two cents on 05/14/2012 10:47:54 MDT Print View

I almost always use a bivy. Now my quilts my be a tad narrow for my so perhaps a wider quilt would work better but I've never felt like my quilts were warm enough without the bivy.

I think about it this way. A ground cloth is only a bit lighter than my bivy. The bivy keeps me warmer, it protects my bag from rain spray, and its protection from bugs. All for only a couple extra ounces.

Karple T
(ctracyverizon)

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy?" on 05/14/2012 10:55:17 MDT Print View

Check out this vid of Clint “Lint” Bunting and his tarp & quilt set up.

http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/segments/view/1821

I think he used it on the PCT

Jump 1/2 way to 5:20 and see him setting it up.

Edit: He may be just showing off for the camera : )

Edited by ctracyverizon on 05/14/2012 10:58:34 MDT.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re My two cents on 05/14/2012 10:57:47 MDT Print View

+1 to what Luke said. I would think in the Southeast, the bug protection of a Bivy would even be more desirable particularly with a quilt where bugs/ticks could easily crawl into your space. In addition, on most nights the Bivy is my shelter (no tarp) if rain isn't a problem.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? on 05/14/2012 11:00:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input, guys.

I am looking for this bag to be good for 30 degrees and over nighttime temps; I will not be using it in winter really. I am a side sleeper so will probably need a wide quilt. I use a polycryo groundsheet so a bivy will be a bit heavier than just a groundsheet. A full bag keeps out drafts and rain spray pretty well and keeps my head warm. When I add it up, it seems like a full bag without a bivy does pretty much everything that a quilt and bivy does and at less weight.

Lots of people seem to rave about quilts but I am struggling to find the advantage.

And isn't it constricting crawling in and out of a bivy with a chest zip?

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? on 05/14/2012 11:02:09 MDT Print View

"Does it make sense to use a quilt under a tarp with no bivy?"

I do this quite regularly now. If you get a quilt that's wide enough, you can keep the draft out quite well.

As long as you make sure that you pitch the tarp properly for the weather you're facing, and you know your gear's limitations, you'll probably fine. I like the tarp + quilt + pad combo. I find it to be quite comfortable, and the airiness is very therapeutic :)

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
Side Zip on 05/14/2012 11:03:58 MDT Print View

I have the MLD Superlight Bivy with Side Zip :-) Making it much easier to get in and out. The reason I like quilts (more for the summer) is that I toss and turn a bit and a quilt feels more natural (and I always end up unzipping my sleeping bag and throwing it over my like a quilt anyway cause I'm too hot).

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
My two cents... on 05/14/2012 11:06:44 MDT Print View

What Luke said, +1! I also nearly always use a bivy with my quilt. I can use a slightly lighter quilt for the expected conditions/temps, not carry a ground cover and have the option of setting my tarp or not (depending on weather). Where I mainly hike insect protection is critical, think biting ants..., added warmth and weather protection are simply an additional benefit.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? on 05/14/2012 11:17:31 MDT Print View

First time side sleeping quilt user who plans to use a solo tarp?

Let's hope you ordered a wide (56-58") in the upper torso/shoulders and long length. Narrow quilts work fine for many users, but sidesleepers should go wide IMO.

I find I dont require a bivy paired with my tarp now having moved up to a wider variably tapered quilt. Below 20F the likelihood that I will pack a bivy along increases some but is still dependent on the weather, specifically moisture (*snow, driving rain).

Wide quilt and a large coverage tarp certainly facilitates easier temperature management for me, leaving the bivy as an "as needed" item in my closet. I find the generous coverage of a large tarp and the warmth and flexibility of a widely cut quilt are worth the additional oz., as well as simpler to use while out. Fiddling with a bivy, tarp, ground sheet, pads, and quilt straps became a bit fussy and I found myself scratching my head going "Why am I doing this?"

Karple T
(ctracyverizon)

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy?" on 05/14/2012 11:35:57 MDT Print View

Ben, I hike the same parts of the AT as you.

In summer I use a tarp, quilt and a bug bivy (AlpineLight bug tent 8.6 oz)and in shoulder seasons a tarp, quilt & bivy
(BPL/Oware UL Bivy -Pertex Quantum 7.8 oz).

It is too humid in the summer for me to use a full bivy but in the shoulder seasons they are perfect with a quilt.

If I had to choose one I would go with the bug bivy because I can use it 3 season.

No skeeters, snakes. ticks ... etc.

The MLD bug bivy. (You are aware of these I'm sure)
http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=55

Or the
Serenity Shelter
http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=120

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? on 05/14/2012 11:45:53 MDT Print View

I've been moving away from Bivy use - I simply don't like the constricted nature.

My quilts are also a bit wider than the norm so I have no issue with drafts. For bugs, I would much prefer to use an inner net tent and suspend it from the top of the tarp. Weighs close to the same and more livable for me. YMMV.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Don't like bivvies, and have not needed them on 05/14/2012 12:04:44 MDT Print View

"I've been moving away from Bivy use - I simply don't like the constricted nature.

My quilts are also a bit wider than the norm so I have no issue with drafts. For bugs, I would much prefer to use an inner net tent and suspend it from the top of the tarp. Weighs close to the same and more livable for me. YMMV."

+1 I aso find that body moisture condenses inside even the most "breathable" bivvies under some conditions in cold weather, risking loss of insulation value for my sleep system. Get a quilt that is sized adequately and add some cords to cinch down the sides to reduce air infiltration as needed. This works great for me down to low 20's. I switch to a sleeping bag in teens or colder.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Quilt under a tarp without a Bivy? No one would stick with a full bag? on 05/14/2012 12:31:46 MDT Print View

Just the input I was hoping to get.

Seems like most of you prefer a quilt/bivy combo. But that is going to wind up being heavier than my current bag alone with a headnet for bugs. The main advantage I see to the quilt/bivy system(over my current bad/headnet)is when it is both hot and buggy I can cool off and keep the bugs away. I try to keep out of the lowlands when its hot at night and buggy. The downsides I see of the quilt/bivy is extra weight, fiddly, constrictive, condensation.

The quilt/no bivy option looks feasible to me. I have a fairly large tarp to keep me mostly dry. I was concerned with drafts, but it looks like even a wide person like me can learn to beat the drafts with a wide quilt. Bugs may be my biggest concern with a quilt only.

I am still considering buying a new montbell bag to replace my old one. Bugs and drafts and head warmth would be less of an issue and I think its about 20 ounces. But it sounds like none of you would go back to a full bag for 3 season use.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Don't like bivvies, and have not needed them on 05/14/2012 15:05:14 MDT Print View

"I aso find that body moisture condenses inside even the most "breathable" bivvies under some conditions in cold weather, risking loss of insulation value for my sleep system."

Supposing you didn't use a bivy in that case, would the dew point move inside the bag/quilt and the condensation end up inside the insulation of your sleep system, risking more loss of insulation value? I'm honestly asking here, as I've never done any testing of my own; I've just heard people say that.

To follow up on the dew point issue: Is it always the case that adding a bivy will reduce overall condensation in the insulation because of the dew point thing? Or is it always the case that a bivy will make for more moisture in the insulation because there is another layer for it to get through to leave the sleep system entirely? Or does it depend on conditions? If so, how do the conditions play a role?

Edited by Hiker816 on 05/14/2012 15:12:06 MDT.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Good questions on 05/15/2012 12:50:32 MDT Print View

My own experience is I often end up with more moisture in and on my quilt with a bivvy than without a bivvy. I'm in the eastern woodlands with high moisture common. In the drier west, things might be very different.