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Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent
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S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/18/2013 21:15:26 MDT Print View

I am on the market for a "wedge" style bivy tent. I have looked at specs on different models until my head spun and couldn't make up my mind, so I figured I'd call on the collective wisdom of BPL to help make my decision. I will be using this tent mostly solo (with occasional duo use) on snow and small, tricky-to-pitch on locations (i.e. a portaledge-type environment). I am 5'11" 150 lbs. and use an Exped UL7 pad (in case that figures into tent dimension choices) I need something fairly weather resistant and easy to set up when my fingers are numb and I am super tired. I also want something that will not be a condensation machine. Obviously some of the options are heavier than others but I am willing to carry the extra if it means I will be more comfy from condensation and precipitation. Here are the models I have looked at, each with their apparent pros and cons. Any input would be helpful.

Black Diamond Firstlight
Black Diamond Highlight
Black Diamond Eldorado
Black Diamond I-tent
Integral Designs MK1 (and the Rab branded twin)
Integral Designs MK2 (and the Rab one)
Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2
Nemo Tenshi
Sierra Designs Convert 2
Hilleberg Unna

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 07/18/2013 22:29:57 MDT Print View

What about a cuben tarp and an ultralight bivy?

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: re on 07/18/2013 23:07:04 MDT Print View

Cuben tarp = more fiddle factor to setup quickly or well in unconsolidated snow or on bedrock. Bivy = not so great for two person use (although I DO have an old Integral Designs all eVent bivy that's nice for solo use snow camping).

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
BD wedge tents on 07/19/2013 08:48:51 MDT Print View

I had a first-generation (Epic) Firstlight, and recently got an Eldorado (mostly as a car camping tent).

The Toddtex tents are obviously heavier, but the real disadvantage is that the WPB canopy fabric is stiff and doesn't pack well. The Eldorado takes up about 3x more space in the pack than the Firstlight. The advantage is that the floor and canopy are a lot more durable, and the Toddtex is much (much!) better when it comes to condensation. Under bad conditions condensation machine is a good term for the Firstlight. The Bibler tents are also more wind resistant than the UL versions. The heavier fabrics have very little stretch; getting the poles in requires quite a lot of wrestling, but once they're situated the tent is very solid.

Toddtex is also no-questions waterproof under pretty much any circumstances. My Epic Firstlight weathered some impressive rainstorms without leaking early in life, but either due to dirty fabric or general wear and tear became less waterproof down the road. I'm not sure how the new fabric stacks up.

The Eldorado is a great size for two people, and due to the steep walls every inch is very useable. It's a lot bigger inside than it looks. For mostly solo use, the I-Tent size makes more sense.

Edited by DaveC on 07/19/2013 08:50:59 MDT.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: re on 07/19/2013 09:06:29 MDT Print View

"(although I DO have an old Integral Designs all eVent bivy that's nice for solo use snow camping)."

Is it the nestor?

Christopher Gilmore
(chrisjgilmore) - F - MLife

Locale: New Almaden
Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/19/2013 14:01:00 MDT Print View

I know its not the wedge style but i have an OR advanced Bivy and the thing is bomb proof. I have never had condensation issues really due to reading many articles on here and making sure I had proper ventilation.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/19/2013 15:58:44 MDT Print View

The bivy is a pre-Rab-buyout. I think they just called it eVent overbag.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: BD wedge tents on 07/19/2013 21:49:51 MDT Print View

While I cant vouch for many of the newer tents listed, I'm a firm believer in both the Todd and Tegraltex products. I've had an Eldorado and an ID Salathe bivy for quite a while, and while they are both very different types of equipment, they both manage moisture extraordinarily well. I especially like the "fuzzy" surface on them, because it is specifically there to do the following:

1) Increase the surface area of the fabric to provide more room for the condensation
2) wicks and spreads out the moisture once it condenses (like a paper towel)
3) once the moisture has spread, it raises the possibility that it will eventually evaporate once the dew point is passed

On the Eldorado, having two doors is especially nice, for both ventilation and a second way out. Keep in mind with any of the "breathable" fabrics: once the temperature and the relative humidity are properly aligned and the air reaches it's dew point, the breathable surface is no longer "breathing" since the vapor is fully saturated and will condense on any surface. In my opinion, Todd/Tegraltex are more than just a fabric, they are a vapor/moisture management system. If you are in cold weather with any reasonable amount of humidity in the outside air, this point will be reached very quickly regardless of the material of your tent.

I am sure Event is a great fabric, and I understand it to be quite vapor permeable, but I don't know if or how it actually manages moisture. Furthermore, I suspect it may not be as durable as Todd/Tegraltex. On the other hand, Event is much lighter and that may be more worth it to you. But if you suspect that your life is essentially on the line every time you pitch this tent, what tent do you see yourself feeling more secure in?

As far as your decision process goes, given that you are seeking a fairly specific piece of equipment, I wouldn't try to get something for all purposes. In other words, don't purchase and carry a 2 person tent around with you if it will be just yourself for 90 percent of the time. If at all possible "don't let the tail wag the dog". In the architectural world that I live in, it is important to know when I am to design for just the norm, and not design for the exception to the norm. I believe it is natural for us to try to get the tool that can do everything, but in reality this tends to result in having a tool that does a lot, but marginally well.

hope this helps...


Mark Montag
Rab Superlite Summit Bivy on 07/21/2013 14:56:02 MDT Print View

Check out the Rab Superlite Summit Bivy - eVent - just about 3-lbs - the newer ones now called a Lotok Ultra are heavier - very breathable including (don't try this at home) carefully boiling / cooking in the tent. At 5'-8", I can sit up & with a zero bag don't touch the ends. At 5'-11" you may need to go diagonal and sitting up will need to lower your head - but the 34" height is great for wind resistance. Check my previous posts for more comments, photo & You Tube link on the older version of that tent.

Another possibility would be the heavier type BD TriPod or Rab RidgeMaster bivy. I have the TriPod with the Todd-X - as mentioned above, impressively breathable - small footprint and can be somewhat freestanding though designed with a guy-line at the foot & head. A really nice 4th season bivy - very tight & quiet in strong winds. I have mine for sale on a local CL hoping it doesn't sell - can only have so many shelters :-)

Good luck with your choice - stay safe!!

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
wedge tent on 07/21/2013 16:53:35 MDT Print View

If you get this type of tent, get one with a side entry (door at one long side of the rectangle), and a vestibule over the door that protects access and egress from rain and spindrift. The better ones of this type have something to prop up the vestibule so you can get in and out without getting doused, and have some usable space for cooking. Roger Caffin has been pointing out for years the design weakness of tents with nothing over the door for protection, but for some reason they just keep making them. The places to backpack with nice weather most of the time are becoming fewer due to climate change. Of course, if you backpack to satisfy masochistic impulses, none of this matters.

Edited by scfhome on 07/22/2013 13:33:32 MDT.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/21/2013 17:19:54 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback. I think I will make some mock-ups with string ala Franco D. to see what the different sizes feel like and what will work okay for my purposes.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/21/2013 18:03:09 MDT Print View

I think I will make some mock-ups ..

I was going to suggest that.(use poles if you already have some)

Some of suggestions.
Those pole inside shelters are a lot easier to set up if you first stake down the floor.
most have very large corner loops so they are easy to do.

When you insert the poles make sure that the tip is inside the grommet at one end and that you hold the other tip very firmly in your hand as you move it towards the other grommet.

At your height and on top of the thick mat you will probably touch at least one end of most but you can always drape your rain jacket over the foot area of your sleeping bag.
good review on the Rab here :
as suggested there, after you do the first pole, secure it to some of the Velcro strips so that it stays in place when doing the other.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
What Sam sed... on 07/21/2013 18:10:03 MDT Print View

I agree with Sam F. 100%. having had the 1st wedge tent ever (Jansport 2 person). Most wedge tents have NO door protection when opening it. BAD design!

Plus, wedge tents are horrible in lateral winds. I would broaden your search to include other, better designs.

I assume you want a self-supporting tent.

I'm selling my single wall Moment soon (got a buyer) and getting the Moment DW with a ripstop inner and crossing pole. I'll shorten the crosing pole and run it beneath the fly for a freestanding 4 season tent. BUT, is strictly a solo tent.

Mark Montag
Original Post on 07/21/2013 20:41:47 MDT Print View

I don't know guys - choosing a tent to use for "small tricky to pitch....portaledge environment" doesn't favor a side entry - jmo

Eric - not meaning to be offensive but the Moment DW looks like a really sweet lightweight tent for a lot of conditions - but without a substantial snow wall close-in around the bottom - that thing is a kite in 4th season alpine exposed conditions - jmho - though I'm partly assuming that is the conditions the OP is referring to.

Since there is still not a perfect tent for all people's needs in all conditions - cross pole "wedge" tent is still one of lightest weight, lowest cost, harsh condition worthy solo tent designs available - a little snow coming in the door is not a problem compared to a sleepless night in a loud, unstable tent or carrying the extra pounds of a tunnel.

Franco - thanks for the link - good read - I agree with that review. BTW - the door is 27" high - the apex is higher than that.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
wedge bivy on 07/22/2013 13:38:53 MDT Print View

You are absolutely right. I missed the 'portaledge' reference.
I don't tech climb, so have idea of the tent issues involved for that.

S, You might add Snow Peak Lago 1 to your list, if only because the poles don't have to be installed inside the tent. With large diameter poles, it is 2.75 pounds trail weight (tent + file + poles only), not counting the integral four fairly heavy guy lines (3 oz total) that are intended to stabilize a narrow wedge tent of 39-40" height in high winds. It is 3 feet wide - the current RAB looks a bit wider, and has the eVent that might make the tent less stuffy. I have a One Planet double wall dome with a fly that comes very close to the ground that was purchased for high winds and modified to add interior space. It still seems much more stuffy than I'm used to in still air in the summer. It's hard to find a tent for all seasons and conditions. Maybe one with a fly that comes to the ground but lots of small closable vents up top. UL eVent suited for tents may be the coming thing, as suggested by Mark M's posts.

Edited by scfhome on 07/22/2013 16:04:42 MDT.

Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Bivy tent on 07/22/2013 14:52:07 MDT Print View

The new Crux tents might fit your bill...
Good luck

Mark Montag
Nice Looking Bivi Tent on 07/22/2013 22:44:25 MDT Print View

Pierre - thanks for the link - the Brit's are really designing & producing some nice mountaineering gear & clothing, though the Rab & Montane products look to have a higher level of fit & finish - hard to see from their website. The Rab tents, Montane Packs & both clothing lines are top-shelf mountaineering products.

I'd love to try out those tents & maybe the eVent bags, but they look hard to get in the US - their website & internet reviews are showing to be pretty old.

Edited by SanJuans on 07/22/2013 22:48:50 MDT.

Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Bivy tent on 07/23/2013 09:59:45 MDT Print View

This might help you some more...
A review of the X1 assault
A pdf I've found online
fwiw, I own one of their packs (RK30). I can assure you the design and quality is top notch and that they stand behind their products when need be.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/23/2013 14:21:25 MDT Print View

I really like the looks and sound of the Crux X1 line of tents. Problem is, how do I get one in the states? Not a single one of Crux's listed online dealers carries them. Anyone overseas willing to get one and send it to me if I sent some money?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Recommendation for wedge/bivy tent on 07/23/2013 14:54:45 MDT Print View

Jacksons sports in Northern Ireland is a Crux dealer, I bet they could order one for you and ship to the US.

As you are outside the EU you won't pay any tax in it, shipping would probaly be 40-50$

I know Doug Ide often buys from them and find the pricing reasonable.