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Finally making the jump to a tarp/bivy set up
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Paul H
(phsycle) - F

Locale: Rockies
Finally making the jump to a tarp/bivy set up on 10/07/2013 13:20:21 MDT Print View

My trusty old Kelty solo tent is being retired. Has been a good tent for the last several years. I really want to jump to an UL set up, which is why I was looking at tarp/bivy set up. I like the size, weight and flexibility compared to a hammock set up (plus, I don't like sleeping in hammocks).

I was thinking of going with Borah Gear stuff. Seems from the few reviews, they make a good, solid product at a great price. I am looking at the standard bivy (m90) and 8'x10' tarp. This should come out to around 18oz (maybe a couple more for ties). Prices on the site are $80 and $95, respectively.

I'm thinking that this would work out great. But before I click on the purchase button, any other products I should consider at this price point? I'm fine spending more, if the benefits are there.

I live in Utah, so not much rain throughout the year.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Limited Experience on 10/07/2013 13:22:47 MDT Print View

I suspect this would work out great. I've read a lot of reviews of both products, the bivy especially, and Borah keeps a good ship. Take that with a grain of salt, though, since I don't own either.

If you're not in a rush, though, post a wanted ad on Gear Swap. It'll save you money (which you want to save) picking up this stuff used. The community rotates a lot of tarps and bivy bags on there; there's almost always someone looking to move off a barely used item so they can grab the next new thing.


Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Finally making the jump to a tarp/bivy set up on 10/07/2013 13:27:58 MDT Print View

Sounds like a good option to me.
If you want to do your due diligence, you might look at the offerings from Zpacks in cuben. Plenty of good reasons to go either direction.
Good luck.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Finally making the jump to a tarp/bivy set up on 10/07/2013 13:29:55 MDT Print View


Pretty solid setup that should do you fine in most conditions....generous tarp size for bad weather.

Does the Borah taps have metal grommet for hiking pole tips to go into them?

I find that they are a nice feature on my MLD poncho tarp and my cuben tarp., but they do add weight.

They make pitching all the easier after a long day on the trail and reduces stress on the fabric.

Prices are great for Borah....if you want to spend more, you could go with cuben, but the material can be fussy to get a tight pitch. I prefer silnylon for cost and forgiven in a less then perfect pitch, but you do have to tighten up your lines before you go to bed because of the slack due to moisture.

Make sure your bivy is wide enough to accomodate your sleeping pad (Neo air in particular) and if you are a side sleeper, having a bivy that is wide is helpful.

Too small a bivy means you are compressing your down or synthetic insulation in your sleeping bag/quit, which will make you colder at night.

Generous amounts of bug netting at the head area of the bivy will reduce condensation and give you less of the clausterphobic feel while in it.

A tie out look at the head area will allow you to tie a cord to the underside of your tarp (assuming that it has one there above your head area) and give you more head space and keep the mesh off your face, which is important in buggy conditions.

Sorry that I am not superfamiliar with the specifics of the Boarh bivy, but I am sure that it will have all or most of these fetures.

Hope this helps.


Paul H
(phsycle) - F

Locale: Rockies
Thanks on 10/07/2013 13:38:31 MDT Print View

Thanks for the inputs! I will post a want ad and look at zpacks as well.

Tony, doesn't look like they put metal grommets on the tarps. But the nylon loops seem solid enough to me, but I guess time will tell.

Edited by phsycle on 10/07/2013 13:39:03 MDT.

cody yochum

Locale: Nor Cal
gear swap on 10/07/2013 14:19:12 MDT Print View

There's a regular size cuben borah bivy listed for sale in the gear swap forum right now.

Joe S
Borah on 10/07/2013 17:52:55 MDT Print View

John is great to work with and his prices are very reasonable, IMHO.

Maris L
Borah tarp on 10/07/2013 20:22:00 MDT Print View

I just went through this looking for a sil tarp a few weeks ago, and ended up deciding on Borah's 8x10. My criteria were the size, quality, affordability (around $100), and lightest weight for the price - in that order. I compared tarps mostly from Bearpaw Wilderness Designs, Etowah, Jacks'R'Better, Outdoor Equipment Supplier, and Oware. Cuben and anything from like HMG, MLD, Yama was out of my price range. I didn't want to deal with Gear Swap because of time constraints.

I was impressed with Borah for quality and weight the most. Oware and Bearpaw came second, and they seem to have a solid rep here. For the same price as Borah, Bearpaw does an 8x10 with more tie-outs and color choices, slightly heavier. Oware was slightly pricier, slightly heavier. Etowah didn't really stand out besides price, but I've read some decent things about them. OES only had cat cut tarps but they looked great. JRB really disappointed me with the materials, weight, and brass grommets.

I went with Borah because I had read some good reviews, the weight was impressive between the ones I looked at, price was attractive, I liked the clean aesthetics, and I was intrigued to try something from them.

John answered some unimportant questions I had promptly. Should have the tarp tomorrow, I'll be taking it on a cycling trip this weekend.

Edited by Ablaut on 10/07/2013 20:23:38 MDT.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
Borah Tarp on 10/07/2013 20:40:38 MDT Print View

Look at the Borahgami. Tons of room and wouldn't need a Bivy if set up in storm mode.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Finally making the jump to a tarp/bivy set up on 10/08/2013 03:55:14 MDT Print View

Regarding rain in Utah,
I remember spending a week in the Uintas where it rained almost every day and the ground never dried. The forecast was for 0% chance of rain and it never rained the whole time at lower elevations.

It is almost always wetter at higher elevations in the Rockies and not just the Uintas.

Anyway your setup sounds good.

I do find that most bivys can be stuffy in summer bug season.
I usually use a bug tent(BearPaw Minimalist) for hot summer weather and use my bivy for other seasons, but I'm splitting hairs.

Although my shaped/cat tarp is made of cuben, I do prefer silnylon for my rectangular tarps because the stretch makes for a tighter pitch in many situations.