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Sleep System for Bikepacking
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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Sleep System for Bikepacking on 02/06/2014 07:57:44 MST Print View

Ok, so I'm gonna be doing some BIKEPACKING this summer! Yeah!

I'm ready to bring along one of two shelters:

1. Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 Platinum (2lb 1oz)
2. BorahGear Snowyside Bivy (1lb 8oz)

The bivy saves some weight and space and no poles/stakes, but I'm not sure if it'll be too warm. I opted for the full eVent top and bottom.

Next, a sleeping bag.

I have a Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 45 (1lb 6oz) but that seems way overkill. I went an entire summer using only an Alps Razr fleece bag. So... can I get away with just using a light down jacket and pants inside my bivy bag, or is a better volume/weight investment something like an MLD Spirit Quilt 48 at ~13oz? I would probably never use pants/jacket off-bike and the lowest temps I expect are low 40's, but I'm good at sleeping cold.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

P.S. Region is Northeastern US, probably VT and NH

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sleep System for Bikepacking on 02/06/2014 09:20:17 MST Print View

If you are in established campgrounds or had wait out bad weather or heavy on bugs, the tent would be nice. The bivy would be better for stealth camping.

I would take a light bag or quilt. I bought a Thermarest small Tech blanket for hot weather use with my hammock or an UL bivy. It's not so terribly light, but is very compact and was about $35 on sale. It has a drawstring in the foot and snaps to my pad to form a quilt. It can also be worn like a shawl in camp. It's like a slightly warmer poncho liner.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Too Warm? on 02/06/2014 09:22:56 MST Print View

Dale,

Love the idea of the tech blanket. Thanks. I might have Justin Whitson make me an Apex blanket but I'll look into both as a potential solution. It's looking like a blanket is the way to go.

I do not mind discomfort in the slightest. When I'm waiting out a storm, I'm usually reading a book on my iPhone, which I can do in a bivy just fine. Stealth camping is the #1 reason I want to bring a bivy bag, but I'm afraid it'll be too hot if the temperature is in the 70's at night.

Thoughts?

Matt Weaver
(norcalweaver) - F

Locale: PacNW
Re: Too Warm? on 02/06/2014 09:39:06 MST Print View

While I've only slept in my BG eVent bivy in the snow with night time temps in the lower 20s, when I first got it I had to ofcourse hop in it in my living room which is a constant balmy 72 degrees. I was immediately aware of the stuffiness inside of the bivy. While it's a very breathable material and has been awesome during the colder months at adding some additional warmth while not condensating, I think that is the primary limits to it. I'd feel comfortable bringing it in to the 50s even, but 70s? No way. It's just not designed for that (imo). You'd be better off with a lightweight bivy so you can still stealth camp, with a small tarp in your pack to deploy if the weather turns crappy.

Matt Weaver
(norcalweaver) - F

Locale: PacNW
Re: Re: Too Warm? on 02/06/2014 09:43:02 MST Print View

^also worth noting is that I had mine made with a cuben floor, which may play a small factor in breathability, though I don't think enough to make a significant or noticable difference.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Worst case scenario, I'm stuck with the tent. on 02/06/2014 09:46:57 MST Print View

I think a WR bivy and a tarp is the ultimate solution here, but unfortunately, I need my shelters to go as far as humanly possible and I can't keep a quiver like I want to.

I got an amazing deal on the Big Agnes tent, and you'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. I'm dating an outdoorsy girl and I told her the tent stays, we'll just have to sleep close when we camp together (let's see how that goes!). I love the tent and wouldn't mind using it, but the poles are awkward in my bikepacking setup.

As for the bivy, I really really wanted a standalone shelter and the Borahgear bivy cost the same as a Superlight from MLD. I'm 100% certain the MLD bivvies are worth their price, and I have some MLD stuff I love (rain mitts!) but I can't afford to own a Superlight and a Snowyside, which is ideal.

So, these two shelters are what I'm working with.

In Vermont and New Hampshire, especially at higher altitudes, temperatures usually end up in the 60's. 70 would be rare. The only other place I tend to camp in the summer is near the ocean, which stays similarly cool after the sun goes down. I speak from experience here; we had maybe one night above 70º the entire 2012 tour in four Northeastern states, and one night it got all the way down to 39º. I wore all my clothing and slept like a baby.

So, I would basically be risking an uncomfortable night in the bivy at around a 1 in 10 chance scenario. I highly doubt temperatures would creep up to 80 degrees.


I am happy to suspend the bivy for ventilation and wear nothing but a silk liner inside (to keep sweat off the eVent). If it's just not feasible, though, I'd bring the tent.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/06/2014 09:50:24 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Floor Matters on 02/06/2014 09:48:00 MST Print View

As for the cuben bottom, this was the main reason I went for Borahgear over MLD (sorry Ron). I think the full eVent floor is going to make a substantial difference in breathability if the BPL community is any meter. That was one of the main takeaways from my info-gathering. Full eVent is worth the investment and the weight penalty for me.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/06/2014 09:59:37 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Blue poly option on 02/06/2014 10:00:20 MST Print View

There's always the blue poly tarp option. The cheap ones are actually quite light. The grommet placement isn't always ideal for pitching, but a grommet kit is cheap enough and there are all kinds of gizmos to add ties outs to plastic tarps.

A small silnylon tarp or poncho wouldn't be much of a financial burden and would make bivy life more pleasant.

The Borahgami tarp should become the couples UL shelter and an excellent bikepacking rig.

A bivy will be stuffy. I can feel the difference in my hammock when the bug screen is open or closed. Bugs are the real issue with sleeping with your bivy wide open. You might get by with a sheer curtain from a thrift store sewn into a simple bag to slip over the top. There are the bug canopy gizmos that might work for you in hot weather.

I think light synthetic blankets have a place in UL summer hiking. A few snaps or toggles at one end can approximate a foot box easily enough. Do consider a head hole to wear it serape style or a toggle to use it as a shawl for camp insulation. I think that makes a great multiple use feature for warm weather lowland camping and you can leave your puffy behind.

For that matter you can buy a surplus military poncho liner for cheap. Woodland camo should be great for Vermont wood lot stealth camping :)

"You caant cahmp here, son, a-yep"

Edited by dwambaugh on 02/06/2014 10:15:50 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Poly Tarp is Too Big on 02/06/2014 10:05:56 MST Print View

Love the Borahgami shelter (though, I'm silently resentful I lost the naming contest to such an excellent name. Genius!). I don't think couple's bikepacking is in the future, but you never know!

I have a blue poly tarp and I've rigged it up before using trees, and I have no aversion to doing it again except volume. I am going rackless with a Revelate Tangle Frame Bag (large) and a Viscacha Seat Bag, a really small handlebar bag for a raincoat, and if I can get away with it, nothing else! Possibly a hydration or lumbar pack, but no racks and no drybags. I want to keep a fleece, bivy, and a sleeping bag in my seat bag, a sleeping pad in my bottle cage, and water/food in the tangle and go absolutely minimalist.

I did the 2012 tour with a single frame bag and a stuff sack, plus a hydration pack. I can do it, I just need to keep the volume down.

If I were to bring a tarp, I might consider picking up an MLD Dog Tarp just for the top half of my bivy. I could probably rig it up with a single tree in a flying diamond configuration. I wonder if Ron would make one in brown silnylon... but anyways, anything bigger/more expensive and I might as well forgo the bivy altogether and just use my tent.

Therein lies the conundrum... I hope I'm not annoying anyone because I absolutely love threads like this. Questioning my setups leads me to happier trips.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Poly Tarp is Too Big on 02/06/2014 10:25:54 MST Print View

Just get a Golite poncho. It will have all kinds of uses in your travels. If it really pours you can sit it out under a tree with the poncho covering your whole body and it makes for a great bivy head end shelter.

If you were starting from scratch, my combo du jour of Gatewood Cape and Titanium Goat Ptarmigan bivy would rock for bikepacking.

I would buy some polycryo to save the bottom on that bivy. PM me if you can't find it local.

Kevin S.
(kstephens) - F
I'd go with a tarp on 02/06/2014 10:41:55 MST Print View

I have only bike toured with panniers and racks, So I am not speaking from experience for your needs. But I do know that tent poles are a pain to deal with in small packs or spaces. If I were going bikepacking without racks, I would want to minimize the rigid items I bring, just to make packing with limited space easier. I would also, definitely want some shelter I could throw up quick to get out of the downpours. I can hike through most rain, however, visibility gets very limited on a bike, and it is often best to wait out the occasional downpours.

I've also had the fly creek before (not the platinum) and the poles really don't take up a ton of space. I still wouldn't to deal with them in a small pack - there may be a good way to attach them to the frame out of the way. Zefal makes a pump strap (doodad plus) that could hold most things against the frame. Then you still have the option of using the fly/footprint setup for a quick shelter if needed.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Sleep System for Bikepacking" on 02/06/2014 11:38:38 MST Print View

Max-

What about coming up with a way to strap the tent poles for your FCUL1 to your bike frame? I would think you could perhaps sew some velcro to the stuff sack for the poles (assuming it comes with one, otherwise make one) and then velcro that to your bike frame's top tube? I get that you don't mind more discomfort than most, but I would think the tent would be a lot more comfortable than a bivy and that grey color isn't going to stand out too much if you need to stealth camp.

diego dean
(cfionthefly) - M
Handlebar Harness on 02/06/2014 11:56:36 MST Print View

Id spend the money and get the Revelate Handlebar Harness system. It would allow you to strap your tent and whatever else to the front. I can fit my BA CS UL1 and clothing in mine just fine. Im decked out in Revelate bags and its definitely worth it.frontsetup

Edited by cfionthefly on 02/06/2014 12:01:50 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Great Suggestions on 02/06/2014 13:12:28 MST Print View

Good suggestions, all:

The poles aren't an end-all, I can definitely strap them to the frame. It's just slightly less convenient than the bivy. I have found that the less straps I have, the better, because I break camp in the morning without the ritual of tightening/checking/stowing loose ends.

It sounds like a non-issue, but I love the zen of simple bike touring. Having everything in bags definitely accomplishes this end. In a way, so does the bivy. No poles, stakes, rain fly, etc to deal with. Stop riding, sleep, wake up, ride.

As for the Revelate Harness, I would go for it, but my drop bars and cables are in the way on my adventure bike. Perhaps if I pick up a true mountain bike before the summer, I'll go for it. All my other bags are Revelate and I love them.

Oh, and as for the polycro, I am a paranoid guy with a deep love for keeping things looking new, so I'm going with a 9 x 4 foot piece of kitemaking tyvek instead of polycro. Adds a couple ounces, but it's bulletproof to protect the bivy or tent from puncture. I have relied on it in the past and love tyvek for this purpose.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/06/2014 13:13:42 MST.

Duncan M
(dmasland) - F

Locale: New England
sign me up on 02/06/2014 13:32:08 MST Print View

I hopefully won't be part of your sleep system, but sign me up for some trips this summer. I've been dreaming of trip that hits the forest roads and bike-legal trails in the Whites.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
BPL Meetup on 02/06/2014 13:34:05 MST Print View

Duncan,

PM sent

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Sleep System for Bikepacking on 02/06/2014 14:30:07 MST Print View

@ Dale.

Have you tried cycling in the poncho?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sleep System for Bikepacking on 02/06/2014 22:46:43 MST Print View

Jason asked, "Have you tried cycling in the poncho?"

Of course not. The idea was to buy a poncho for use with the bivy rather than a small tarp. Some bivy users like to use a small tarp at the head end for protection from the weather, even cooking while still nicely wrapped in their sleeping bag and unzipped bivy. Max mentioned buying a small tarp and it was my suggestion to buy a more versatile poncho instead. My GoLite poncho is 102" x 56", weighs 7.2oz and the current retail is $60, which is comparable to many flat silnylon tarps. Max does get off the bike and walk around the woods once in a while too, and the poncho would be perfectly usable as rain gear for that.

I never mentioned using the poncho as rain gear on the bike. I did mention sitting out a rain storm sitting under a tree with the poncho on. There are some capes offered fo use on a bike, but I don't like the idea much myself.

Are we clear? :)

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Sleep System for Bikepacking. on 02/06/2014 23:52:18 MST Print View

Calm down Dale. It was just a straight forward question. People have been cycling in capes and ponchos for decades. I just wondered if you had tried it out, as I have a Zpacks groundsheet poncho that I was considering for summer bike packing trips.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sleep System for Bikepacking. on 02/07/2014 00:05:31 MST Print View

Note my smilie at the end. I am cool as a cucumber :)

For what it's worth, I think cycling in a full backpacker poncho would be utter madness. The cycling capes with thumbs loops are quite short in comparison with little chance of getting in the moving hardware. Even with those features I would pass on the idea.

I really don't get the groundsheet poncho idea. I see groundsheets as sacrificial and expected to wear out. To use expensive Cuben fabric and then flop it down in dirt and end up sleeping on your rain gear makes no sense to me. The economics get by me too: 250% of the cost of the Golite for a 2.1oz weight savings so you can have a dirty $155 poncho with holes in it? To each his own, but I'll pass.