by Ryan Jordan | 2006-01-28 03:00:00-07
Nemo's tents depend on air-supported beams for their support structure instead of linked pole sets. The primary advantage of this is not appreciated until you use one in the field: they're really easy to set up and take down. Stake it out, pump up the (usually two) support beams, and you're done. The whole process takes about two minutes if you're slow and tired and it's windy and you're not very good at it.
The popularity of one-pole hooped bivy sacks is evident for ultralight backpackers. Models from Integral Designs, Outdoor Research, and others are a testament to having a very simple, light, weatherproof shelter with a smidge of headroom available for reading, turning, and breathing fresher air.
Now back to Nemo.
Take the one pole design and replace the pole with an airbeam and you have the Nemo GoGo Bivy. The weight is competitive with other brands: about 1.9 lbs. but two things really set this bivy sack apart.
The first, of course, is the air beam, which like the Nemo tents, makes the bivy very easy to set up.
The second, and more surprising innovation, is the design of the front of the bivy. It's the first bivy that you can easily get in and out of without (1) having rain flood the front of the bivy sack, and (2) excessive wriggling (at least, as far as bivy sacks go). Outdoor Research comes the closest to achieving these goals with their clamshell design, but the small front opening makes #2 a stretch and #1 doesn't pan out in actual use. Driving rain still makes its way into the bivy sack.
The front end of the Nemo GoGo Bivy is actually a double-wall tent with a retractable inner, a design not found anywhere else on the market. With the inner tent retracted, opening the vestibule door simply lets rain fall on the ground, while you enter the bivy through the front opening of the inner. once inside, zip up the vestibule door, and store wet boots in the vestibule; or, deploy the inner tent back to the front stakeout loop for more room inside.
The GoGo Bivy offers a single wall design using a breathable PU-coated nylon fabric, which I suspect, will be its achilles heel. Although 3-layer eVENT would dramtically improve the bivy's cold weather performance, it would add (a little) weight and (a lot of) cost (and already at $286, this is no cheap solo shelter). Three to five stakes are required to secure the bivy (two at either side of the air beam and/or two down at the foot end, plus one at the front).
Bottom Line: The air beam is cool, but it's the vestibule that sets this bivy apart. Unfortunately, I don't think it's enough: my guess is that the fabric choice on the GoGo will keep the Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter as the top performer of the single-pole bivy market.
"Nemo GoGo Bivy Sack (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2006)," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/nemo_go_go_bivy_sack_tent_orwm2006.html, 2006-01-28 03:00:00-07.