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REI Minimalist Bivy Sack

in Shelters - Bivy Sacks

Average Rating
3.57 / 5 (7 reviews)

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Glenn Roberts
( garkjr )

Southwestern Ohio
REI Minimalist Bivy Sack on 10/04/2005 20:30:29 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

At one pound, this bivy sack is perfect for use with a tarp. It's made of REI's proprietary Elements material, a mostly waterproof/passably breathable material that easily handles the moisture that blows in around the edges of a tarp, and turns the dew that sometimes forms when you're sleeping under the stars. Its best feature is the opening - it opens nearly to your waist, so getting in and out is a piece of cake. Six zippers supposedly give you the option of creating arm and head holes, so you can coccoon inside it while you cook, read, or pose for the catalog pictures of you cooking or reading. I've never tried that feature; if I'm in it, I'm sleeping.

It has a mesh face opening (shoulders to top of head) that provides some ventilation; the mesh is not backed by an Elements panel, so you can't close it off. Although it could use a waist-length mesh panel, I've even used it on a muggy July night in Indiana, and haven't overheated or slept in a puddle of my own perspiration. (The extra mesh, if backed by an Elements panel, would add some weight, however.)

The weight's certainly right; combined with my Granite Gear White Lightnin' tarp, my total shelter weight is about two and a quarter pounds - and the combination gives me the option of sleeping under the stars (which I love) or being fully sheltered from any storm I'm likely to encounter in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, or Michigan. (Well, OK, tornadoes not so much - but certainly rain.)

For cool weather, I've found it adds about 5 degrees to the rating of my bag - saving a little more weight by letting me take a lighter bag.

7/9/07: I've downgraded this to a 4. My earlier experiences in hot, muggy weather must have been a fluke - or, more likely, this bivy paled in comparison to the Integral Designs Salathe that I now use. The thing that makes this a 4, and the Salathe a 5, is the mesh panel: the Salath'es panel goes from head to waist; the Minimalist is only a face-wide opening. The Minimalist is still a good starter bivy, and probably an excellent choice where conditions are always cool at night, but it doesn't fill my needs as well as the Salathe.

Edited by garkjr on 07/09/2007 11:25:43 MDT.

Courtney Waal
( d0rqums )
Great for the price on 10/06/2005 19:44:21 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

You forgot the most important part- it's CHEAP! I'm amazed that they sell something far more than a nylon bag with a drawcord for MSRP $89. I picked mine up at a sale for $65, making it hard to complain about the relatively small issues and easy to modify to suit your needs. I think the 6 zipper pulls are overkill, wish that you could close off the face part with a drawstring, and wish it came with some stake down loops (not hard to add). It's kept me completely dry from nasty rainstorms under my poncho tarp and is big enough for me to prop up on my elbows and read while totally zipped in. At a pound, it's in a whole different weight tier from its competitors in the 2-3 lb range. I like the 'rain gutter' that keeps water from running down the bivy in through the head net- it works beautifully. Sure, I'd like to get something like a Vapr, but it's hard to complain about this one since it's a light(ish) bivy and it's so cheap. Oh, and RED. It totally goes with my blue poncho tarp and yellow quilt for that Playskool chic.

Sam Haraldson
( sharalds )

Gallatin Range
Cheap, durable yet heavy on 10/29/2006 14:01:47 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Weighing in at 16 oz but at a cost of only $85 the REI Minimalist Bivy is a great starter package for those interested in trying out life with bivy and tarp.

I purchased the bivy primarily for use under my various tarps but primarily for the immediate goal of a 213 mile through hike of the Superior Hiking Trail Spring 2005. I used it for those 15 nights and have since used it a few dozen times otherwise.

It has been used in varying situations from dry and cold to wet and warm. How well the bivy performs in each situation varies.

The bivy comes with a lot of bells and whistles that one could easily modify to bring down weight.

It has a whole smear of zippers designed to allow the user to have hands and arms in or out of the bivy while the head and face remain covered. These combinations could also be used to run anchor ropes out of if being used as a big wall shelter.

Other possible areas for modification are a "rain gutter" that supposedly keeps rain out of the mesh opening around the face. It's probably functional but for tarp users there is no need for this extra fabric.

In terms of keeping the user warm and free from wind it excels. It easily adds warmth to your sleeping setup and does a great job of helping to keep wind off you as well.

When it comes to it's quality as a waterproof/breathable barrier it lacks slightly. There is typically a significant quantity of condensation in the bivy come morning even when I've slept with my face outside. It isn't however, so bad that a half hour of drying the outer aspects of your sleeping bag won't take care of.

I've had my feet outside my tarp during rainstorms and the bivy has done a fine job of keeping my sleeping bag dry so as a waterproof layer is excels.

I've rated the REI Minimalist bivy a 4 of 5 for it's heavy weight and slight condensation issues.

Shop Rei, Superior, These products at GearBuyer
Greyson Howard
( Greyhound )

Sierra Nevada
good with a couple issues on 12/10/2006 00:09:15 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

During the time I have used this bivy, I have experienced no condensation, even when the single wall tent I was in was dripping.
I have not found a great solution to getting the bug-mesh away from my face, and with it on my face I find it anoying and somewhat pointless, most nights I left it open, which worked well.
With a pad inside (anything from a thin closed cell foam to a 2.5-inch-thick insul-mat) it is too tight to sleep on your side without compressing the down over your hip. (And I am a skinny dude).
It's a decent bivy, but seing my buddies Black Diamond Lightsabre pack smaller and offer so much more interior room, I'm starting to consider other options.

James Pitts
( jjpitts )

Midwest US
Too many zippers on 01/06/2007 17:57:27 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I own this bivy. I bought it on sale just for kicks. I have used it three times. My main gripe are all those zippers! This bivy could be a lot lighter with a minimal amount of fuss. I think it is not as breathable as I would have hoped and I did have condensation problems, but nothing I couldn't deal with.

Bottom line. If you aren't sure if tarp/bivy camping is for you I do recommend giving this a fling. It's not that expensive and experiment and if you are really offended at the end of it all there is always REI's return policy to fall back on.

I applaud REI for having this in their product line. :)

Shop Rei products at GearBuyer
Johnathan White
( johnatha1 )

Tough, cheap, and 16oz on 03/06/2007 17:03:01 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

REI Minimalist Bivy
I could not pass it up; 89.00 before a 20% off coupon. I have used this bivy sack 6 times in temps ranging from 20F to 60F. The bivy has 6 zippers. I have used all 6 for ventilation in different areas. All the zippers also allow easy entry. The material is bomber so you do not need an additional ground cloth. I have had no condensation issue with this bivy yet but, I usually use it with some kind of tarp so I can use the zips for ventilation. The built in zippered mosquito netting saved my blood on the 60 degree trip! Overall a good solid 4.

Edited by johnatha1 on 03/06/2007 17:06:39 MST.

Jason Brinkman
( jbrinkmanboi )

Too much condensation for me. on 05/09/2007 23:53:00 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I picked up a REI Minimalist Bivy in size long to try out. The long also has added girth, which is great. I slept in it twice in my backyard proving ground. Both times were clear, low humidity nights between 30 and 40 degrees (pretty typical 3-season low temps for me). I used a Thermarest and my 30-degree Marmot Hydrogen inside.

The rain gutter looks great. The zippers are overkill, but well designed - I could do with two not six. The price is awesome.

But... The condensation was more than I was willing to fuss with. Not so much that it would wet out a sleeping bag, but enough that you'd want to air things out daily.

So, I returned it to REI and put the refund toward an ID eVENT Bugaboo that breathes superbly with no condensation, even when fully zipped up!

Thanks REI for a fair entry level product and a better return policy.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Marmot Hydrogen priced at: $279.20 - $348.95
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