Rating: 5 / 5
I used the a Bear Paw Wilderness Designs Minimalist 1 bug bivy every night of my Appalachian Trail thru hike. While there weren't many bugs flying around in mid March when I started, the fully enclosed mesh of the bivy worked great under my tarp to blunt the worst of the cold breezes. The silnylon floor of the bivy acted as my groundsheet. The minimalist size regular proved to be large enough and long enough to fit me, at 5' 7 &3/16" tall and my pack inside. I tended to use my food and pack as my pillow and the minmalist bivy was great at containing me and all my junk at night with plenty of room to sit up on my elbows and read guidebook pages or chow food. The side zipper wrapps all the way around the head of the bivy and entry and egress were very simple. I used a quilt instead of a sleeping bag so when it came time to take a leak the quilt was thrown back and the side zip of the minimalist allowed for a quick and easy pee without getting out from under my tarp!
The cord and cord locks that suspend the minimalist at the head and knee worked flawlessly and the main zipper never snagged or jammed.
It was a divine pleasure, once the mosquitos and blackflies came out, to be snug inside my Bear Paw minimalist. In fact a simple flick on the no-see-um mesh sent the skeeter careening into my tarp with a satisfying "Thwack!"
Most of the time I preferred to tarp off-trail but a few times I used the A.T. shelters. My minimalist bivy was ideal in the A.T. shelters where other hikers were setting up their tents and ticking people off, I was taking up no extra space with my bug bivy and it was a snap to find attachment points for the pullouts.
A few times i was able to cowboy camp using only the minimalist bivy and no tarp. For those times i simply stuck my trekking poles into the earth about 6 feet apart and suspended the minimalist between them.
The sil-nylon floor of the minimalist did allow moisture in if i was camped on mud and I pressed my elbow into the floor. It was never a problem as i always put my ridgerest pad inside the bivy and my rain jacket under my feet.
One interesting thing about using a seperate bug bivy and tarp arrangment was that i could set up my tarp in the rain without exposing any of my gear. I would climb under the tarp, take off the wet clothes, set up my minimalist bivy and crawl inside with my quilt.
On rainy mornings I could pack everything up into my backpack including my minimalist bivy (which was usually dry) and then take the tarp down last, putting it into the outside mesh pocket of my pack.
This system kept me reasonably dry even through ferociously wet weather on the A.T. this year.
The Bear Paw Wilderness Designs Minimalist Bivy is in perfect condition after 2,180 miles having only a few tannin stains from the leaves upon which i camped so often.
The only failure I had at all was the supplied stuff sack. The drawstring of the stuffsack pulled through the collar. I continued to use it without the drawstring and the stuff sack itself never failed.
The minimalist is a great product at a great price and made in America.
I highly recommend this product.