Shelter Advice

Posted by: Monsieurp

Shelter Advice - 12/26/17 10:31 AM

Hello, I am new to backpacking and I am trying to choose a sleeping solution. When I used to hitchhike I carried with me a 2 person tent for my friend and I but I feel it was really only reasonable to carry it since hiking was kept to a minimum. I am planning a trip to Vancouver Island this spring and and want to purchase something that is lightweight, will stand up to the rain, and will serve me well in other areas/seasons.

I have been reading about Bivys and the idea of it suits me.

I was looking at this one: https://www.backpacker.com/gear/outdoor-research-helium-bivy-review as it has a support pole which increases space inside. (Has anyone used this Bivy, does this pole make a difference?)

I'm wondering, when combined with a tarp (or suggested other solution) would it be a good decision to go with this Bivy? What else would you recommend?

I've been looking at one person tents as well, but I feel like if it's going to rain a lot I'd rather have a smaller bit of fabric to manage than a whole tent and I was never a fan of erecting a tent to begin with. Is this just inexperienced thinking or would a tent be the best option.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Shelter Advice - 12/26/17 02:28 PM

You might want to look a couple of threads down: there’s a thread called Bivy Bag With Wire Peak that has a lengthy discussion of nearly the same question you’re asking.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Shelter Advice - 12/26/17 11:28 PM

I'm not a bivy user, but from everything I can gather, a bivy alone without a tarp is a very poor fit for a trip with lots of rain, while a bivy with a tarp is very little different in terms of weight than a ultralight or lightweight tent. You can change clothes inside a tent far more easily than inside a bivy bag, and when there's lots of rain you will need to change clothes because your clothes will be either damp or wet.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Shelter Advice - 12/27/17 11:20 AM

My feeling is similar to that of aimless. I've used a light (water "resistant", not really water proof) bivy in conjunction with a poncho/tarp in situations where I didn't expect to deal with lots of rain, as a flexible weight saving option. Perhaps the state of the art has changed, but for a bivy to keep you reliably dry in significant rain, they can get to be as heavy as a full tent, and much (much) less comfortable and flexible. I used to own a really waterproof bivy, one that had a little flexible pole to keep the fabric off of your face --- it was I think as heavy as my sil-nylon single walled tent (I gave it to my daughter when she got into search and rescue).

Having a decent amount of dry and bug-free interior space is very nice, especially when conditions make you want to be in there. I've had situations where the bugs are out in force and I was too warm to be inside my bivy, even putting my body on top of rather than inside of the sleeping bag.

Where a bivy shines is in limited space situations where perhaps there are challenges to pitching a tent. So if you expect to camp on the side of a mountain, or you go caving a lot, or use it with various snow shelter options ... that sort of thing.

But some of the issues come down to "personal preference". Ideal would be if you could borrow or rent a bivy and try one out, hopefully either in fairly benign conditions, or close to a trailhead --- or in your back yard.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Shelter Advice - 12/29/17 10:59 AM

Shelter choice has much to do with where you are going and the time of year. I primarily am a hammocker. However, I also use a poncho shelter if the weather is mild and hang points (trees) are few...I spend a lot of time in the desert. I don't much like bivy's...there are some one/two person tents that are just as light and provide a place to keep your stuff dry. I've hiked Vancouver Island some and found it wet/cold. Hammocks with rain fly's work well there but I'd probably opt for a decent ultralight tent next time. You'll appreciate the dry shelter.