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#134929 - 06/09/10 10:55 PM Two serious bivy questions
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
After hours of research both here and elsewhere on the internet, I find myself with questions not necessarily addressed in other threads.

I'm looking at the REI Minimalist Bivy combined with the Lafuma +45 deg. bag for summer in the big mountains of the Northeast (ADK, Whites, etc). I already own a Cocoon silk liner adding 5-10 deg. more warmth. So, my "combined rating" should be around 30-35 deg., perfect for most summer nights in the mountains, and hopefully, by using a 45 deg bag with the liner and my clothing, I give myself options to help prevent overheating and thus condensation. Here are my questions

#1. Are bivy's, and specifically the REI Minimalist, really truly waterproof? As in, could I lay out in a teeming rain with no tarp and not get wet (other than condensation, which is question #2)? I understand the REI bivy has a mesh face opening, which I'll easily seal up by rigging my poncho over my photo tripod and placing that over my head. But other than that, is it the real deal as far as waterproof goes?

#2. To battle condensation, I figure on the Lafuma 45 deg. bag with the silk liner (making it a ~40 deg. bag). I'm a fan of bringing more clothing and thus a lighter sleeping bag. I'd rather have clothing that I can move in to keep me warm than a heavier bag that keeps me immobile. So if it gets chilly, I add my fleece and if it gets real cold, fleece lined soft shell plus boiling water in a nalgene. However, I've heard bad things on Lafuma's loft, so maybe I should stick with the Lafuma 30 deg. bag I have now? I'm just worried about overheating and condensation. I know some is inevitable when using a bivy, I just want to minimize it through intelligent planning smile

If I pull this off, I save something like three pounds. Three entirely beautiful pounds, gone from my pack forever! Not to mention the ease of use and setup, real handy for a photographer who routinely rolls into camp well past the glorious hours of sunset. I'm not concerned with any other aspects of the bivy as I am Spartan camper, and my daylight hours in the woods are always spent hiking, rain or shine, since I only get to get out so often in a year that I make the most of each and every day spent on the trail!

Thoughts on this idea, or any others?

Here are links to both the REI Minimalist Bivy and the Lafuma 45 deg. bag.

Bivy http://www.rei.com/product/794292
Sleeping Bag http://www.rei.com/product/798906

Thanks everyone!


Edited by gregpphoto (06/09/10 10:55 PM)
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#134934 - 06/10/10 12:46 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Firstly, Lafuma bags are notorious for being generously rated; I wouldn't be surprised if the +45 degree bag is more like a +50/+55 degree bag. Secondly I do not put much stock in the stated warmth of bag liners-- perhaps a couple (1-3) of degrees, but certainly not "5 or 10".

Lastly, warmer sleeping bags do not need to be heavier and I wouldn't be surprised if all the extra clothes you bring doesn't weigh more than less clothes and a good quality warmer bag-- and lets face it any summer bag is not necessarily considered a "warm" bag and also how much clothing does one really need to bring for summer camping; but I digress.

IMHO, I wouldn't like to be in a +45 degree Lafuma bag in below freezing temps.

Anyway to answer your questions:

#1. Most "good" bivies tend to be waterproof on the bottom and breathable on the top-- the top doesn't need to be waterproof since the tarp, correctly pitched in a carefully chosen location should negate the need for a completely WP bivy. I use a one from TGoat, weighs in at around 8oz and costs about $120.

It should be noted here that the mesh opening is for bug protection and I do not know what you aim to achieve by rigging your poncho over it-- in fact that would be counterproductive the problem you addressed below.

#2. Condensation is pretty much a way of life with tarps/bivies and single wall shelters. Secondly condensation is inevitable in completely WP bivies-- hence why most opt for a breathable top shell. Obviously ventilation and site selection has goes a little way to reduce condensation

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#134936 - 06/10/10 01:00 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: ChrisFol]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
So the REI and most other bivy's are not meant to be used alone, without a tarp? What's the point then? It eliminates ease of use and a lot of the weight saved. And if this is the case, can you point out a completely waterproof bivy?

The extra clothes I bring don't add up to more than a bag that most people could afford. Sure, you can get a bag that's lighter. For $350 and up usually. In the mean time, I'll bring an extra $50 fleece thank you!

What I intend to achieve with the tripod and poncho is actually the opposite of counter-productive. Think about it. The poncho, draped over and secured to a tripod, gives me a whole lot of room to breath into. Rather than breathing into the bivy, I'm breathing into a big open space. This is obviously only for when the weather forces me to do so.


Edited by gregpphoto (06/10/10 01:03 AM)
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#134938 - 06/10/10 01:21 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By gregpphoto
So the REI and most other bivy's are not meant to be used alone, without a tarp? What's the point then? It eliminates ease of use and a lot of the weight saved. And if this is the case, can you point out a completely waterproof bivy?


I do not know of anyone who would take a bivy without a tarp-- certainly not when they expect precipitation

Generally it is the other way around. I always take a tarp, but I do not always take a bivy. To me a bivy is a piece of gear that is only needed in extreme inclement whether.

-How does carrying a tarp eliminate "ease of use"-- I can set up my tarp and take it down in around 2minutes. You would be hard pushed to set up a doubled-walled tent this quick.

-As for eliminating weight savings. My tarp, bivy and stakes weigh in at 19.6 oz. Most tents weigh double this! I can also drop the bivy (as noted above) and my shelter drops to 12.8oz. Pretty dam light!


Originally Posted By gregpphoto

The extra clothes I bring don't add up to more than a bag that most people could afford. Sure, you can get a bag that's lighter. For $350 and up usually. In the mean time, I'll bring an extra $50 fleece thank you!


What is with this notion that light gear is more expensive! Take a look at Campmor's +20 down bag ($120) or REI's SubKilo for around the same price. This is only $20 more than your Lafuma and $50 fleece but offers a better warmth to weight ratio.

Originally Posted By gregpphoto

What I intend to achieve with the tripod and poncho is actually the opposite of counter-productive. Think about it. The poncho, draped over and secured to a tripod, gives me a whole lot of room to breath into. Rather than breathing into the bivy, I'm breathing into a big open space.


A tarp, around 10oz and $80 will give you a bigger space and offer better protection. P.S. You are still breathing into the bivy-- you face is facing the mesh and you are still exhaling out of the same space. The poncho does nothing but deflect a bit of rain. Personally I use a bivy when I expect heavy down pours and in bug season-- the rest of the time, I leave it at home.

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#134941 - 06/10/10 07:02 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I've used the Minimalist,and it's my second-favorite bivy, after the Integral Designs Salathe. I like the Salathe because it has a waist-length mesh panel, which adds a lot of ventilation; the panel is covered by a full weatherproof flap, which completely closes off the mesh (no open face like the Minimalist.) However, this comes at a cost: the Salathe is a pound heavier and a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the Minimalist. I used the Salathe once without a tarp (surprise rain storm) and stayed completely dry.

I never used the Minimalist without a tarp, because of the open face, so I can't absolutely say it's waterproof. Besides, in a prolonged, 8-hour heavy rain, I wouldn't trust any bivy not to let water sneak in somewhere; it's just the nature of the beast that, unprotected, you'll let water in anytime you get in or out. I always carried a 6x8 or 8x10 silnylon tarp - half a pound or so, and pitched it A-frames style; the bivy was a defense against bugs and against the light mist or rain that blew or spattered in under the tarp. I also used a tarp for reasons unconnected to the weatherproofness of the bivy: it gave me a protected place to cook. It gave me a dry place to get in and out of the bivy, without letting rain in while I did so. It also gave me a dry place to change clothes, sit around, pack and unpack (The tarp got taken down last, stored in an outside pocket of the pack, and the hiking poles I used to pitch it went in my hands - the inside of the pack stayed dry. It went exactly opposite when pitching the tarp.)

Back when I used a tarp and bivy, I saved 2 - 3 pounds over the tents that were then available. Nowadays, with the 2-pound solo tents like the Fly Creek, Carbon Reflex, and any model Tarptent, I no longer use a tarp; the tents are just too much more convenient.

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#134943 - 06/10/10 08:46 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: ChrisFol]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
Originally Posted By ChrisFol
Firstly, Lafuma bags are notorious for being generously rated; I wouldn't be surprised if the +45 degree bag is more like a +50/+55 degree bag.


In recent years, Lafuma has adopted the European standard test methodology for the sleeping bag temperature recommendations.Independent (qualified) test laboratories conduct the tests using heated copper "bodies" in accordance with the detailed procedures of standard EN 13537.

In the last few years, many US manufacturers have also adopted this standard for setting the temperature ratings, thus eliminating the "lie game" by the low cost manufacturers who adopt the standardized rating system. I think even Slumberjack bags - famous for weight and temperature rating lies in the past, will go with the new system. Maybe not, because the audience they sell to is not sophisticated, but rather "economically focused" on low cost, and are more often car campers rather than backpackers.

Yes, it was true in the past (before EN 13537) that Lafuma temp ratings were "optimistic", but when REI adopted the EN system, they had to change temperature ratings or redesign the bags they were selling, for one example. There are others.

Lafuma went to EN standards in about 2008 ( my "guest" bag is a January 2008 Lafuma rated to the new standards at 30*F - and nobody has complained)

I'm not selling you on Lafuma. I am selling you on understanding today's temperature ratings. Ask about the certification of the temperature rating of any bag you want to buy. If it isn't EN 13537, then think about the purchase and try to do more research on the specific manufacturer.

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#134944 - 06/10/10 08:58 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: ChrisFol]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By ChrisFol
Originally Posted By gregpphoto
So the REI and most other bivy's are not meant to be used alone, without a tarp? What's the point then? It eliminates ease of use and a lot of the weight saved. And if this is the case, can you point out a completely waterproof bivy?


I do not know of anyone who would take a bivy without a tarp-- certainly not when they expect precipitation

Generally it is the other way around. I always take a tarp, but I do not always take a bivy. To me a bivy is a piece of gear that is only needed in extreme inclement whether.

-How does carrying a tarp eliminate "ease of use"-- I can set up my tarp and take it down in around 2minutes. You would be hard pushed to set up a doubled-walled tent this quick.

-As for eliminating weight savings. My tarp, bivy and stakes weigh in at 19.6 oz. Most tents weigh double this! I can also drop the bivy (as noted above) and my shelter drops to 12.8oz. Pretty dam light!


Originally Posted By gregpphoto

The extra clothes I bring don't add up to more than a bag that most people could afford. Sure, you can get a bag that's lighter. For $350 and up usually. In the mean time, I'll bring an extra $50 fleece thank you!


What is with this notion that light gear is more expensive! Take a look at Campmor's +20 down bag ($120) or REI's SubKilo for around the same price. This is only $20 more than your Lafuma and $50 fleece but offers a better warmth to weight ratio.

Originally Posted By gregpphoto

What I intend to achieve with the tripod and poncho is actually the opposite of counter-productive. Think about it. The poncho, draped over and secured to a tripod, gives me a whole lot of room to breath into. Rather than breathing into the bivy, I'm breathing into a big open space.


A tarp, around 10oz and $80 will give you a bigger space and offer better protection. P.S. You are still breathing into the bivy-- you face is facing the mesh and you are still exhaling out of the same space. The poncho does nothing but deflect a bit of rain. Personally I use a bivy when I expect heavy down pours and in bug season-- the rest of the time, I leave it at home.


What on gods green earth is the point of a bivy if it's not waterproof? Seriously, what is the point of it? To waste money and add 5 degrees of warmth? If it's not waterproof, why not just sleep out under the stars in your bag with a groundcloth? I'm about to make my own bivy, and make it waterproof for real. Maybe just make some kind of plastic body-condom lol.

My plan for the mesh was to fold it away and hence not be breathing into the bivy or the mesh. Trust me, I may be new to a bivy but I understand the concept of condensation and how eliminating my breath from hitting the bag will reduce the amount of moisture I wake up to.

How does a tarp destroy ease of use? YOU HAVE TO PITCH IT! I'm laughing harder than you can imagine right now. Good luck coming into camp past dark every night and having the will power to properly set one up, as opposed to laying down a bag and hopping in. I only use my shelter for sleeping, so for christs sake, I JUST WANT SOMETHING WATERPROOF. I dont wanna bs around it, I want what I want and if no one is intelligent enough to have created one yet I'll have to make it myself.

You say you would never take a bivy without a tarp, but then you say you would only take the bivy for extreme inclement weather. That doesn't add up to me, care to explain?

Finally, in regards to the sleeping bag, you missed my most important point. I can move around and hike in my extra clothes. You are stuck still in your warmer sleeping bag.


Edited by gregpphoto (06/10/10 08:59 AM)
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#134945 - 06/10/10 09:02 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: Glenn]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By Glenn
Back when I used a tarp and bivy, I saved 2 - 3 pounds over the tents that were then available. Nowadays, with the 2-pound solo tents like the Fly Creek, Carbon Reflex, and any model Tarptent, I no longer use a tarp; the tents are just too much more convenient.


Thats what Im saying. Its silly to put effort into rigging up a tarp (I've always had such terrible times with tarps) and laying out a bivy that, when you add up cost and weight, isn't so far behind a full blown solo tent! And if you're talking bivy/tent hybrid, jesus, they weigh LESS than some tarps and bivy's!
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#134948 - 06/10/10 11:43 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
There are two kinds of bivies:

1. Truly waterproof bivies made for mountaineering -- used when sleeping on the side of a cliff. Often made of Goretex, they close up completely. They can weigh as much as 2 pounds.

These are not very breathable, and not very useful for lightweight backpackers. The REI Minimalist is this sort of bivy.

2. Water resistant bag covers used by UL hikers under a tarp. The bivy adds wind and splash protection, and a fair amount of warmth, but requires a tarp for actual rain protection.

I like this sort of bivy because it's so versatile. It can be used under a tarp in bad weather, by itself on cold clear nights, and inside an A.T. shelter.

I don't think the #1 style of bivy is particularly useful for a lightweight backpacker. The #2 style is much more useful, and can be had for under 8 ounces. Along with a UL tarp, the total sleep system is under a pound.
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#134949 - 06/10/10 11:49 AM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By gregpphoto


What on gods green earth is the point of a bivy if it's not waterproof? Seriously, what is the point of it? To waste money and add 5 degrees of warmth? If it's not waterproof, why not just sleep out under the stars in your bag with a groundcloth? I'm about to make my own bivy, and make it waterproof for real. Maybe just make some kind of plastic body-condom lol.
...

How does a tarp destroy ease of use? YOU HAVE TO PITCH IT! I'm laughing harder than you can imagine right now. Good luck coming into camp past dark every night and having the will power to properly set one up, as opposed to laying down a bag and hopping in. I only use my shelter for sleeping, so for christs sake, I JUST WANT SOMETHING WATERPROOF. I dont wanna bs around it, I want what I want and if no one is intelligent enough to have created one yet I'll have to make it myself.

You say you would never take a bivy without a tarp, but then you say you would only take the bivy for extreme inclement weather. That doesn't add up to me, care to explain?

Finally, in regards to the sleeping bag, you missed my most important point. I can move around and hike in my extra clothes. You are stuck still in your warmer sleeping bag.


Take a deep breath...

We're not trying to tell you what to do. Some of us have been through the whole bivy or not exercise before. Some have used them. I know people who do use them. I don't, and I'll tell you why.

People who say they would not take a bivy without a tarp and only take the bivy if they expect weather are not using the bivy as the primary shelter - the tarp is the primary shelter. The bivy is an add on to prevent side or foot end splash in a really pouring down rain.

The questions I would ask myself before using just a bivy - if it is pouring down rain, I'm inside, and I have to pee, what do I do? How do I keep myself and the sleeping bag dry? Where is my pack and the rest of my gear? The answer would be the pack is inside the bag I used for a pack liner, my rain jacket is probably in there as well, and now I have to open the zipper, open the pack liner and risk getting a lot of stuff wet while I'm fumbling around exhausted looking for my light. Which was probably inside the bivy bag but has somehow wandered away under me and into the foot, so then I'm spending more time getting wet looking for the #$%@ light...

If I am on an extended day hike that takes all day, I take the tarp. Not the bivy.

I know you don't like tarps. I'm not even going to suggest that you spend some of the research time looking at the wonderful knotless setup I've found that makes a tarp dead simple to hang, because I'd rather you not think I'm stupid for suggesting it. But there are actually reasons some of us prefer a tarp over other shelter options.

I take a tarp and bivy when on SAR efforts - the bivy is only present in case I am forced to spend a night in the field instead of returning to base camp AND it starts to rain. Otherwise I sleep on the pad under my quilt, no bivy. In good weather, the tarp doesn't even come out.

On leisure backpacking trips I much prefer the more palatial setup of a hammock and tarp - I can stay dry and comfortable while cooking and lounging in the rain. I don't have to try (and fail) at sleeping on the ground (something I do very poorly, and only able to when exhausted) and I don't have to spread all my gear out to dry. I don't lie awake having claustrophobic panic attacks. I don't even have the tarp over me most of the time - I watch for shooting stars until I fall asleep.

Bivies shine for people who need a very bare bones, small footprint waterproof shelter - like climbers who wedge themselves into a ledge on a cliff at night.

If you have not already, look beyond the usual OR and MSR stuff - Six Moon Designs, Mountain Laurel Designs, Titanium Goat and other cottage manufacturers will have very light ones. Montbell has a breathable waterproof sleeping bag cover that a friend uses with his tarp. If not for the huge sticker price on the SoulLite at Mountain Laurel, I would have picked it up for the SAR pack - less than five ounces with a zipper. But the most I could justify for emergency use was a yard and a half of lighter goretex on sale and a yard of silnylon for the bottom, sewed up on my gear makin' Kenmore by me.

And btw, there are wearable sleeping bags and wearable quilts. Feathered Friends makes a very high quality bag with arm holes and closable foot end hole. JRB makes a poncho quilt and add-on sleeves and hood. I use a regular down rectangular quilt and have worn it around camp as well. Just have to be careful if someone builds a fire not to get too close.
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#134950 - 06/10/10 12:23 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
First, I will admit that I did not read all the previous posts in detail so you question may alredy be answered to your satisfaction.

I use a "basic bivy" although not the REI brand. Bivys are designed to be weatherproof WITHOUT a tarp. The tarp is more of a comfort item - if it really rains, you are stuck in the bivy without any way to even stick your head out to cook. If you can accept that (I do) then the bivy alone is fine. I use a WM Antelope bag - it has the water resistant coating. The bag is rated for 10-degrees. I also have a synthetic 45-degree bag. For coastal hiking where temps range from 55-60 degrees at night I use the synthetic bag. For mountains (Sierra and Wind Rivers) I use the down bag. I simply do not own a mid-temperature rated bag.

There always is some condensation, particularly at the foot. Therefore I would not use this system for a long trip in constantly wet conditions. You really need to have some sunshine to dry the bag out occassionally. On the coast, I take every opportunity to air my bag - when the sun peeks out, I stop and haul out the bag and dry it, even when on the trail.

The only serious condensation problem I had was when it rained hard, then froze and the bivy was coated with a layer of ice. I have stayed essentially dry in the bivy in very heavy downpours.

The Sierra are perfect for bivys - pretty low humidity with short duration thunder storms and minimal creepy-crawlies. I do use a tent during peak mosquito season. You do have to be comfortable with being really "out there".

I see little point in the bivy plus tarp. If I feel I need this set-up I simply use my tent. My bivy only weighs 1 lb 6 oz total. A bivy is not for everyone. You certainly sacrafice some comfort.

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#134952 - 06/10/10 01:00 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: kbennett]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Originally Posted By kbennett
There are two kinds of bivies:

1. Truly waterproof bivies made for mountaineering -- used when sleeping on the side of a cliff. Often made of Goretex, they close up completely. They can weigh as much as 2 pounds.

These are not very breathable, and not very useful for lightweight backpackers. The REI Minimalist is this sort of bivy.


Think situations where you can not even sink a stake. Where you need to weight the bivy with rocks to keep it from blowing away when you are not in it.

I have two bivies in this category.

Integral Designs Unishelter for winter = 40.8 oz.

Mountain Laurel Designs Alpine bivy for summer = 12.5 oz.

Originally Posted By kbennett

2. Water resistant bag covers used by UL hikers under a tarp. The bivy adds wind and splash protection, and a fair amount of warmth, but requires a tarp for actual rain protection.

I like this sort of bivy because it's so versatile. It can be used under a tarp in bad weather, by itself on cold clear nights, and inside an A.T. shelter.

I don't think the #1 style of bivy is particularly useful for a lightweight backpacker. The #2 style is much more useful, and can be had for under 8 ounces. Along with a UL tarp, the total sleep system is under a pound.


I think the state of the art now for this type is KatabaticGear BristleCone:

http://katabaticgear.com/shop/bristlecone-bivy/

_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
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#134959 - 06/10/10 02:37 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
For several years my 3-season sleep rig was a goretex bivy (Early Winters), down "liner" bag (Eddie Bauer) and pad (various)--kept in place inside the bivy. The system really worked well, both in/under a shelter and out in the open on mild nights. I tried to avoid sleeping in the rain without something overhead because I was never comfortable with the rain banging an inch from my head, plus one had to avoid awaking in a puddle. I recommend at least having a small tarp.

Once much lighter sleeping bags became available I migrated away from this setup, but still recommend it as a very adaptable system. It's nice, for example, to sleep atop the bag but still protected from bugs inside the bivy.
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#134963 - 06/10/10 03:56 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: kbennett]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
How is something completely storm proof not useful for a lightweight hiker? Furthermore, you're sleep system checks in under a pound. So does the REI bivy. Not how much does your system cost? REI Minimalist is $90.

Originally Posted By kbennett
There are two kinds of bivies:

1. Truly waterproof bivies made for mountaineering -- used when sleeping on the side of a cliff. Often made of Goretex, they close up completely. They can weigh as much as 2 pounds.

These are not very breathable, and not very useful for lightweight backpackers. The REI Minimalist is this sort of bivy.

I don't think the #1 style of bivy is particularly useful for a lightweight backpacker. The #2 style is much more useful, and can be had for under 8 ounces. Along with a UL tarp, the total sleep system is under a pound.


I do plan on bringing a very small tarp to cook under and store gear, and perhaps to cover the head region. I would be highly interested in a knotless tarp, because that's my whole gripe: I hate setup. Boo hoo whatever, I'm totally willing to sleep Spartan but I just hate having to work for it! So the bivy seemed like a great option for me. But again, unless I can get a fully yes or no answer as to whether or not this particular bivy (REI Minimalist) is 100% waterproof. I don't care about breathability, that's why I'm going with such a lightweight bag.

So, YES OR NO, is this bivy 100% waterproof? Sounds like it is, but I want to be sure before I commit to anything.

And as to answer your situation: I know where I put my light, and since I'll have either a poncho or a mini tarp covering my head, I can slide out that way to get out. Furthermore, it's water, not bubbling acid. If I get a little wet, I get a little wet.

Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By gregpphoto


What on gods green earth is the point of a bivy if it's not waterproof? Seriously, what is the point of it? To waste money and add 5 degrees of warmth? If it's not waterproof, why not just sleep out under the stars in your bag with a groundcloth? I'm about to make my own bivy, and make it waterproof for real. Maybe just make some kind of plastic body-condom lol.
...

How does a tarp destroy ease of use? YOU HAVE TO PITCH IT! I'm laughing harder than you can imagine right now. Good luck coming into camp past dark every night and having the will power to properly set one up, as opposed to laying down a bag and hopping in. I only use my shelter for sleeping, so for christs sake, I JUST WANT SOMETHING WATERPROOF. I dont wanna bs around it, I want what I want and if no one is intelligent enough to have created one yet I'll have to make it myself.

You say you would never take a bivy without a tarp, but then you say you would only take the bivy for extreme inclement weather. That doesn't add up to me, care to explain?

Finally, in regards to the sleeping bag, you missed my most important point. I can move around and hike in my extra clothes. You are stuck still in your warmer sleeping bag.


Take a deep breath...

We're not trying to tell you what to do. Some of us have been through the whole bivy or not exercise before. Some have used them. I know people who do use them. I don't, and I'll tell you why.

People who say they would not take a bivy without a tarp and only take the bivy if they expect weather are not using the bivy as the primary shelter - the tarp is the primary shelter. The bivy is an add on to prevent side or foot end splash in a really pouring down rain.

The questions I would ask myself before using just a bivy - if it is pouring down rain, I'm inside, and I have to pee, what do I do? How do I keep myself and the sleeping bag dry? Where is my pack and the rest of my gear? The answer would be the pack is inside the bag I used for a pack liner, my rain jacket is probably in there as well, and now I have to open the zipper, open the pack liner and risk getting a lot of stuff wet while I'm fumbling around exhausted looking for my light. Which was probably inside the bivy bag but has somehow wandered away under me and into the foot, so then I'm spending more time getting wet looking for the #$%@ light...

If I am on an extended day hike that takes all day, I take the tarp. Not the bivy.

I know you don't like tarps. I'm not even going to suggest that you spend some of the research time looking at the wonderful knotless setup I've found that makes a tarp dead simple to hang, because I'd rather you not think I'm stupid for suggesting it. But there are actually reasons some of us prefer a tarp over other shelter options.

I take a tarp and bivy when on SAR efforts - the bivy is only present in case I am forced to spend a night in the field instead of returning to base camp AND it starts to rain. Otherwise I sleep on the pad under my quilt, no bivy. In good weather, the tarp doesn't even come out.

On leisure backpacking trips I much prefer the more palatial setup of a hammock and tarp - I can stay dry and comfortable while cooking and lounging in the rain. I don't have to try (and fail) at sleeping on the ground (something I do very poorly, and only able to when exhausted) and I don't have to spread all my gear out to dry. I don't lie awake having claustrophobic panic attacks. I don't even have the tarp over me most of the time - I watch for shooting stars until I fall asleep.

Bivies shine for people who need a very bare bones, small footprint waterproof shelter - like climbers who wedge themselves into a ledge on a cliff at night.

If you have not already, look beyond the usual OR and MSR stuff - Six Moon Designs, Mountain Laurel Designs, Titanium Goat and other cottage manufacturers will have very light ones. Montbell has a breathable waterproof sleeping bag cover that a friend uses with his tarp. If not for the huge sticker price on the SoulLite at Mountain Laurel, I would have picked it up for the SAR pack - less than five ounces with a zipper. But the most I could justify for emergency use was a yard and a half of lighter goretex on sale and a yard of silnylon for the bottom, sewed up on my gear makin' Kenmore by me.

And btw, there are wearable sleeping bags and wearable quilts. Feathered Friends makes a very high quality bag with arm holes and closable foot end hole. JRB makes a poncho quilt and add-on sleeves and hood. I use a regular down rectangular quilt and have worn it around camp as well. Just have to be careful if someone builds a fire not to get too close.


Edited by gregpphoto (06/10/10 03:58 PM)
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#134964 - 06/10/10 04:13 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
The fabric IS waterproof, but there is a big hole where you enter/exit that is NOT waterproof.

I had an REI Minimalist years ago but returned it because it was cut a little narrow to allow my 20 degree bag to fully loft.

Match the tool to the job. The Minimalist is a good choice for short alpine trips.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#134967 - 06/10/10 04:43 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6399
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Most of us here do not use stand-alone bivies for the reasons we've cited, which is why you're not getting an answer about this particular model. Instead of abusing long-time posters on this forum who are, whether you like it or not, trying to do you a favor, why not try it out yourself?

Just buy the thing and test it during a couple days' prolonged rainstorm. One good thing about REI is that you can always return the item!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#134968 - 06/10/10 05:11 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: OregonMouse]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Whoopieslings.com (go here for guy lines specifically, otherwise click on the store from the top of the main page) - you can get a knotless set of guylines with or without the tensioner, which is very nice to have with a silnylon tarp - in a wind the tensioner keeps the tarp from ripping and overnight silnylon sags a bit, so the tensioner takes up the slack if you stretch them when you pitch. Opie also sells a continuous ridgeline if you pitch between trees - also knotless, can be used with toggles you bring or just sticks you pick up off the ground. I was dubious about the prussiks holding, but they stand up very well under tension, and I have used the line in 10+ hours of ongoing rain. If you have questions email Opie and he is very helpful.

My usual tarp on the ground setup involves a trekking pole, groundhog stakes, no guy lines, and a whole lot of rocks over the tarp corner guy out loops. Having the wind yank the corners of the tarp off the stakes because you did not put fifteen pounds of rocks on the corners when the wind is gusting from all directions was the only real problem I had.

I'm sorry you don't like what information you're getting... but there are reasons we all use what we use, and a lot of it has to do with the environments we choose to hike in. Clearly you haven't been holed up for 72 hours in driving sideways rain bucketing down on you - let's hope you never are.
_________________________
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#134969 - 06/10/10 05:12 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
As a follow-up, I looked at the REI bivy specs and have a couple thoughts: The Elements fabric is used in their affordable rainwear and is undoubtedly PU WPB, which has less breathability than Goretex or especially eVent. Waterproof, yes, but I'd be cautious about condensation in high-humidity situations. I also see nothing about taped seams, so plan on hours of seam-sealing.

Have to say, it's a lot of bivy at less than a pound.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#134972 - 06/10/10 07:44 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
After seeing your emotional outburst on the Bivy, I suggest that you try to educate yourself somewhat.

I suggest a book called "The Book of the Bivvy " . It is written from the British point of view for hiking in a rainy environment.

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Bivvy-Ciceron...3312&sr=8-1

This is for hikers who use JUST the bivvy for shelter.

After reading it, you may understand what some people here are trying to tell you.


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#134978 - 06/10/10 09:54 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Bushman Offline
member

Registered: 07/01/09
Posts: 122
Loc: California
http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=134

I would use this in a rain storm.

Yeah man everyone here is trying to help you avoid what they might have been through...me I almost always have to find out myself. So go buy a bivy and sleep on your lawn with the sprinklers on all night laugh

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#134979 - 06/10/10 10:06 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: gregpphoto]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By gregpphoto

But again, unless I can get a fully yes or no answer as to whether or not this particular bivy (REI Minimalist) is 100% waterproof. I don't care about breathability, that's why I'm going with such a lightweight bag.

So, YES OR NO, is this bivy 100% waterproof? Sounds like it is, but I want to be sure before I commit to anything.


If you don't care about breathability now, you will. Make a bivy out of plastic garbage bags and then spend a night or two in it. Then tell us you don't care about breathability.

I have 20+ nights in a Minimalist. The fabric is waterproof but the zippers (and there are many) are not. The most waterproof bivy in the world won't keep you dry when you have to open it up to pee during a storm in the middle of the night.....unless you have a tarp over it. A tarp big enough to cover most of it....not just the head.

My feeling is, your planned setup looks good to you in theory but you may be disappointed when you try it out in the real world.
_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#134981 - 06/10/10 10:20 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: Bushman]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Bushman,
he he giggle smile
yup, I'm always trying to get people to test gear under the sprinkler or in the shower.
Look, being in a storm in a bivy sucks - ok - you won't sleep and you probably will get wet.
Jim smile
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#134983 - 06/10/10 11:00 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: Jimshaw]
taM Offline
member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 112
Loc: Nashville, TN
man...this guy is really angry about this bivy.

People are trying to give well thought out advice, and they get e-shouted at.
_________________________
Light, Cheap, Durable...
pick two

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#134985 - 06/10/10 11:49 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: lori]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
Perfect. I know the facehole is not waterproof, so I will rig up a poncho over my tripod to keep my face dry.

Originally Posted By food
The fabric IS waterproof, but there is a big hole where you enter/exit that is NOT waterproof.

I had an REI Minimalist years ago but returned it because it was cut a little narrow to allow my 20 degree bag to fully loft.

Match the tool to the job. The Minimalist is a good choice for short alpine trips.


I won't have to face 72 hours holed up because I only have x amount of days per year to hike, so when I go, I go. Unless there's constant lightning, I'm hiking. Thanks for the link to the knotless lines though, will be checking that out if need be.

Originally Posted By lori
Whoopieslings.com (go here for guy lines specifically, otherwise click on the store from the top of the main page) - you can get a knotless set of guylines with or without the tensioner, which is very nice to have with a silnylon tarp - in a wind the tensioner keeps the tarp from ripping and overnight silnylon sags a bit, so the tensioner takes up the slack if you stretch them when you pitch. Opie also sells a continuous ridgeline if you pitch between trees - also knotless, can be used with toggles you bring or just sticks you pick up off the ground. I was dubious about the prussiks holding, but they stand up very well under tension, and I have used the line in 10+ hours of ongoing rain. If you have questions email Opie and he is very helpful.

My usual tarp on the ground setup involves a trekking pole, groundhog stakes, no guy lines, and a whole lot of rocks over the tarp corner guy out loops. Having the wind yank the corners of the tarp off the stakes because you did not put fifteen pounds of rocks on the corners when the wind is gusting from all directions was the only real problem I had.

I'm sorry you don't like what information you're getting... but there are reasons we all use what we use, and a lot of it has to do with the environments we choose to hike in. Clearly you haven't been holed up for 72 hours in driving sideways rain bucketing down on you - let's hope you never are.
_________________________
www.gregpphoto.com

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#134986 - 06/10/10 11:49 PM Re: Two serious bivy questions [Re: taM]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By taM
man...this guy is really angry about this bivy.

People are trying to give well thought out advice, and they get e-shouted at.


I'm from New Jersey what do you want from me? smile
_________________________
www.gregpphoto.com

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