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'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.
Loc: Portland, OR
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.
Loc: Washington State, King County
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.
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.
Im a tarp person. You can get a shaped tarp that is fully enclosed except the ground pretty cheap and its light. Check out Six Moon design. They also have some nice tents. You can get a good quality quilt from hammock gear for about 180 bucks. Its duck down, just be sure to have a sleeping pad with a high r value.
My light gear set up cost a lot more than my ultralight setup.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I bought a bivy years ago and really thought I'd love it. I used it on one trip, 2-nights, and realized I hated it, and they were both clear and dry nights. But it wasn't hard for me to imagine what it would be like when it was raining and just the thought of it was miserable.
After that I rigged a tarp and used it for a couple nights, both clear and dry, and I actually liked that a lot, but I couldn't imagine liking it as much if it were raining because there wasn't enough headroom to sit up inside it.
I ended up making my own tent, basically a cut-down, lowrider version of an old fashion "Baker's Tent". There are some pretty nice commercial designs that are similar now and if I were to buy one I'd probably have to give them a good look because mine is so comfortable.
When the weather sucks it's really nice to be comfortable. It's not really a "luxury" because being miserable it's a terrible trade off. That MSR tent is pretty light, and I'd expect it's pretty comfortable too, especially for one person.
That's a rainy part of the world. Used to live in Canada. Now live in Japan. Also can be very rainy here. Just get a good tent and be dry, comfortable and safe. For the sake of 500g or even 1kg (same as 1 litre of water) there is no point fooling about with tarps or biv bags etc. Just image you have to spend a whole rainy day in your shelter. In a tent you are laughing as you read your comedy novel. Anything else you are crying on the pages of the Shakespearian tragedy.
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Haven't ever used a bivy so can't give you any advice there.
I would suggest that whatever you get, try it out first. If it's a tent or a bivy go to a store that sells it and have them set it up and get in it. Spend a little time in there and you'll get a decent idea of how it will work for you. Not as good an idea as you would by spending a night in it but unless you can rent it, that's not an option. Try out different models so you have something to compare it to.
I would say the same about a sleeping bag-get in it, see how it feels, and a backpack-put it on with some weight in it and walk around the shop. Again, if you try a few you'll a better chance of finding the right one that's for you!
As mentioned, Vancouver Island is a very wet place. You could be spending a lot of time in whatever you end up with. There are one person tents out there that don't weigh much more than that bivy.