Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
So far (almost 5 years), I've had no problems with dog toenails and silnylon tent floor. I do keep my dog's toenails clipped as short as possible and clip them every 10-14 days (frequent clipping makes the "quick" recede so you can cut them shorter). I'm more concerned about the dreaded Labrador tail-wag when he wakes up in the mornings, which I keep thinking is going to rip the tent apart! It hasn't yet, which is a tribute to Tarptent (former tent) and to Six Moon Designs (current tent).
As for dirt, I comb my dog (there's a small pocket comb in his pack) at bedtime. He loves it; it prevents his bringing any creepy-crawlies into the tent; and it keeps a lot of loose dog hair out of the tent. I also keep a small size packtowel in my dog's pack in case he's wet. My dog is part of my sleeping system to keep me warm! If he should get really muddy at bedtime (something I work hard to prevent--he's normally leashed in camp), he would be sleeping outside well away from me, whether I'm under a tent or tarp!
Edited by OregonMouse (06/19/0803:16 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
That is what my friend does anyways. It allows his dog to research any noises that come across (aka...scare away the bears <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />) and keeps his stuff cleaner.
I am looking into the hammock setup now since I got lots of trees in the rocky mountains to work with. I just have to figure out what I would do with my poor dog.
My dog gets dirty to fast, and I would like to stay as clean as possible. When I took my dog with me in my tent, I had to clean it out all the time and it was annoying. I was so jealous of my friend in their tarp. Even when it snowed that night, I had extra water weight on my tent and his little tarps was dry quickly after a 5 minute break laying it out.
I do agree thought that a bivy/tarp combo can be alot of weight, which is why I am doing lots of research to keep that down.
Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but many tarp tents have no floor.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I've recently become a hammock camper and I love it. Just be warned there is a real problem with a hammock in cold weather. You lose a LOT of heat from under you. You need a CCF pad between you and the hammock at least and maybe an underquilt. If you do that then it should be fine.
My guess is that your dog will just curl up under where you are hanging. That way he'll be protected from rain/snow by the tarp that you put over your hammock and he'll be close to you. No wind protection for the dog of course but that's what fur is all about.
Loc: jersey city NJ
I don't understand comments above about REI. It's true that they don't carry lines of smaller manufacturers, many of whom make very nice stuff. But generically speaking, they do sell a complete range of gear.
Also, I don't understand comment that tarp/bivouac sack combo is heavy.
Is the idea that the bivvy adds weight? But you've got X amount of protection from weather/cold from a bag/bivvy combo and Y amount from same bag alone.
For example, a one-pound sleeping bag and a one-pound bivvy offers perhaps the equivalent protection of a two-pound sleeping bag alone (and more resistance to abrasion and wear, and more compressiblity).
I'm sure that my example isn't at all precisely correct (will vary with weather conditions), but it's generally illustrative and logical. If bivvy is used in lieu of groundsheet, it becomes even more signficant.
"Heavy" can be a relative term, usually measured relative to an equivalent tent. In fact, I used to use a tarp/bivy combo because it was the lightest solo option out there. Back then (10 years ago), the only solo tents had about 20" of headroom and were little more than bivy sacks with poles; as a result, you were stuck carrying a 6-pound two-person tent for solo use. So, I used a bivy sack and a nylon (not silnylon) tarp that "only" weighed about 4 pounds - unbearably heavy by today's standards, but ultralight minimalist back then.
Until about 4 years ago, I used a bivy/siltarp combo that weighed 2 or 3 pounds (depending on whether I used the REI Minimalist or ID Salathe bivy). I continued using it until the advent of the Zoid 1, and eventually the Hubba, Seedhouse SL1, and similar tents. Now that solo tents weighing only 3 pounds (and full-featured Tarptents weighing less than 2 pounds) are available, I've made the switch to a tent. For the same weight, they seem a lot more convenient and comfortable to me. So, even though my tarp/bivy combo remained at the same weight, it became "heavy" relative to the tents that are available.
Not sure if that's what was meant above, but it's one way to think about the semantics.
Loc: jersey city NJ
The Sierra Designs Divine Light solo tent was sold by major retailers for at least ten years, starting in the 1980s. It weighed about 2.5 pounds. A coated nylon tarp from REI in 1970s, of roughly 10x10, weighed about the same.
Currently SilShelter is listed at one pound and is marginally useful for two people. I don't especially recommend it, but it's not uniquely lightweight.
IOne can use a somewhat lighter sleeping bag when it's paired with a bivvy than when not paired with a bivvy.
Somehow, I missed the Divine Light; I did own another Sierra Designs tent back then (I forget which one), that replaced a Timberline 2 with 2 sewn-on vestibules - talk about heavy! I probably bought whatever the local outfitter had on sale (this was in my still-paying-for-the-kids-college phase of my life) that was lighter than the Timberline. The Clip Flashlight was another lightweight option, but I never liked the way the fly door let water drip into the tent when you got in and out in the rain.
When I got tired of lugging the SD around, I found the Minimalist/tarp combo at an REI while visiting my son in Massachusetts - the price was right (less than $100, I think), and I had a little more disposable income (the son was in Massachusetts because he took a job there after graduating - one less tuition payment each year!), and I used that until I replaced with a Salathe bivy (2 pounds, but a waist-length bug net!) and - believe it or not - an ID Silshelter tarp! Like you, I liked the shaped tarp option better than a flat tarp. For one thing, I could pitch it easily by myself; flat tarps could be a little frustrating, especially if I was using hiking poles instead of a ridgeline between trees. For another, it didn't require guy lines.
I also agree that a bivy will add a little warmth to a sleeping bag, letting you get away with a lighter bag; so will a solo tent. You can also use a lighter bag by choosing to wear all your insulating clothing at night. That's why I chose a 30-degree bag instead of a 15-degree bag for winter use: I have down booties, down pants, and a hooded down sweater that can make up most of the difference.
I do about half my trips with a bivy alone. But I do not agree that a one pound bivy plus one pound bag has the warmth of a 2 pound bag. The bivy is not about warmth - but weather protection. My experience is that the bivy tends to squish the optimum loft in my bag and also adds condensation on the inside - both reducing warmth. I would guess that my bivy would at best only add about 5 degrees to "warmth". My bag has a dry-loft cover so is fairly good at wind protection by itself. The main reason I do not do the bag alone, even if rain is not expected, is that the bivy keeps the bag clean. And I do not have a dog! I am as capable as a dog of accidently stepping on my bag with a big muddy boot.
In my opinion, if you can do it with a simple weatherproof bivy alone (OK for me as long as I only have to tolerate brief storms - typical afternoon thunderstorms and if the mosquitoes are gone) the wight savings is substantial. Once you have to add a tarp, groundcloth, mosquito net, or get into the fancy bivies with the poles -- you may as well get a light weight tent or good sized tarp (if floorless is OK if no mosquitoes) or tarp-tent. If you have the $$, there are some awesome light tents - some under 3 pounds.
There is an added problem with a bivy at freezing temps. If an evening drizzle is followed by hard freezing, you will get a coat of solid ice on the bivy- enough so that it will not breath. This has happended to me a couple of times.
An advantage of a bivy is that in high winds, you do not have to worry about it blowing down. Some friends of mine got stuck in as storm on Mt. Rainier and the gal with the bivy actually fared the best.
You probably will end up like the rest of us - owning a tent, bivy and tarp!
Loc: jersey city NJ
I only used the above example as an illustration, and noted that that it may not be an accurate depiction of reality. The equation, which is really NOT an equation, will vary a great deal --- a whole lot ---according to conditions.
Also, isn't warmth and "weather protection" ultimately the same thing? No wind protection, Might get cold. Wet? Might get cold. Bag trashed by mud? Might get cold. Et cetera.
I've heard dry-loft might be pretty good, & does many of the things I'd want a bivvy to do. I've no experience with the stuff. But I think a bivvy is more versatile, and not necessarily more expensive. (???) .
Have you used a bivy before? I personally can sleep OK in a bivy - many people cannot. I definitely sleep better in a tent. If you toss and turn, bivies are problematic. I suggest you borrow one and try it for a while if you have not spent several nights in a bivy before. Also, be sure to try it in poor conditions - perhaps a cold rainy night in your backyard. And in snow if you plan to use it in snow.
I initially bought a bivy for mountaineering - truely bivouacing on mountains. Also at that time, the lighest weight tents were still in the 4-5 pound range. I use the bivy now for backpacking simply because I have it. Given the development in light weight tents, hammocks and tarp systems, I probably would now choose one of these.
Dry loft and a bivy are not redundant if you anticipate getting frost on the inside of your bivy. In more mild conditions, yes, it is redundant. Dry loft will not keep you dry in a hard rain. It is more for dew and frost and really dry snow. After having a dry-loft bag for years, I would not ever buy one agian. I do not think it is worth the considerable extra cost.
I currently sleep on my side with my legs spralled out. Under this condition a bivy would not really be the way to go. I am trying to train myself to sleep on my back, not because of bivy camping but because that is just healthier for your back and neck. It is hard for me since I have 'restless leg syndrome'. It is hard to tell what is causing it. I have found that after a long day of hiking though I don't really feel the effects as long as I don't stay up to late reading or something.
I have talked with my "friend's friend" who works for REI and this is what I have to say.
First of all, he has a 15lb 'full' load when he goes backpacking. Looking at his gear, I now realize that I can do that myself w/o as much sacrifice as I thought. There are so many awesome light-weight options out there, that I didn't even know about. To be honest I think he is more comfortable then I was with a 40lb pack because he had really cool misc things that really came in handy.
He has a 2lb bivy and a 32 degree down bag. He said that he can go 3 season in the Rockies with no problem. He is a little guy like me so I can trust his opinion. I am a little weary though because that seems very aggressive, especially for the Rocky mountains. It is known for its quick afternoon thunderstorms and light snow at nights. Waking up with a couple inches of snow isn't very uncommon.
In an above post it was mentioned that you can just wear good insulated clothing when you sleep and you will be fine. I was told that this isn't a good idea in a down bag because you defeat the purpose of releasing heat into the bag which then heats you up. I did see that his list was down clothing though. I don't think that down clothing for me in the Rockies is a good idea though so I would have to figure out another techinique.
Gossomer has this sweet 19 ounce solo tent that is just insane. I think I might get it, but I really have my heart set on a tarp/bivy combo for many reasons.
It was also stated above the the integral design 8x10 silshelter was not recommended and I would like to ask why? It seems like a very nice tarp to have.
Regarding the Silshelter: I never saw anything particularly wrong with it; I used it a number of times with a bivy, and was really quite pleased. (Well, except for that one moment that I accidentally kicked over the pole that was inside, holding the foot end up. A little cursing and grumbling, and things were just fine.) I only quit using my Silshelter-and-Salathe system when they finally came out with a tent that was equally light and versatile (the Hubba.)
As far as clothes, you bring up a valid point: you don't want to wear bulky clothes inside a tight-fitting bag. If you do, you just end up compressing all that down, and accomplish nothing. However, if the bag has some extra room (not tons, just enough for that mostly-not-confined feeling), you can wear some light insulating garments inside. For example, my WM Megalite bag doesn't fit tight when I'm wearing my synthetic long johns. So, I can, if I need to, wear my light down sweater and pants (NOT a full, Michelin-Man style down suit!) inside the bag and gain some warmth. The weight of garments that would be appropriate for this would be something like the Montbell UL Down Inner series clothing.
Also, I don't go out intending to rely on my clothes. Since I have a 30-degree bag, I normally plan on nights no colder than 30 (or 25, since the bag's rating is conservative.) However, for those unpredictable times when the temperatures drop to 20, I know I can wear my clothes in the bag and stay warm. In effect, my safety margin is in my clothes, not in the bag itself. That works fine where I am (the Ohio Valley), where forecasts are generally reliable. I don't know whether this clothes-as-sleeping-system will translate as well where you are.
Loc: jersey city NJ
I own a SilShelter and tend not to use it. Other than that, I'm neutral.
I mostly find it's too small for my personal preference. I'm Not totally crazy about the door either, but it works. Might also mention that for weird reasons, it's a relatively fussy thing to pitch, though not a big deal after you've done it a few times.
Personally, I never think of a bivvy as a tent substitute. I think of it as a nearly indispensible (for me) sleeping bag accessory.
To my way of thinking, just personally again, I'd never want a bivvy that weighed more than about one pound.
Works absolutely fine to wear clothing inside bag, as long as they're not wet.
You want enough effective insulation to be warm, and not so much that you become hot. That's the ONLY ISSUE regarding warmth. Whether it's clothing, or a sleeping bag, or bivvy, or some combination, that isn't relevant to sleeping warm.
Since temperatures are generally coldest at night, and one produces least body heat while sleeping, one makes most efficient use of total insulation poundage by wearing all clothing to bed. That way, you can carry a somewhat lighter sleeping bag.
I have come up with a possible list of gear that I now need to critique and see if it will work for my current wants/needs.
I really like the gossamer backpack because many of the features of the pack for comfort is used from other items such as sleeping pad, socks, etc. which equals less weight.
The shelter is questionable because it is small but from the pictures seems to be very well designed and should be able to handle conditions in the Rockies short of heavy rain/snow.
Other people have stated that tigoat makes a good bivy and beside from the ugly color seems to serve the good use as well as being light weight.
the sleeping pad is the lightest I can find while still maintaining some form of comfort. I just wonder how it will do as the 'support' for my pack being wrapped around the inside.
I welcome all of your scrutiny, so feel free to let me have it <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Keep in mind I am looking for 3 season backpacking in the Rocky Mountains. If you would replace any of the gear, please give me a name or link or something so I can compare it.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Just one thought. I don't know about the MLD Exodus pack but the miniposa uses a closed-cell foam pad as part of the structure of the pack. This is actually a pretty common strategy with lightweight packs. You will want to make sure your pad and your pack work well together in that way.
Having said that you may want an additional pad (like the POE you mention) if it get's very cold at night. But if both pads are going to be only torso length (the one that most people use with the miniposa is a torso pad) then you'll want to think about putting something under your legs or they will get cold. Sometimes you can use your pack or something. Myself I tend to make one of the pads a full length pad and the other can be a torso length.
However bear in mind that I'm not a pad expert. I moved to a hammock for back comfort so I've never really found my "pad zen".
I've also been through the bivy/tarp/tent debate and trials.
I do not get out as often as I would like (waiting to retire and move out west to my favorite climes), but I've tried numerous setups over the years. As has been stated it's a personal thing that one has to have some comfort with and in the end you will likely need or end up with more than one setup for varying places/times of year, etc
Having said this.. I have a Integral Designs Unishelter EXP bivy and one each of their silnylon tarps (5x8 and 8x10). I'm not so good with the tarp setup so using the 8x10 work better if there is real weather. This combo works and I used it well on trips to Rocky Mountain Nation Park. I use the bivy on my climb of Long peak for 2 night in te boulder field.. I took the tarp down and only stayed in the bivy on night 2 durng a hecka of storm with boomers the wind was steady 30-40 with 70 mph gust. The tarp was flapping so loud I could not stand so I reached out and cut it down and shoved the pile under a rock - then snugged up in the bicy alone. My friend were in a 3 season dome tent that the wind was blowning flat and snap a pole -- they had not really guyed it out well for this type weather..
As noted, I bought this setup prior to the new crop of solo tents.
Having done this and know I can, I have since gone mostly with the comfort of a tent.
I have gone through several tents and donate to the boys scout as my taste or needs have changed..
I used biblers (own an Awahnee that I used a lot in the North East winters when I lived in upstate NY) - these expedition Bibler and ID tents are superb for winter use.. A bit heavy for other season
For most trips, I now use a Tarptent Rainbow -- as long as I want some ventilation and breeze this is my current shelter of choice..
I used a Tarptent cloudburst on another multiple day RMNP trip - nice tent - work well, but one night I found myself wanting a tent that did not have so much mesh exposure -- it was windy and became quite cold..
When I want to shut out the "mountain drafts" in the rockies/sierra in September/October without the likely of prolonged rain or extended heavy snow, I now use my Black Diamond light house. I just bought a Hilleberg Soulo and like it a lot as a bomber solo tent, but I think it will be used for future winter trip -- simply too heavy for fall rockies/sierra.
I likely will also try the Hilleberg Akto as a bomber solo shelter. I'm doing a multiple day trip in the Tetons in September and one folks going has an Akto - so I'm going to try it out one of the nights on the trail to see if these is worth
Some of these are expensive options,but they are well made product
If I was going to buy a bivy as sleeping supplement / emergency verus a primary bivy/tarp -- I'd probably look for a lightweight model made out of eVent..
I have an unused Lunar Solo - I'll let go for $75, if interested
As you can tell I'm bad about buying and trying new stuff
Loc: jersey city NJ
I'm sure your choices are essentially fine. I recommend that you get and use everything on the list. You've obviously thought about all of it carefully and are all set. That's totally worthwhile and good and furthermore your judgment is obviously very sound.
However, as long as you're asking:
I much prefer a "full-coverage" design for a tarp. Unlike your choice, these are fully adequate as 4-season shelters and AREN"T necessarily heavier (not by more than a few ounces) than the tarp you've listed.
Though I'm not super-fond of my SilShelter, it does offer more protection (and is slightly larger) than what you've listed. As a superlight four-season shelter, here are some better choices than the SilShelter: GoLite Shangri-La 1 and Shangri-La 2, which seem very nice. Outdoor Research Night Haven looks good also. And of course there is the Black Diamond Beta Light.
There are plenty of similar things out there with "full coverage" that are plenty light weight and which make fine four-season shelters.I own Golite Shangri La 3 (formerly "Hex") and an older, MSR Twin Peaks (like a Betamid, only heavier and slightly larger). Neither are precisely ultralights, and I mostly prefer the Hex, even for solo camping.
It's not just that your choice is inadequate for winter.
When the wind blows during a rainstorm (as it typically does) having a door and a roof that can extend to the ground is most welcome. Such a tarp also offers some protection from insects (when carefully pitched), and one always has option of pitching it high off the ground -- if mainly ventilation is wanted.
I would argue that a bivvy as tent substitute in any season isn't reasonably viable at all, although it will work in some fashion. Obviously a bivvy (which I always carry and use) is a possible choice as one's sole winter shelter, but certainly it is not optimal for this, and potentially a horrible mistake.
To worry about whether you fit comfortably inside a bivvy, as compared in size to a tent, is to miss the point entirely. (Do you fit inside a sleeping bag?) It's a "sleeping bag accessory," an extra and very useful outer shell for your bag and sleeping pad
.....It's NOT a tent.
Also, I confess to being suspicious of the pad you've listed, and will stick with a more traditional design. In summer, lately, I've taken to mostly using a backpacker's folding "chair" in lieu of pad, though it's not terribly warm or comfortable or light weight as a pad. I just really like the "chair" function when awake and it does the job when sleeping.
Also, I like a zipper on my bivvy sack. Probably just a mind-thing for me. I imagine it makes it neat and easier to seal out the buggies and dirt and wet, when leaving bag inside the thing in camp, which is probably 15% of why I love bivvies.
Am also somewhat traditionalist regarding packs, at least insofar as wanting an extendable lid. You can shove stuff under and inside a lid, making it handy, but my prejudice is perhaps mainly a matter of habit. Lid also can be left at home or in camp if desired.
I'm all for lightweight and minimalist gear, but there may be a point, somewhere, of DIMINISHING RETURNS. Where this point is reached, I don't know. But food is what kills ya, weightwise, and water if you need to carry it, and it's toughest to cut that stuff down.
The gossamer packs comes with a small pad that can be used exclusively for the backing. I can use both my POE and the torso pad since the torso pad only adds like .4 oz.
I still am debating hammocks. I think the only reason why I don't do it, is because I am beginning to see that my dog might be my only backpacking companion and it wouldn't be good to leave her alone below me. Hammocks do seem like the way to go. I am all about sleeping comfortably and I haven't heard anything negative about them (except non forested enviroments not working...but that is a mute point).