bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref.

Posted by: bmwrider

bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:12 PM

A fair number of UL tents are as light as the bivys out there, what do you prefer and why? I own one of each now and can't see many reasons to use a bivy over a tent that is comparable weight, there are tents and bivy sacks in each weight class i.e. 3lb 2lb and lower, would any of you choose a bivy over a tent of the same weight.
Posted by: finallyME

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:25 PM

Depends. A bivy had other advantages over a tent, other than being supposedly lighter. It would really depend on where I was going and what I was doing. In high winds, I think I would take a bivy. If I expected heavy prolonged rain I would want a tent. If it didn't matter which shelter was used and weight was the primary concern, I would probably take a tent.
Posted by: aimless

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:25 PM

I prefer a light tent.

I live and hike in Oregon and sometimes the mosquitos are so thick here the only way to stay sane on a long hike is to have a bugproof refuge. A bivy makes a poor refuge. The bald fact of rain in Oregon is another reason I favor a roomier shelter. Sometimes weight savings are not worth what you give up. YMMV.
Posted by: Glenn

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:28 PM

Before the advent of Tarptents and tents like the Fly Creek 1 and Carbon Reflex 1, I regularly used an Integral Designs Salathe Bivy - and a silnylon tarp. I found the bivy minimally useful without the tarp, since you had nowhere to cook or change clothes otherwise. Adding the weight of the bivy and tarp, I was at 3 pounds - within a few ounces of the Carbon Reflex 1 tent I use now.

Which do I prefer? Well, the CR1 allows me to sit up inside the shelter, even when it's in bug mode only; the bivy/tarp combo only let me sit up if I unzipped the mesh. The CR1 is better ventilated in the summer, but a bit cooler in the winter; spring and fall are a wash. The tarp/bivy combo allowed me to set up the tarp first, then deploy the bivy out of the rain. The CR1 may be pitchable fly-first, but that may require using the groundcloth (which adds a quarter pound) - I just haven't played with it that way yet, so I can't say for sure. The tarp could be pitched alone to make a lunch shelter; the CR1 fly can be pitched with the ground cloth to do the same (but there's that pesky extra weight again.)

Personally, I've settled on a solo tent in preference to a tarp/bivy combo, but it was a close call, probably driven as much by subjective preference as objective features.

Eliminate the tarp, and the choice becomes much easier: I'll take the tent over a tarpless bivy every time, even if it does weigh more.
Posted by: OldScout

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:32 PM

I prefer the tent over the bivy for the same reasons as Aimless. I have gone on many hikes in the WA Cascades and the bivy boys are ALWAYS envious of my tent at afternoon nap time. They are cooking in their bivys and getting eaten by mossys.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 02:45 PM

Neither anymore. Now it's tarp or hammock. If I'm really trying to cut weight, my tarp system (poncho shelter) is less than half the weight of the hammock (Hennessey Scout). However, for comfort and ease of setup, the hammock wins and I'll leave something else home to make up for the weight difference. I've not used a tent in many years and bivies in Texas are hot in all but the coldest days.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 03:03 PM

Just to clarify, by "bivy" do you mean a bivy/tarp combo or just a bivy by itself??? There is a huge difference in weight and function between the two.

For the sake of this discussion I'll assume it's just a simple bivy, by itself with no structure e.i. poles. Some bivy/tarp combos weigh more than some tents. Then of course there are "bivy" tents like the much discussed Nemo GoGo. Is that shelter really a bivy or a small tent? It's complicated and direct comparisons are not simple.

Bivies have their advantages......and limitations. I will always reach for a bivy first unless I expect bugs, rain, cold temps, long nights or high winds. For me those are a lot of limitations. Call me crazy but I like to be comfortable at night. So if conditions are not ideal for a bivy I use something else. But I love it when I can get away with one. There is nothing like sleeping under the stars and packing up camp is so simple....I just stuff my bivy, with my bag/quilt still in it, into the bottom of my pack. Done. There is nothing more simple and for me simplicity is what it's all about when it comes to gear.

Notice I use the words "for me" often? Like I said it's not a simple comparison and it all comes down to whatever butters your popcorn.
Posted by: aimless

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 03:13 PM

I should add that, when bugs and stiff winds are not involved, a bivy/tarp combo is actually quite a nice shelter system in the rain. It just isn't any lighter to speak of than a solo tent.
Posted by: 300winmag

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 03:45 PM

After seeing a fellow backpacker/bivy user get soaked in a Yosemite thunderstorm getting in and out of her bivy whilst I was dry in my TT Contrail I'm a total tent user.

I now have the even better (IMHO) TT Moment. The new UL solo tents are just so much better for so many reasons, i.e.
>bug proof,
>shelter for your pack,
>a vestibule for rainy/windy weather cooking,
>walls & floors to keep out creepy-crawlies,
>dry entrances,
>ventilation
etc. etc. (meaning that good feeling of having a "safe haven" during a bad storm, where you can sit up, stretch out, roll over and, in short, be comfortable)

Eric
Posted by: ringtail

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 07:00 PM

For alpine trips where you expect high winds and a flat level spot bigger than a bivy is rare then a bivy works great. I have spent some time on exposed narrow ridges sleeping in a bivy and it worked great.

A bivy works great in a snow cave.

Most of the time hammock under a good tarp works best for me.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 08:27 PM

Not me. I prefer the head room and mosquito proof tent. I have gotten soaked just trying to get in and out of a bivy and changing clothes is hard in a bivy. I have used my goretex bivy - Western Mountaineering 21 ounces - exactly once, in late fall in Yosemite in Tuolumne meadows and it worked great - no mosquitoes. no rain or snow, and back then I had n comparable weight tent.
I would never use a bivy under a tarp, thats the worst of two worlds.
Jim
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By bmwrider
A fair number of UL tents are as light as the bivys out there, what do you prefer and why? I own one of each now and can't see many reasons to use a bivy over a tent that is comparable weight, there are tents and bivy sacks in each weight class i.e. 3lb 2lb and lower, would any of you choose a bivy over a tent of the same weight.


I prefer the tarp/bivy combo because I find that they are lighter, cheaper and more versitle than a tent. I use a SpinnTwin (9.8oz), with a Tigoat bivy (6.8oz), total weight is 16.6oz-- I haven't come across a tent that is as light as that, the Contrail is more than 1/2 heavier.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 10:49 PM

Chris
My silnylon tent has a full floor, doors, and mosquito net. With cord, 4 stakes and a stuff sack it weighs 16 ounces.
Jim

My sleeping bags have goretex or dryloft shells, why would I need a bivy under a tarp?
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 11:07 PM

Originally Posted By Jimshaw
Chris
Why would I need a bivy under a tarp?


Jim, you don't-- and I never said that you, or anyone else did. A tarp+bivy is my method.

IMHO a bivy is an optional piece of gear in some parts of the world. Even here in Colorado I will leave my bivy at home during some of the shoulder seasons and at lower elevations and just sleep under my tarp, in my bag, on a piece of tyvek.

I generally only take the bivy if incliment weather is expected or in high bug season.

A bivy, for under 7oz, is just nice to have for my comfort and mainly to protect my down bag when it rains.

Curious, what does a gortex bag weigh?
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/21/10 11:32 PM

Chris
As I think about this, most of gear is ancient. My only "modern" sleeping bag is my WM Iroquois and its maybe ten years old and has a - gasp - non-waterproof shell and weighs 27 ounces. Its my normal summer bag and I sleep in it in my fleece pants and a jacket if its cold. Next is my Marmot Pinnacle with dryloft shell and I'm not certain what it weighs, maybe 42 oz? I'm not sure, but its made with "850" down and conservatively rated at 15 degrees. My 20 year old WM super kodiak goretex winter bag with an extra 4 ounces of down in the draft tube and a couple of mods weighs 56 ounces. A lot (most) of the UL sleeping bags are cut very small, I couldn't sleep in them.
Posted by: CJC

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 12:14 AM

I have used both; ID Silshelter with a homemade bivy and my sons TT Rainbow. I prefer the Rainbow when I can get it but thats only if he is willing to share a tent on a scout bping trip. I also have a BA(2) and a Marmot(3) but those only go if I am sharing a tent.
Posted by: Howie

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 03:48 AM

I have been using a tarp and bug bivy. It worked well for me, but I plan on ordering a Tarptent soon. The bugs are just too bad where I hike, and now I am hiking with my four legged friend I need to make some changes. I will likely still carry my tarp though, as I like cooking in the dry.

Howie
Posted by: BarryP

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 09:40 AM

I prefer the tarp/bivy combo because I find that they are lighter, cheaper and more versitle than a tent. I use a SpinnTwin (9.8oz), with a Tigoat bivy (6.8oz), total weight is 16.6oz-- I haven't come across a tent that is as light as that

$175 + $90 = $265 @ 16.6oz

And then I use this tent setup: the zpack hexamid: http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hexamid.shtml
I paid $249 for mine but I see hes upping his price to $275. He claims 8.2oz, mine was slightly less at 8.0oz including seam sealing and guylines.
I do use a 1.5oz polycro ground sheet on the inside as recommended.

And now I can sit up and be totally bug proof and rain proof. This is nice when Im trying to change clothes with an infestation of mosquitoes around. And it has opened up more space in my Murmur.
-Barry
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By BarryP
I prefer the tarp/bivy combo because I find that they are lighter, cheaper and more versitle than a tent. I use a SpinnTwin (9.8oz), with a Tigoat bivy (6.8oz), total weight is 16.6oz-- I haven't come across a tent that is as light as that

$175 + $90 = $265 @ 16.6oz

And then I use this tent setup: the zpack hexamid: http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hexamid.shtml
I paid $249 for mine but I see hes upping his price to $275. He claims 8.2oz, mine was slightly less at 8.0oz including seam sealing and guylines.
I do use a 1.5oz polycro ground sheet on the inside as recommended.

And now I can sit up and be totally bug proof and rain proof. This is nice when Im trying to change clothes with an infestation of mosquitoes around. And it has opened up more space in my Murmur.
-Barry


I was actually looking into one of those, but couldn't really find many field reviews-- I was mainly concerned about its dimensions-- it looks very narrow and I was also wondering about the inevitable rain/spray getting in through the netting. How do you like the Hexamid?

The cuben tarp is also temping at $150/3.2oz as a replacement to my SpinnTwinn-- I don't think I could justify it to the Mrs though laugh
Posted by: CamperHiker

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 06:00 PM

I agree with finallyME, as far as the wind and rain aspect. Other wise not weight issues I'd take a tent too.
Posted by: BarryP

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 06:56 PM

I have been 4 nights in it, including a 5 hour rainstorm. But then I was in the woods so that the trees held back any blowing rain. I leave my sandals outside in the rain so they can get washed.
So far my stuff has stayed dry--- which seems amazing to me as now I have more view of the outside world than I had in my previous tents. This is the fastest tent Ive ever set up (~60 seconds). In the morning, I just stuff my tent into the bag, keeping the mesh to the center of the ball/wad to protect the mesh more. Maybe Im over cautious in that respect. Anyway, I keep thinking What? My tent is already packed?

So far Im OK with it, but I need some more nights to give a more in depth review.

-Barry
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/22/10 09:24 PM

Originally Posted By BarryP
This is the fastest tent Ive ever set up (~60 seconds). In the morning, I just stuff my tent into the bag, keeping the mesh to the center of the ball/wad to protect the mesh more. Maybe Im over cautious in that respect. Anyway, I keep thinking What? My tent is already packed?

So far Im OK with it, but I need some more nights to give a more in depth review.

-Barry


Besides the weight, the ease and speed of set-up and pack-up is another positive. I have my tarp set-up and am already cooking before some of my hikers have even un-packed their tent-- and in a morning seeing them struggle to stuff their inflateable pads, tents and bags back into their indivdual stuff sacks makes me chuckle as I roll my pad into my pack-frame, throw my bag into the pack liner, put the tarp in my outside mesh pocket all in under 5minutes.

I look forward to a more detailed report on your new tent.
Posted by: skippy

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/23/10 01:02 AM

I've been pinned down for too many hours due to bad weather to ever use just a bivy. A bivy and tarp is much more doable. I like room to move and can't stand being cramped in little spaces for long periods of time. That is probably why I like to spend so much time outdoors.

-Skippy
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/23/10 07:28 PM

Weighing in here: My main problem is that my hiking companion is an 80-lb. dog. I therefore require a bug-free shelter for him as well as me! In addition, he feels more secure and comfortable in an enclosed space that reminds him of his crate at home. For these reasons, I take a tent. It's a really lightweight tent, the Tarptent/Gossamer Gear Squall Classic, 27 oz. with stakes. From the research I've done, a tarp for two, groundsheet for two plus bug net for two (haven't found any of the last so I'd have to figure out my own) would weigh just as much. The tent goes up really fast and is very comfortable. I can have it up within a couple minutes of stopping for the night. I can see out the back and front, and even the sides if I put my cheek on the ground instead of on the pillow atop my 2.5" thick insulated air pad.

I really would like the freedom of view of a tarp, but not during bug season. They don't appear to make bug nets for dogs, lol! I plan to try it next fall and see how Hysson reacts. If I have to keep him tied up, it won't work. Every couple of hours he stands up, stretches and then turns around three times before lying down. If I have to tie him to keep him under the tarp, I'll be spending the night untangling him.

Re a stand-alone bivy: It weighs as much as a lightweight tent and there's no room for my dog. Plus I have to get up several times a night (old age) and, when it's raining, appreciate the roof overhead so I can crawl out of and into my sleeping bag without getting wet!

Your Mileage, of course, May Vary, especially if you don't have a relatively large dog to fuss over! Of course I very much enjoy fussing over him--he's my best hiking buddy!

Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/23/10 09:31 PM

Originally Posted By OregonMouse
Weighing in here: My main problem is that my hiking companion is an 80-lb. dog. I therefore require a bug-free shelter for him as well as me!


Besides the wife, my dog is also my main hiking companion and when it is just her and me, she sleeps fine under the tarp. As for bugs, we treat her (the dog, not the wife :D) with Frontline and Heartguard. I have even been switching to the K9 Advantix for the mosquito months and that seems to work fine. I also make sure to check her every night for ticks etc and pack a pair of tweezers in her pack for the occasion.

At night, I use a makeshift tie-out from paracord that attaches from her collar to the neareast tree, or stake if above treeline. Obviously if your dog needs stronger cord or as a tendancy to chew, then use something other than paracord, but my dog just feels the slightest "tug" and stops.
Posted by: gorge_medic

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/23/10 10:14 PM

I've used both tarp/bivy and UL tent (300winmag's old Contrail, as a matter of fact), and the choice largely depends on the weather forecast; for weekend trips or longer when there's a significant chance of rain or the forecast is unknown, I take the tent. For a short trip in good weather I'l take the tarp/bivy. I should probably add that I use an Equinox ponchotarp rather than a dedicated tarp because I like the multi-use aspect and I can fit underneath a simple lean-to setup.

The caveats are that I hike in the SE US, so most if not all of the time I'm hiking under a fairly thick tree canopy that will deflect heavy rain and winds. My hiking style also keeps me moving until after mosquito feeding time, and the bugs aren't too bad here compared to other places.

I think the final determination comes down to style and budget. If you've got the dough to shell out on a quality tarp/bivy setup and tent, great (I was, thanks to the used gear forum here). Choosing one setup will require a careful analysis of how long you're out (and whether or not you're willing to sack a trip based on a bad forecast), what kind of terrain you'll be in, the bug problems, and your presonal limits of confinement (sleeping in a bivy, tarp or no, can hardly be described as "spacious"!).

YMMV
Posted by: Howie

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/24/10 12:09 AM

The only time I have thought about owning a bivy is when I am running out of daylight and there is nowhere to camp. (Where I hike we are supposed to stick to legitimate campsites). Under this circumstance I think it would be nice to simply lay down a bivy on the trail and go to sleep. No muss no fuss. I could do the same using just my sleeping bag but then I would worry about rain the whole night. I think a bivy could be a good emergency rig too. Probably a guy could just crawl in with his cloths on and stay warm and dry until morning. I would choose a bivy that was breathable even if it wasnt totally waterproof. Condensation is bad news and defeats the purpose in a hurry.

Howie
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: bivy vs. UL tent, whats your pref. - 04/24/10 12:34 AM

Originally Posted By Howie
The only time I have thought about owning a bivy is when I am running out of daylight and there is nowhere to camp. (Where I hike we are supposed to stick to legitimate campsites). Under this circumstance I think it would be nice to simply lay down a bivy on the trail and go to sleep. No muss no fuss. I could do the same using just my sleeping bag but then I would worry about rain the whole night. I think a bivy could be a good emergency rig too. Probably a guy could just crawl in with his cloths on and stay warm and dry until morning. I would choose a bivy that was breathable even if it wasnt totally waterproof. Condensation is bad news and defeats the purpose in a hurry.

Howie

Most respectable bivys are completely waterproof on the bottom and breathable on the top with some kind of DWR protection. The idea is that the tarp and bottom of the bivy provides most of the rain protection.