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#176290 - 04/08/13 01:36 AM Undecided: Bivy or Tent
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
My name is Zach and I am a solo trekker.
I've sold my 2 person tent (Drifter 2) for the purpose of downsizing. The Drifter 2 has a packed weight of approximately 5 pounds. I like the tent, but it's too heavy for a lone ranger like myself - too heavy, too big and bulky (when packed). I've been quite interested in 1 person tents and bivies. I like the looks of the Eureka Solitaire because there's enough room to store a bag inside the tent, though it's non-freestanding. I like the Home Alone bivy by Marmot... I love the durability factor in the Alpine Bivy by Outdoor Research, but it reminds me of a body bag! Ugh... So I'm gonna browse the tents/ bivies on this site, but in the meantime if you would like to share your three cents, chime in!


Edited by ZachBilous (04/08/13 03:24 AM)

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#176291 - 04/08/13 06:15 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: ZachBilous]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 2016
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I was a tarp-and-bivy user 15 years ago, when there were no really light tents available. (tarp and bivy: 3 pounds; tent, 5 pounds.) When MSR came out with the Hubba, which weighed the same as my tarp and bivy combo, I switched and never looked back. My current favorites are two by Big Agnes: Fly Creek UL1 at two pounds (or Platinum 2, if you survive the sticker shock, same weight), and the Copper Spur UL 1 at two and a half pounds.

I like tents that have all-mesh bodies; without the fly, it's just like sleeping under the stars. (Big caveat: I hike in the East Central states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, where winter is mostly temperate, and I rarely go out if predicted lows are below 20. If you don't hike in such mild conditions, the all-mesh body may not work for you.)

Solo tents can be a bit tight (I've seen the Solitaire you mention, and it's a good bit tighter than the Fly Creek), so before you commit to one, you really need to have your technique refined to be working with minimal gear. Otherwise, you may find that a solo tent is just too small.

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#176295 - 04/08/13 10:17 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: ZachBilous]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Tarptent seams to be a favorite around here. Check them out.
Tarptent

I am sure others will chime in on other cottage gear tents that are really light.
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#176310 - 04/08/13 04:38 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: finallyME]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
In addition to Tarptent, Six Moon Designs, Lightheart Gear, ZPacks are probably the best known of the small or "cotttage" tent manufacturers who give excellent service and produce high quality lightweight tents. Most of the solo offerings from these companies weigh less than 2 pounds--many 1.5 lbs.--and have more space inside than solo tents made by the big-time gear makers. Of course if you have the budget for cuben fiber, you can get a roomy solo tent weighing less than one pound.

There are two types of bivies: the waterproof, stand-alone type, and the durable water repellent (DWR) type designed to be used under a tarp. The first type is about the same weight as a lightweight tent and is prone to condensation inside because it's waterproof. It's also almost impossible to get in and out of while it's raining without getting the inside wet. The DWR type is much lighter but is not waterproof; it's designed to repel splash and the occasional gust of horizontal rain that can occur when under a tarp.

It used to be that the waterproof, stand-alone bivy was the lightest thing around, but not since the advent of silicone-impregnated nylon (silnylon) tents. Now the stand-alone bivy is often the heavier. It's mainly used by climbers who often don't have space to pitch a tent.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/08/13 04:51 PM)
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#176311 - 04/08/13 04:42 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: OregonMouse]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Mountian Laural Designs also makes an excellent product.
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The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176313 - 04/08/13 08:33 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: ZachBilous]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
A recommendation kind of depends on where you camp and in what conditions.

I had a Eureka Solitaire but I didn't like it much. No room to sit up and change clothes, and hard to get in and out of my bag and the tent itself. I think they've updated them since I had mine, so they might be easier to get in and out, but the size is the same, too small for me.

I quit using tents a few years ago and started using a homemade tarp and inexpensive hammock. Then I began using just the tarp and a ground cloth, and I like that a lot if rain isn't going to be a factor. I usually camp in cooler weather with no snow, and I build a campfire, so now I mostly use a homemade Baker's Tent / "Super Shelter", but if I were to buy another tent it would be something like this one:



This style of tent is generally very fast and easy to set up, can be used freestanding, and is good in wind and rain with the tent and rainfly pinned down tight. Mainly because it's simple and functional it's one of my favorite tent designs.

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#176320 - 04/09/13 05:21 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: Glenn Roberts]
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
Thank you for taking the time to reply Glenn. Good information indeed.

Thanks

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#176321 - 04/09/13 05:23 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: finallyME]
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
Thanks for suggesting this brand. I've researched these tents... very very cool stuff!

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#176327 - 04/09/13 10:22 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: ZachBilous]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you want to know if a bivy will work for you, and you're looking at those mountaineering waterproof standalone bivies, do yourself a favor - get all your gear together and go car camping. Throw the tent in the car too. Lock the car and carry your backpack ten feet, get it all out, and pretend you are backpacking. Sleep out with just the bag and pad (assuming the weather is good) and imagine what that would be like with a bivy and a rainstorm lasting 20 hours. Answer the questions: where would my gear go in this storm? How am I going to get out to pee and back in without getting the sleeping bag wet? What will I do to not be bored in that time I'm holed up waiting for the storm to pass?

It's easier with the kind of bivy that is light and waterproof and requires a tarp paired up with it - but then you are starting to replicate a tent, and with very light tents on the market (the Tarptent Sublite weighs less than 25 oz, the Lightheart Solo weighs slightly more and is double wall with awnings that can roll up and turn it into just a net tent) why would you not have one when it's going to amount to the same cost?
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#176332 - 04/09/13 01:24 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I'm going with the netting sewn into my ZPacks shaped tarp (Hexamid) now, the Borah Gear bivy takes too long to get into and if a midnight call comes in, too much hassle to get out of then. The added netting will only weigh less than an oz. over what the bivy weighted which is for sale and I'll have all that space inside my shelter to change clothes, eat read.
Duane

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#176336 - 04/09/13 08:17 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: lori]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3973
Loc: Bend, Oregon
what Lori said, also your yard and sprinkler can provide all of the testing you will need to get started, and your shower. Put on your boots and rain gear and stand in the shower for 20 minutes - still dry underneath? Then try taking off that wet geat and getting into a bivy in the front yard with your sprinklers going, and finally try spending a hour in there with water beating on you and imagine getting zero sleep and then get up and put those clothes on, again with the sprinkler on. You simply cannot change clothes in many bivies and small tents without getting yourself and all of your gear wet. Providing a dry place for your gear (and you) is the purpose of "shelter", so take one that will work under the possible scenario.

With a good shell on your sleeping bag, a bivy is not required grin With a large pack a stuff sack is not required, and with a large enough stuff sack a pack is not required.

You must also consider bugs, don't for get a bug net - atleast a neadnet.
Jim grin
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#176337 - 04/09/13 08:40 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: Jimshaw]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I'll second what Lori and Jimshaw said. I once survived a two day hard rainstorm on Easy Ridge in the North Cascades in a highly rated bivy (for 1968). By the end of the second day I was cold, wet, cranky and bored. Since that adventure, I have never wanted to rely on a bivy setup unless the weather forecast called for a 100% chance of sunshine. If I want to suffer, I will suffer in the comfort of my own home, not in a bivy.
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#176338 - 04/09/13 09:01 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: Pika]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I just had to try a bivy myself, even though all these years I thought of them as too minimal and issues with moisture management. Now I've had my shot, I'll move on. Just part of my shelter system, so I'll make an adjustment with netting.
Duane

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#176339 - 04/09/13 09:26 PM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: hikerduane]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
I deer hunt, sometimes I end up on some awful ridge watching a herd when it gets dark and I have to hunker down and spend a night. A Bivy has been my savior more than once. Between blowing snow and harsh winds a Bivy and a down bag makes all the difference. I do believe there is a place for bivys in a persons gear. I now carry my Bivy on all day hikes, and most backpacking trips.I mean it only weighs 8 ozs!! Sorry for being the black sheep here but I love bivys for what they are made for.
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#176341 - 04/10/13 12:38 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: rockchucker22]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3188
Loc: Portland, OR
I love bivys for what they are made for.

No need to apologize for this. What "bivy" is an abbreviation for is bivouac, meaning an impromptu, unplanned night out. If you find yourself forced to bivouac for a night, a bivy bag is a godsend compared to hunkering down with no bivy bag. But comfort was never the idea behind the bivy bag, just something a step up from bare survival.

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#176342 - 04/10/13 12:41 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
On what planet do they make this 8 oz bivy? Something tells me you're looking at something different than the ones most people pick up... unless you're getting one of the ultralight cuben fiber ones, the waterproof ones tend to weigh three pounds.
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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#176343 - 04/10/13 01:40 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: lori]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I have a Bibler Winter Bivy which weighs about 9 oz. It is made of Epic, if I remember right. It would not be waterproof in a heavy storm and is nothing I would want to be in without a tent or tarp. I use it more for a cover for my down bag than anything else. BD bought Bibler and discontinued it a few years ago. There are some similar designs by other manufacturers.

I have been in an SD Flashlight, in heavy rain. It is a nice small tent but cramped for two unless you are close friends. smile But, no way I would want to be in a bivy, regardless of design in bad weather unless I also had a tarp. Hammock fans use tarps of various designs. www.hammockforum.com is the place to ask about those.

For the money, I'd rather have a Lightheart or similar tent than a bivy.
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#176344 - 04/10/13 06:51 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: TomD]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 2016
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I agree, Tom - a bivy without a tarp is not something I'd ever consider. As someone earlier said, it's a shelter for an unplanned night out (or where the plan is to be uncomfortable in the rain.)

If bugs were not an issue, I'd probably still be camping with a tarp and groundcloth. But, for me at least, bug season means some kind of bug netting around me. Back in the day, a bivy was a fairly efficient equivalent for a groundcloth and bug protection, with the added bonus that (unless you were using an all-mesh bivy) it would keep your bag dry if any rain blew in under the tarp. But the tarp was always the main roof; without it, in the rain, a bivy just isn't very livable.

My favorite bivy was the Integral Designs Salathe. It had a full waterproof-breathable cover, and a panel of that fabric could be unzipped to the waist on a warm, dry night because it was backed by a panel of mesh. That gave decent ventilation, but still nothing like the full-mesh Hubba I replaced it with. (Plus, I could actually sit up in a tent!)

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#176346 - 04/10/13 09:17 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: lori]
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
I heed your warning! I will check out the Tarpent brand and perhaps consider its advantages.

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#176347 - 04/10/13 09:21 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: Jimshaw]
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
I agree Jim! Good points made, objective reality sets in and wulah... I would probably regret buying a bivy. It's true though what you and Lori say... Thank again for the input.

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#176349 - 04/10/13 09:23 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
On what planet do they make this 8 oz bivy? Something tells me you're looking at something different than the ones most people pick up... unless you're getting one of the ultralight cuben fiber ones, the waterproof ones tend to weigh three pounds.
Planet earth! Katabatic gear.http://katabaticgear.com/shop/category/bivys/
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176350 - 04/10/13 09:27 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: TomD]
ZachBilous Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/13
Posts: 15
Thanks for this sir. This cramped tent you speak of may be worth looking into because I have a friend whos a girl and well, nevermind.. getting way off topic... I shall check out the Lightheart, and similar tents.

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#176351 - 04/10/13 09:36 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: ZachBilous]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
It comes down to personal preference, of course, so only you can answer this for yourself. Most UL backpackers that use bivys with tarps do so for extra rain and bug protection when needed. If you are OK with the confined quarters of a bivy go for it. Others prefer more space and use the various tarptents mentioned, which come with a little weight penalty. I'm in that category so I added netting to my tarp essentially making it a floorless tarptent. I also made what I call a storm door so I can cover up most of the large opening if needed (my tarp doesn't have a beak).

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#176352 - 04/10/13 10:03 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: topshot]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Has anyone tried out the Uberbivy?
uberbivy

I have been debating on getting one for a winter shelter. Or making one similar.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#176353 - 04/10/13 10:04 AM Re: Undecided: Bivy or Tent [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
Originally Posted By lori
On what planet do they make this 8 oz bivy? Something tells me you're looking at something different than the ones most people pick up... unless you're getting one of the ultralight cuben fiber ones, the waterproof ones tend to weigh three pounds.
Planet earth! Katabatic gear.http://katabaticgear.com/shop/category/bivys/


That's what I thought.

Not the mountaineering bivy that you can use without a tarp, and probably (under most conditions) end up with condensation (which is why most people I know who've tried them end up ditching bivies for tents). "Breathable" is a myth, mostly.

Folks who've dusted ice out of their bivy and ended up with wet sleeping bags, because moisture from their bodies didn't freeze due to their own warmth, have shown me how much I should appreciate my hammock. Moisture management can be a trick with 'em. A good 0 degree underquilt for me any day.
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