I'm looking for a bivy sack for an extended road trek which will touch all 48 contiguous states. It may never happen, but it's getting closer to being a possibility.
Most of the camping will be stealth camping which is why I don't want a tent. The way the route is planned, there shouldn't be extended periods of bad weather too far from a city where I could get a motel.
The bivy sack must be a dark color so it won't be spotted easily. It needs to be light and compressible. I've decided to go super light and carry a 44 liter pack. It also needs to be durable, since it will get about a year of use, although there will be many nights I don't sleep in it.
I'll probably match it with a high quality synthetic bag from WM.
I used an Integral Designs Salathe for several years with no problems; it weighed two pounds, though that was lighter than the 4 and 5 pound tents that were the lightest available at the time. I'd still be using it with a tarp, if they didn't now make a tent that was better ventilated, more convenient, and lighter (Hubba and, better, the Carbon Reflex 1.)
I also used REI's Minimalist - weighs just under a pound, costs $100, has bug mesh. Only drawback is, as I recall, there is no rain flap over the face, so you'd have to use a small silnylon tarp with it (5x8, maybe half a pound?)
I used an Integral Designs bivy (not the Salanthe, but similar -- can't remember the name right now) for one of my AT thru hikes. It had a very light, flexible face ring, storm flap over the face and good bug net. It came in several colours including dark brown (mine was dark green).
It served me well, and I rarely used my poncho (though I had the cords and stakes to use it over my treking poles).
Once, without the tarp, in a driving rain of several hours, I got maybe three tablespoons of water inside.
Today I use a much lighter tarp/poncho and a much lighter MLD bivy, but still remember it fondly.
Only problem for me was that I couldn't cook inside and had to lay on my stomah and elbows to eat. In serious bug country, that did not work well.
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
Not sure what you mean by warm weather? They are just a shell. Can you sleep in your tent with no bag in warm weather? That is your answer. The zipper generally, not on all bivies, but on most...zips you completely in. And if it broke while you were in and it was in zipped position you would have heckofa time getting out. Solution is not to zip it shut if that bothers you...
In warm weather you will need to leave it unzipped or sleep on top unless the problem is bugs. If you close up tight in warm weather it will not typically breath well and you can get a bit of condensation. Then you will need to turn it inside out and air out both bivy and sleeping bag. During summer I used only a fleece liner and that dried quickly.
Yes the bivy does add a little warmth. Can't quantify, but with the Integral Designs version it seemed to be about five degrees. The very light one I use now, I think it's maybe two or three degrees. A lot of it is that it breaks the wind.
Never had a zipper jam in the closed position. If it did, zippers pull apart fairly easily, I think. Just push hard on it. You'd likely still be caught at the top, but you could wiggle out.
Can you tell us more about a SHIP? Googling that exact phrase returns 0 results.
I'm retired military, so I needed an acronym. I settled on SHelter Integrated Pushcart. I'd call it the Road Ship. Lucky it's not a trailer.
The first generation pushcart I'm testing is in the July 28th post on my signature link. After looking at it, I decided it would be fun to have a cart designed to sleep in. I'm still pondering the design, but it would have to extend and pop up to make a tent out of it. I'd want a back for a chair in it so I can sit in it comfortably.
It turns out, pushing a cart is more efficient than walking without a pack or a pushcart. I can't explain why, but I've scientifically shown it to be true at least for me.
The wheels are quick release, so I could let it sit on the ground like a tent and the frame wouldn't bear any of my weight. I'd want a tent with vertical sides on top of the frame. I also want the option for a chair back so I could sit comfortably in it.
The pushcart on my blog won't work for the hike I'm planning as there are times I'd have to carry about 80 to 100 pounds of water. I'll need to refine that number by testing it at home.
The SHIP may turn out to be impractical, but as I contemplate the design, I'll probably find ways to strengthen the cart I have.
A bivy is good for stealth camping but for about the same weight you can get a Tarptent that sets up on trekking poles. Of course, that is not very stealth.
I think you need to borrow a bivy and use it for a week's trip. Some people simply never adjust to a bivy. I am a small person and find my bivy about right sized by the time I put all gear inside. I wonder how a big person does in a bivy.
I use an OR basic bivy which has a bug net. I have done many 10-day trips in it. Works fine if not a lot of rain.
I often but not always take a sheet of Tyvak for a ground cloth. Not needed, but does protect the bottom a bit- the bivy should last a bit longer and it keeps the bivy clean. If worried about a broken zipper, just have a knife with you inside. Always have a head lamp inside - stay calm and most often the zipper is just snagged on material and you can get it unstuck. I have never had any problem with my bivy zipper. In a big storm you will want to zip it all the way up.
A small tarp to cover your head is handy to have. It does not have to cover the whole bivy. A poncho works too. Set these up on your trekking poles. By the way, will you have trekking poles?
If it is hot and humid, a bivy can be very uncomfortable if there are bugs that require you to keep it zipped up.
I use an army gore tex bivy that I got a few years ago. It works great for everything but humid and rainy weather in summer. I decided last weekend that it was too uncomfortable sweating all night when it was raining. Mine doesn't have a bug net or any kind of hoop to hold it up off of your head, so it can get a lot of condensation around your head. I will use it again when the weather cools down, or until I save enough for a tarptent. If you want stealthy, it is camouflage.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Originally Posted By Gershon
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm also willing to be convinced a bivy sack is a bad idea.
I thought a bivy would be a good idea until I went to NZ and spent a fair amount of time in heavy rain in my tent (SD Flashlight-original version) or a hut. The idea of being pinned inside a bivy quickly convinced me that they are great for climbing or camping in good weather only. I have a BD Winter Bivy, but it is nothing more than a bag cover with a cross zip. I'd much rather have a 1 person tent or better yet, 2 person tent than a bivy. I want to be able to sit up, keep my stuff dry, change clothes, read or just be out of the weather and a bivy just doesn't give me all that, even if it was the kind with a hoop. A Tarptent, Lightheart, SMD, or similar tent is about the same weight and lots more room.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
At least in my case, it's not so much a matter of disliking bivy sacks as it is that there are now better choices. When there were no solo tents, and two-person tents weighed 6 or 7 pounds and were stuffy in hot weather, a one pound silnylon tarp and one pound bivy was a great option for saving weight. As soon as three-pound solo tents with lots of mesh became available, the tarp and bivy became a second-best choice - and now we have pound and a half or two pound tents. They aren't any better or worse than they ever were - they just got bypassed.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Glenn is right. When I bought my Flashlight, it was about the lightest tent I could find. If I remember right, I got it in a local sports shop, long before online shopping was an option. It's still a decent tent, especially for the money. Being able to sit up is a must for me. I could sit up on my Flashlight and even though it was a squeeze, it worked for two. The only drawback was no vestibule. Keep in mind, the old Flashlight looks nothing like the new ones; it is a totally different design.
Edited by TomD (06/19/1501:58 AM)
Don't get me started, you know how I get.