Bivy suggestions?

7:46 p.m. on October 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm looking to buy my first bivy and would love to hear what advice everyone has. I'm kind of torn on a couple things- I'm normally look to buy something once and know its of the best quality. On the other hand having never slept in a bivy even once and I'm not sure I'll like it or it will get enough use. So one side lends itself to spending some money and getting one I think I'll use, the other says buy a cheaper one and test whether it works for me.

My one big thing I know I want is that the bug mesh and outer fabric must not sit on my face. I like the ones with a head pole (or alpine, highland) or some interior space (id wedge).

I wish I could give you more info on uses (temp, elevation, etc..) but I am unsure myself when and where I'll be using it.

So, with the very little info I've given you to work with, where do I go from here? Whats the entry level priced bivy with the high price tag performance?!

 

*Also, any other info people would like to share about bivies I'd love to educate myself with, particularily I've been reading alot about condensation issues. Is that a valid concern, how much of a concern? I would like to try using a bivy in the winter.

8:26 p.m. on October 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Bivies are very much a personal thing. The full name, by the way, is "bivuoac sack". They are designed and intended for a bivuoac, not for camping. Keep that in mind as you search and decide.

You will find you fall into one of 3 categories - love them, hate them, tolerate them out of necessity for the type of climbing you do. Hikers and backpackers fall into the first two categories.

I have 4 bivies (and a tiny solo tent that is basically a bivy). They have their place as an emergency shelter or in snow shelters. Remember that you cannot in general take your gear inside with you. They might have room to put your boots, but your pack will probably have to stay outside, even if you are traveling ultralite.

I have one recommendation - Integral Designs. Integral (pronounced in-teg'-ral, since it was a Canadian company originally) is now part of Rab. Some of their operations remain in Calgary, but most are in Colorado these days.

I have several other bivies, including some aluminized ones to reflect the heat you radiate back in (they aren't very breathable). I had (but lost somewhere) one of ID's VBL/emergency bivies (loved it, packed down to fist-sized). When I established I had definitely lost it, I got the newer version. I have the South Col model (has the head hoop you want) and have used it on many excursions. If you use it in winter during a storm, I strongly suggest you do so sitting up against a tree. Otherwise you will wake up under a couple feet of snow and find it is hard to sit up, especially if you put your inflatable pad in the bivy with you as most people do (two feet will bury the bivy and you with it, plus drift the snow around you - been there done that).

In summer, some 4-legged critters will poke at you out of curiosity.If you get in a heavy rainstorm, you are stuck. Try to cook in a storm, and you will curse the idea (the rain always seems to find a way into the bivy).

I have a Marmot (no bug screen, lighter than the ID, good for bivy on a technical climb if you have ledges available or in a snow shelter), and an REI (heavy, has arms so you can cook by sitting up as you wear it, really don't care much for it).

Be very aware of the downsides. On the other hand, if you have a real use for it, other than some imaginary "ultralite" camping use, you might just love it (as I do). But be aware that there are good tents which you can sit up in that will deal well with heavy rain or real snowstorms that are as light or lighter than a lot of the bivies out there.

Oh, there is a solution to the heavy rain problem - get a small tarp, like the smallest ID SilTarp. Pitch it over the face end (slope it diagonally low end into the wind and cook with your stove under the high end.)

9:22 p.m. on October 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I had a very small Bivy, one person tent, once. I'm with the group that hates it. I felt like I was in a coffin. But thats just me. I'm glad I didnt pay big bucks for it. But you know, one just has to try. I would suggest trying one in very fair weather, or maybe a slight mist to see if you can endure it. Dont spend much on it. As Bill says, they arnt for everyone.

12:57 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I hate bivies!  Jake, if you have been camping for years and are not intending to do some hardcore mountaineering, I suggest bivis will prove a disappointment over whatever you currently shelter in. They are a nice concept, but don't deliver satisfactory performance for me.  If they keep the elements out they tend to keep the moisture in.  Give me a tent any day, the utility/weight trade off of a bivi just isn't there  I sleep in the open, except in rain or blowing snow, but use a small bug net canopy over my head when warranted.  If I need protection from the elements, a tent is far superior, or a shelter built from snow. 

When I used to do the gonzo stuff that had us perched on ledges, or otherwise bivouacking, I preferred using a XXL long goretex caguole, then stick what little of my legs and feet that hang out the bottom into my pack bag.   This wasn't any more comfortable to sleep in, but at least you can move about in a caguole, and eliminate one piece of gear in the process.  

Ed

1:16 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

...I preferred using a XXL long goretex caguole, then stick what little of my legs and feet that hang out the bottom into my pack bag.   This wasn't any more comfortable to sleep in, but at least you can move about in a caguole, and eliminate one piece of gear in the process.  

Hear, hear!

2:20 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I have used bivies since 1969 and often gone on solo multiday treks in quite remote wilderness mountains with only a bivy and tiny tarp as a shelter. I never go out alone without a bivy-tarp-bag-pad setup that I can get into with a splinted leg and a good bivy is among my most essential pieces of gear.

I have three ID tents, two Hillebergs and an fully rigged Kifaru 8-man tipi and I still carry a bivy anywhere I go and always will. I have slept in bivies in every month of the year in BC and found them very comfortable, IF, one uses them to the fullest of the design parameters and can cope with the somewhat claustrophobic aspect of sleeping in one.

There are bivies and bivies and then there are original ID eVent bivies and they are, for me, the "best in the west". I carry an eVent South Col, OD, for day hunting trips, an eVent Bugaboo for day cold weather hiking and an original Unishelter in my vehicle traveling gear as you can freeze to death if your vehicle dies on a BC highway during about six months of the year.

I have seriously considered buying an eVent Unishelter, OD, for hunting and may yet  do so, I use an ID "Silwing" for my bivy tarp and also an ID "Silshelter", which I am going to sell as I much prefer the "Silwing" type.

Tents are much nicer to sleep in, no question, but, the weight of even my ID MKI Lite is more than a bivy and tarp and I hate being in tents in Grizzly country. So, for me, a bivy is a very useful rig and I have had and do have cagoules, a Hille "Bivanorak" and an ancient, but, still sound Black's Cagoule, but, I prefer the bivy. Each to his own, for really harsh conditions, I have and love an ID "Mega Sola" and wish that they had been made in eVent.

3:26 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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4:17 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I hate bivies or as mikemorrow said: "They suck". Oh wait "I hate bivies!",as whomeworry already said, so I guess I'm repeating myself. Unless off course you need a bivy, then you will kick yourself in the tail (or maybe die) for not having access to one.

Sometimes it does not matter if you like sleeping in a bivy if your life depends upon sleeping in a bivy and you have to.

Bill S said : "They are designed and intended for a bivouac, not for camping."

I only use bivies for live saving measures and emergencies except for one time. I was at the Telluride Blue grass festival back in the early 80's and spent three days in the rain in a bivy................I hate bivies.   Now with that being said. If your comfortable in a bivy then by all means use one as long as you know the positives and negatives. That does not mean that your will have the same love/hate relationship with them that some of use have with them. Most of our feelings tend towards a sadistic hate in their regards unless they are called upon to save our lives. It's kind of like lawyers, nothing against lawyers, but most people I known hate them until and unless they need one.

Jake W said: "So, with the very little info I've given you to work with, where do I go from here? What’s the entry level priced bivy with the high price tag performance?!"

There is not entry price on this piece of equipment, entry level in a bivy means if you get it wrong you may die. Buy the right piece of equipment the first time around and get it right. Scrape the price thingy and just buy the best bivy that fits your needs. They are very inexpensive as compared to tents and you don't get to make the same mistakes in bivies that you get to make in tents. Plus, really.............. look at the used market. You can buy the best bivies the world has ever know for cents on the $.

Jake W said: *Also, any other info people would like to share about bivies I'd love to educate myself with, particularly I've been reading alot about condensation issues. Is that a valid concern, how much of a concern? I would like to try using a bivy in the winter.

I get so tired of this condensation issue. The proper ventilation and materials will  alleviate any condensation issues you might have. This was settled years ago but people still have brand nameitess which leads to buying poorly made products which leads to condensation in tents and bivies. Stop it.  I have a 30 year old Marmot Gore-Tex bivy with one hoop over the head area that I have lived in for days on end and never had any condensation with while using a down Gore-Tex covered sleeping bag.

Bill S said: I have 4 bivies (and a tiny solo tent that is basically a bivy). They have their place as an emergency shelter or in snow shelters. Remember that you cannot in general take your gear inside with you.

Yep, a bivy is by definition is a bivy because it is such a small tent that it can only be filled with you, a sleeping bag, your sleeping pad, and your pet ferret that can sleep at the foot of the bivy if your a short guy like me. If your a tall guy leave the ferret at home. One of the great questions of humanity  is: when is a bivy not a bivy but a tent, and, when is a tent not a tent but in fact a bivy. I know there must fancy shamacy sq ft bivy tent/rule. If not don't make me make a rule as you all will all be disappointed

Bill S said: Oh, there is a solution to the heavy rain problem - get a small tarp, like the smallest ID SilTarp. Pitch it over the face end (slope it diagonally low end into the wind and cook with your stove under the high end.)

A piece a Tyvek that has been waterproofed will work jsut fine.

Here’s what I really think about bivies. If I'm so tired that I will fall asleep the second I lay down and  I do not care what I'm in then a bivy is the gig. If you have to live in one and cannot sleep and have to spend much time awake in one it will make you looney. Have someone duct tape you to the ground for two days with a tarp thrown over your head for two days and then talk to us about it. Really, I spent three days in a bivy in the rain, need I say more.

If you are in a bivy and it snow's four, five, six feet on your and your bivy make sure you have a stout shovel next to your head. You will need it. Be sure to leave your ferret at home in these conditions as he/she will want to eat you before you can dig your self out.

PM me if you want to really know what I think about bivies as they have never failed me in a time of need, however I do know I do not need them very often.

.

So very important.  make sure you have a hoops system that keeps the bivy of off your head and your sleeping bag these will cause condensation problems.  I've never had any condensation problems in a bivy.  I have had going crazy/nuts/outof my mind problems in a bivy.  They work for me only in emergencys,  but I most alway have one near by to save my tail.

 

Dewey said: "I still carry a bivy anywhere I go"

Ditto, me to

11:39 a.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I don't own a bivy, haven't every used a bivy and don't plan on using one.  I might get one of those emergency sack bivies just for, duh, emergencies.

My suggestion would be to get a tarp (something a lot of people use camping/hiking for all kinds of things) and fold it to the approximate shape of a bivy and use it.  This would at least give you an idea of the size restrictions and when you are done you'll have a useful tarp left over.

12:18 p.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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For a first bivy, before going out to spend a bunch of money. Take 20-30$ and go to a army surplus store and buy a ECWCS goretex bivy. This thing is bombproof and is an awesome bivy, especially for foul weather and winter. If you use this and like them and want to upgrade, go buy a fancy one then. This bivy is easily resold on ebay or back to a surplus store if you dont want it.

I have mine that i was issued in the service, and has been an awesome piece of kit. I highly recommend it. The one down side is it is a bit heavier than other bivies, but it is bombproof in comparison.

10:48 p.m. on October 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Interesting responses. I didn't think so many people would be so against them as anything but an emergency shelter. I guess I'm going to have to rethink this. Does anyone find any positives in them other then as a back-up/emergency shelter?

Dewey- I have seen the Hille bivanorak and considered it. What are your thoughts on it? Seems way overpriced for what it is. ID has a tarp/poncho/bivy combo for far cheaper.

Ed- I will not be using it for extreme mountaineering, that I can promise. So I can assume you would highly recommend against it? I'd love to here your experiences with condensation issues.

Ape- I'm interested in learning everyons opinions on them. Whether you hate them or not. So by all means feel free to PM me, or if you feel comfortable put it in this forum so I can learn from others.

Rambler- I think thats a great suggestion and I just might end up doing that. At $20 you can just cut your losses and a chalk it up to a learning experience.

I'm still young comparativly and I think this might just be one of those "had to learn the lesson myself" type of things. As Bill said I'm not sure which of the 3 categories I fit into. Thanks for all the advice, keep it coming.

2:10 a.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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Jake W said:

..Ed- I will not be using it for extreme mountaineering, that I can promise. So I can assume you would highly recommend against it? I'd love to here your experiences with condensation issues...

If you are only using a bivy to keep warmer, or get away from bugs, I suggest a warmer bag, or a bag liner, and a personal bug net canopy.

If you are using a bivy to keep the elements off you, it needs to shed water.  That requirement reduces breatheability of the shell.  This retards transporting moisture your body perspires away from your sleeping bag, since it creates a humid microclimate around your bag.  If it is cold enough, the shell will also become a condensation surface, same as a tent, but worse, since surface area of the bivy is smaller thus more “rain” per volume of space, and most bivies are in side and/or top contact with your bag.  Thus the condensation runs onto your bag. This isn’t a serious issue with synthetic fill bags, other than your bag might be a couple of pounds heavier after a trip, but down bags quickly lose loft when they take on moisture.

In any case there are a bunch of solo tents that are very light, without the moisture and claustrophobic drawbacks of a bivy.  I would way prefer one of those pyramid tarps like a Black Diamond megamid over a bivy.  As it is I go with a MRS Hubba.  Its light (enough), free standing, and has enough head room to sit up or get dressed without stepping out into the elements.

Ed

6:38 a.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm with Ed on this. Carrying a tent does mean more weight, but when it comes down to shelters, I need the extra comfort. The Hubba looks like a fine tent. I have a TNF Canyonlands and both of these tents give you lots of head space for a small tent, The Hubba much more than the Canyonlands. Just becouse you are out there roughing it doent mean you have to rough it.

 And if you are worried about the weight you can always shed it somewhere else. Like that bottle of spirits. ;)

11:26 a.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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How about this:


5818812114ead54e89a704.jpg
BugaBivy by Integral Designs ($49.78 @ geartrade.com)

I don't think you could get something more breathable so no condensation problems.  Only 16oz including pole.


SilWing_Back_1_web.jpg
Add their SilWing to this if it's bad weather. Probably not the greatest for winter but for 3 season it should do the trick. Only 12 oz.  I don't think that includes stakes or cord.

1:33 p.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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Black Wolf

2:19 p.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I find more positives for them outside of an emergency bivy shelter.

I use a quasi-bug bivy in conjunction with the Integral Designs SilWing shown above. The bivy I use is a < 7oz. Oware model with a bug-net hood area (with tie-off to keep it off your face) and a breathable, light nylon body/foot area treated with a really good DWR finish. I add the bivy if I expect a lot of bugs or rain. They are frequently used and touted passionately by the UL crowd, but I find them useful even if weight considerations are not your top priority: they keep rain splashes off your down bag, they keep fallen condensation droplets off your down bag, they help prevent convective heat loss (especially so if your bag is sewn-through instead of baffled), and they can keep ALL insects out of your sleeping system while also keeping them away from your face.

Here's one potential benefit I am hesitant to say, because there is still much discussion about it, but at any rate it's food for thought...some people believe that the use of a breathable, light nylon DWR-treated bivy in certain conditions can move the "dew point" outside of your sleeping insulation, thereby causing any condensation which would otherwise collect on the shell of your sleeping bag/quilt to instead form on the outer surface of the bivy. This effect, in theory, keeps less moisture inside the insulation, affording easier loft preservation for a given period of use, thus keeping you warmer.

Oware, Six Moon Designs, Mountain Laurel Designs, Titanium Goat, Bearpaw Wilderness Designs, and likely a few others all make very good bivies which fall into this use category...it may be best to think of them more as a large "windshirt" for your sleeping bag with a bug-net hood, than a traditional alpine "bivy sack" which is made to keep you alive at the expense of any other features. These DWR-treated, breathable nylon bivies are a whole 'nuther thing...

5:14 p.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I have a basic Gore-tex top/waterproof bottom one with a bug net option around the head area.  I think it is an Alpine Designs.  I didn't put nearly the thought into that purchase as I maybe should have, but it has functioned exactly as I intended and hoped.  I've used it as both an overnight sleeping solution and an emergency solution.  I believe it weighs 1LB, so it is on the heavy side for what it is.  I don't have any problem sleeping in it, but I haven't lived out of it, either.  For me, that's when the real vices and virtues come out to play.  You can deal with anything for a night or two.  It's those extended trips when you really find out how smart your decisions were.

10:14 p.m. on October 30, 2011 (EDT)
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bivy.jpg

I am using this Gortex bivy cover until I can afford the tent I want. They run $60.00 on amazon and you can find them for around $40.00 on ebay. If the rain comes just cover up and you won't get wet. I understand if you use this type of bivy in freezing conditions you need to vent your breath outside the bivy.

12:41 a.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Jake W said:

Interesting responses. I didn't think so many people would be so against them as anything but an emergency shelter. I guess I'm going to have to rethink this. Does anyone find any positives in them other then as a back-up/emergency shelter?......

 I think that "so many people would be so against" bivies is an overstatement. It would be more accurate to say that bivies have their place and they have their limitations. As long as you under the strengths and limitations and use them within those parameters (like any other piece of gear), they are fine. If a bivy works for you for the situation you are in, great! If not, then use something else.

They can work for you as an ultralite shelter (I have done a couple of week-long trips where a bivy was my shelter - but then I have done a lot of sleeping where I just threw my sleeping bag or blanket on the ground, including one night at 11,000 ft on Denali).

As others have said, try one out for a few nights in the back yard to see how it works for you (the idea of rolling up in a tarp is a "free" way to try out the concept).

3:01 a.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Jake W said:

 

Dewey- I have seen the Hille bivanorak and considered it. What are your thoughts on it? Seems way overpriced for what it is. ID has a tarp/poncho/bivy combo for far cheaper.

 

The Bivanorak is a bit pricey, but, you must remember that it is made from superior materials and to a standard that WILL protect you from severe weather in an emergency. This, is what it is for and I have a red one and use it on day hikes in the spring, summer and autumn, complete with little orange eva foam sit pad and extra clothing or that Exped PL Wallcreeper. This is in case I get lost or I sustaing an unjury requiring rescue and need to keep dry/warm until the RCMP arrive to haul my battered, old bod to hospital.

I also have the ID Silponcho-tarp an I use it more for city walking and do not feel it will give me the protection I need in serious bush situations. Nice, light protectoe when it pours rain as it so often does in Vancouver.

I do mnot consider either of these an alternative to an ID Unishelter, Bibler Tripod or Big Agnes Three-wire as a light shelter for alpine hunting and I usually carry an ID as they offer far greater comfort than the Bivanorak does.

Horses for courses, eh.

8:55 a.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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the bivy drreaper pictured is the military ecwcs bivy I mentioned. if you look around you can find one for 20-30. grab a used one in good condition. I used this for 9 years in the service, and use it for backpacking often enough as well. I have used it year round in all different kinds of weather and NEVER had a single condensation problem inside the bivy. buboes arnt the devil, and when combined with a tarp make an awesome lightweight setup. they take a little getting used to, but are otherwise quite workable in any environment. the ecwcs bivy can vent very easily due to having a full zipper, and full snaps. I typically used the snaps which created a looser seal and allowed great ventillation when needed. Every shelter option has pros and cons.

11:10 a.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

the bivy drreaper pictured is the military ecwcs bivy I mentioned. if you look around you can find one for 20-30. grab a used one in good condition. I used this for 9 years in the service, and use it for backpacking often enough as well. I have used it year round in all different kinds of weather and NEVER had a single condensation problem inside the bivy. buboes arnt the devil, and when combined with a tarp make an awesome lightweight setup. they take a little getting used to, but are otherwise quite workable in any environment. the ecwcs bivy can vent very easily due to having a full zipper, and full snaps. I typically used the snaps which created a looser seal and allowed great ventillation when needed. Every shelter option has pros and cons.

Like TheRambler said "buboes arnt the devil"(?), no actully they (buboes) are actually the plural form of the swelling of ones lymph nodes ;-}> .  But really, Bivys aren't the devil.  The only thing I have against bivys is they flat out don't have any extra room if you a grown adult and can become very claustrophobic quicly.  I've only use only used them a couple of times for my dedicated shelter.  Like I said if you could lay down and immediately fall asleep and then just wake up and get out of it and continue on your way then they would be great.  Imagine if your stuck  for longer than a day inside that thing and will have to lay in it day in and day out best looking at the ceiling which is 14 inches away from your head wraped up like a mummy.  Then think about doing this if it does not have a hoop at the head end and the bivy is laying on your face or against the back of your head. 

Like TheRambler, I've never had any condensation in any of my bivys.  I was in a Gore-Tex Bivy , for three days in the pouring rain with out any leakage or condensation as a dedicated shelter (shown below).  It was the last time I used it as my dedicated shelter and there after used it as an emegency shelter.  Though I stayed dry it was utterly miserable.  If you get one I  would recomend at least getting one whith at least a hoop at the he head end of bivy, and better yet one with a hoop at the head & foot end.  This of cource comes with a cost. weight.

 

DSC03605.jpg

As you can see the zipper is well protected and when you continue to open the door you have a zippered bug mesh that allows you to leave the door open certian amounts depending upon the weather for ventelation.  They are kind of a pain to get in and out of and if it is poring rain then it is hard to get in and out of fast enough to keep the rain out.  It is not as much of a problem if it is snowing, but still, if it is snowing very heavy then some snow will get in.  This can be mitigated by using a tarp above the bivy but if your going to go thru all of that why not get yourself a little light weight tent of which there are many.  I got this Marmot back in the early 1980's and thought it was called the Burrow but was wrong and now I'm back trying to find out if this had a name.  I believe that it was Marmots very first bivy as well as one of Marmots first shelters using Gore-Tex.  This one weighs jsut around a 1 lb.
DSC03604.jpg

 

 

 

Another one of my favorite bivys is the Bibler Tripod Bivy.  These are really quality bivys and though I have used it just a few times I have never had any condensation problems with it.  Mine is an original Bibler made out of Todd-Tex.  Weighs in at just over 2 lbs.  For an extra 1 lb. your can have a  sit up shelter for you and all your gear including your pack if you buy a tent.  I really like the Tripod, for a bivy, but I have far to many tents to use it for a dedicated shelter.  http://www.trailspace.com/gear/bibler/tripod-bivy/

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If you can find one many of the old school Garuda tents, some very much bivy like, very light, vented very, very well and give you a little more to a lot more room than a bivy.  The Atman weighs only 3lbs.13oz and is just inbetween a bivy and a tent.  For just an extra 1lb. you an have a Kusala, a real tent that has enough room for you and all your gear.  Garuda made many tents in this (these weight ranges).  Thay are tough to find but when you do there usually in really good shape.  I've never myself seen a Garuda tent in bad shape.  Here's the web site that lists most of the Garuda/Dana Design tents  http://www.byronshutzjr.org/gm_cadd.html

 

GM_Cat4Co97_Atman_Kusala.jpg

 

 

 

 

I just bought a Blackdiamond two man single wall tent called the Firstlight for $150 of of Criagslist.  It weighs just over 3 lbs and will allow you to be able to spend time in your shelter with all your gear for an extended amount of time.

 

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Here is the link to the Firstlight on Black Diamonds Site.

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/shelters/firstlight-tent/

 

Here is the link for a new one for $240  I've never dealt with the company.

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=Black+diamond+tents&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=15199465642067190987&sa=X&ei=ebyuTtzKJsaNsQLzronYDg&ved=0CJMBEPMCMAQ#

 

So, back to bivys.  I think the suggestion is sound to think about buying the ECWS Bivy that was discussed above.  The Military spends alot of money on ECWS produts to keep our service men in comfortable fighting condition, only to sell it for pennies on the dollar.  Much of it never used.  I bought a North Face 4 man Dome tent that the military paid $3800 for.  I bought mine as surplus for $425 (you tax $'s at work).  I did the same thing with my Eureka 4 man military dome tent (again your tax $ at work).  All of the ECWS gear and equiptment is top quality and you get way more than you pay for since it's high $ equiptment that is discarded by he military in quite often excellant and even unused condition for literally pennies on the dollar.  Here is a link to one (or 10) on eBay for $20 buy it now.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/USMC-GORE-TEX-GORE-SEAM-Bivy-ECWS-Sleeping-bag-Bivy-Sack-USED-/180747176594?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a155f0a92

 

 

Bottom line.  If you can stand being in a bivy then the weight savings is fairly large, but getting smaller every day due to modern tents getting lighter and lighter.  Big Agnus makes some such tents that are highly regarded light weight tents.

 

 

 

11:43 a.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Quick point here, the FIRST shelters made of Gore-Tex were the Early Winters "Light Dimension" tent and the bivies also made by them.

I bought mine a few months after they were introduced in the late '70s and used them until the late '90s, by which time, the floor coatings had turned goopy and smelly and the GT canopies were faded almost white. EW made some fine gear and were really nice people to deal with, I had other gear from them and wish they, the REAL Marmot and a few others like them were still in business.

If, as is usually the case here in BC, you trek-camp in timber, even in pouring rain and it DOES RAIN here, you can use a hooped bivy without a tarp and with a synthetic bag and be fine in emergencies, when you have a broken leg or arm. Trying to erect a light tent when so injured and on solo trip is very difficult and this is why I always carry a bivy.

I prefer camping in my ID MKI-XL to any bivy or most other mountain tents, as well, but, setting it up properly in heavy wind with an ankle fracture is going to be a real pita and this is where an ID Unishelter really is the best alternative, IMHO.

12:02 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Early Winters is still in business. But they changed their name, and over the following years, their emphasis changed more and more to yuppie clothing. Sound like a familiar story? For some reason, although I haven't bought anything fromthem in years, I still get their catalogs. I did get a couple items under their new name, but the quality had already started dropping. So they might as well have vanished, as far as I am concerned.

12:44 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey said:
"Quick point here, the FIRST shelters made of Gore-Tex were the Early Winters "Light Dimension" tent and the bivies also made by them."

 

apeman said:

"I believe that it was Marmots very first bivy as well as one of Marmots first shelters using Gore-Tex.  This one weighs just around a 1 lb."

 

Gore-Tex Web Site says:

"Marmot is our oldest customer. One of Marmot’s founders happened to see a demonstration of GORE-TEX® fabric back in 1976 when it was first created and knew right away that we had developed something special. Within a few weeks Marmot had sewn a prototype sleeping bag with GORE-TEX® fabric and proceeded to spend seven nights in a commercial meat locker, plus some time under fire sprinklers to test its capabilities. They liked what they saw, immediately changed everything in their product line to GORE-TEX® fabric and proceeded to create the first GORE-TEX® bivy sack."

http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/brands/men-marmot

 

 

Marmot Web Site says:

"Eric met Joe Tanner of W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. in Elkton, Maryland in 1976. Eric was one of the first in the US to see a new concept in outdoor performance fabrication: Gore-Tex. He was intrigued and, within a couple weeks, had sewn prototype sleeping bags in the new Gore-Tex fabric for field testing. He and Dave proceeded to spend the next seven nights in a commercial frozen meat locker comparing bags with and without the Gore-Tex fabric. Then they tested the bags sleeping under fire sprinklers. They liked what they saw. They ordered another 100 yards of fabric and were in business selling Gore-Tex fabric bags.

The Marmot team immediately changed everything in the line to Gore-Tex fabrications, including the down garments and all the sleeping bags. Marmot designed the first Gore-Tex bivy sack. Marmot designed a Gore-Tex, single fabric layer, mountaineering tent: the Taku. Marmot is the oldest customer of Gore in the world outdoor market."

http://marmot.com/about

http://www.marmot.de/content/en/company.history/

 

 

Compass web site says:

Early Winters Profile

 

Gore-Tex Tents

But as cool as the Omnipotent was, Early Winters' real claim to fame was that it placed the first commercial order for Gore-Tex fabric.

The material was used to craft a single skin, waterproof, breathable tent known as the Light Dimension, that was launched in May 1976. The three

layer Gore-tex laminate was known as Nexus. It had a nylon ripstop outer, with a brushed polyester lining. This not only protected the inner Gore-Tex

membrane, but the fluffy, brushed surface hung onto excessive condensation until the heat differential was adequate enough to allow the water vapour

to pass through the membrane. Also, if it was rainy or windy outside, there was less chance condensation would drip back down on tent occupants. (at

one point Early Winters even sold Gore-tex Nexus by the yard $10.95 USD for a cloth 43"  (1.09 m) wide, 3.2 oz/yd with a thread count of 86 x 110.

http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/earlywintersprofile.html

 

While Early winters says that it ordered the first commercial order of Gore-tex, the Gore-Tex web site says "Marmot is our oldest customer" and indeed  produced the first Gore-Tex outdoor shelter in the form of a bivy.  Marmot as well as Gore-Tex makes these claims at each of their web sites.  When I mailed Byron Shutz, the founder of Garuda tents, he also told me  that Marmot was the first maker of Gore-Tex shelters.

 

 

1:40 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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This is a great thread and even better when pictures are posted

1:50 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Jake, as has been said, bivys are very much a matter of personal outlook and style. Early bivouac sacks were not breathable. The idea was that you would be warmer inside sweating, then outside in a storm. I made a couple in the early 70's. Within a  year or two, I had sewn a top layer of Goretex. I still found them mostly useful for climbs here in Washington in fine summer or fall weather which might have a light rain for a short time. If I expected more than that, a tent was the norm. Because most people found bivys too confining, they started putting poles over the face area, essentially making a small tent. Apeman's Black Diamond, is essentially like my old Bibler Impotent(a jab at the Omnipotent).The Impotent could be used as a bivy for two, in an emergency and had reasonable breathability. If you desire a bivy but have not spent much time in one, you might try the one made by Adventure Medical Kits. They introduced it this summer at OR. While it doesn't have poles, it is breathable and relatively low cost.

Really, there are a number of small tents out there that are hardly any heavier than a bivy, and provide weather protection for your gear. Additionally, if they are made from breathable fabric, they can be easily used without poles as an effective bivouac sack.

Cagoules and the like represent an even more stripped down type of bivy gear. I still have a couple. The old technique which I'm sure many of the others on this forum have used, was to put all your insulation layers on, dump your gear out of your ruck sack and put your feet in it. Pull your cagoule on, sit on a coiled rope, and you were good for the night. :-) Very quickly, I went to a piece of Ensolite, then added an elephant's foot half bag, finally reverting to a sleeping bag and a real tent. There is something to be said for a good night's sleep.

4:01 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

apeman said:

Dewey said:
"Quick point here, the FIRST shelters made of Gore-Tex were the Early Winters "Light Dimension" tent and the bivies also made by them."

 

apeman said:

"I believe that it was Marmots very first bivy as well as one of Marmots first shelters using Gore-Tex.  This one weighs just around a 1 lb."

 

Gore-Tex Web Site says:

"Marmot is our oldest customer. One of Marmot’s founders happened to see a demonstration of GORE-TEX® fabric back in 1976 when it was first created and knew right away that we had developed something special. Within a few weeks Marmot had sewn a prototype sleeping bag with GORE-TEX® fabric and proceeded to spend seven nights in a commercial meat locker, plus some time under fire sprinklers to test its capabilities. They liked what they saw, immediately changed everything in their product line to GORE-TEX® fabric and proceeded to create the first GORE-TEX® bivy sack."

http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/brands/men-marmot

 

 

Marmot Web Site says:

"Eric met Joe Tanner of W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. in Elkton, Maryland in 1976. Eric was one of the first in the US to see a new concept in outdoor performance fabrication: Gore-Tex. He was intrigued and, within a couple weeks, had sewn prototype sleeping bags in the new Gore-Tex fabric for field testing. He and Dave proceeded to spend the next seven nights in a commercial frozen meat locker comparing bags with and without the Gore-Tex fabric. Then they tested the bags sleeping under fire sprinklers. They liked what they saw. They ordered another 100 yards of fabric and were in business selling Gore-Tex fabric bags.

The Marmot team immediately changed everything in the line to Gore-Tex fabrications, including the down garments and all the sleeping bags. Marmot designed the first Gore-Tex bivy sack. Marmot designed a Gore-Tex, single fabric layer, mountaineering tent: the Taku. Marmot is the oldest customer of Gore in the world outdoor market."

http://marmot.com/about

http://www.marmot.de/content/en/company.history/

 

 

Compass web site says:

Early Winters Profile

 

Gore-Tex Tents

But as cool as the Omnipotent was, Early Winters' real claim to fame was that it placed the first commercial order for Gore-Tex fabric.

The material was used to craft a single skin, waterproof, breathable tent known as the Light Dimension, that was launched in May 1976. The three

layer Gore-tex laminate was known as Nexus. It had a nylon ripstop outer, with a brushed polyester lining. This not only protected the inner Gore-Tex

membrane, but the fluffy, brushed surface hung onto excessive condensation until the heat differential was adequate enough to allow the water vapour

to pass through the membrane. Also, if it was rainy or windy outside, there was less chance condensation would drip back down on tent occupants. (at

one point Early Winters even sold Gore-tex Nexus by the yard $10.95 USD for a cloth 43"  (1.09 m) wide, 3.2 oz/yd with a thread count of 86 x 110.

http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/earlywintersprofile.html

 

While Early winters says that it ordered the first commercial order of Gore-tex, the Gore-Tex web site says "Marmot is our oldest customer" and indeed  produced the first Gore-Tex outdoor shelter in the form of a bivy.  Marmot as well as Gore-Tex makes these claims at each of their web sites.  When I mailed Byron Shutz, the founder of Garuda tents, he also told me  that Marmot was the first maker of Gore-Tex shelters.

 

 

 As I remember this whole issue, I was living in my home town of Nelson, BC, operating my own independant bookstore, doing as much casual "mountaineering" as that allowed and re-building my entire kit of 1960's gear, which had largely just worn out.

I used to call Eric Reynolds and Bill Nicolai and Daniel Sherman of Synergy Works and make suggestions concerning designs and order custom products from them. They made some of the finest gear I have ever used and I used mine hard and long.

At that time, I do not recall Marmot making "The Burrow" and definitely not the later "Taku" tent, while Early Winters was producing tents and bivies and shells from GT. Marmot WAS offering the four sleeping bags, vest and jackets from GT and FINE down, I bought a shell, bag, jacket and vest from Eric and a tent, two bivies and an anorak, chaps and bibs plus some other bits and pieces from Bill, I still have some of this in my duffles of gear I seldom used and never even look at now.

So, that is my recollection from dealing with the guys in question and I have always thought that EW was first with GT products for retail sale. The tents they made were the most carefully sewn I have ever seen and mine lasted many years of hard use before it finally went "the way of all flesh".

4:11 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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613 forum posts

Erich said:

Jake, as has been said, bivys are very much a matter of personal outlook and style. Early bivouac sacks were not breathable. The idea was that you would be warmer inside sweating, then outside in a storm. I made a couple in the early 70's. Within a  year or two, I had sewn a top layer of Goretex. I still found them mostly useful for climbs here in Washington in fine summer or fall weather which might have a light rain for a short time. If I expected more than that, a tent was the norm. Because most people found bivys too confining, they started putting poles over the face area, essentially making a small tent. Apeman's Black Diamond, is essentially like my old Bibler Impotent(a jab at the Omnipotent).The Impotent could be used as a bivy for two, in an emergency and had reasonable breathability. If you desire a bivy but have not spent much time in one, you might try the one made by Adventure Medical Kits. They introduced it this summer at OR. While it doesn't have poles, it is breathable and relatively low cost.

Really, there are a number of small tents out there that are hardly any heavier than a bivy, and provide weather protection for your gear. Additionally, if they are made from breathable fabric, they can be easily used without poles as an effective bivouac sack.

Cagoules and the like represent an even more stripped down type of bivy gear. I still have a couple. The old technique which I'm sure many of the others on this forum have used, was to put all your insulation layers on, dump your gear out of your ruck sack and put your feet in it. Pull your cagoule on, sit on a coiled rope, and you were good for the night. :-) Very quickly, I went to a piece of Ensolite, then added an elephant's foot half bag, finally reverting to a sleeping bag and a real tent. There is something to be said for a good night's sleep.

 

 

 

My first bivy, bought in about '68, was from Black's of Greenock in the UK and it certainly was breathable and made with a top of "pima cotton", I believe they called it. It worked very well in deep cold and I have often wished I could buy another.

Of course, you can use a light SW tent as a bivy, but, again, this is STILL going to weigh more than an eVent Unishelter and it will NOT be as simple to deploy nor as free of condensation due to the excess fabric not being heated sufficiently to make the H20 pass through in vapour form.

Very simply, without arguing as it is a waste of time, IF, you do day hikes and overnights, alone and in conditions where you can be killed by the weather if caught without shelter, a good bivy is a very fine tool and worth spending the coin to obtain. If, you always hike with a companion(s), then, a tent is a better option and a bivy is not really needed.

For alpine hunting, where carrying heavy loads in rugged country is part of the experience, a good bivy is an absolute godsend and a Silwing with it, EVA pad and just spare clothing will keep you safe and enjoying life as no other gear item can, given weight constraints. Do as you see fit, this is what I have found over my time enjoying wilderness activities.

5:21 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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@ Dewey :  To Further complicate matters, the site; http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/earlywintershistory.html states the following:

"1976 release world’s first Gore-Tex outdoor product in the Light Dimension tent, co-designed by Bill Nicolai and William Edwards sold 300+ Light Dimension tents "in a matter of weeks"."

The Early Winters Light Dimention tent.
1282393747_29492.jpg
(Sorry that this picture is so fuzzy, it's that dial-up thing)

 

Well now,  They can't all be right can they?.  Now were having fun ;-}

 

6:20 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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613 forum posts

That's the very tent I had for years, except mine was red and yellow and I would love to be able to buy another, especially in that gorgeous "Kelly Green" GT that they used.

For one person, it is just perfect and about the most comfortable tent I have ever had; I used mine in SE BC, in the Canadian Rockies and lived in it four over a month in conditions that had over a foot of wet snow on it, severe rains and wind and even some sunlight.....a bit difficult to erect, but, solid as a rock when you got it up.

Is that one yours, a part of your gear collection? It looks to be in very  nice shape and hardly used, a perfect little shelter for most uses.

7:25 p.m. on October 31, 2011 (EDT)
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1,238 forum posts

@ Dewey :  Naw that's a quicky pict I pull of the web.  I do have a Early winters 3 person Gore-Tex Starship that I got this summer that I have yet to set up.  Soon perhaps.  I'm woring on obtaining a 4 hoop Omnipotent at the moment.

Kinda funny how all the early single wall two man tents are basicly shaped the same, kinda like a big slugs more or less.  And in fact all the are is bigger versons of most single and double hooped bivys, just larger but same shape and tunnel design getting smaller at the foot end. 

7:08 p.m. on November 1, 2011 (EDT)
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I'll second the military surplus version.  I bought that bivy as well; cheap, heavy and bombproof.  An inexpensive means to see if you like a bivy.  It works, but I can't say I love sleeping in one.

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