6:25 p.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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A few days ago I was planning to face a storm on the Oregon coast. Lucky for me it came in a little early. But it got me to thinking. If I had gone out what would have happened?

I have tents that could have maybe taken the rain. But we had wind gust of over 80 mph. I dont think that any of my tents could have stood up to that, let alone the branches and trees falling during this storm.

 I would have taken my down bag. And would have had a great need to keep somewhat dry, thustly warm. As i would have been out for longer than I thought. So I am facing a question on what light weight type of sack I should carry to keep dry and save. Remember that shouldnt happen but it could. I would only have to keep my sleeping bag dry.

7:20 p.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Personally if it were me I would go with a bivy. Probably an ID Uni or something close to it. The low profile would be great in the wind and it would have kept ya dry. 

The things I took most from your post were "dry & safe." For these types of scenarios (plus low weight/pack volume) a bivy is great as long as you can get use too sleeping in one.

They can be somewhat mentally draining for prolonged periods like waiting out a multi-day storm but plain and simply put if your primary goal is to make it through the storm a bivy is hard to beat.

Next on the list for me would be something like a Hille solo tent utilizing all of the guyout points. I am not a fan of single wall tents so this eliminates alot of what is out there for me. 

7:42 p.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

What I'm saying is the tent would be down. This wouldnt stop me from going outside. As I know thet I can stay dry. It is a question of the best way to keep the bag dry. A hille is worth looking at as a new tent. And to tell you the truth I'm sold on a Helle tent. But for now I got to do with what I have. And I've got some nice tents. Just looking for the what ifs. If you know what I mean.

9:31 p.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

if you aren't in an area with some kind of structure, at least a 3 sided lean-to like one can find in places in the white mountains or adirondacks, tents designed for winter hiking and expeditions are probably your best bet for sleeping out in high winds.  the materials and tent poles on expedition tents are stronger and designed to handle winter conditions in mountainous areas.  still, in a really bad storm (steady 75 mph with higher gusts seems to be the tipping point for me), most tents will shake and feel like they might blow away, despite your best efforts. 

it won't surprise anyone that the tent is really the beginning of how to deal with high wind.  tent placement, tent orientation, the stakes you use and the way you use guylines to secure your tent all play a very significant role in how it performs in high wind.  example - a tent that might get hammered and destroyed in a hard winter storm when pitched at ground level, out in the open, can do fine if you pitch the tent in a depression, near some kind of natural rock outcropping or barrier that deflects the wind, or if you dig into snow and make a platform that's a few feet under the snow surface.  having secure, well-anchored guylines for a tent fly substantially reduces the risk of a tent getting blown away.   

a bivouac bag will keep your sleeping bag dry, but it's not a great option in a windy storm.  leaves you and your gear more prone to getting blown around.  really hard to effectively anchor a bivy. 

10:41 a.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

For severe Pacific coastal storms, or, harsh mountain weather in general, a good bivy is an essential item of gear, ESPECIALLY on solo trips. I have had and used various ones since about 1969 and have used only a bivy on some weeklong solo trips in very rugged and remote BC mountain wilderness.

For many trips, I much prefer a bivy to any tent and I have several highend tents to choose from as bivies are lighter, quicker to erect and perfectly comfortable IF you choose well and site your camp properly. They are easy to anchor and will withstand ferocious winds and rain, BUT, you need to really know what you are about when using one in heavy, wet snowfall or you can be asphyxiated.........

There are lots of bivies on the current market, I consider Integral Designs eVent models to be the best available, all factors considered and would recommend the ID Unishelter eVent in yellow for the best general purpose choice. I carry an ID Siltarp, preferably the Silwing model with my bivy and, with some extra cord and a couple of stakes, some imagination and patience, you can make a safe and comfy camp almost anywhere with these.

It is not as comfy as a good mountain tent, but, it is for shorter or emergency camps and weighs 2.75 lbs, where my rugged mountain tents weigh 3.75 to 4.75 lbs. I also have an ID Mega Sola, classed as a bivy, but, really more of a tiny tent in Gore-Tex and this little rig weighs 3.5 lbs. and will ride out any mountain  storm, but, can be a tad claustrophobic after awhile. These are no longer made, but, may be found on the "used gear" market and are superb for wild sheep hunting, etc.

All in all, tho', get an eVent Unishelter and Siltarp, play with it at home to get some ideas and sally forth with confidence that you can make a comfy camp in any conditions. I carry four stakes with mine and nail it tightly to the "terra firma", wouldn't go out without a bivy.

4:22 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

No question, essential (IMHO) to carry a bivy bag. For me, bivy bags have always been a backup. I never plan to use it as my primary shelter. It is a matter of personal preference, I think. I would much rather ride out a cold, windy storm in a mountain hardwear trango or some other winter tent than in a bag. Ever try reading a book in a bivy? But that's just my two cents.

5:19 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Ok. I need a bivy. But I would only use it as a backup. And as I live in a realitivly warm area, and dont, for the most part hike so far out that I couldnt hump back out in a day. I would like something very light and minimal. In the winter I always carry a tarp. I was thinking of a Slumberjack. The reviews arnt very good. With the tarp do you think this would be bad? I would only have to hold out for a day maybe two at the longest.

Any other thoughts?

5:26 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

I admit that I have no experience with bivies whatsoever.
So I'll take the chance to ask a question about them and bad weather that haunted me for years and I never dared ask.

When in a storm, how do you get your very wet self and a (down) sleeping bag inside without turning it into a pool?

I always thought of bivies as a necessary evil when doing serious mountaineering, where pitching space is at a premium and focus lies in reaching the summit. You usually get snow, not rain in those situations.

5:31 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Yup, I usually carry both professional field manuals and often a juicy murder mystery when on a solo backpacking trip; I use a headlamp to read inside my bivy and it actually works very well. The Unishelter is ideal for this kind of trip and I have experienced some pretty severe storms above timberline, at 7000ft. using mine and was safe and comfortable.

Generally, one will not carry a winter mountain tent on a long, solo trek of a week or more in BC's mountains as it is just too heavy. I have used many different highend tents and none of those that are really suited for severe mountain weather weigh less than about 4 lbs. and most are much heavier. so. for my uses, a Unishelter or perhaps the Big Agnes Three-Wire is ideal and once situated properly and secured to "terra firma", they keep me safe, warm, dry and comfy at less than 3 lbs. for bivy and tarp.

I can and have used a tarp shelter in winds that one could not stand in and, again, it is not difficult to do, if, you plan ahead and keep your shelter low to the ground. The bivy underneath can then be an eVent South Col or Bugaboo, both of which I own and use for specific uses or, the general purpose Unishelter, which I have now used for almost 20 years and am totally sold on as a reliable and light shelter in any conditions.

What I like to do is to use light stuffsacks full of small rocks on cords tied to the foot stake loops and the crossloop under your shoulders, these are then pulled out and covered with larger stones and this will resist a gale. I will also tie into downed logs and shrubs, whatever is there and have never "lost" my bivy to winds.

However, each to his own, some just dislike the feel of sleeping in bivies and thus prefer a tent.

6:18 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Hey Mike, It’s 6:00 am and I'm up all night without being able to sleep due to my restless leg syndrome. It's a drag and can be really un-fun esp. when your out in the back country and cant sleep because of it spending all-night hour after hour laying on your back in a un-hooped bivy. The same can be said for ending up being up all night long for any reason in an un-hooped due to , injury, insomnia, not having the right sleeping bag and your way to cold to sleep, pick your reason, etc. I've done this and it's just plain miserable. Here are my suggestions regarding the matter of which you speak in your original post and it will be wordy but I’ve spent many years thinking about this and buying all my tents based upon these ideas, thoughts and decisions.

First of all traditional Bivouacs are different than traditional Bivys. The traditional Bivy in a number of was designed to be a small tent. The tradition Bivouac was designed as a system for people on the move. It was mostly designed for military forces on the move. It was designed to be a single system that incorporated a number of different layers of sleeping bags for changing conditions. It also has and is used in different forms for people who feel it's necessary under any and all conditions to summit mountains. Many Bivouacs do not close completely at the top I just bought a As New Military Mummy shaped Gore-Tex Bivouac shell the does not close at the top it’s made fo fold over so water drips of of the top which over hands the bottom. Not so good if you have swirling winds blowing raind in on your head,

The bivouac was designed to keep marching men and or men on the move warm and dry while they slept. They were usually so busy and tired form tactical moment and fighting that they did not have the time or energy in regards to being uncomfortable. They were designed to sleep in in your clothing in the bags utilizing which ever layers that came with the sleep system. They were designed to get in and out of as fast as possible so as to be able to be on the move in seconds. They were designed to get in and out of so fast that no matter what the weather you could keep it dry inside. I just bought a Military Gore-Tex Bivouac sack and will be using it for the same purposes as I just discussed but . it will only be used in my motorcycle journeys. And not backpacking.

From the Bivouac came the bivy. The bive comes in two main types, the hoop(s), and the hoopless bivy. Where the bivouac was designed to be a combined sleeping bag/shell system that was usually hoopless, the bivy was/is desigend to be a bivouac like tent that has nothing to do with the sleeping system itself and in fact is jsut mini tent. Of cource they come in double wall and single wall. When it comes to tents I like bot , but when it comes to bivys I only go with single wall. They are much, much quicker to set up a single wall bivy than a double wall bivy.

I have used single wall, double wall, hoopless, hooped and double hooped.. The hoopless bivy in my IMHO is only good for emergency situations in which your life depends on getting in as fast as possible, staying alive, and then getting out of the situation as fast a possible. For a few more ounces you can have a hooped bivy with either one or more hoops. I've used both. I like both. I feel in is not necessary to have a hoop at the end of the bivy in relation to how well the bivy works and or breaths under normal conditions esp. if you are not using it in sub freezing conditions. If you are using it in sub freezing conditions then you will not only want it to be made out of breathable fabrics but you will want it to have cross ventilation. Having a hoop at the end of the bivy does aid in being able to store the many items you will have to remove from your backpack and will aid in the drying of your wet gear. When one has a double or triple hooped bivy it should have a vent ant the end if possible. If it does not I find this to be a not as efficient in it's design as on that does have a vent a the foot of the bivy With that being said my very first Bivy was/is a Mamrot Gort-Tex called the Burrow that has a tree piece pole fpr a small amont of head roon and no hoop at the foot area. This bivy has never leadked nor has it ever had any condensation problems.

There are two ways to maintain structural integrity in regards to wind, rain, snow. A properly designed bivy will take care of all that nature has to offer with no problems including snow load,. that does not mean you will not have to get out of your bivy to unload the snow that has piled up on your bivy. If your bivy collapses under the load of snow it is not even a tent I would consider unless you are buying the tent for certain circumstances such as the tent I bought to go to Thailand. Where I’m pretty sure I will not encounter snow.

One of the first things I learned about a bivy style tent is to figure out how much sq ft you will need when you need to use your bivy. This is one of the most important starting points when dealing with small tents. As I said above with a military bivy you get in-sleep-get out- continue on with your mission. not so with the bivy, you may have to sleep in it, stay into it for days on end and (yes I know, not recommended) cook in it. Having power bars along is a great thing but if all you brought was food that needs to be cooked then you must do what you must do to eat.

If you are stuck out in the rain as we are prone for days on end in the PNW you know that you will need a place to stay dry and keep all your gear dry. If you take a guy that’s say 6 ft by 2.5ft (30in)wide, you have a square ft measurement of 15 sq ft. minimum Now measure your pack. lets round of again 4 ft tall by 30 in wide. 10 sq ft.. minimum . Now lets say you want to not have your gear touching the sides of the bivy so that you don’t get condensation. Ad a few more sq ft. So rounding out were lookng at 25 sq ft. minimum. I have a Garuda Atman which is basically like a large bivy with 21 sq ft and a few more feet in th open floored vestibule. This is an assault tent that is designed be used in high altitude where there is no rain, but only snow so that the small floor less vestibule. If I were to use this tent in the rain the vestibule would be useless as far as keeping anything dry. It could be used as a place to cook however in only in the worst of circumstances. But think about using the tent for any lent of time when you need 15 sq ft laying in a mummy position. Do you really want to store you pack out in the rain and have to go out in the rain everytime you need something. I don't, I've done this and it sucks.

One of the things you will need to think more about if your in a bivy type tent is ventilation. It's one thing if you climb in a bivy for 7-8 hours for a good nights sleep it's another thing if your waiting out a storm for days on end and even then cooking in your vestibule. As you hail in th PNW if it's raining all day everyday and your in your bivy you will have to have superior ventilation which most of all the tents made today do not contain. Since you would most likely not be in freezing weather you will not have to worry about breathable fabric freezing with ice so that it cannot breath.

It seems to me and it’s just my opinion of course that your be really happy with what I feel I have found as the perfect two man tent(s). The are all based and including the Marmot Taku and the Garuda & Dana/Design Garuda’s tents. Most weigh in at around 5 lbs., with some in the 3.5 lb range. They either have two or three polls that are really easy to set up. They are all incredibly stable in any and all weather I’ve had them in. There are a couple of other here on Trailsapce that agree with me and I can mail them and see if it's ok if I give you there name. The two problems with these tents is that no one makes such an animal any more and they sure do cost a lot for 20+ year old tents. But I have a thought. It would-be really easy to adapt a Bibler Tripod Bivy to be much like the a one man Taly or in fact not like the Garuda Atman thereby being much like the rest of Garuda line of tents. Since the Bibler Tripod has poles to hold the material up over your head and it has a hoop at the foot section you could add if more material to the rear piece that’s already attached to the rear tie down (see the Bibler link bellow) if necessary. A rear hood just like the Taku and Garuda’s would then allow you ot ad a vent at the foot section. Leaving the zipper up front would very likely give you enough cross ventilation so that with the Todd-Tex fabric you should never have any condensation. I own and have used a Bibler Tripod bivy without any adaptations to in regards to ventilation and have never had any condensation problems. The tripod bivy only weighs in at 2lb 10 oz.

Here is the Black diamond site to show you and tell you more about it.

Here is a picture of what mine looks like. It is the old school Bibler before Black Diamond bought them.


As you can see the rear of the bivy already has material attached to the tiedown so it would not take much to add material to cover the needed area that would protect a vent in at the foot of the bag as pictured in my next picture.

If you do decide on something like the Bibler tripod bivey I would go with the older yellow one rather than the newer Black Diamond one for tow reasons.  They are much more plesant of a color to spend time in than any other color I have had to spend time in.


This is the tail section of off the Marmot Taku.  One could easily sew on a tail section to the back of the Bibler Tripod Bivy






If you could find on of these.  This is the Marmon Burrow, Marmot's first Gore-Tex bivy and this fits into your original weight parameters.  Of all th bivy's I have ever woned this one is the lighest and the smalest weighing jsut over 1 lb.  I will still sue this as my backpacking backup but am swithing to the  Bivouac style bag cover in other situations is that if it's raining, buy the time I get the pole put together and in place and then get in the bivy I'm then wet thereby defeating the whole idea of the bivy for me in the first place.

Showing the over hang of the zippered door so tha tthe bive can be ventented.  As this is a Gore-Tex bivy in which the Gore-tex works as it should I have slept with the Bivy completely closed without condensation nor asphyxiation occurring. *Note do not try this at home as some would consider this "Risky Behavior"







Last but not least is the picture of what you originally asked for in the opening post.  This is a US military Gore-Tex Bivouac bag designed for a military sleeping system that I picked up of of EBay the other day for $22.  It does not have a way to close it off completely and it does not have any bugnetting.  It is mearly to throw your bag into and and pul over yor head.  It has a zipper on th side that goes half way down the bag as well as snaps that werr designed for the military sleeping system.  Just as you could pull your teeth to save some weight you could take out the snaps and use some patches to cover the snapholes save a bit (a very small bit) of weight.

Here we ahve the bivy open at the head.  Notice that there is a set of patche that hold the top to the bottom.  Tha is the entire closure system with the excepton of a elastic drwstring on the bottom to pull the bottom around the hood of yur sleeping bag so that the top overhangs the bottom and the rain runs of off the bivy.  The problem iwht this set up is if the wind changes direction ti will blow rian directly inot the bag.  One oculd of cource ad more velcro so that this does not happen.

I can take more detailed pictures if yu wish but it was pouring and not much fun outside today.


leadbelly2550 said:
"it won't surprise anyone that the tent is really the beginning of how to deal with high wind. tent placement, tent orientation, the stakes you use and the way you use guylines to secure your tent all play a very significant role in how it performs in high wind. example - a tent that might get hammered and destroyed in a hard winter storm when pitched at ground level, out in the open, can do fine if you pitch the tent in a depression, near some kind of natural rock outcropping or barrier that deflects the wind, or if you dig into snow and make a platform that's a few feet under the snow surface. having secure, well-anchored guylines for a tent fly substantially reduces the risk of a tent getting blown away.

a bivouac bag will keep your sleeping bag dry, but it's not a great option in a windy storm. leaves you and your gear more prone to getting blown around. really hard to effectively anchor a bivy."



That is so very true but quite often one ends up pitching in an area of changing wind conditions as on just has to pitch where one has to pitch due to rapidly changing weather conditions or oncoming darkness.  If you put some stakes in the ground running up each side of the Bivouac (4 on each side is plenty) and run cord/webbing  across the the Bivouac bag(sack) that will hold your gear in place.  I've done this and it works.   All the Bivy's I have/had will have their own tieouts, at least all of mine do.  The Bivouac pictured does not have tie downs.

2:04 a.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Never used a bivi.  I have camped @18K on snow/ice, above tree line on barren rocks, in dense forests, in snow, rain, and high winds.  A well made tent matching the conditions doesn't really need a back up.  If you can set up such tents in the wind, they will almost always be up to offering protection.  When you are in a situation so fierce that a tent fails, it behooves you seek the physical protection of a snow shelter.  If that is not an option instinct will lead you to retreat to safety between land features, a location typically unfit to lay out a bivi or anything else for that matter.  You end up just weathering the storm in your clothing and perhaps a fly you can throw around yourself.  Been there done that.  Retreat to a better stance the next morning.  Based on my experiences, I cannot justify even the minor additional weight of a bivi, given the contingencies it covers and the alternative options available.  Then again I can’t stand holing up in a bivi.


7:10 a.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Why bother with carrying a back up shelter? Why not just carry an extra tent if your worried about yours failing. Seriously though, backups for some things are practical others are not. Extra batteries for the headlamp-practical, extra shelter-not so much.

IF your that worried about your shelter failing then carry a multipurpose system, such as a bivy/tarp combo. But if you already have a tent, you dont also need a bivy. If your really concerned bring a small tarp. You dont need any redundant shelter unless your on some expedition hundreds of miles from civilization. Use natural shelter, or build your own vice lugging needless weight with you for the off chance something happens. Be prepared, but don't bring the kitchen sink just so you can do dishes. It's one thing to bring a back up with you because you are knowingly going to be encountering something out of the ordinary, but completely ridiculous to carry it otherwise.

Unless you make a habit of camping in exposed areas during violent storms the likely hood of your tent failing/ripping apart in all reality is slim. Always choose your sites thinking of how to best protect yourself from the elements.

@Apeman In regards to the military bivy bag. I have slept in one of those for a total of about 60 months while on deployments over the years, and have never had water enter the bivy once it was closed. Your not supposed to leave the head end open during a bad storm, for one. And those snaps are there to close the bivy not to just add in a sleep system, they are a backup/alternative to the zipper. I do agree the velco can be a little finicky at times, I put in a snap in place of it. But In any case, I never once had water get in. Though the bivy can be a little stuffy with the head end closed, so we came uo with a solution in the field.

What we would do during a bag storm would be to put our rifle by our head pointing towards the sky, and put our gortex jacket over it  and stake the jacket out. Provided a much more comfortable evening in bad storms.

I have done the same thing with a trekking pole and rain shell.

8:13 a.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

A couple of interesting points and I will add that I use my tiny tarp over the head of my bivy exactly as "Rambler" used his jacket and have since the late '60s. I also see Ed's point and I do not ever carry more than I need, but, I often go alone because my two best buds have young families and cannot always go when I can. This, leads me to always pack a bivy of some sort and I can and have satup all night against rocks or tree stumps encased in my bivy and bag, I have an Exped Primaloft Wallcreeper for most conditions for this and it works extremely well with my ID eVent Bugaboo.

I also have a Wildthings Epic "elephant's foot" bag to go with my ID Dolomiti jacket for really cold weather bivies, I have not used this one as yet, but, used my old one from Chouinard many times and this also works very well in deep winter and low temps. I would, based on experience, trust this to -40 and it is not heavy and is versatile.

The problem here is that, for example, on the BC coast, much of which is very remote and has truely horrible winter weather, as is the case at present with major flooding and landslides blocking the very few roads along part of the coast, one cannot build a snowshelter as there is very little snow. The vegetation is absolutely sopping wet and building a brush shelter that actually works when one is soaked and becoming hypothermic is not going to happen, so, an alternative is needed.

Winds of 100mph+ are experienced on this coast every winter and the storms can happen very suddenly. If, you are hiking and caught in a 60-80mph blow and these are common here, plus driving rain, you will be wet, cold and in danger very quickly. So, with an eVent bivy, some extra insulation, a little sitting EVA pad and using your pack as a backrest, supported by your trekking poles, you can stay relatively dry, warm and survive until you can get out or are rescued.

Tents are best for comfort, but, can be impossible to erect if injured, while a good, pre-tested bivy system is easy to deploy and will save your life in such circumstances. I consider this to be fairly important as I am not yet ready for "Paradise" and I have no intention of being killed by refusing to carry gear that will keep my elderly carcass safe in severe weather.

I guess that everyone has different methods of dealing with the situations that they encounter in their area, this is just mine and has worked for me all over BC for well in excess of a half century, so, I ain't gonna change now.

9:12 a.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Rambler, Very good point. As I always carry a tarp in the winter, I do have an extra shelter. I could just wrap up in it for a day or two. But I would still think my down bag would get wet.

Dewey, Very good points. I'm on the Oregon coast so storms blow in very fast here. And in the winter the rain seldom stops. I dont mind carring more weight in the winter months. For the most part I have the gear for this weather. But if a big storm does blow in, I do need to be ready for the worst. As I do all my trips by myself I only have me to depend on. A light weight bivy could save my life if the temp drops suddenly i could use it over my bag for extra warmth. Or in case of the tent failing The bivy and tarp would keep me warm and dry. I have found a few that weigh just more than a pound.

Another pound in my pack would give me peace of mind. And extra safty.. I will always hope that I dont need it. But it will be there in case the need arrives.

5:03 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Bivies sound great; but I've never had the opportunity to use one. Tarps are excellent and with proper tie-outs and a good choice of location (the depression as Dewey noted), I preferred a good tarp/lean-to to a tent in a storm, as you got more involvement with the weather. (Weird, I know)

Mike, you mentioned several times your concern about getting your down bag wet. A simple solution to this would be to avoid the use of down insulation in your climate. JMO, but a good synthetic would be a lot safer and worry-free. If a modern synthetic loft bag gets wet, you wring it out and climb right back in.

BTW, when I saw your subject line I thought this might be some new, hi-tech, colon-cleansing. I'm glad I was wrong. :)

6:23 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Just to be clear, here, I use bivies for emergency and some early season alpine hunting camps only, I would always prefer a good mountain tent in a major storm. I just was given back the red Hilleberg Soulo that my buddy got from me a year or so ago, as he has been unable to use it due to having a baby and a young daughter and owed me some money. So, I now have both a red and a green Soulo and I consider these to be about the "best" serious solo trip tents available.

I would carry both one of these AND my ID South Col bivy and my ID Silwing on SOME trips, i.e. a multiday sheep, goat or maybe Mountain Caribou hunt in northern BC. The total weight is 6.25 lbs. and the reason is that the Soulo is setup as a "base" camp and then the SW and SC go in the pack carried every day while hunting. This, is not a regular practice, but, having lived on remote mountain tops for several multi-month seasons in  my life, I know what can happen with the weather and I never go without at least an emergency shelter.

This is not the lightest rig of it's kind that I have, but, the Hille. tents are just SO "user-friendly" and only a pound heavier than my lightest tent, an ID MKI Lite, that I consider it the most useful in all weather. Again, "horses for courses" and all that, one does not require this type of gear in most backpacking situations here in BC or in most other regions, IMHO.

6:24 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Over, LOL. My health is doing better thanks. :) As far as a synthetic bag, I have tought of that but it would still be getting wet all the time. So I would still need protection. But I do understand what you are saying.. I wont go backpacking ever without a tent. :) In the winter the rain and winds dont stop here. So wet is wet weather down or synthetic. But synthetic does hold a R value.

7:19 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

I prefer a good synthetic bag in the autumn rains here in BC and for hunting trips as it is less hassle to wash and is a bit better in very wet weather. That said, I used down bags for years without owning a synthetic and with some care and forethought, I never really had a problem in any weather in any month of the year.

I like Primaloft for bag and clothing insulation and with a good bivy and small tarp, you can be safe and comfy in any weather above zero. I like ID bags, especially the "North Twin" and the combo and ID still makes these in Calgary and sells them via a number of dealers worldwide, I have never used a better wet weather bag.

7:45 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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Re: Biovacs?

Dewey. I'm not the backpacker you are. I just need to be as safe as I can be. The coastal PNW can be unforgiving. I'm looking at an OR bivy. That I think would do the trick for my envirement. It seldom gets below +20 here and I've got a Noah 9 tarp. And with a OR bivy I think if things go south this would work in a pinch for a day or two. My bag is a Kelty Cosmic  20. So with the added warmth of the Bivy and keeping dry would do the trick.

Thanks all for your responces eveybody. I've learned alot. Plus I feel better about my winter camping. :)

8:42 p.m. on November 28, 2011 (EST)
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613 forum posts
Re: Biovacs?

One of my best buds has the OR bivy and I do not care for it as it seems both difficult to get into and will allow rain to enter it too easily. We all need to be as safe as we can be and ANY of us can make mistakes, be injured or just get caught out in a miserable blowing rain such that we become soaked, hypothermic and then confused.......this is why I am so adamant about packing shelter on every hike, even in high summer.

Your climate and that where I live are very much alike and it was so freakin' cold and wet on one of our walks last week that I began to feel cold, even under my ID Thruhiker. Experience is great, but, we are all human and all frail in the face of the cosmos and thus I tend to be very cautious, conservative and use gear that may seem "overkill", but, does keep me safe, no matter what happens.

BTW, Mike, there is a guy on "24Hr Campfire" selling a yellow ID eVent Unishelter if you are interested, there is nothing better, IMHO. If, I can assist, just holler.

12:55 a.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
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Mike, in the "olden days", climbing bivouacs were either forced or planned. Most bivouac sacs were roomy enough for two and were not breathable. You tied in, cooked your dinner and then huddled together through the night. They were not really meant for sleeping bags, as the latter were too much weight and bulk. We put on what clothes we had and tried to sleep. Many of us sewed our own gear or modified surplus gear. The burgeoning of the outdoor industry changed much of that. There are tents that will stand the sort of conditions you describe(I'm in the NW so I know). Part of the issue is that unless you pitch on exposed terrain, you will not get an 80 mph gust. Second, room to move, will afford a better night's sleep, which, in the end, is worth a few extra grams. This often over looked. A hot meal, or even a hot drink, can rejuvenate a depleted metabolism. The question is, what can you sleep in. If you need room to move, you need a bomb proof tent.


8:34 a.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
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I had a small bivy style tent at one time. Didnt like the cramped quarters at all. So I got rid of it. I like tents much better. I dont expose myself often, but things can happen,. A branch, tree, could come down on the tent. I have two tents I'm testing this winter. Both look as if they could handle the rains out here better than my TNF Canyonlands wich failed me on one trip last year. After 3-4 days of nonstop rain it started to drip. Both these new tents are heavier and better designed to take the winter beatings. I would love to have a Hille, but my pockets arnt that deep. :)

The Bivy, like Dewey said, would just be in case the worst would happen.  If that was all that I had I would do it. It just sounds wise to carry a tent, tarp and bivy here in the winter.

Even a bomb proof tent wouldnt do well if a tree came down on it. What are the chances of that happening? maybe .05%? I'm now 55 so now its 1%.. So I'm getting ready for it. Hope I'm not in the tent when it happens. But thats for another thread. LOL

9:25 a.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
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I had a "widowmaker", that is a large branch from a Cedar tree come crashing down onto my Fjallraven Expedition Tent in March, 1975 and it wrecked the tent. I was not in it at the time, it was left setup at a ski camp I had in a provincial wilderness park near my hometown, but, I had spend many nights in it during the previous two!t happens in the wilderness and one has to be ready to deal with it.

I don't think that, on most backpacking trips, I would carry the extra weight of a truly storm-capable bivy, tarp plus a light mountain tent. What I do and this has worked for me very well for many years, is to pack in a "base camp tent" for any longer trips and then carry just the tarp/bivy on my daily excursions from that point.

If, going solo, I carry a bivy/tarp by preference, as posted above and this has always worked very well for me; I actually now use just a Hilleberg Biovanorak and sitpad of EVA on summer dayhikes and this doubles as raingear.

When, solo hunting or hiking in fall, spring or very remote areas at any  time, if, not using a "base camp tent" and living out of my pack, I have always prefered the lightest single wall tents and the various "wpb" types in particular. My ID MKI Lite has just enough room for one plus gear and can be used as a "bivysack" if one must, as can my ID "Mega Sola". With the right combo of clothing choices and some ground pad insulation, you will survive an emergency such as a fractured leg bone(s) in reasonable comfort and without erecting the tent/shelter....something to consider, IMHO.

9:46 a.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
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It can happen. Like I said I'm not far one day hike from my car. So I was wondering if something like this would work for me.

I understand that it would have no other use. But my pocket book wouldnt suffer. And it could get me out dry and safe using my tarp over head.

1:37 p.m. on November 30, 2011 (EST)
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Mike, Adventure Medical recently came out with these. I saw them at OR. They are essentially Tyvek, but with two added features. They breathe and have a heat reflective coating inside. They are significantly less costly than a standard bivy and will last a long time. They do not have any support, so are a just a bivy, rather than a bivy/tent.

3:56 p.m. on December 1, 2011 (EST)
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MIke found this on Portland Craigslist:




Ultralight Bivy Sack- Marmot Alpinist - $75 (Tualatin)

Perfect, like new condition. Only used on snow a few times. This is a waterproof sleeping bag cover and not an actual sleeping bag.

4:51 p.m. on December 1, 2011 (EST)
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1,625 forum posts

Bivy bags are for alpinists.

June 20, 2018
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