bivy bag

12:33 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Hi,

I never experienced bivy bag + tarp. I would like to use this combination for solo short winter trip in boreal forest type environment (2-3 days in the yukon for example) and as an emergency kit. I want a quite roomy bivy bag so i can put my winter sleeping bag and my exped dm 7 in it with a little more space. It doesn't need to be that breathable nor rain proof. I'll use it only in the winter. 

I was thinking of buying a ID micro bivy or a rab survival zone and a shangrila or msr tarp. I would like to know

1) does anyone can feed back on those products?

2) is it true that the bivi bag add 15-20 F to your bag temp rating?

3) my budget being limited do you know any cheap solution?

thanks

1:41 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Its been a while since I used a bivy bag/tent. But from my experience they are a great way to lose a few pounds from the pack and still have a dry way to camp.

There is also the tube tent and use of garbage bags as homemade bivy bags. I used to take two large leave bag, cut the end from one open and then use duct tape to put it and the other one over my sleeping bag. In cold weather/snow country use they work well, but in rainy weather being they don't breathe one can get lots on condensation build up inside.

A bivy can add some great warmth tempwise just as a tent will as it blocks the wind, also a good pad beneath will add a greater temp rating.

9:53 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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You are going to go to Canada's Yukon and spend 2-3 days-nights ALONE camping in the Taiga regions? You are planning on doing this in the WINTER?????

This is NOT a very wise idea and you really should reconsider attempting to do this and wait until you can afford the appropriate gear and then go with a partner or, better, a small group with at least one very experienced winter camper.

I base this on having lived in these regions, alone in the wilderness for extended periods during the "warm" months of the year and also on my wife's experiences as a remote "outpost nurse" with the Canadian government. These regions are, very simply, DANGEROUS for ANY solo traveler and a severe storm can and very likely will kill you in a matter of hours.

I am not attempting to denigrate you here, but, your query demonstrates to me that you have little actual knowledge of the situation and conditions that you would be faced with and the SAR resources in northern Canada, are very few and far between. This is  not Alaska, with the enormous resources of the US military to call on and it is NOT an area to treat as one might an European or eastern American settled "parkland", the Canadian sub-Arctic is the last real wilderness left and while alluring, it is a place for experts and even they encounter problems.

As to an emergency bivy-tarp combo for Canadian conditions, my choice after using several different setups for almost 50 years is the Integral Designs eVent Unishelter and Silwing or even a SiltarpIII and you NEED to know how to rig this properly and quickly before you try to use in in -50*F during the long nights north of 60.

Go with a certified guide and learn about the area before trying solo trips, this is the best means of doing it. Also, you NEED top quality gear in such regions of Canada and it costs serious money, that is inescapable.

11:23 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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 Hi dewey, many thanks for the warnings, but don't worry I'm a very cautious guy and I know about the extreme weather conditions there.

Nonetheless  I should have been more precise concerning my intention. I volunteered this year for an extreme race and the organisers told me that if a could i should bring winter gear as an emergency kit just in case. I don't plan to go winter camping at -50 but as i have 1 or 2 days off and i'll try to go photograpying northern light, but it's better during the night of course. I'll take all the precautions necessary and will not move too far from the staff and doctor, check the weather forecast, etc... as a matter of fact the weather can change very quickly from +20 to -50 in very few days, so with luck the weather can be ok. 

If it's below -10 i'll stay inside. I mentionned 2 or 3 days trips cause if i enjoy this first experience I may in many years and with much more experience do that. 

For the moment, my main use will be in the south of quebec where the temp never drops below -20 (which is more and more rare those days). Moreover civilization is never very far.

but thanks again for the warnings i appreciate it

11:31 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Dewey said:

I am not attempting to denigrate you here, but, your query demonstrates to me that you have little actual knowledge of the situation and conditions that you would be faced with and the SAR resources in northern Canada, are very few and far between. This is  not Alaska, with the enormous resources of the US military to call on and it is NOT an area to treat as one might an European or eastern American settled "parkland", the Canadian sub-Arctic is the last real wilderness left and while alluring, it is a place for experts and even they encounter problems.

As to an emergency bivy-tarp combo for Canadian conditions, my choice after using several different setups for almost 50 years is the Integral Designs eVent Unishelter and Silwing or even a SiltarpIII and you NEED to know how to rig this properly and quickly before you try to use in in -50*F during the long nights north of 60.

Go with a certified guide and learn about the area before trying solo trips, this is the best means of doing it. Also, you NEED top quality gear in such regions of Canada and it costs serious money, that is inescapable.

 I should add, that i don't mind if you denigrate me as long as you have good intentions :D. I'm an easy going person and if I say something stupid or potentially dangerous don't hesitate to slap me in the face :D

Your info about SAR are well noted. it was worth mentioning it.

Now concerning the ID Unishelter it seems to me overcomplicated to set up in very cold conditions. This bag was on my list but it seems to me that  even though it was the best solution in terms of comfort, there maybe some cheapest and less comfortable solution that may be good enough.

12:19 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Although a bivy will add a bit or warmth, I do not think you will get 15-20 degrees of warmth.  When you crawl out of a bivy you are immediately in the exosed air, unlike a double wall tent which has a warmer air layer inside the tent and you really notice a difference when you unzip the door.

For a cheap solution get an army surplus gore tex bivy sack and  a cheaper nylon tarp.  These will be heavier but they will work just fine.

12:34 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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alan said:

Although a bivy will add a bit or warmth, I do not think you will get 15-20 degrees of warmth.  When you crawl out of a bivy you are immediately in the exosed air, unlike a double wall tent which has a warmer air layer inside the tent and you really notice a difference when you unzip the door.

For a cheap solution get an army surplus gore tex bivy sack and  a cheaper nylon tarp.  These will be heavier but they will work just fine.

 that's what I thought 15 seems a lot. In the double wall tent there's more dead air to warm though.

Thanks, I was just thinking about that.

9:59 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo, for starts I will echo briefly what other have said. Winter camping poses alot of unique challenges, and you need to be completely prepared for any reasonable conditions you might encounter. Weather can change rapidly and dramaticly in a very short period of time, especially in the mountains.

You should always be prepared for at least 15-20F below the forecast, and always expect snow and rain. To go out without planning this way is a very bad idea. On my winter trips I always plan for -30F because is pretty much the record low In the areas I frequent. Once the temps are below about -20F you are in a whole new world wheres dangers lurk at every corner. It is very easy to develop frost bite and or succumb to the elements in these harsh environments if you are under prepared or lack the experience to know what to do. I recommend going on some milder winter trips first for experience. I also recommend going out with someone who is an experienced winter camper/backpacker your first few times if possible.

I myself am a tarp and hammock camper, even in the winter. Before that I used tents, as well as tarps and bivies. I have used my tarp and hammock setup down to -30F.

That all being said I will address your specific questions.

A bivy, unless it is insulated will not add 15-20F. A more realistic number is about 10F, the same as a tent on average.

I would highly advise against using a cheap pu coated nylon tarp, that is the kind found at many hardware stores etc. These tarps are fine for moderate conditions, but their flaw is in their grommets and material in general. Strong winds or wind gusts can easily rip these tarps grommets out. They are not reinforced which is the inherent problem with them.

I use a Superfly tarp from Warbonnet Outdoors. Not saying you need a warbonnet tarp, but a high quality silnylon, spinnaker, or cuben fiber tarp is what I would recommend you look for. They are much stronger and will provide a more reliable and robust option. Silnylon is the cheaper of the 3, and you can usually find a good tarp for less than 200$. I recommend you get a tarp with doors. These tarps are typically pitched in an A-frame style and provide alot of area for you to use compared to some smaller or differently cut tarps. I have found that the A-frame pitch is the most sturdy for most conditions, including high winds and holding a snow load. Buy a tarp with side pull outs, these are what really help with winds, and snow load.

Bivies: +1 for the military surplus ECWCS goretex bivy, cheap, rugged and as durable as bivies come. They also have ample room for larger sleeping bags and pads. This was my bivy of choice for many years.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

 

10:43 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo said:

alan said:

Although a bivy will add a bit or warmth, I do not think you will get 15-20 degrees of warmth.  When you crawl out of a bivy you are immediately in the exosed air, unlike a double wall tent which has a warmer air layer inside the tent and you really notice a difference when you unzip the door.

For a cheap solution get an army surplus gore tex bivy sack and  a cheaper nylon tarp.  These will be heavier but they will work just fine.

 that's what I thought 15 seems a lot. In the double wall tent there's more dead air to warm though.

Thanks, I was just thinking about that.

 I had an Outdoor Research Highlands Bivy which I tried but I did not like due to the confined space.  Don't get me wrong, it was actually very roomy, roomy enough to put my pad and bag in the bivy and there was still more room.  The Pertex Shield worked really well, but, I did not like being confined so much.  I guess it's something one gets used to. I slept under a tarp also.  As far as double walls go, I can attest they do retain heat well.  With my Hille Soulo, I spent a night on a protected ridge at 9600 ft or so, and the temps were just below freezing.  The tent was zipped completely and while I was out of my bag, the temp inside the tent was 48F.  After I had gone to sleep, in my bag, the temp did drop to about 45F.  It never dropped below 40F in the tent the entire night. I got up once during the night for the inevitable, middle of the night trip outdoors, and once i started moving around, it warmed up in the tent quite quickly.

10:54 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Brumo, for starts I will echo briefly what other have said. Winter camping poses alot of unique challenges, and you need to be completely prepared for any reasonable conditions you might encounter. Weather can change rapidly and dramaticly in a very short period of time, especially in the mountains.

You should always be prepared for at least 15-20F below the forecast, and always expect snow and rain. To go out without planning this way is a very bad idea. On my winter trips I always plan for -30F because is pretty much the record low In the areas I frequent. Once the temps are below about -20F you are in a whole new world wheres dangers lurk at every corner. It is very easy to develop frost bite and or succumb to the elements in these harsh environments if you are under prepared or lack the experience to know what to do. I recommend going on some milder winter trips first for experience. I also recommend going out with someone who is an experienced winter camper/backpacker your first few times if possible.

 Thanks for the warnings. I'm doing exactly what you're saying, you can read one of my previous post for further explanations.

Concerning the bivy bag, does zippers save you lot of troubles?

11:28 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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zippers are a blessing and a curse. I like the ecwcs bivy because it has snaps also.

11:35 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

zippers are a blessing and a curse. I like the ecwcs bivy because it has snaps also.

 a curse?? why?

12:31 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo said:

TheRambler said:

zippers are a blessing and a curse. I like the ecwcs bivy because it has snaps also.

 a curse?? why?

Because zippers can freeze, seize, and break.  All more likely it gets colder.  Snaps are more robust but do not seal an opening as effectively as a zipper.

Ed

12:48 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Ed could not have said it any better

12:52 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Ed could not have said it any better

IME Poor zippers do break but big tough zippers don't usually. I thought manufacturers would have thought about that. Thanks for the info. 

12:55 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

Brumo said:

TheRambler said:

zippers are a blessing and a curse. I like the ecwcs bivy because it has snaps also.

 a curse?? why?

Because zippers can freeze, seize, and break.  All more likely it gets colder.  Snaps are more robust but do not seal an opening as effectively as a zipper.

Ed

 you can sew velcro. Maybe velcro doesn't work that good at very low temp? does anyone have any idea

2:38 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo, I had/have no interest in or intention of giving anyone a ...slap in the face...; my intent here is to try to get you to understand what you are potentially dealing with and very few posters here, BillS, excepted have, from what I read, any actual experience in Canada's northern territories, especially alone. I first went there in April, 1966 and have spent a lot of time doing much the kind of trip that you hope to do and this is why I wanted to caution you.

Alaska, for example, has three times as many people in Fairbanks alone,a s live in ALL of Canada's north and the Yukon and Eastern Arctic are colder than Alaska, with a coldest temp. of 116*F recored on Mount Logan. This kind of cold and total lack of rescue facilities is WHY Canada's Yukon and NWTs are not a place for recreational backpackers and campers.

I would avoid military gear as it is heavier than one needs, is usually of lesser quality than, for example, the real CANADIAN ID gear I recommend and is also often designed as a "system" to be shared among a "squad" of soldiers. To buy less than the best gear simple to save a few bucks when going on  a trip of this type is false economy, IMHO, and is just a waste of money.

Gore-Tex bives will not work in severe cold as they do in temps. around freezing and the eVent bivies work better in the region you are interested in. I do not "know" this because of reading some tourist's opinion, I know it because of being there and using the gear I refer to. The ID eVent Unishelter, is, IMO, in a class of it's own for use in Canada's remote wilderness areas and, it is easy to deploy and works with a Silwing very nicely in the forest you wish to camp in.

That said, I REALLY suggest that you buy a Hilleberg Soulo for any serious winter camping you intend to to and this is the most "bombproof" solo shelter for one person  that I know of. I have two of these and now prefer to use them for 85% of my camping when alone as I usually am and prefer to be. Combine this with an ID Siltarp II or III, my preference and learn to rig this by practice at home and you can be safe and very comfortable camping in January in the Taiga.

The best advice anyone can give you is to begin winter camping at home in "La Belle Province" and then listen to those who have been there in terms of where you want to go. There is one publication concerning this that I strongly recommend and it is inexpensive and published here in BC-Canada. This is "Winter Wise" by Montague Alford and this little book is THE reference to study on camping-trekking in Canada's "Great White North".

Monty is getting on now, must be nearly 90, but, he is a REAL "pro" bushman and his advice is solid gold. He was climbing in The Kluane before most people knew it existed and I greatly respect him as an expert on this region and cold climate behaviour, among the very few that are actual experts.

BTW, see if you can find a pair of the CanForce Arctic duffle mukluks and extra liners as nothing other than sealskin mukluks will keep your feet warm like these will. My pair, a gift from a CanForce Survival Instructor to me when we worked together, were stolen by some creature and I hope to find another as they are the best. HTH.

3:10 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Dewey said:

Brumo, I had/have no interest in or intention of giving anyone a ...slap in the face...; my intent here is to try to get you to understand what you are potentially dealing with and very few posters here, BillS, excepted have, from what I read, any actual experience in Canada's northern territories, especially alone. I first went there in April, 1966 and have spent a lot of time doing much the kind of trip that you hope to do and this is why I wanted to caution you.

Alaska, for example, has three times as many people in Fairbanks alone,a s live in ALL of Canada's north and the Yukon and Eastern Arctic are colder than Alaska, with a coldest temp. of 116*F recored on Mount Logan. This kind of cold and total lack of rescue facilities is WHY Canada's Yukon and NWTs are not a place for recreational backpackers and campers.

I would avoid military gear as it is heavier than one needs, is usually of lesser quality than, for example, the real CANADIAN ID gear I recommend and is also often designed as a "system" to be shared among a "squad" of soldiers. To buy less than the best gear simple to save a few bucks when going on  a trip of this type is false economy, IMHO, and is just a waste of money.

Gore-Tex bives will not work in severe cold as they do in temps. around freezing and the eVent bivies work better in the region you are interested in. I do not "know" this because of reading some tourist's opinion, I know it because of being there and using the gear I refer to. The ID eVent Unishelter, is, IMO, in a class of it's own for use in Canada's remote wilderness areas and, it is easy to deploy and works with a Silwing very nicely in the forest you wish to camp in.

That said, I REALLY suggest that you buy a Hilleberg Soulo for any serious winter camping you intend to to and this is the most "bombproof" solo shelter for one person  that I know of. I have two of these and now prefer to use them for 85% of my camping when alone as I usually am and prefer to be. Combine this with an ID Siltarp II or III, my preference and learn to rig this by practice at home and you can be safe and very comfortable camping in January in the Taiga.

The best advice anyone can give you is to begin winter camping at home in "La Belle Province" and then listen to those who have been there in terms of where you want to go. There is one publication concerning this that I strongly recommend and it is inexpensive and published here in BC-Canada. This is "Winter Wise" by Montague Alford and this little book is THE reference to study on camping-trekking in Canada's "Great White North".

Monty is getting on now, must be nearly 90, but, he is a REAL "pro" bushman and his advice is solid gold. He was climbing in The Kluane before most people knew it existed and I greatly respect him as an expert on this region and cold climate behaviour, among the very few that are actual experts.

BTW, see if you can find a pair of the CanForce Arctic duffle mukluks and extra liners as nothing other than sealskin mukluks will keep your feet warm like these will. My pair, a gift from a CanForce Survival Instructor to me when we worked together, were stolen by some creature and I hope to find another as they are the best. HTH.

 Dewey, when I said slap me in the face It wasn't litteraly of course. That being said, as anyone worried about me dying of hypothermia, I'll not go camping there if I'm not prepared and I do  know some experienced people here who lived in nunavik and camp at -40F for 30 years or so. I'm a very cautious guy and I know exactly the danger of extreme cold environment. I do have some limited experience, bivying at -5F etc. As I explained, this year Yukon's trip is a kind of very organized and exploratory trip. I'll stay inside during the night but the organizer told me to bring sleeping pads, bags and bivi bags just in case.

As I go winter camping and I would like to start going solo at some point I thought it was a good Idea to look for a good starter bivi bag. I'm not buying a product on a one year prospect. I may ask you more questions about the yukon and NWT at some point, certainly not this year as I'm not ready for it. As you know, wilderness is not just about the cold, there is many dangers I'm not ready to deal with yet. Maybe I'll visit you in BC at some point :D.

Concerning the bivy+tarp, I think I'll go for a ID micro bivy and a sil tarp 1. The price is reasonable and it seems as a good starting gear for that kind of use. But I still have time to decide. I wanted to buy european gear but they are impossible to find here and the shipping cost are a little bit too much (cheaper than the us though). Actually canada really sucks for winter gear. ID is a canadian brand and it is very difficult to find their products here. It really pisses me off. Do you know any good online canadian retailers for that kind of goods?

3:35 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo, zippers break in extreme cold, or can otherwise freeze up and become a major PITA even if they dont break. Small, large, medium, waterproof or not, plastic, metal it doesn't matter. This is why almost all expedition or extreme gear you see has snaps as well as zippers, or velcro at least. Velcro does work in cold but isn't the strongest option.

 

The coldest ever recorded temperature in North America(not counting high elevations like mount logan) was in the village of Snag, in the Yukon Territory at -63C or -81F. That is cold, i.e. spill something and it freezes before it hits the ground cold.

The averages are more like -40 to -60F however. You need to be prepared if you go on this trip for temps down to at least -50F if not more. It can become deadly in a hurry at those temperatures and beyond. Add in the windchill and you can get frostbite in a matter of seconds on exposed skin.

It is definitely not a place to be testing gear, you need to have tried and true equipment/system, and know that it is capable of handling it.

It doesnt matter if your bivy is made of goretex, event, or any other material. Breathable materials don't really breathe well at those temperatures. Your really looking for protection from wind and the elements. But yes, event does breathe better if that matters to you.

 

4:07 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo;

As soon as I saw this post I knew you were going to be slaped around abit. lol. Listen to Dewey! I know if it were me, I would follow his advice to the t.

4:20 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Brumo, zippers break in extreme cold, or can otherwise freeze up and become a major PITA even if they dont break. Small, large, medium, waterproof or not, plastic, metal it doesn't matter. This is why almost all expedition or extreme gear you see has snaps as well as zippers, or velcro at least. Velcro does work in cold but isn't the strongest option.

 

The coldest ever recorded temperature in North America(not counting high elevations like mount logan) was in the village of Snag, in the Yukon Territory at -63C or -81F. That is cold, i.e. spill something and it freezes before it hits the ground cold.

The averages are more like -40 to -60F however. You need to be prepared if you go on this trip for temps down to at least -50F if not more. It can become deadly in a hurry at those temperatures and beyond. Add in the windchill and you can get frostbite in a matter of seconds on exposed skin.

It is definitely not a place to be testing gear, you need to have tried and true equipment/system, and know that it is capable of handling it.

It doesnt matter if your bivy is made of goretex, event, or any other material. Breathable materials don't really breathe well at those temperatures. Your really looking for protection from wind and the elements. But yes, event does breathe better if that matters to you.

 

   the coldest temp where i'll go is -50 C -70F i guess. at that temp your eye ball freeze if not protected, already talk to a doctor about that. there will be two doctor in the team+ rescuer etc... i'll not test my gear there, as i said they told me to bring gear if i could just in case even though there is little chance my sleeping bag will get out of its stuff sac. I'll definitely test my gear before departure even if I certainly not use it there.

I don't care about event since i use a VBL for the winter, but the id micro bivi  was the easiest one to find where i live it is also one of the cheapest at 150 cad and it is made in canada. The other option would be a military bag i have to check at the military surplus stockist nearby

4:21 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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mikemorrow said:

Brumo;

As soon as I saw this post I knew you were going to be slaped around abit. lol. Listen to Dewey! I know if it were me, I would follow his advice to the t.

 i like that, slap me more :D. 

4:24 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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I've used the ID Micro Bivy (eVent) down to -30C with minimal condensation issues.  Even at those temps it breathes well.  If you can get your hands on the eVent overbag (not made anymore), this is the one to get.  It is 100% eVent and simply breathes better.

I have also used the Unishelter but had more condensation than with the Micro Bivy.  Much of this has to do with breathing into the bivy.  But it is a great piece of gear - more like a small tent (very small).

I would also recommend looking at the Big Agnes 3 Wire bivy.  It compares favorably to the Unishelter and is also made in eVent.  I have used this one as well and prefer it due to it being wider with more room at the head area.  It also ventilates much better.

The 5-8 Siltarp is way too small for winter use.  Personally, I would be using a shaped Mid design like the Golite Shangri-La 1 or 2 or the Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid or SoloMid (www.mountainlaureldesigns).  I have used my DuoMid in the winter and it is fantastic.  Very, very strong (8 perimeter tieouts and 4 mid point tie outs), lightweight (19oz seamsealed with all guylines), and simple to pitch.  I don't have a picture of mine in the snow but here it is in the dry.  Add a bivy bag and you are good to go.


IMG_3599.jpg

8:04 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Just to recap and perhaps I should also mention that my personal experience with Canada's northern territories comes from the fact that my direct family ancestors started exploring there in the "Klondike Gold Rush", this was my great-great uncle Peter. One of my aunts was an RN in Alaska in the '30s and died young due to contracting TB there as well as my wife nursed there. My late uncle Jack was all over the "Territories" from the end of his WWII service in the Royal Canadian Army to his death in 1973 and I have also been there as I posted.

The weather station on Mount Logan is not at high elevation relative to the surrounding terrain and the whole area is VERY cold and quite dry. So, while GoreTex WILL work in such conditions, as I have found by using it down to a measured -41*F, the eVent gear works better.

I would not use a "tipi" style shelter for EMERGENCY uses, but, I have an old Chouinard Pyramid that I have used in some ugly BC weather and I like the rig that CWF shows us. My reason for this is simply that it is too difficult to erect these if you fracture a limb, while a bivy will save your azz, although you may not completely enjoy living in it until rescued. That, is why I advocate and carry bivies and CWF is correct about the Siltarp for this purpose, use at least a Siltarp II-8x10 or, better, a 10x12.

The ID Microbivy is good for your purpose, but, I will not use one as I want to be able to get my right hand out of my bedroll quickly to deal with a bear in camp. So, I use a South Col in eVent for hunting daypack, a Bugaboo in eVent for winter treks emerg. and my Unishelter is kept in the vehicle of potential breakdowns on the Alcan Highway or some other remote cold place I may be traveling by vehicle.

I think that you are on the right track here and I would just add that I love insulated air matts and have several, BUT, for solo coid uses, I use only layers of Evazote as I think one other poster mentioned, less comfy, but, warmer and they will not deflate.

I am just now sorting my gear as I do at this time of year and in the late spring every year to get ready for some deep snow-mountain camping on snowshoes starting in January, right after New Years Day. All in all, I have found that I tend to leave all my tentage-shelters at home now and just take a Soulo and my Silshelter-Bugaboo combo for any winter trips. HTH.

8:29 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo said:

you can sew velcro. Maybe velcro doesn't work that good at very low temp? does anyone have any idea

 If you get snow or ice (from your breathing, for example) on Velcro (tm) or similar hook and loop fasteners, they cease to work. Or even if you get lint or fuzz pulled off your fleece jacket (he says, having spent too many hours picking the fuzz out of the hook side of the fasteners and being unable to close jackets with the ice buildup on their hook and loop tapes that just wouldn't brush or break off). Usually it works pretty well, particularly if the fastener is on a flap that covers a zipper.

The Rambler said:

The coldest ever recorded temperature in North America(not counting high elevations like mount logan) was in the village of Snag, in the Yukon Territory at -63C or -81F. That is cold, i.e. spill something and it freezes before it hits the ground cold.

Fairbanks recorded -80F a few years back. As the Rambler said, it gets colder at altitude. It gets scary when you need to relieve yourself, and you hear the liquid crackling as it freezes on the way to the ground (happens at something like -30 and colder).

8:47 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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I was going through the whole bivy vs tent thing as others here will tell you for quite some time. I ended up with a tent(Hilleberg Soulo) just for the livability if I get pinned down for extended periods. 

Other bivy style shelters that may serve you well are the ID Uni, and the Big Agnes 3 Wire. 

Both models are Event and I think ya may just want to take a look at them so you can weigh all of your options. 

ID Uni(there is also the Classic model):

Trailspace-http://www.trailspace.com/gear/integral-designs/unishelter/

Manufacturers page-

http://www.integraldesigns.com/product_detail.cfm?id=776

BA 3 Wire:

Trailspace-http://www.trailspace.com/gear/big-agnes/three-wire-bivy/

Manufacturers page-

https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Tent/ThreeWireBivySack




8:51 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Brumo -

SLAP SLAP! Listen to Dewey! Oh wait, you already are! Yeah, Quebec can get pretty cold. Good for initial testing, though where you are headed will be a bit colder. Being in the competition means you will have backup in case of emergency. But, a further caution, just because you complete the race without mishap does not make you an expert. You will be in a pretty tightly controlled situation. Get a good mentor and a bit of practice before going off solo. Barb and I are planning to do a dogsled trip in Alaska in March or April, with two goals - one is to learn how to work with a dogsled (our instructor has won a few Iditarods) and the other is to photograph the Aurorae. We have the gear and camping experience, just not the dog-handling under those circumstances (that's why we selected our trainer carefully - that is, he will train us, with the help of the experienced dog team he assigns us).

Lots of good advice, Dewey. I pretty much have my gear sorted for this year. Problem is that we have virtually no snow and pretty warm conditions way down south here in Calif. But in 3-4 weeks, I should be in the cold conditions I prefer. The South Col bivy and foam pad will be in the pack, though I will be travelling on skis instead of snowshoes. The spring Alaska thing will be very different.

9:19 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Regarding the ID Micro Bivy - the opening is very large.  You can get out of it in about the same time than having to unzip the Uni.  I think.

@Rick - yes, I was comparing eVent model to eVent model:


IMG_2131.jpg


IMG_2135.jpg


9:51 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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@Dewey - I was also going to ask what Unishelter you had.  Although I am a huge fan of eVent, the regular Unishelter has quite a bit more mesh for venting and I believe, a more robust floor.  It omits the rear tunnel vent for a much larger screen door.

If so, how do you like it?

9:52 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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I was just thinking in the terms that the support pole in these models may make them a lil more hospitable. 

9:58 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Definitely if you have to zip the bivy up, but these 'bivy shelters' are intended to be used alone.  With a tarp, then you probably don't need to cover your face entirely with fabric and maybe the pole becomes redundant.  I use the Micro Bivy like a big overbag and don't breath into it....

11:18 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Dewey said

The ID Microbivy is good for your purpose, but, I will not use one as I want to be able to get my right hand out of my bedroll quickly to deal with a bear in camp. So, I use a South Col in eVent for hunting daypack, a Bugaboo in eVent for winter treks emerg. and my Unishelter is kept in the vehicle of potential breakdowns on the Alcan Highway or some other remote cold place I may be traveling by vehicle.

I think that you are on the right track here and I would just add that I love insulated air matts and have several, BUT, for solo coid uses, I use only layers of Evazote as I think one other poster mentioned, less comfy, but, warmer and they will not deflate.

I am just now sorting my gear as I do at this time of year and in the late spring every year to get ready for some deep snow-mountain camping on snowshoes starting in January, right after New Years Day. All in all, I have found that I tend to leave all my tentage-shelters at home now and just take a Soulo and my Silshelter-Bugaboo combo for any winter trips. HTH.

 In quebec, most of the time, it's easy to find a place to dig a snowcave, is it the same in the yukon. Should I train to build one as fast as possible in case of emergency or is it a inappropriate? I know that greenland rescuer use this technique a lot.

I thought about this air mattress issue. Did you or anyone else experienced this problem and how bad the issue was? At which temp would you stop using a insulated air pads. I read that Lorethan used the exped down mat up to camp 4 in everest where temp can be as low as -40F, but apparently most people are using 2 or even 3 EVA sleeping pads for really cold weather. 

11:25 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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@ rick.

BA is impossible to find in my area. I'll take a look at the classic unishelter tomorrow (the one with tegral tex). 

11:54 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Brumo -

SLAP SLAP! Listen to Dewey! Oh wait, you already are! Yeah, Quebec can get pretty cold. Good for initial testing, though where you are headed will be a bit colder. Being in the competition means you will have backup in case of emergency. But, a further caution, just because you complete the race without mishap does not make you an expert. You will be in a pretty tightly controlled situation. Get a good mentor and a bit of practice before going off solo. Barb and I are planning to do a dogsled trip in Alaska in March or April, with two goals - one is to learn how to work with a dogsled (our instructor has won a few Iditarods) and the other is to photograph the Aurorae. We have the gear and camping experience, just not the dog-handling under those circumstances (that's why we selected our trainer carefully - that is, he will train us, with the help of the experienced dog team he assigns us).

Southern Quebec is getting milder and milder. This year I'm desperate, I should be camping right now, but there is no snow and today it was rainy and 40F or so. Actually I don't think Yukon being much colder than quebec except at high altitude. When people think quebec they only think about the southern part of it. But most of quebec is actually nunavik and it gets pretty damn cold there. In fermont for example -50F is not exceptional and it is not the coldest place in quebec. 

Just for the record I'm not participating to the race, I'll be in the support team as volunteer. Of course it takes year to become an expert in that region. As you mentioned the participants are following a trail, don't have to find their way, and have a lot of logistic. And even in that case they may have severe frostbites. 

My goal is to photographs the aurora and to discover this environment and nice people.

Concerning photography, I'm a little bit worried about frostbite. I already took pics with liners at 0F (-20 with the windchill) and it wasn't peasant at all. Do you have any advice. I was thinking about putting my camera on the tripod with the predefined setup and us a small stick to push in the button without removing my mitts. 

I'm also worried about my camera not working at those temp. Do I need special battery...

If you have any other trick to take nice aurora pics let me know.

12:01 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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CWF said:

Regarding the ID Micro Bivy - the opening is very large.  You can get out of it in about the same time than having to unzip the Uni.  I think.

@Rick - yes, I was comparing eVent model to eVent model:


IMG_2131.jpg


IMG_2135.jpg


 Thanks for your pics. They look pretty comfortable

2:00 p.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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I don't know what kind of camera you have but I found this suggestion:

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-shoot-in-freezing-temperatures-and-keep-your-hands-toasty-warm

Let me state up front that I don't have any experience at spit freezing temps. Don't plan on getting any in the near future either.

As for batteries they don't like cold.  Also outdoor surveillance cameras have heaters because their sensors don't like cold.  I don't know about digital SLRs but suspect they might not like it either. 

If there is going to be professional media coverage you might be able to ask them in advance what they are going to do.  My idea is to build a "glove" for your camera and put a hand warmer in it.  At first I thought of a ThermaCare type heat wrap but they require the sweat/moisture from your body to work.

Assuming you have a "35mm" size SLR the "glove" could be made from some extra large mittens or an old sleeping  bag. Contact a local tailor shop if you don't sew.

2:32 p.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

I don't know what kind of camera you have but I found this suggestion:

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-shoot-in-freezing-temperatures-and-keep-your-hands-toasty-warm

Let me state up front that I don't have any experience at spit freezing temps. Don't plan on getting any in the near future either.

As for batteries they don't like cold.  Also outdoor surveillance cameras have heaters because their sensors don't like cold.  I don't know about digital SLRs but suspect they might not like it either. 

If there is going to be professional media coverage you might be able to ask them in advance what they are going to do.  My idea is to build a "glove" for your camera and put a hand warmer in it.  At first I thought of a ThermaCare type heat wrap but they require the sweat/moisture from your body to work.

Assuming you have a "35mm" size SLR the "glove" could be made from some extra large mittens or an old sleeping  bag. Contact a local tailor shop if you don't sew.

 I already read that, but thanks. I definitely need some reusable hand warmer, I'll not use hand warmer on my camera due to condensation issues.

Concerning the mitts I think I definitely need hand warmer inside my down  mitts and thin liners and use a stick for some of the one finger manipulation. I cannot think of any other solutions. If someone has any...

For cold you need Lithium Ion battery, it works fine down to -10 as far as I experience. They eventually die but last much longer than other batteries which deplete in few minutes.

Below that temp I don't know but I think people uses them down to -40. The electronic of my camera may fail though. 

9:49 p.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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I have used cameras to below -40C plus windchill, mostly with no problem. Yes batteries (including lithium) do lose power/life, and yes, some sensors do suffer in the cold. However, one thing that helps (discussed in another thread) is keeping your camera inside your jacket except when actually using it. There are precautions to take when you are doing that, as discussed in that thread.

Another thing is, as mentioned above, using the chemical handwarmers. I suggest the toewarmer variety because they have an adhesive so you can stick them to the back of the camera. I have used toewarmers successfully, though I mostly use the "in the jacket" approach for the most part. You would do well to use a camera with a real optical viewfinder (a DSLR, for example, or a film SLR or rangefinder camera), because (1) the LCD on most point and shoot cameras suffers a lot in the cold and (2) if you are going to do much shooting in daylight, LCDs are a really hard way to frame the picture. My DSLRs that I have used in subzero weather have done quite well, even without the toewarmers and even when I have left the camera out for long periods.

As mentioned in the other thread, autofocus and autoexposure can have cold problems because of the mechanical operations, which can boost the viscosity of the lubricants. What we used to do to prepare film cameras for deep cold was to disassemble the lenses and remove all lubricant. Modern pro and pro-am cameras use teflon in the gearing, so do not use lubricants that can thicken with cold.

As for pushing the button, best thing is to use a remote trigger. Most cameras have remotes available. You can operate the remote with gloves on or inside a warm pocket (the RF type, not the IR which have to be pointed at the sensor on the camera), plus you don't shake the camera on the tripod, especially important for the aurora photos. Consider getting a Gitzo or Manfretto carbon fiber tripod - they don't freeze and don't need lubrication. Yeah they are expensive, but worth it. With both (I prefer Gitzo myself), the center post has a hook, on which you can hang a weight for more steadiness. A bag full of sand or snow is light to carry, since you just fill it when you set up and dump the bag out when it is time to go. And if you have the camera on a tripod, be sure to turn off any vibration-reduction mechanism. All the VR mechanisms out there seek any potential vibration, which means that you get smeared images when you are on a solid platform like a weighted tripod.

11:27 p.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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If your camera doesn't have a remote release available you could glue/sew a small piece of rubber to the tip of a glove finger.

11:54 p.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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Finally, I reveived an ID south col event for christmas. It's a nice piece of gear. I tried it in my backyard the other day just to see how it works. I was little clumsy at the beginning but one very quickly get use to it. Thanks Dewey and Bill S for suggesting me this model. I couldn't avoid condensation on the opening and I'm still not confident enough to seal it completely. It seems to me potentially risky to zip it completely because of condensation that may occurs on the zippers. 

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