Bivy sack?

5:36 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Hello, I am looking to leave my tent at home on solo trips, I am looking for suggestions or advice. I am hoping a bivy sack may even work without a sleeping bag in warm weather. Does anyone know how warm such conditions would need to be? Any particular bivys that, work best? I want something warm that still saves a ton of space.

7:02 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I use a superlight nylon tarp as a bivy, because then I can either use it as a cover or make a small leanto out of it. The one I have was made by Golite many years ago. Its 14 by 10 feet, but weighs less than a pound. I dont think they make it anymore.

But I still often prefer my Golite Hex 3 rainfly and floor as it is very light at 3 lbs 6 oz and is very small when packed. It is almost exactly like what they now call the Shangra-La 3.

7:32 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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With the Nylon tarp, do you just wrap it around you if using it as a bivy? How do you seal the ends?

Do you know of anything like that heavy enough to work without a sleeping bag (assuming proper clothing) in say 20-25 degrees over night?

7:48 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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When I use the tarp alone I lay it on the ground folded in half the long way, then lay on one side. If it rains or snows I pull the leftover side over me. It has small nylon grommetts to stake it out or I just place rocks on the corners. Being it is 14 feet long I dont seal the ends.

Sometimes when camping in colder weather I take a light blanket from home that I have modified by folding it in half the long way and sewn the bottom and long side together. Then I pull it over me before I get under the tarp.

I rarely use the tarp and blanket mix without my sleeping bag. My Golite bag weighs 9 oz of 800 down. It stuffs into a compression sack which compressed is about as big as a soccer ball. Golite also does not make it any more sorry.

With Golite though, my total pack weight is about 10 lbs without water and food,and any other extras. I can usually go in for a week with about 25 lbs. I have been backpacking for about 35 years.

I remember you asked before if you needed a sleeping bag or pad? Once on a bike tour I carryed just my tent which was then a North Face Bullfrog, with no sleeping bag and did use my ensolite pad. I slept in my long pants and longsleeve shirt and a sweater if it cooled down when in mountain areas. I also did not carry my stove but ate canned food along the way. I was able to reduce my touring weight other than my bike down to less than 10 lbs. Much more enjoyable especially when pedalling up mountain passes.

8:45 a.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Thank you for the advice. I have a 20 degree mummy bag and a decent pad, the trouble I run into is that as a vegan I have to get a synthetic bag rather than down and can't afford to pay top dollar so I am stuck with something a little more bulky than I'd like. I've been told that my bag should be fine for any 3 season trips in Colorado that I would do. Though I'd like to do a couple 14ers late this season later.

My concern with the bag I have is that a tarp won't be as warm as my tent and that a bivy (something like the REI minimalist) would be almost as warm as a tent. With the gear I can afford I've got my total pack weight without food or water at 24 pounds. The tent I have is 5 or 6 and the bivy I was looking at is 15 ounces.

I'm going for a weekend in the Lost Creek Wilderness area coming up in thr middle of April so I'll see then how everything works.

No matter what I decide, I still need to carry then tent when my wife comes along on trips, no way she will do without one!

9:28 a.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Also, I can't even imagine how to get the pack weight that low! Wow!

12:17 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Get a light weight Golite pack, the Golite Jam pack weighs 1 lb 15 oz.

Get the Shangri-la 3 tent with the floor section thats another 2 lb 7 oz and is big enough for you and your wife.

This what the tent looks like packed, the bigger green bag is the Rainfly, then the single pole, the bag of stakes and the floor in the gold bag. I put the hairbrush in to show scale. Like above weight is 2 lbs 7 oz This will all fit even in my daypack with my sleeping bag for light overnighters!

Okay thats 4 lbs 6 oz. with the tent and pack above. Add the weight of your sleeping bag and pad, stove and what-all else you take. Just curious whats that come to weight wise?

After 35 years of hiking I do not carry but the bare nessessities on a hike. I usually hike alone so I can get away with wearing one set of clothes, I wear zip-off pants so I have both shorts and pants in one. I take a long sleeve tshirt, two pairs of socks, lightweight canvas and rubber boots, a hat, and wear a light rain jacket. I don't carry rain pants because my zip-off pnats are nylon and dry quickly. I dont usually hike in cold snowy weather so I dont use long underwear much. I use two aluninum/steel water bottles, and if I carry my stove its a MSR pocket Rocket with a 1 qt cooking pan and lid and a plastic spook.

When I was in my 20s I used to backpack in the Sierra Nevada Range in the winter. I carried a VE24 tent which weigh in at 12 lbs, my sleeping bag was a EMS -30 degree bag, I dont remember the weight, but it was down too. I used a Svea 123 gasoline stove and a 2 qt cookpot. I carried two quarts of fuel and two of water. My pack was a Jansport D2 external pack and I wore wool clothing,socks and heavy mountaineering boots that weighed about 5 lbs together. Plus crosscountry skiis, snowshoes,crampons, a ice axe and Goretex storm jacket and pants. My pack weight with 30 days of food could weigh 90-120 lbs or more. I generally only carried my pack from Yosemite Valley to a place in the backcountry then made a base camp, and only did dayhikes and overnight hikes away from base. I would stay out for a month then go back down to the Valley and resupply and go somewhere else in the wilderness alone and stay another 30 days. In the winter/spring of 1980 my last real winter camping trip in snow I stayed 5 months in the Sierra. I sometimes built igloo's and saved my tent for side trips.

From 1983-2003 I spent my winters hiking from October to April hiking in the Grand Canyon. I would go in for 3-4 weeks average at a time. The inner GC is much drier and warmer than its rims so I began getting used to carrying less weight and buying Golite gear. The only time I needed warm clothes was when I had to hike out to the South Rim to resupply. In the canyon I could wear shorts and light clothing even in December/January.

Now I do mostly winter hiking in the southwest where winters are dry and dont get much snow/rain. I can get away with going extremely light and having a good time not carrying all that extra pounds.

So as a Vegan, I guess you choose only manmade materials for all your hiking gear, no leather on boots, no wool for clothing, etc?

6:27 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I weighed some items separately, my pack is the REi Ridgeline 65 weighing 4 lbs, 4 oz. and my Eureeka tent is just under 6 lbs. I use an Esbit pokcet stove with fuel tablets, it plus the fuel tablets is around 4lbs.

I can see how a lighter tent and pack would really make the difference and now that I know more what I am looking for will invest in that sort of gear as I can afford to.

My concern with the Golite stuff is that I've been told that if you use a Golite pack, everything you use needs to be ultra light weight because the packs are not designed to carry more than 30 lbs.

I do my best to not use any wool, leather, seude or any other animal products. It hasn't been too bad to find the right gear, but I will pay a premium for new shoes when I need them!

7:45 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I use a Mtnhardwear backpack which by far is the heaviest thing of all my gear. I did use a Golite pack once that was called the Gust, it was basically just a large stuff sack with shoulderstraps and a hip belt. It had two mesh pockets on either side for waterbottles. It weighed one pound empty. It had no frame internal or external. The way to pack it was to take a sleeping pad and line the inside with the pad, letting it unroll inside. My Mtnhardwear has straps down each side to compress the pack either around the gear inside or to make it smaller for dayhikes. The top pocket comes off and can be used as a fanny pack.

As far as the Golite packs being only capable of carrying 30 lbs, thats sorta the idea. If you need more than 30 lbs for a weekend hike, which is what the average hiker does, then you have too much stuff. May as well stick to car camping or and RV.

I like a heavier duty pack to haul my gear and give me better back support.

The best way to pack a pack is to use stuff sacks for everything. I use different colored ones to tell me whats inside. Yellow is for food, blue is for clothing, red for cook gear, etc. Plus it makes it easier to pack and unpack your backpack. And I suppose you know that lighter stuff should be near the bottom and heaver stuff in the upper middle?

I used an ensolite pad for 28 years, then a friend gave me a thermarest pad for christmas, I used it for about two years, but was always managing to get a puncture. So I have gone back to the reliable Ensolite pad. Its closed cell foam is light and very durable.

There used to be a product called Durafill/Holofill that is a synthetic insulation material that is light like down and compressed well. I had a bag using that and it would compress very well as long as I only squashed it between nightly camps. I dont remember who made it. Maybe you can Google the material and find a company that still uses it.

Shoewise I tend anymore to wear Walmart hiking style boots. My current ones came from Goodwill as I was lucky to find my size (14) in a really hardly worn boot. It is cotton canvas with rubber soles.

10:42 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Waterproof-breathable bivys=bad

Water-resistant (Epic, Pertex) bivys and a tarp=good

The added condensation inside of a WPB bivy after a few nights can put lots of moisture in a bag; going with a more breathable option under a tarp will make for a weatherproof, more versatile option. If you have to go WPB, save your pennies for an eVent bivy from ID. That's a good option, from what I hear.

11:01 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Gary, thank you for all the advise: I think I get the basics of weight distribution, one thing I am unsure about with the tent I have (since I am stuck with it until I have my wife's permission to upgrade) I am not sure if it is best to roll it up or to try to stuff it. My pack opens at the bottom and top so I can put things I need to access either in the separate top compartment or on top of the sleeping bag near the bottom and stuff the tent between the openings to make it fill as much dead space as possible or if it is better to roll it up (with poles inside) and put it vertically against my back in the middle of the pack. I am concerned about stuffing it because it is unportected and the bottom gets the rest of my gear filthy (stuff sacks would help with that) using a sack for the tent seams to defeat the purpose of stuffing it to fill dead space. I also need to decide if it is best to roll the poles, rain fly and tent separate or together. If I stuff the tent I have to put the poles on one side vertically against the frame. How this is done also forces me to decide whether to squeeze the sleeping pad in the bag or strap it to the back.


I read a review that said the eVent manufacturer would not offer a lifetime warranty the way gor-tex and other amnufacturers would, which makes me nervous. The REI minimalist bivy advertises a channel that minimizes condensation, would this not be the case in reality?

I guess I don't fully understand the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Are waterproof materials not breathable enough to prevent condensation (or maybe just not in the price range I find myself in).

Maybe something breathable plus a nylon tarp is the best option.

I shouldn't need much more than that and a 20 degree bag for 3 seasons in most of Colorado right?

9:33 p.m. on April 2, 2010 (EDT)
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From my understanding Water proof materials are good in the rain while Water resistant is better with snow conditions. I prefer Goretex or the other copied versions by other brands. And Goretex usually has the best warrenties. I had a pair of first generation 1978 Goretex in a Sierra Designs rain parka fail after 16 years of use and Sierra Designs replaced the parka with no questions ask with a brand new one in 1994. And a pair of Noth Face Goretex pants replaced nearly 20 years later with a brand new pair.

As far as packing your tent, I would say stuffing it would be okay to as you said take up the dead space in your pack. I often stuff everything like my sleeping bag and tent into my pack instead of rolling up my tent or stuffing my bag in its stuff sack when I dont have much in my pack. I usually roll my stakes and pole into my sleeping pad.

My thermarest would always end up either on the top or on the bottom outside which is where it would get punctures. But with my ensolite pad I don't have to worry about that. If you have a airtype pad, putting it inside if theres room could be best. I used to sometimes fold my thermarest instead of rolling it and placing it either inside the top or at the inner bottom. Or even letting it unroll inside the pack and then putting my gear inside the space left.

10:45 a.m. on April 3, 2010 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer - If you don't mind me asking, what did/do you do for a living that allowed you to take such long backcountry trips? They sound fantastic!

Do you have photos?

12:00 p.m. on April 3, 2010 (EDT)
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I work as a cook. I used to work in Jackson Hole from May to September where the pay wages have always been better than anywhere else I have been. My first job there in 1980 paid 8.50 an hour when Minumum wage was about 2.75 an hour. I would camp out in the surrounding wilderness to save rent and working in food service allowed me to cut food costs by eating at work.

I have hundreds of photos. I don't have any of my older photos than the last few years as I lost about 10,000 35mm slides in a thunderstorm in the early 90s, all my work from 1978 to 91. I have also had the misfortune of loosing digital images before I learned to save them on a flashdrive instead of CDs. And in the last 12 months my PC crashed 3 times and I lost many.

Anyway I have images from about the last 4 years now on a flashdrive. Like the ones I submitted to the contest here. Most are from Jackson Hole and the Tetons, then I have some from Zion and the rest from around Flagstaff where I am living now. I said used to work in Jackson cause I have been unemployed since Feburary 2009 except for some day labor jobs. I have not done a long adventure trip since 2006 when I bicycled across Alaska that summer.

10:45 a.m. on April 6, 2010 (EDT)
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What you choose for shelter will depend on the venue, and how you use a shelter. I prefer sleeping under the stars, with just a bug net over my face, resorting to a shelter only to escape foul weather. Using bivies in snow is suitable as a primary shelter only for those with a high capacity for Spartan accommodations. That said I find bevies not to my liking, as I like to get out of my day clothes to sleep, and find a bivy way too cramped for that purpose, not to mention the cabin fever one may suffer holed up in a sack for a day and a half, waiting for a storm to pass. There are many light weight tents that weigh less than four pounds with all the bells and whistles; they can be stripped to a little over two pounds in their ultra light configurations.

Does your Vegan credo permit use of non dietary animal products obtained without harm to the animal, for example antler? FYI: Hi fill rate down is harvested from wild geese artic nesting sites, and is conducted as a sustainable activity. The nests are not plundered until after the clutch has fledged. Since no animals are harmed or even affected, I am curious, what are the practical/moral reasons for avoiding use of down, especially when the synthetic alternatives are not eco friendly?

11:48 a.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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I have wrestled with the sleeping bag issue. As a general rule I avoid treating any animal bi-product as a commodity. However if I were sure that the down was from a wild nest and in no way affected the animals or their habitat, that is certainly better than the environmental impact of synthetic. I'll have to look into that. Thank you very much for bringing that to my attention.

As far as shelter, I don't think I'll do much winter camping and I won't know if I'll feel cramped until I try it, you may be right that an ultra light tent may be a good option. I hadn't even thought about changing clothers! I was going to bring a tarp for bad weather only.

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