Integral Designs Unishelter
The one thing I always hated about the usual bivy…
Design: Bivy sack with one pole
Ease of Setup: Very easy to set up. Best used with 5 stakes
Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz (large size)
Price Paid: $265 Can.=$180 US
The one thing I always hated about the usual bivy was that the tent and or screen always fell in my face at night. Couple that with having to crawl into the bivy (my old OR Advanced Bivy) from the top, it wasn't worth it.
Integral Designs has changed all that with its design.
It has a one pole hoop design that requires about 5 stakes (one disadvantage compared to the usual bivy).
Entrance is from the side, which zips down quite far.
The most impressive feature was the proprietary waterproof material which, in my opinion, was MUCH more breathable than standard Gore-Tex.
My friend on the latest week-long Grand Canyon trip took the latest North Face Bivy, with two pole hoop design. It rained pretty hard one day. Even though TNF bivy required no staking, I felt Integral Designs has them beat in most other aspects. ID bivy has much more head room.
This bivy is a good compromise between a bivy and a small tent. No, I wouldn't want to be stuck in it for a monsoon rain, but it certainly beats the usual heavier tent.
To sum it up, the Integral Designs Unishelter has superior breathability, easy set-up, more head room, and a decent price. On the downside, it is probably somewhat heavier than a standard (non-hoop) bivy and requires staking.
I bought the Expedition size, because it was slightly longer, though at 6 ft 1 in I could have bought the smaller, lighter, less expensive regular model.
I have no financial interest in Integral Designs, which is based in Canada. Since its product is apparently not offered by REI or CampMor, backpackers should be aware of it. Do check out the Unishelter before buying any bivy.