Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: on sale from REI a few years ago.
I've had this bivy tent for a few years. I've taken my Alpine Bivy on car camping trips to the Joshua Tree, Anza Borrego, San Clemente, and Grand Canyon, Lone Rock, Zion. Setup is so easy I can put my tent together in the evening without needing my headlamp as long as I have already scouted out a secure flat ground space. If you are car camping in multiple locations, and you have the space, you might even take this tent with your sleeping pad and sleeping bag inside for even easier setup.
- Easy to assemble
- Great for stargazing
- Used with a cot or a hammock.
- Difficult entry
- Small space: shoes and gear outside
On the last day of camping at San Clemente Beach it began to pour. My bivy kept me completely dry.
On a beautiful but windy night at Lone Rock in Utah with sheets of "heat lightening" hitting the ground, I wriggled my way into the entry for the evening and woke up sand in surprising places.
On a stargazing and meteor shower watching trip to the Angeles National Forest I regret taking a different tent because this bivy would have allowed me to stay warm in my sleeping bag in my tent while watching the stars by pulling the top back.
On one desert camping trip, someone nearby found a scorpion under their tent so I am concerned about having my shoes and gear outside of the tent. I'm a 5'2" female and have found that I have enough room to put my shoes in the bivy. If I put my shoes near my head it makes it more difficult to exit the tent. If I put my shoes near my feet, it makes it very difficult to find my shoes without emptying the entire tent.
If you are camping in a place where wind can be an issue, please be sure that you secure your bivy so it doesn't blow away.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $239
A few simple steps that improve the comfort of this bag (even without these, it is still an excellent bag): 1. Stake it down. 2. Use clothespins (three) to hold the hood open when using just the insect netting (especially if not staked down). 3. Ideally, run a guy line, using the loop sewn on the bag in addition to the stakes for added loft to avoid condensation. I would recommend this bag.
- Easy setup
- Insect screen
- A one pager explaining setup and giving tips would greatly help.
Easy to set up once you figure it out. A one page instruction sheet would really help. Otherwise, a very nice, lightweight bivy that is lofty enough to not be claustrophobic!
Condensation was not an issue for me, once I started staking it and using a guy line to keep it up off of me.
I'm 185 cm tall slim 90 kg and have wide shoulders. Living in Australia we normally have "warm" nights from 5'C through to 10'C in winter.
Purchase of the OR Alpine was to replace my 20-odd-year-old lightweight and tight Gore-tex bivy which welled up one stormy night!
So far I have spent temp ranges from about 10'C through to 5'C at night in dry weather through to extreme storm condition in about 40 knot winds (maybe more!) with extreme rain conditions and been dry all night for the latter.
In more recent rain conditions I have decided to start using a SilTarp to keep my boots and pack dry and this has significantly aided my body not getting as wet as I enter and exit the bag. OR certainly has done some good research with this bag and though the entry might require practice, it is certainly enough for its purpose. A side entry would only allow more wet into the bag.
For me it's a bomb proof water tight accessory. I have not gotten anymore condensation than I would have reasonably expected in a tent. An optional foot flap opening might be good for Australian conditions to allow for better ventilation.
I've made one change to the bag and that was to install a small clip from a bra strap to the loophole designed for the rope attachment and this keeps the storm flap from falling on my face. The storm flap really needs some Velcro on the inside to hold it up an this will be my next mod.
I recently purchased this bivy after nearly giving up on bivy sacks all together. My problem has always been condensation. In a chilly downpour or white-out when the only place you can go is your shelter, bivy sacks can be the worst.
However, the Alpine Bivy, I think it's more than up to the challenge. The Gore Tex breaths great and offered no condensation. The pole is a luxury worth the 2-oz price as it makes spending any amount of time inside the shelter enjoyable.
I agree with the previous review that this bivy has its faults: weight and price. If you are really wanting to count your ounces I would go with a tarp. But a tarp in winter? When you need the protection, this bivy is there. When you don't, why are you using a bivy?
The packed size is pretty nice as well and fits nicely in my low volume pack.
Bottom line: If you don't mind the hefty price, this bivy is a nice winter shelter when protection from the elements is premium.
Design: bivy sack
Ease of Setup: questionable
Weight: 2 pounds
Price Paid: $112
It's weatherproof, no question about it, but its entrance that's one thing I disliked the most, is a bit tricky. If one wants to erect it, using pegs, the string which needs to pass through the sixth anchoring point in the middle of the pole groove is getting on your way while entering the bivy.
Let's think you are under a downpour and are trying to take a shelter inside this bivy, you are soaked wet again while entering the bivy; under such conditions I will just put on my heavy duty poncho and wait till the ferocity of the rain gets down to a manageable state. It must be good on emergency or planned winter outings as long as there is no rain while setting it up or entering to it, snow can be somewhat manageable though. I will try it in snow cave next season. I am sure it will keep me dry.
It's expensive, but you can always find decent ones, just like mine, in ebay.
Design: single pole bivy
Ease of Setup: very easy
Weight: >2 pounds
Price Paid: $199
This bivy is made of a 3-layer GORE-TEX fabric, which is EXTREMELY waterproof, windproof, and overall weatherproof. I have put a hose at high power right against the fabric, and it has never bled threw. The only reason why I gave this bivy 3 stars is that I wanted to do long-distance ultralight backpacking. This is not good for backpacking!! It's heaver then a lot of bivies, and it's pretty much the same as all bivies in 3-season use.
I recommend this to any climbers and mountaineers. I lent this to my friend who went to climb Mount Ranier. He said it was good for snowy conditions, and he expected it would work in snow caves very well. If you are a mountaineer, or maybe a canoe camper, this would be a 5-star piece of gear for you.