View Full Version : bivies vs. hammocks and tents

01-06-2014, 21:04
over the holidays, I got a camping bivy. I was wondering how bivies, in general, compare to tents and hammocks

01-06-2014, 21:28
Depends on a lot. What kind of bivy did you get? Some work as a stand alone shelterish piece of gear, some supplement other gear.

01-06-2014, 21:38
Advantages - bivies are lightweight, take up little space, require no futzing to set up like hammocks .Best places to carry a bivy might be where there are no trees for hammocks or enough flat ground for a tent.

Disadvantages - a minimalistic shelter that won't protect against the elements . Should be a summer shelter option. Not meant for everyone , especially those lacking agility.

01-06-2014, 21:40
I hate actually depending entirely on a bivy in a storm. Makes life difficult when you need to get out. At least use it with a small tarp.

01-06-2014, 23:08
A bivy has all the look and feel of a bodybag. It's better than no shelter at all.

Second Hand
01-06-2014, 23:12
I spent a year or so using a bivy w/ a 5x7 tarp. It was light, small and added warmth on some cold nights in Maine. That said, I came to really hate using it. I had a single pole to keep the top of the bivy off my face. Through tossing and turning I damaged the pole. It was also rough during a storm. They say to never zip it up all the way because of condensation, and they were right!! I lowered the bivy leaving it unzipped and I was still drenched.
Not to mention you feel like your sleeping in a coffin.

I bring it in my day pack when I go Mountaineering in the Whites. It's a nice emergency shelter, but for a primary shelter I'll add the pound and go back to my tent.

01-07-2014, 08:20
I love my bug bivy (SMD Meteor) when I shelter hop on section hikes in the summer. :)

01-07-2014, 10:36
as you have heard above it is difficult to find bivy love

that being said, I have a few and have evolved to using only bivies - to me they are the ideal supplement to shelters, for bugs, the spot with the roof leak, even shimmied under a full shelter

I have used the bivy outside shelters in rain, snow, and last night at -10, it may not be wonderful, but you come out alive

everything is a compromise, you just have to figure out if the bivy fits your style / values

01-07-2014, 11:03
I think George provides a good perspective: I wouldn't want to rely on a bivysack for regular protection, but if you'll be staying in shelters for the most part or have a small tarp they can be a nice addition to your kit, plus provide some additional protection when needed. I'm not hardcore enough to try one below zero, but I've considered for 3-season trips.

01-07-2014, 21:32
I just got a Borah Bivy and 5.5 x 9 tarp that I plan on testing out in the month or two. My hopes are to use it most of the year excluding very hot summer nights where a Tarptent will likely provide better ventilation with bug protection.

01-07-2014, 23:09
I've used a bivy as my primary shelter since around '99 (though to be fair, I don't get out nearly as much as a lot of the others here). Think of it not as a confining shelter but rather as a layer of added protection around your bag. You can flip the top up and you're immediately out under the stars. Toss it down and it will protect you from most of what nature can throw your way (assuming you have a waterproof model). They're not for everybody, but I love mine. Would like to try out a lighter weight version in combination with a tarp at some point but not in any rush. The only time I reach for a tent is on short trips where the weather is bad enough that I'd prefer to keep everything inside the tent, or my wife goes along and we can split the weight).

01-07-2014, 23:16
The practical way I could envision using a bivy would be with a generous cuben fibre tarp. My strategy to:

be able to stuff my backpack and other stuff under the tarp and out of the elements.
I would lie in the bivy in my sleeping bag to utilize the bivy merely like a second sleeping sack and to get my feet and my sleeping bag out of the wet weather that might arrive during the night. In case of true downpour that would drive rain onto me while under the tarp this would be one condition when I would consider closing the bivy. Also in case of biting insect infestation.

This way I would avoid the claustrophobic feeling and avoid getting my gear wet

01-08-2014, 17:36
thanks for the tips so far