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TwoRoads
10-18-2016, 22:16
I'm wondering how bivies compare with tents in the rain. I have a Double Rainbow Tarptent, which I love, but might like to try a bivy to get a smaller footprint. I'm thinking this would allow me more flexibility in deciding on places to camp for the night. I've looked at the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy, which is made of GoreTex, but I have a GoreTex jacket which has kept me very dry over the years, but allowed me to get soaked in one very hard persistent rain. Why wouldn't a bivy do the same thing? And of course, that's out of the question for me, since I use a down sleeping bag. Feedback appreciated.

Wil
10-19-2016, 01:11
I'm wondering how bivies compare with tents in the rain. I have a Double Rainbow Tarptent, which I love, but might like to try a bivy to get a smaller footprint. I'm thinking this would allow me more flexibility in deciding on places to camp for the night. I've looked at the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy, which is made of GoreTex, but I have a GoreTex jacket which has kept me very dry over the years, but allowed me to get soaked in one very hard persistent rain. Why wouldn't a bivy do the same thing? And of course, that's out of the question for me, since I use a down sleeping bag. Feedback appreciated.I used a similar bivy off & on for a year or so (tis was maybe 15-20 years ago). Really bad rain in damp weather and I got serious condensation. Getting in and out was wetting. Not being able to sit up and do minimal moving around was hard to dal with. Lack of gear storage was inconvenient. It was a phase I was glad to move on from.

You are correct that flexibility in picking a sleep spot was a big plus. I could literally drape around a tree trunk on a steep slope, or slip into brush with no height at all. Even thinking about it right now I find myself thinking that's great! But in practice it was rarely helpful; you still need room to get in and out and maneuver around.

It just wasn't worth the disadvantages.

Maui Rhino
10-19-2016, 02:25
I only rely on a bivy when I know I'm gonna have good weather, but expect lots of bugs. If rain is expected, I'm putting up a tarp for the extra space and comfort. My bivy doesn't even come on 90% of my trips anymore. With smart pitching, my 9x7.5' tarp is plenty large enough for me to avoid the blowing rain that might come in the side, or I'll stick my feet into my trash compactor bag pack liner to keep them dry.

Cheyou
10-19-2016, 07:28
http://borahgear.com/products.html

made in USA if that maters to you

thom

Malto
10-19-2016, 08:30
I believe you can accomplish 90% of your "throw down in small space" without the negatives of a true bivy with a non waterproof bivy and small footprint tarp such as an MLD solomid. Good weather, no tarp. Bad weather, set it up. A mid style tarp is a very small footprint, I made two that are actually a scaled down version of a solomid. I have set them up in some very tight spaces. 36612

orthofingers
10-19-2016, 09:59
If you want to try a bivy for not much $ to see if you like it, you can look on YouTube ans see how to make one out of tyvek and some double sided carpet tape. I've done a lot of residential construction so I have extra rolls of tyvek around (they come in 9' widths) but I'll bet you could score a 6x9' piece from any construction site to try it.

Slo-go'en
10-19-2016, 12:29
The only way to get in and out of a bivy and not get wet when it's raining is to have a tarp over it, which kind of defeats its purpose. However, if you can manage to get into it before it starts to rain and out of it after it stops, then your all set. Since it often just rains or drizzles overnight, getting in and out when it isn't raining isn't too big a problem.

Since you can't bring anything else into the bivy with you to keep dry, you need a waterproof sack to put your clothes in, which I then put into the pack. I cover my boots with my rain jacket next to me.

I have an OR Advanced bivy and mostly use it for short trips in the fall when I'm pretty sure it's not going to rain. I can use it on tent platforms here in the Whites easier then a tent and it adds a few degrees to my sleeping bag. The bivy actually weights a little more then my SMD Trekker tent.

Here's a picture of it covered with frost from an overnight trip a couple of days ago when the temps dipped into the 20's.
36613

Shutterbug
10-19-2016, 13:10
I'm wondering how bivies compare with tents in the rain. I have a Double Rainbow Tarptent, which I love, but might like to try a bivy to get a smaller footprint. I'm thinking this would allow me more flexibility in deciding on places to camp for the night. I've looked at the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy, which is made of GoreTex, but I have a GoreTex jacket which has kept me very dry over the years, but allowed me to get soaked in one very hard persistent rain. Why wouldn't a bivy do the same thing? And of course, that's out of the question for me, since I use a down sleeping bag. Feedback appreciated.

I have been using a bivy for several years, but recently decided to switch back to a tent. The biggest problem isn't rain bleeding through the bivy, but the condensation that doesn't escape. Any time I zip the bivy up to keep the elements out, I end up keeping the condensation in.

I bought a REI Quarter Doom tent that is essentially the same weight as my bivy or my hammock.

Dogwood
10-19-2016, 15:29
In "very hard persistent rain"/long duration/very rainy weather wanting a smaller foot print you can do better from a performance and livability POV than just sheltering in a OR Alpine Bivy made possibly a more important priority on longer duration trips. Start adding other considerations into the mix(wt, $, comfortability/livability, longer backpacking trips, greater kit sizes, consideration of a wider spectrum of bivy types/consideration of a non stand alone bivy as you are) things can be reconsidered. For example, there's not much difference in footprint size needed between a MSR Hubba 1 p compared to the OR Alpine Bivy.

Again, bivies come in different versions, different designs, and aimed for different uses. Some are stand alone and some are not. So, respectfully IMO, "I'm wondering how bivies compare with tents in the rain" is a loaded parochial question.

Nice to have the flexibility as Malto said with the bivy/tarp combo or knowing how to set up a tarp in different configurations depending on things like available campsite space as Maui Rhino said. I'll also echo some of what Will said although I found the OR Alpine Bivy was acceptable as I once used it for a few yrs awhile back on wk or less duration alpining - lower tier mountaineering and alpine/sub alpine climbing trips which is what this bivy IMO was primarily designed. When sleeping on narrow rock ledges, smaller footprints sometimes associated with these terrains, etc I found this bivy OK on shorter duration ridge line somewhat exposed locations where a risk of some snowfall, cold, and freezing rain could be encountered. For persistent rain on backpacking trips of some extended duration I'll pass on the OR Alpine Bivy.

I'm a regular tarp(different types, including shaped mids) and bivy(different types) shelter person for backpacking but I let the terrain and anticipated conditions and my trip dictate the shelter.

What one might consider in their choice of shelter including choice of bivy is it impacting sleep system choices/components and character.

If much rain isn't expected footprint size and kit complexity required doesn't get any smaller or easier than cowboy camping.

AfterParty
10-19-2016, 15:46
Get a used military one on amazon for cheap. I have stayed dry in some serious monsoon rains in one.

TwoRoads
10-19-2016, 20:55
Thanks, everyone for sharing our experience. My goal, and what gave rise to my question, is that I'm trying to build flexibility into my end of the day routine to allow me as much hiking time as possible. I'm not all that crazy about night hiking, as I'm often hiking in places where there are severe dropoffs close to the trail. I do have a good headlamp if need be though. I've found that I can save a little time in my end of the day routine by cooking earlier in the day if I find a suitable spot, thus removing that from the night time routine. Ironically, finding a suitable bear bag limb in the middle of the woods isn't all that easy and is therefore time consuming. So I'm considering an Ursack to add flexibility without worrying too much about losing my food. Based on your comments though, I'm pretty sure I will be staying with my Tarptent Double Rainbow for a shelter, since the disadvantages of a bivy seems to outweigh the advantages for most of you, and some of your comments sort of confirm my concerns about possibly getting my down bag wet. I did love the suggestions about the REI Quarter Dome and the MSR Hubba. I might consider changing my tent choice to one of these for ease of setup (and again time) afforded by the snap hooks rather than the Tarptent sleeve, but probably not a priority if I do consider that.

Wise Old Owl
10-19-2016, 21:51
I have been using a bivy for several years, but recently decided to switch back to a tent. The biggest problem isn't rain bleeding through the bivy, but the condensation that doesn't escape. Any time I zip the bivy up to keep the elements out, I end up keeping the condensation in.

I bought a REI Quarter Doom tent that is essentially the same weight as my bivy or my hammock.

I agree, the worst is the condensation, right behind it when the temps climb above 70 and it becomes an oven bag. Yes it is going to get wet - it will be more uncomfortable.. this is what UL is about. When it comes to oven bag.. its all about mosquitos. They come in clouds as you attempt to sleep. It requires a thick skin and not being a claustrophobic person. the clear trade off - no back problems.

Dogwood
10-20-2016, 02:16
'My goal, and what gave rise to my question, is that I'm trying to build flexibility into my end of the day routine to allow me as much hiking time as possible. I'm not all that crazy about night hiking, as I'm often hiking in places where there are severe drop-offs close to the trail.... I've found that I can save a little time in my end of the day routine by cooking earlier in the day if I find a suitable spot, thus removing that from the night time routine. Ironically, finding a suitable bear bag limb in the middle of the woods isn't all that easy and is therefore time consuming.'

Here's where the WB folks can help you. They can suggest ways to increase hiking time and lessening night time routine chores. You might consider starting another thread concerning these topics because the folks here will have a plethora of suggestions. I'll start the ball rolling.

1) cowboy camp when conditions allow
2) go no cook for food, WBer Garlic has been doing it for yrs
3) go UL which can usually mean having less stuff to account for unpacking and packing back up
a. organize stuff especially small stuff into one larger sack, have a sack for personal hygiene products, another for electronics, possibly another for your emergency medical kit, etc
4) have a system to the way you pack your backpack, it aids in not losing stuff and organizing as you unpack
5) anticipate the day's hiking conditions
a. if rain is expected store that rain wear in an easily accessible place, likewise store your shelter near the top of your pack possibly even storing it on the outside of your pack for quick access as you find your campsite
1. practice setting up your shelter and unpacking your backpack in the rain in your backyard attempting to keep what needs to be dry dry. think about how you handle this situation....when on trail in a remote area What's the order of priorities in different scenarios in foul weather as you unpack
b. have a general idea of where the day will end having several possible locations in mind already anticipating from looking at your topo maps or GPS/electronic topos the on ground situation. this might also help to you to understand what varieties and character of various trees will likely be available or whether you'll even be above treelike

Sandy of PA
10-20-2016, 08:01
No tree hunting required with a bear canister. I also like to hike into the evening and decided it was worth the weight to save the hassle. I have never lost a crumb of food to an animal. I use a tarptent (Z-packs Solplex) and have pitched it in some pretty small spots, by using longer tie outs with mini line locks. It works more like a tarp that way. It weighs no more than a bivy.

Franco
10-20-2016, 20:45
"I might consider changing my tent choice to one of these for ease of setup (and again time) afforded by the snap hooks rather than the Tarptent sleeve,"
I don't know how you do it but inserting the pole into a sleeve can be done pretty fast and easy if you lift the sleeve entry point up and insert the pole downwards and then keep pushing it in.
<span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(235, 235, 235);">
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKnhViTBML0
you can see that it can be done in about 30 sec. Not super fast but it is still only 30 sec.

Dogwood
10-20-2016, 21:31
One day we'll be able to throw a Chapstick or bubble gum sized package onto the ground and with an app and telekinetic impulse it will pop out into a fully erected 2 p tent.

TwoRoads
10-21-2016, 19:09
Great responses and suggestions since my last post. They are all helpful and I appreciate the input. Although I haven't made any hard fast decisions, I am leaning toward a Bear Vault 500 instead of an Ursack, and thanks to Sandy for her suggestions. I originally had gotten the idea of the Ursack from a fellow hiker who had one and it seemed like something that would give me more flexibility by not necessarily having to hang it. Then I got to thinking that even if a bear could not get the food, I just might end up with a sack of flour after a bear gets done chewing on it. So I'm thinking that perhaps the sacrifice of weight for the canister might be worth it (My pack is down to 30# including food and water for a five-day rip) for the convenience of just being able to lay it on the ground some distance away. I do agree with Franco too, as after some practice, I pretty much do thread the pole much the same way as the video, and as I said, I do love my Tarptent, which has served me well. Still, I slightly do prefer the clip system, so that option remains open. Wise Old Owl's comments about the oven bag (re: condensation), along with some from before my last post have pretty much pursuaded me to abandon the idea of a bivy. Loved Dogwood's list of suggestions, and so I will be posting in other threads for other ideas. And, Dogwood, let me know when that app comes out. I'm in.

Dogwood
10-21-2016, 22:43
Well, for three easy payments of $99.99 you too can have hassle free backpacking with the brand new space age SX UL breathable durable ultra deluxe matchbook size 2 p Insta Tent from your trusted friends at www.takeahike.com. Act now. Supplies are limited. All major credit cards accepted. Call 1 555 DogWood or send check or MO to 123 Dogwood Lane Mainstream USA. Assorted colors available: raspberry, neon glow in the dark green, and electric blue. 10 day money back guaranteed if you're not completely satisfied. Endorsed and as used by the Chinese Olympic Backpacking Team.

TwoRoads
10-22-2016, 11:43
What a deal!!:D:D:D

Sandy of PA
10-22-2016, 12:28
You may also want to look at the bear vault 450, I can still get 5 to 6 days easy in it and the size is just right to fit in the bottom of my pack. Your food volume may vary, I am a small person. I can also get 9 days in a Bearicade Weekender, but the metal on it rubs the inside of my Cuben pack so for 2 oz. more and slightly less volume I carry the BV450 when using the Cuben pack.

Time Zone
10-22-2016, 21:17
I originally had gotten the idea of the Ursack from a fellow hiker who had one and it seemed like something that would give me more flexibility by not necessarily having to hang it. Then I got to thinking that even if a bear could not get the food, I just might end up with a sack of flour after a bear gets done chewing on it. So I'm thinking that perhaps the sacrifice of weight for the canister might be worth it (My pack is down to 30# including food and water for a five-day rip) for the convenience of just being able to lay it on the ground some distance away.

Keep in mind that the Ursack offers considerable flexibility in terms of packing your pack. It takes up less room in your pack when you don't need to fill it entirely - the Bear Vault is not malleable that way. Second, reports are that in the Adirondacks, bears have figured out how to open it. It may only be a matter of time before black bears in other parts figure it out too. Third, I think one theory goes that if a bear learns they can't get in the Ursack, they may stop trying to defeat them - so smashed up food isn't necessarily a foregone conclusion (they also sell an aluminum liner to protect against this). Fourth, bear containers can be moved by the bear and could be hard to find later. Fifth, if you don't need the full volume of the bear canister and use the empty space to pack other things, would they end up smelling like food too, and is that a concern? Sixth, the BV is reputed to be quite difficult to open in cold weather.

I don't have either, yet, but I definitely lean toward the Ursack, especially if they soon release one that is both bear resistant and critter resistant. Right now I think they offer two distinct types, but neither covers both risks.

Time Zone
10-22-2016, 21:18
Second, reports are that in the Adirondacks, bears have figured out how to open it. It may only be a matter of time before black bears in other parts figure it out too.

"... figured out how to open the Bear Vault. ... " that is

nsherry61
10-22-2016, 22:56
"... figured out how to open the Bear Vault. ... " that is
My understanding is that one sow and her cubs that she has taught the trick to have opened Bear Vaults in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.
. . . not necessarily something that will become a problem broadly beyond that one bear and her family.

FWIW there was a sow in Denali National Park, in the 80's, that learned to open the Garcia canisters by sitting on them and deforming them enough to pop the lid off. The Denali rangers did some successful behavior modification with fake camps, high powered rifles and rubber bullets.

rocketsocks
10-22-2016, 23:00
My understanding is that one sow and her cubs that she has taught the trick to have opened Bear Vaults in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.
. . . not necessarily something that will become a problem broadly beyond that one bear and her family.

FWIW there was a sow in Denali National Park, in the 80's, that learned to open the Garcia canisters by sitting on them and deforming them enough to pop the lid off. The Denali rangers did some successful behavior modification with fake camps, high powered rifles and rubber bullets.Darwin might disagree...or one of his decendants anyway.

nsherry61
10-22-2016, 23:04
Darwin might disagree...or one of his decendants anyway.
Only if what food is removed from bear canisters increases the survival rate of that bear family and all their decedents, which I doubt. :-?

Dogwood
10-23-2016, 01:00
My understanding is that one sow and her cubs that she has taught the trick to have opened Bear Vaults in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.
. . . not necessarily something that will become a problem broadly beyond that one bear and her family.

FWIW there was a sow in Denali National Park, in the 80's, that learned to open the Garcia canisters by sitting on them and deforming them enough to pop the lid off. The Denali rangers did some successful behavior modification with fake camps, high powered rifles and rubber bullets.

we are seriously inn need of some human behavior modification

Time Zone
10-23-2016, 09:59
My understanding is that one sow and her cubs that she has taught the trick to have opened Bear Vaults in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.
. . . not necessarily something that will become a problem broadly beyond that one bear and her family.


Yes, not necessarily. But if one discovered it independently in NYS, another could discover it in some other time and place.
I have seen a couple examples of BVs being actually broken by a bear. IIRC, one of those examples, the bear tossed it off a cliff and on to some rocks! Clever bear.

This is sort of like the inverse of "build a better mousetrap - [evolution will] build a better mouse." Here we're trying to dissuade the bear rather than entice it, yet we keep having to improve our game. It's quite the back and forth.

If I get an Ursack I would probably try to hang it anyway, to avoid the crushing of food risk, unless it's better to have it tied to a tree directly so it can't be run off with.

Bronk
10-23-2016, 12:31
Would you rather spend a rainy day in a tent or a bivy? You can spread your gear out in a tent.

rocketsocks
10-23-2016, 16:36
"Bevies in the Rain" sounds like a song title.

TwoRoads
10-23-2016, 21:37
Just to update, I took a trip to REI to make some purchases. I bought a few stuff sacks to replace ones that were worn and I took Sandy's suggestion on the bear canister. Only I bought the model 500, because I actually have a through-hike planned with a friend for 2018 and wanted the extra room for the longer-than anticipated sections that I know will occur. I know I said that a decision on a tent was not a priority at this time, but after some research, I found that I really liked the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1. Well I found it on sale for $95 off the list price at REI, so now I own it. I still have some other gear tweaks I will be looking at, but for now, I'll let my budget recover and enjoy my new purchases. I want everyone to know your suggestions (all of them) gave me valuable information and as a result, I think I'll be very happy with my decisions. Thanks, all, and happy hiking!

Wise Old Owl
10-23-2016, 22:24
I have been using a bivy for several years, but recently decided to switch back to a tent. The biggest problem isn't rain bleeding through the bivy, but the condensation that doesn't escape. Any time I zip the bivy up to keep the elements out, I end up keeping the condensation in.

I bought a REI Quarter Doom tent that is essentially the same weight as my bivy or my hammock.

I honestly think if a bivy had a rain flap running the length of the unit 4 " off the ground with a 3/4 mosquito vent frond the foot box .............would life not be better? Some of the more expensive ones feature something on this.

Wise Old Owl
10-23-2016, 22:28
Would you rather spend a rainy day in a tent or a bivy? You can spread your gear out in a tent.


A tarp and a bivy would be lighter than a tent... http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3167/2412648507_fcbee1ac0a_o.jpg

CLICK HERE (https://www.google.com/search?q=tarp+and+bivy&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjqkKftsfLPAhUMWz4KHZrnDr8Q_AUICSgC&biw=1200&bih=552)

nsherry61
10-23-2016, 22:59
A tarp and a bivy would be lighter than a tent...
And a tarp without a bivy is lighter than a tarp with a bivy.
Although, that above setup looks pretty dope.

Franco
10-24-2016, 17:42
"A tarp and a bivy would be lighter than a tent..."
true but as it can be clearly seen in that shot, if there is wind with the rain and it changes direction you need to get out and set up the tarp again. Too bad if you can't turn it so that the sides are into the wind.

Malto
10-24-2016, 18:25
"A tarp and a bivy would be lighter than a tent..."
true but as it can be clearly seen in that shot, if there is wind with the rain and it changes direction you need to get out and set up the tarp again. Too bad if you can't turn it so that the sides are into the wind.

And a mid and bivy is lighter than a tent with none of the issues that you mention.

nsherry61
10-24-2016, 18:49
"A tarp and a bivy would be lighter than a tent..."
true but as it can be clearly seen in that shot, if there is wind with the rain and it changes direction you need to get out and set up the tarp again. Too bad if you can't turn it so that the sides are into the wind.
Or, you pitch the tarp in a more enclosed manner facing into some protection and/or use a slightly larger tarp to provide a more palatial abode and you're fine. If you use a bigger tarp, adding the material volume to account for only 1/2 of the bivy weight, you could shelter yet another person under the tarp and keep both of you reasonably dry.

With a little practice, it is really is surprisingly easy to shelter yourself surprisingly effectively in a surprisingly small tarp.