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View Full Version : Xlite and cowboy camping - groundsheet needed?



camerhil
01-04-2017, 09:38
Like every other damn hiker, my wife and I will be using NeoAir Xlites during our 2017 PCT hike. We're planning on cowboy camping wherever possible and tarping the rest of the time.

We're going to pair the pads with a UL bivy such as the Borah Gear Side Zip, and I'm curious to know if we should also bring a ground sheet in order to further protect the Xlite from punctures.

Have you paired this mattress with only a bivy with no issues? Or is extra floor protection needed?

Cheyou
01-04-2017, 11:16
I don't use a xlite must not b dammed . Not a bivy fan .

thom

Cheyou
01-04-2017, 11:19
Why not try window shrink film ? Light and cheep

thom

MuddyWaters
01-04-2017, 11:23
If ground is pointy, you can use everything at your disposal under pad. Baselayer, raingear, thick paper maps, ziplocks. Ive never had an issue and I have slept on ground carpeted with fallen 1" cactus needles. My pad is short though so easier to get coverage

B.j. Clark
01-04-2017, 11:24
The bottom of most bivys is like a tent floor. I have never used an extra ground sheet to protect the floor of a tent/bivy or my air pad inside it. But I do sometimes use a groundsheet to protect gear outside the bivy from wet, snowy, or muddy ground. Other times I just put everything in my pack liner to keep clean and dry.

camerhil
01-04-2017, 11:33
Great to know, thanks. I love the idea of making raingear do double duty under the bivy. I'm sure the pack liner will be enough for any misc gear.

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Dogwood
01-04-2017, 12:03
Like every other damn hiker, my wife and I will be using NeoAir Xlites during our 2017 PCT hike. We're planning on cowboy camping wherever possible and tarping the rest of the time.

We're going to pair the pads with a UL bivy such as the Borah Gear Side Zip, and I'm curious to know if we should also bring a ground sheet in order to further protect the Xlite from punctures.

Have you paired this mattress with only a bivy with no issues? Or is extra floor protection needed?

Itinerary? SOBO or NOBO? Other?

No, not every damn hiker uses a NeoAir XLite particularly in the Mojave. Using the NeoAir Shortie in the Mojave on the PCT on several occasions including one 08 NOBO I've only had one deflation. This occurred when strong winds, as can be customary in the Mojave, impaled it in a grove of young Joshua Trees(thorns are like daggers. Lots of soft sand in teh Mojave on the PCT to sleep on which when paired with a CCF pad or no pad can be fine if you scout out appropriate clean CS's which should be done as a matter of habit no matter what pad one uses or uses no pad.

Why R U pairing the bivy with the tarp and if so during what parts of the PCT?

Dogwood
01-04-2017, 12:12
Why not try window shrink film ? Light and cheep

thom

Sticking to the question...this is for a PCT thru-hike. If you're not in the habit of pre checking campsites for burrs, spiny plants, spiny plant fragments(I've found small Hedgehog cactus and Prickly Pear pad pieces are notorious for small parts dying leaving many sharp spines attached that are just under the sand surface!), fallen Joshua Tree leaves, sharp sticks(manzanita especially), cockleburs, some nightshades, humans detritus left from past campers, etc especially on the PCT in Mojave, window film will offer little protection from deflation of a NeO air inflatable pad.

camerhil
01-04-2017, 12:23
Dogwood, I was exaggerating for comedic purposes. I know that not literally every hiker uses the exact same pad, but the Xlite is a best-seller and undoubtedly a common sight on both trails. I will certainly check my sites for spiny objects before I set up, but my question was whether a bivy floor would be sufficient insurance in case of something I missed. Since you used a NeoAir successfully in the desert (with the exception of the wind incident), I'm going to assume that this is a "yes".

I am hiking NOBO, starting mid-April. I'm pairing the bivy with the tarp so that I can have the greatest degree of flexibility: when cowboy camping, I want a wind shield plus protection for the pad. When I'm tarping due to rain or snow, either a bivy or a groundsheet is needed. When it gets buggy, I need some kind of protection, which is either a bivy or a full bug net. So rather than bringing a bug net and a ground sheet and possibly a bivy as well, I'm hoping just to bring the bivy. My question was whether that would be sufficient, and it sounds like it will be, provided I select my site carefully.

Dogwood
01-04-2017, 12:59
Haven't had my drug of choice the last couple days...coffee. Thanks. Zee us Naw Yawkers and Naw Jarzeeites can play nice. :D

Suggest this or a some stick on tire tube patches just in case.

https://www.amazon.com/Gear-Aid-Aquaseal-Fast-Adhesive/dp/B001XUI5YY

http://www.mountainsports.com/msmain.asp?Option=Detail&Detail=095332&gclid=CjwKEAiA17LDBRDElqOGq8vR7m8SJAA1AC0_ugm4vbi0 vu4RAT3aM3YckAEqryzrHIzU0X-wmtOcyRoCo17w_wcB

***Make sure you get the UV activated FAST Repair stuff particularly if you use your Neo Air for a virtual suspension as I do in my frameless packs.


I don't see rain or snowstorms a big factor in your NOBO until WA with a very moderate dilly dallying pace. It isn't the AT or the east coast common spring summer weather patterns! I don't see major sanity questioning biting insect pressure until northern Cali and OR. Using the Borah bivy in the Mojave to possibly add somewhat a slight degree of protection to deflation of the NeoAir can lead to puncturing the water proof silny 30D floor of the Borah bivy which you might not know about if the pin prick hole is small until you actually need a functioning waterproof/snow proof floor in the bivy.


Question? Bivy going to be you sleeping bag or are you pairing it with a sleeping bag or quilt or liner....? You might find it's a hot experience if you pair the bivy with a sleeping bag?

Dogwood
01-04-2017, 13:05
A tarp by itself in the appropriate CS using appropriate configurations can satisfy quite well as a wind screen in itself. ???

I think it wise you R considering wind. The Mojave can be a windy place in itself with sand blowing around. Consider the wind also from its prevailing direction. Choose CS's and tarp configurations accordingly. PCT CS's can be exposed at higher elevations in many paces with the wind picking up possibly blowing snow in the High Sierra, WA with a long agenda, etc

Malto
01-04-2017, 13:32
Dogwood, I was exaggerating for comedic purposes. I know that not literally every hiker uses the exact same pad, but the Xlite is a best-seller and undoubtedly a common sight on both trails. I will certainly check my sites for spiny objects before I set up, but my question was whether a bivy floor would be sufficient insurance in case of something I missed. Since you used a NeoAir successfully in the desert (with the exception of the wind incident), I'm going to assume that this is a "yes".

I am hiking NOBO, starting mid-April. I'm pairing the bivy with the tarp so that I can have the greatest degree of flexibility: when cowboy camping, I want a wind shield plus protection for the pad. When I'm tarping due to rain or snow, either a bivy or a groundsheet is needed. When it gets buggy, I need some kind of protection, which is either a bivy or a full bug net. So rather than bringing a bug net and a ground sheet and possibly a bivy as well, I'm hoping just to bring the bivy. My question was whether that would be sufficient, and it sounds like it will be, provided I select my site carefully.

I use an xlite with a bivy and generally cowboy camp especially out west. Some will carry a very thin CCF pad to help protect against sharp objects. If you are not going to do this then I would go with bivy on the ground (it's your ground sheet.)

I used a tarp and bivy the entire PCT. Had to zip up a couple nights for bug protection. There was only a single night in Oregon that it was too warm to use the bivy. You will be surprised at how cool it gets at night on the PCT.

Malto
01-04-2017, 13:34
One more thing. I am assuming you are using a quilt. If not then I probably won't use a bivy. There are lighter weight ground cloths.

Dogwood
01-04-2017, 14:02
One more thing. I am assuming you are using a quilt. If not then I probably won't use a bivy. There are lighter weight ground cloths.

he said it for me.


I use an xlite with a bivy and generally cowboy camp especially out west. Some will carry a very thin CCF pad to help protect against sharp objects. If you are not going to do this then I would go with bivy on the ground (it's your ground sheet.)

I used a tarp and bivy the entire PCT. Had to zip up a couple nights for bug protection. There was only a single night in Oregon that it was too warm to use the bivy. You will be surprised at how cool it gets at night on the PCT.

That depends largely on what you paired the bivy with and to some extent the CS's you chose, which I strongly suspect(know) you have dailed in, which is why I said "Question? Bivy going to be your sleeping bag or are you pairing it with a sleeping bag or quilt or liner....? You might find it's a hot experience if you pair the bivy with a sleeping bag(too high a temp rating)?"

If gear wt is an high priority the use of a quilt makes more sense for wt savings and versatility. Might not even need a bivy as a proficient quilt user for much of the PCT but it depends on how well one integrates things.

camerhil
01-04-2017, 15:14
Haven't had my drug of choice the last couple days...coffee. Thanks. Zee us Naw Yawkers and Naw Jarzeeites can play nice. :D

No worries - as a Brooklynite I am not technically human until the third coffee injection. Thank you for the adhesive patch suggestions - we'll definitely have some on hand. Point taken about puncturing the bivy, and that was something I was concerned about.


One more thing. I am assuming you are using a quilt. If not then I probably won't use a bivy. There are lighter weight ground cloths.

I'm pairing the bivy with an EE Enigma quilt, which I've used previously when tarping. My wife has a standard REI Joule sleeping bag. I sleep cold and I've heard from a few people that it can get really chilly in the desert at night. I was just planning on sleeping on top of the quilt if it's super warm.

I like that a 6oz bivy provides warmth and acts as wind and bug protection, plus splash protection if it ever does rain. In my last tarp outing I brought a heavy-duty waterproof bivy, which I was glad about when a rainstorm with high winds struck. I suppose I could use a groundsheet for parts of the trail, but it seems like a good bivy can fulfill the role of a groundsheet and have a ton of other uses too. My wife's main concern is the bugs, so even in the desert I think the option of a bivy would be a psychological help.

Dogwood
01-04-2017, 15:35
Yeah, ditch the groundsheet altogether and use your bivy without you inside it as the ground sheet. FWIW that can be done with a tarp too. I sleep on either a CF tarp or bivy when weather allows.

FWIW, I started at Campo with a Aoril 13 date with a WM 35* Highlite with a MLD 7 oz WR Superlight bivy(this increased warmth since my bag was of marginal * rating, this was the main reason I threw the bivy into the mix at the start) and a light 7 oz minimalist sized tarp. I only erected the tarp maybe 7 times total which included two off trail tarp set ups in almost 5 months. I wound up removing the bivy from the mix for most of the thru-hike. The tarp did much of the work you are seeking using the Cornet Bivy bag, C Fly Wedge, and Envelope Trap Shelter configurations. Later since I had dallied a bit I threw the bivy back in for WA which was appreciated even with a warmer * rated sleeping bag,

http://rollingfox.com/how-to-make-a-tarp-tent-with-designs#3_Bivy_Bag_Cornet_Shelter

camerhil
01-05-2017, 15:22
Thanks for that great link on tarp setups. Being stuck in a Brooklyn apartment, I haven't had enough time to experiment with much other than the basic a-frame, so I'm looking forward to trying a few different configurations on-trail. Since we're a couple, we'll probably make more use of the tarp just for privacy purposes, but I'm looking forward to doing a ton of cowboy camping too.

Dogwood
01-05-2017, 16:34
Fugget bowd dit. :p Tell a antnee I axed bowd hem.

Soggybottom
01-05-2017, 19:56
Have you ever bivvied before? It is highly claustrophobic and in black bear country I won't do it again. I hiked the High Sierra Trail with a bivvy from Black Diamond and found it highly constrictive. That was only 70 miles. I wouldn't recommend it for summer time. Get yourselves a zpacks hexamid duplex tent. Less than 2 lbs. I own it and love it. On my he west coast trails I recommend the zpad of styrofoam not a mattress or at least put the styrofoam down first.


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Time Zone
01-05-2017, 20:46
Have you ever bivvied before? It is highly claustrophobic and in black bear country I won't do it again.
Because of the climate or the bears?
(or both?)

Not sure I know why a bivy would be worse than a tent b/c of bears. I understand why it's worse in a warm, humid climate.

MuddyWaters
01-05-2017, 20:59
Bivy is less confining than sleeping bag.
Just saying.

Its all mental

Soggybottom
01-05-2017, 21:09
You are fully constricted a veritable bear burrito. At least with a tent you have space to move. I think it's psychological more than anything.


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Soggybottom
01-05-2017, 21:09
It was a sauna too.


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ScareBear
01-05-2017, 23:15
To me, the Gore-tex bivvy sacks of old are just that...of old...

I don't see any significant improvements over the last 25 years that would justify the downsides of a full bivvy vs. the upsides of an UL tent...except for warmth...but if you've ever slept in a full-on bivvy, you know whether you are claustrophobic or not...just sayin...

The only place you need and really want a bivvy is on a multi-day big wall climb. That's it, IMHO. YMMV.

Dogwood
01-06-2017, 00:49
You are fully constricted a veritable bear burrito. At least with a tent you have space to move. I think it's psychological more than anything.


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You haven't slept with my GF. I guess that's a good thing? ;):D

camerhil
01-08-2017, 15:10
Scarebear, I think we're talking about different things here. This isn't a fully waterproof tent replacement bivy, which is indeed claustrophobic. This is a lightweight splash / bug bivy to pair with the tarp, which is a common choice for reasonably temperate trips.

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kevperro
01-08-2017, 23:23
I prefer Tyvek because it is more robust than any of the polycryo things. It is just kind of handy for finding things you drop too because it is at least white rather than clear. Sounds like you are going pretty light so a couple more ounces on the ground sheet is nothing.

shelb
01-08-2017, 23:33
I can't speak about the PCT; however, I do have a NeoAir Xlite. I would not sleep in a shelter on the A.T. without something under it. My husband cut a piece of Tvec material in the shape of my NeoAir, and I use that underneath it. While I have not gotten an actual weight, I really think it has to be 3 ounces or less ---- totally worth it!

Slo-go'en
01-09-2017, 01:30
I discovered that if you just use a bivy and no ground sheet, you have no place to layout gear or stand/kneel on if the ground is wet/muddy or is otherwise inhospitable for direct contact.

kevperro
01-09-2017, 09:39
I discovered that if you just use a bivy and no ground sheet, you have no place to layout gear or stand/kneel on if the ground is wet/muddy or is otherwise inhospitable for direct contact.

I bought a cuben tarp, guylines, stakes and a bivy with bug net to save on weight. It was pretty much the same weight as my tent when I was done. It was more work to set-up and coverage was different. It was worse for sideways rain and the "adjustment flexibility" was not all that good because I found that when the weather changed I'd have to get out of sleeping bag and get wet to change the position of the tarp. A sold the tarp.

garlic08
01-09-2017, 09:58
I bought a cuben tarp, guylines, stakes and a bivy with bug net to save on weight. It was pretty much the same weight as my tent when I was done. It was more work to set-up and coverage was different. It was worse for sideways rain and the "adjustment flexibility" was not all that good because I found that when the weather changed I'd have to get out of sleeping bag and get wet to change the position of the tarp. I sold the tarp.

This is pretty much my experience as well on the PCT (but before Cuben was invented), when I hiked it with my wife .

My advice to the OP is to stay flexible. If you're new on the PCT, you may find that others' advice just doesn't work, especially when there are two of you involved. One may be more phobic of something than the other, and you really need to address that--phobias don't just go away. Or the two of you have different skill sets, sometimes complementary, sometimes not, and you just can make some gear work. If possible, leave other options ready to ship with a family member, or be ready to spend some money at an outfitter in a trail town. (My wife and dropped hundred of dollars on a town trip from Agua Dulce, more in South Lake Tahoe, and then again in Ashland, to dial in our gear just a little better. It was our first multi-month hike together. After that, things got smoother. But what worked for us will certainly not work for you.)

Slo-go'en
01-09-2017, 13:29
I bought a cuben tarp, guylines, stakes and a bivy with bug net to save on weight. It was pretty much the same weight as my tent when I was done. It was more work to set-up and coverage was different. It was worse for sideways rain and the "adjustment flexibility" was not all that good because I found that when the weather changed I'd have to get out of sleeping bag and get wet to change the position of the tarp. A sold the tarp.

That nails it. The tarp/bivy scheme did save some weight when tents used to be on the heavy side, but with new designs and materials, a tent comes in at the same or less weight with fewer disadvantages and is easier to use.

kevperro
01-09-2017, 14:23
This is pretty much my experience as well on the PCT (but before Cuben was invented), when I hiked it with my wife .

My advice to the OP is to stay flexible. If you're new on the PCT, you may find that others' advice just doesn't work, especially when there are two of you involved. One may be more phobic of something than the other, and you really need to address that--phobias don't just go away. Or the two of you have different skill sets, sometimes complementary, sometimes not, and you just can make some gear work. If possible, leave other options ready to ship with a family member, or be ready to spend some money at an outfitter in a trail town. (My wife and dropped hundred of dollars on a town trip from Agua Dulce, more in South Lake Tahoe, and then again in Ashland, to dial in our gear just a little better. It was our first multi-month hike together. After that, things got smoother. But what worked for us will certainly not work for you.)

That is good advice..... once you walk through southern California and hear a rattlesnake 2-3 times per day you may change your mind about Cowboys.

camerhil
01-11-2017, 11:15
Good advice, thanks all. We have a Copper Spur UL2 which we'll mail if the tarp really isn't working out. Right now we're saving about a pound in weight with the tarp and bivies. We plan to switch to the tent anyway if the bugs turn horrendous or if Washington is super wet this year.

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