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  1. #1
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    Default Last Minute Opinions Requested

    Starting a NOBO thru hike starting 3/17/21 and just want some last minute opinions on a shelter. My original plan was to take my Nemo Dagger 2P tent. With that and my other gear, it made for a base weight in the 25 pound range. More and more Iíve been thinking of switching to a bivy/tarp combo. Iíve ordered an Outdoor Research Helium bivy but have yet to receive it. Reviews all seem to indicate that when itís closed up, thereís a lot of condensation buildup inside. Iím thinking with an REI tarp at 115Ēx115Ē, if I put that over the bivy, Iíd be able to sleep with just the bug net by the head, allowing airflow within. A switch to the bivy/tarp would save about 2 pounds, and Iím thinking that it could be a good way to start off. If the tarp system isnít to my liking, I can always have the tent sent out to meet me. Thoughts? Thanks for any feedback.

  2. #2

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    Cant go wrong with a tarptent.com product. Look at the styles and see what you think would match up good with your style
    Trail Miles: 4,090.3 - AT Trips: 71
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 116.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seapig View Post
    Starting a NOBO thru hike starting 3/17/21 and just want some last minute opinions on a shelter. My original plan was to take my Nemo Dagger 2P tent. With that and my other gear, it made for a base weight in the 25 pound range. More and more Iíve been thinking of switching to a bivy/tarp combo. Iíve ordered an Outdoor Research Helium bivy but have yet to receive it. Reviews all seem to indicate that when itís closed up, thereís a lot of condensation buildup inside. Iím thinking with an REI tarp at 115Ēx115Ē, if I put that over the bivy, Iíd be able to sleep with just the bug net by the head, allowing airflow within. A switch to the bivy/tarp would save about 2 pounds, and Iím thinking that it could be a good way to start off. If the tarp system isnít to my liking, I can always have the tent sent out to meet me. Thoughts? Thanks for any feedback.
    I slept in this last night. I stayed dry in a steady rain. 8x10 sinylon tarp. Nylon emergency tarp as a ground sheet. Plough point config with the opening facing east. With 3 stakes and one guy line, it is 22 ounces for all. I have always been able to stay dry with this. However, bugs don't really bother me.

    tarp1.jpg
    tarp 2.jpg

  4. #4
    Garlic
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    Ditto Tarptent.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  5. #5

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    I have a Tarptent Notch Li. Stupid expensive but I am very impressed so far. It is 21.4 oz with lines, stakes, stuff sack, bug enclosement with floor, and the actual "tarp". I just got it. Set it up in maybe 3 minutes the first time. Spent the night in it and Katabatic Palisades the other night....it got down to 17F and it was windy.

    I have used just plain old tarps in the past. I don't like the bugs all over me.

  6. #6
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    My only comment is to go ahead and use the tarp, but ditch the bivy. Save even more weight as the bivy is unnecessary under a tarp unless you're using it to protect from bugs, in which case, a bug net is a lot lighter weight, or you want extra warmth, in which case, carry a warmer quilt or bag.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    My only comment is to go ahead and use the tarp, but ditch the bivy. Save even more weight as the bivy is unnecessary under a tarp unless you're using it to protect from bugs, in which case, a bug net is a lot lighter weight, or you want extra warmth, in which case, carry a warmer quilt or bag.
    There are times that you don't need the tarp and bivy together, but to say that it's unnecessary under a tarp as a blanket statement is absurd.

  8. #8

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    For that time of year I'd stick with the tent.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  9. #9
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    If it's only 1 p thru hiking why opt for the features of a 2p tent that weighs almost 4 lbs? Going to an UL 1p shelter can save you 1.5+ lbs. A 25 BW was not achieved with an almost 4 lb tent alone. Post a lighter pack sheet. Maybe, we can help you reduce your gear load out in other areas.

    As far as condensation that is also a consequence of problematic CS selection(open grassy meadows/balds, waterside low spots, etc), specific weather, and tent utilization/personal usage habits. If the Nemo Dagger does not need to be completely tightened down in storm mode you'll experience less risk of condensation.

  10. #10
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    I’m not a bivy fan. I’ve had condensation issues with them . My preference is a shaped tarp but a 9.5x 9.5 tarp would work for me

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    There are times that you don't need the tarp and bivy together, but to say that it's unnecessary under a tarp as a blanket statement is absurd.
    This isn't an tarp thread, so I want to avoid getting very deep into this. But, to suggest that a bivy is a valuable addition to a tarp (except tarps smaller than about 6 x 9) is to suggest that the suggester hasn't spent much time in varied conditions under a tarp and instead has likely spend more time reading about it on-line. I get that a tarp isn't for everyone. BUT, I have yet to find conditions (aside from avoiding horrible bug hatchings) where I want a bivy under my tarp. And, I challenge you to find any conditions likely to be found along any of our National Scenic Trails, that I haven't slept in under a tarp without a bivy. I find the bivy to be redundant and unused, except as a ground sheet, if carried.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  12. #12

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    Yes, you're right.

    All of us that find value in the tarp and bivy combination are inexperienced and uneducated internet only backpackers.

    You win?

  13. #13

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    I'm not a fan of tarps. I get a fair about of use out of my OR Advanced bivy during the fall season. Using either or both on an AT thru will turn you into a shelter dweller real quick.

    A tent has a lot of advantages, especially in the early spring. Get a nice 1.5 to 2 pound sil-nylon tent which is quick and easy to set up and be done with it.

    With only 7 days left before the OP's scheduled departure, not much time left to make a decision if one hasn't been made already. But then, the outfitters at Mountain Crossings would be more then happy to sell you a nice tent.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    This isn't an tarp thread, so I want to avoid getting very deep into this. But, to suggest that a bivy is a valuable addition to a tarp (except tarps smaller than about 6 x 9) is to suggest that the suggester hasn't spent much time in varied conditions under a tarp and instead has likely spend more time reading about it on-line. I get that a tarp isn't for everyone. BUT, I have yet to find conditions (aside from avoiding horrible bug hatchings) where I want a bivy under my tarp. And, I challenge you to find any conditions likely to be found along any of our National Scenic Trails, that I haven't slept in under a tarp without a bivy. I find the bivy to be redundant and unused, except as a ground sheet, if carried.
    A bivy under a tarp does not only function in a shelter capacity but sleep system capacity as well. It tweaks the sleep system. It can also serve as bug protection and, as you stated, suffice for groundsheet.

  15. #15
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    And, I challenge you to find any conditions likely to be found along any of our National Scenic Trails, that I haven't slept in under a tarp without a bivy.


    so you've slept under a tarp without a bivy during a freak snow storm in the summer, when
    other hikers are launching flaming marshmallows at your tarp, all while reading some
    edgar allen poe?


    Sweet...

    Props to you...

  16. #16
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    This isn't an tarp thread


    actually, it kinda is....



    here's what the OP writes----"More and more I’ve been thinking of switching to a bivy/tarp combo."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    ... But, to suggest that a bivy is a valuable addition to a tarp (except tarps smaller than about 6 x 9) is to suggest that the suggester hasn't spent much time in varied conditions under a tarp and instead has likely spend more time reading about it on-line....
    I could be wrong but that's the gist I surmised of the OP too. They are feeling tarps out as a tarp neophyte specific to an AT NOBO during typical NOBO time frames.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I could be wrong but that's the gist I surmised of the OP too. They are feeling tarps out as a tarp neophyte specific to an AT NOBO during typical NOBO time frames.
    Nsherry wasn't referring to the OP as the suggester.

  19. #19

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    First off, I do think you need to reduce your baseweight, particularly at your age where injury is easier than someone in their twenties. I always recommend trying for a baseweight of 15lbs or less. It lessens the likely hood of injury and makes the walking more enjoyable with less pain.

    I'm primarily a bivy and tarp user. Even did a late summer/fall section hike of the northern 600 miles of the AT with that setup. I don't recommend your choices though. The Outdoor Research Helium bivy is a poor choice to use with a tarp. It's virtually a tent with little ventilation which you don't need since you are also bringing a tarp. If you are insistent that a tarp is what you want, I would have gone more with a <8oz water resistent bivy rather than a heavy water proof one when used with a tarp (Mountain Laurel Designs superbivy and their Grace Solo tarp is what I mostly use). Here are some photos of my setup. That said, if you don't have much experience using a bivy and tarp, I don't recommend starting a thru-hike with them without having gained some experience first, which you don't look to have that time. You'd be better off staying with a more tent like structure. As others recommended, one of the solo sized Tarp Tents, even the cheaper non DCF versions, are a good choice for weight for someone coming from a more traditional tent. Mountain Laurel designs tents, Zpacks tents, and many others also offer some lightweight tent like options. That said, a bivy does have some advantages if you plan on staying in shelters much, since it can be used inside one. But whatever you choose, setup it up a few times and see if you like it, preferably in some wet weather.
    Last edited by Miner; 03-11-2021 at 00:09.

  20. #20
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I'm not a fan of tarps. I get a fair about of use out of my OR Advanced bivy during the fall season. Using either or both on an AT thru will turn you into a shelter dweller real quick.

    A tent has a lot of advantages, especially in the early spring. Get a nice 1.5 to 2 pound sil-nylon tent which is quick and easy to set up and be done with it.

    With only 7 days left before the OP's scheduled departure, not much time left to make a decision if one hasn't been made already. But then, the outfitters at Mountain Crossings would be more then happy to sell you a nice tent.
    Not necessarily Evan thru hiked the AT with just a tarp and sandals and made it look easy. I don't think I've ever seen him in a shelter.

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