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  1. #1
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Looking for a good Bivi bag

    I'm hoping to get out and explore some new trails this year. I usually use a hammock and tarp. But I need a sleep system that will allow me to sleep on the ground for those times when trees are not available.
    My plan is to add a neoair pad and bivi to my current hammock system.

    Not really looking for the open air under the tarp setup. I have issues with bugs, spiders, snakes on unknown trails. I know I'm a wimp.

    Current models that look pretty good to me are, SnugPak Stratosphere Bivvi Shelter, Chinook Summit Bivy Bag, and the Outdoor Research Highland Bivy. All are in the $160 range.
    Anyone have any experience with these or can you recommend another one?

    Please keep in mind this will be a backup sleep system not my primary. I will be using panniers but space is limited so I'd like to keep is as small as possible and hoping to not increase the weight more that 3# for pad and bivi bag.
    thanks

    edit: I did do a search and read thru the entire "shelter" sticky that is where i came up with these models.

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  2. #2
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    I've been using a Marmot Alpinist for a couple of years, and it's been great. Super lightweight, waterproof, breathable, and compact. It doesn't have bug netting though, so it might not be a great option if you're camping where there are lots of mosquito.

    For buggier nights, I have Sierra Designs P.A.W Bivy.A little heaver than the Marmot, but very nice.


    While I'm not a total minimalist, I try to carry as little as possible--which precludes bivies with poles. For ventilation, I always sleep with the top unzipped. I camp with my head under a tree (even a small one) to keep dry. If it's really pouring, I zip the flap part way, and then prop open a breathing space with a stick or my bike helmet. It also works to throw a rain jacket over my head, and prop it up with something to make a little tent.

    The biggest thing to watch for with bivy bags is condensation. If you sweat at night, or zip the bag closed and breath inside, you'll be soaked by morning. But if you don't overheat, and keep the flap open for breathing, a good bivy may only get slightly damp, generally on the bottom during cold nights.

  3. #3
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    An inexpensive (relatively) and decently thought-of bivy is made by REI. Not the most bling, lightest weight, yadda yadda, but good bang for the buck. Note that you will need a small tarp or be good at figuring out a shelter for your head; there is only bug netting at the head for about 1 foot.

  4. #4
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    Looking for a good Bivi bag

    I was debating the same as you but went a different direction it's a little more but flexible. http://m.rei.com/mt/www.rei.com/prod...r-dome-t1-tent

    Specs are there for you but you can run the fly and foot print for a bivy like setup when it's dry or full tent when there is a chance of rain.

  5. #5
    Cumbria, England.
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    Now then, over here in the UK a lot of bikepackers rave about all the custom made gear that's available in the US. If you're only wanting something as a secondary shelter and are looking for something lightweight, I'd go down that road and stay away from the bigger brands (an exception to this could be some of Rab's offerings but I don't think they have bug nets).

    Have a look at Borah Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs. There are a lot more companies like these but I can't find the site I'm looking for with more information on them.

    The other option that I've seen folk use is a DIY option, using Tyvek roofing material and some no-see-um netting.
    - The seasons blow away, but the love is just the same -

  6. #6
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by TobyGadd View Post
    I've been using a Marmot Alpinist for a couple of years, and it's been great. Super lightweight, waterproof, breathable, and compact. It doesn't have bug netting though, so it might not be a great option if you're camping where there are lots of mosquito.

    For buggier nights, I have Sierra Designs P.A.W Bivy.A little heaver than the Marmot, but very nice.


    While I'm not a total minimalist, I try to carry as little as possible--which precludes bivies with poles. For ventilation, I always sleep with the top unzipped. I camp with my head under a tree (even a small one) to keep dry. If it's really pouring, I zip the flap part way, and then prop open a breathing space with a stick or my bike helmet. It also works to throw a rain jacket over my head, and prop it up with something to make a little tent.

    The biggest thing to watch for with bivy bags is condensation. If you sweat at night, or zip the bag closed and breath inside, you'll be soaked by morning. But if you don't overheat, and keep the flap open for breathing, a good bivy may only get slightly damp, generally on the bottom during cold nights.
    Hi Toby,
    Thanks for the great reply. I do like both models you use. Condensation is a big concern for me since I will be using my down hammock quilt. I think that is why I am looking at the bivi's with a small pole supported head cover. I was hoping to increase ventilation with the small bug net. However in a rain storm preventing condensation could still be an issue. Finding a way to vent your breath while in rainstorm mode might be a challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
    An inexpensive (relatively) and decently thought-of bivy is made by REI. Not the most bling, lightest weight, yadda yadda, but good bang for the buck. Note that you will need a small tarp or be good at figuring out a shelter for your head; there is only bug netting at the head for about 1 foot.
    I like REI's stuff, I'll check them out, thanks.
    Hope to try and avoid the small tarp for head. I'm already carrying a 12x8 tarp for the hammock. Another good reason for a small head vestibule.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unchewable View Post
    I was debating the same as you but went a different direction it's a little more but flexible. REI Quarter Dome T1 Tent - Free Shipping at REI.com

    Specs are there for you but you can run the fly and foot print for a bivy like setup when it's dry or full tent when there is a chance of rain.
    I have a 1 man tent and take it when I know there will be no trees. But it doesn't pack very small.



    Quote Originally Posted by D45yth View Post
    Now then, over here in the UK a lot of bikepackers rave about all the custom made gear that's available in the US. If you're only wanting something as a secondary shelter and are looking for something lightweight, I'd go down that road and stay away from the bigger brands (an exception to this could be some of Rab's offerings but I don't think they have bug nets).

    Have a look at Borah Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs. There are a lot more companies like these but I can't find the site I'm looking for with more information on them.

    The other option that I've seen folk use is a DIY option, using Tyvek roofing material and some no-see-um netting.
    Hi Big D,
    I will give Borah Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs a look. Thanks for the lead.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 03-22-2013 at 06:34 AM.

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  7. #7
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    Borah Gear has some great looking stuff for good prices, the options are nice. MLD is top-notch, their Superlight bivy is very well regarded.

    I own a Katabatic gear Bristlecone bivy, and I've been very pleased. I also own one of their quilts and it is by far the nicest piece of backcountry gear that I own, the craftsmanship is top-notch.

    Like D45yth said, the cottage industry industry is the best option for truly ultralight, functional and well-built gear.

  8. #8
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    The REI minimalist bivy is an oven, but when used properly actually saved my asss in a monsoon event (night 1 CTR 2010). I did not have a down bag but rather a SOL e-bivy inside the REI bivy. Money combo- The condensation stays outside the e-bivy if one cuts vents in the bottom of it. If I had used a down bag that night I would have been in huge trouble. The REI/e-bivy combo kept me alive in about 38 degree drenched terrain.
    YMMV. But I know of at least tougher hombre than me that succumbed that same evening to the weather. I gritted out the toughest night of my life no BS. Now I can pretty much handle any weather with a 3 ounce SOL e-blanket as a tarp over the underrated REI bivy.
    Get the large if you buy it. Medium is tight for my short old body. Large fits 6'2" easy.

  9. #9
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    I'm in Aussie but tend to buy all my outdoors gear from Macpac New Zealand.
    Pricy but bulletproof longevity wise.

    I stealth camp or wild camp using a bivy instead of a tent.

    My 17 year old Macpac Cocoon (bivy) finally gave up the ghost recently and could no longer be called waterproof but merely water resistant. I couldn't complain as it was worked hard and often. It may have been repairable as it was the tape on the seams that had deteriorated and was delaminating.

    I figured Macpac had done me proud so have just invested in their new E-vent Cocoon.
    Sorry but I got the last one in Green that they had.
    Outdoor Clothing & Equipment Store | Macpac

    I also decided to buy a tent so got their Minaret which has legendary status down here in the southern hemisphere and a down jacket as winter will soon be here. I also had to buy a new down sleeping bag as my four season one, whilst fine in New Zealands cold conditions is over kill for all but winter here in Aus.

  10. #10
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    After much research and trying an OR bivi at REI I decided to order a
    SnugPak Stratosphere Bivi Shelter for 160 shipped.




    Bivi Shelter Dimensions: 90in x 37in x 42in / Pack Size: 14in x 4in x 6in
    Weighs: 2.875 lbs or 46 oz. Including Poles, Pegs (Seven L-shaped Steel Anchor Pegs/ Six and One Spare) and Compression Sack

    Fabric Top: Waterproof and Moisture Permeable / 40 D Nylon Ripstop
    Fabric Bottom: 70 D Nylon Tafeta with PU Coating
    Poles: Aluminum with Screw Lock Tips

    Plan to ditch the stakes to save weight. Tracking says it will be here Wednesday.
    I'll do a backyard test and report back.

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  11. #11
    @adelorenzo
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    Bit late to the party but I'll add my thoughts to the thread.

    Close to 3 lbs seems like a lot of weight for an additional shelter system if you plan on carrying it in addition to your hammock and tarp set up.

    I use a Rab Survival Zone bivy which weighs well under 1 lb. I use it under a tarp but I would also take it as an extra layer around the sleeping bag for a really cold night in some other kind of shelter. It's a pretty versatile item for the low weight. It is supposedly breathable and I haven't had any major problems with condensation but of course that's going to be different for everybody. Not bug-proof though.

    I also have an Integral Designs Unishelter that weighs about 2.5 lbs, is bulkier and has poles. But when I use that it's a stand-along shelter with no extras. If you like the one you bought you might want to consider trying it as your only shelter.

    Let us know how it works out.

  12. #12
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthony.delorenzo View Post
    Bit late to the party but I'll add my thoughts to the thread.

    Close to 3 lbs seems like a lot of weight for an additional shelter system if you plan on carrying it in addition to your hammock and tarp set up.

    I use a Rab Survival Zone bivy which weighs well under 1 lb. I use it under a tarp but I would also take it as an extra layer around the sleeping bag for a really cold night in some other kind of shelter. It's a pretty versatile item for the low weight. It is supposedly breathable and I haven't had any major problems with condensation but of course that's going to be different for everybody. Not bug-proof though.

    I also have an Integral Designs Unishelter that weighs about 2.5 lbs, is bulkier and has poles. But when I use that it's a stand-along shelter with no extras. If you like the one you bought you might want to consider trying it as your only shelter.

    Let us know how it works out.
    Hi Anthony,
    Thanks for the suggestions.
    I agree 3# is a bit much and I'd never consider taking two sleeping kit on a singletrack bikepack.
    I'm trying to kit out for some multi day Rails to Trails exploring and no way do I want to give up the comfort of my hammock(18oz) and tarp(8oz). But not knowing the trail I can't be sure there will always be trees.
    I'm hoping with a few tweaks I can get this bivi down to <2#
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 03-25-2013 at 01:41 PM.

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