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View Full Version : Bivy, UL tent, Tarp, or Bivy + Tent?



Bitterroot Bulls
03-07-2012, 03:33 PM
MoHunter posed the question on another thread, and I thought it deserved its own discussion:

How do you decide between a bivy sack and an ultralight tent? I know BB uses a tarprent and seems pleased. I guess I thought I would get something like a tarp or light tent in place of a bivy. Why both?

My thoughts are they all have their uses. I like the Tarptent as a do-all solo shelter. It is superlight, has more room than a bivy, and full bug protection.

I also like a full tent when going with a partner. Complete protection, and the weight isn't bad when split between two or more.

A bivy is nice, cause there is no pitching it. Just roll it out and get in.

A bivy + tarp or floorless tent, is kind of a hybrid. Good protection and lots of room for gear, etc.

This year I am going to try the floorless shelter and bivy on some of my hunts, but I am not giving up my TT.

What do you guys think?

Bitterroot Bulls
03-07-2012, 03:36 PM
I don't like the idea of just a tarp, as I want something between my pad/bag and dirty, wet ground.

Jon Boy
03-07-2012, 05:16 PM
I would go with both just because it adds a bit more warmth and protection if its later in the season.

I like to tie a line between 2 trees, drape the tarp (just a regular el cheapo tarp) over the line, and then stake the 4 corners down. Set my bivvy/pad/bag (cabelas XPG bivvy) underneath the tarp configuration and thats it. This allows me to be able to store my gear and be able to sit up in the morning to get dressed and cook breakfast. If the wind is blowing good and cant find cover I set up my tarp a little differently with one end closed. You already have a tarp tent which is better and lighter just thought id throw that out there for some of the other guys that are on a budget. I'm writing an article/paper for my writing class that ive titled "back country on a college budget" that ill post when im done.

Kevin Root
03-07-2012, 05:40 PM
Like Bitterroot Bulls, mentions I think they all have their uses, advantages and disadvantages. It's hard to find something that fills all the wishes on the list but some solutions come closer than others. The ideal shelter for me is something that is 4 season, super lightweight, roomy, bug proof and durable. I guess one could add cost to the ideal but if it meets all on the check list, I'm willing to pay a bit more for it.

For me it also depends on time of year, if you are backpacking and if so, how far in you go, base camp shelter or spike camp shelter. One can notch off one or more off the list is that case. Example: If you summer hunt or are hunting in a season or area not having much snow, do you really need a 4 season shelter? Maybe a 3 season or lower would be ok?

If you have every been stuck in a bivy in the rain/snow for days, you get to a point where you want something you can sit up in and have easy access to gear, boots, clothes, ect.... If that will something your ok with perhaps your ok with the bivy choice. If not, and you want a bit more room, the bivy is not a good choice perhaps.

A nice roomy tent is nice to have. When you look at 4 season, roomy, windy weather bomb proof durable expedition tents they tend add more weight to carry. It all adds up to choice and application need, but are you ok with some extra tent pack weight to carry?

I used to go the floor-less tent/tarp, ground cloth or even tent-less route. As I've gotten older, having irritating bugs crawling on me is best kept to a minimum while resting on the ground. Depending on the time of season, the choice for me is driven more so by the bugs that are out and crawling about. On some snow winter trips, I've gone without a tent, bivy, tarp shelter, and I've made a snow cave for fun, or used a cave as a shelter. Not as many bugs out in the cold winter.

Lots of options. In the end, it all comes down to what you need/want or what you are ok putting up with. They all have their uses, advantages and disadvantages. Some solutions do come closer than others.

dcestnik
03-07-2012, 07:48 PM
Still need to test it out this summer out but did a DIY bivy and tarp similar to kifaru. Total weight is right at a pound

8750
03-08-2012, 12:29 AM
I really like my Big Agnes UL1. It is as small as a bivy when packed and weighs ~1.9 lb. (So light I dont even care about the numbers). Im not sure how it would stand up to a bunch of snow, but im not to worried about pushing it those conditions. Im sure it would be fine even in the worst; at least for a day or two. It sure is nice to be enclosed after spending a bunch of time in bivy sacks.

NDHunter
03-08-2012, 06:50 AM
I have thought about this too and while I don't have any experience with any of this stuff, I think that when I buy something, it will be something from big agnes like 8750 said. Seems hard to beat a one or two man tent when it weighs less than 3 pounds. Sounds like the 1 man tents are tiny and a 2 man is about right for one person. When compared to a tarp/bivy sack, a small 2 man tent can't be more than a pound heavier which I think would be well worth it to be completely out of the rain.

Bitterroot Bulls
03-08-2012, 08:55 AM
I have thought about this too and while I don't have any experience with any of this stuff, I think that when I buy something, it will be something from big agnes like 8750 said. Seems hard to beat a one or two man tent when it weighs less than 3 pounds. Sounds like the 1 man tents are tiny and a 2 man is about right for one person. When compared to a tarp/bivy sack, a small 2 man tent can't be more than a pound heavier which I think would be well worth it to be completely out of the rain.

Well, that is the thing, NDHunter. I think BA and others make great ultralight traditional double-wall tents. They offer full protection, and weights have really been minimized.

I got in a Fly Creek UL1, and it has only slightly more room than an expedition style bivy. My TT Contrail had more room, was lighter, and less expensive.

The Fly Creek UL2 is a nice solo shelter, but again comparable TT designs are even lighter.

Both Tarptents and the BA UL stuff also have silnylon bathtub style floors, which can wear easy, unless you use a ground sheet, which adds a little weight and bulk.

THe other thing about floored shelters is you generally have to take your boots off outside, or in tiny vestibules.

Floorless shelters like Kifaru, Golite SL, Mountain Hardwear Hoopla, Nemo Pentalite, etc. don't have these problems, but they have their own like sheeting rain, and bugs.

I think most people need to get out and try different methods until they find one that suits them best.

Luckily the second-hand market is a great place to buy and sell gear, without losing too much dough in the process.

Kevin Root
03-08-2012, 09:51 AM
THe other thing about floored shelters is you generally have to take your boots off outside, or in tiny vestibules.

Bitterroot Bulls you make some good points on floor shelters and also taking your boots off outside. It is also reminds me of one of the main reasons I don't care for the bivy and being limited on what one can bring into the shelter with them. There is just some gear I feel a bit more comfortable having on hand in the shelter with me.

The attached picture reminds me of a time years ago I was ten miles into the back country of Yosemite, high mountain, trout fishing. I rolled out my sleeping bag on my pad at the end of the day, no shelter, putting my boots by my head and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning and reached for my boots, they were missing. After some searching, I found them chewed up 30 or so yards from where I slept and coyote tracks all over. In the night that little bugger and some of it's friends had come up right next to my head grabbed my boots and chewed them up. Lucky I had packed some lightweight camp shoes or I'd have had some pretty sore feet hiking back to the trailhead in socks. Now, these days, even when I take a bivy, I'll bag my boots and keep them in with me in the shelter as these days I don't pack extra footwear.

Just goes to show perhaps one reason why, "Cowboys Sleep with Their Boots On". :D

http://i1057.photobucket.com/albums/t387/Kevin_Root/Posting%20Pictures/Cowboyssleepwiththeirbootson.jpg

Bitterroot Bulls
03-08-2012, 10:27 AM
That is awesome, Kevin.

So far, for a solo shelter, I really like the TT contrail best.

As I have mentioned here and elsewhere, I think the GoLite SL5 will be my multi-person shelter this year. I will use it floorless with a bivy. That way all of my gear will be out of the elements, I can take my boots off inside, have enough room to stand up, and still be protected from the wet ground with the bivy.

We will see how it goes.

Kevin Root
03-08-2012, 11:32 AM
That is awesome, Kevin.

So far, for a solo shelter, I really like the TT contrail best.

As I have mentioned here and elsewhere, I think the GoLite SL5 will be my multi-person shelter this year. I will use it floorless with a bivy. That way all of my gear will be out of the elements, I can take my boots off inside, have enough room to stand up, and still be protected from the wet ground with the bivy.

We will see how it goes.

I think your solutions will work well Bitterroot Bulls. I like the idea of using something like the floor-less, GoLite SL5 along with the bivy. It perhaps adds some better functionality to the whole system. It also might help take some on the condensation issues away when using the bivy in wet weather. I keep my bivy open just a bit to help with the air flow and it seems to help well but adding the extra cocoon of sorts or double wall around you would help perhaps with the outside elements along with helping to deter some of those pesky critters as well. It makes for a lightweight shelter with options.

Bitterroot Bulls
03-08-2012, 12:12 PM
I was thinking i would mostly keep the bivy open, unless bugs were being a problem, or I needed the extra warmth.

Then there is the option of throwing the bivy in the pack for the day as an emergency shelter, or for spiking out. I am excited to give the system a try.

I might have to sew in a stovepipe boot in the SL5 as well, and get an EdT stove.

Kevin Root
03-08-2012, 01:50 PM
I was thinking i would mostly keep the bivy open, unless bugs were being a problem, or I needed the extra warmth.

Then there is the option of throwing the bivy in the pack for the day as an emergency shelter, or for spiking out. I am excited to give the system a try.

I might have to sew in a stovepipe boot in the SL5 as well, and get an EdT stove.

Some excellent ideas Bitterroot Bulls. Lightweight shelters with options. Sounds like a good concept to me at least.

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." :)
Victor Hugo

wapiti66
03-08-2012, 09:00 PM
I personally like the room and comfort that goes with my two-man Eureka tent. I know it is far from being the lightest shelter, but being comfortable in camp is worth the added weight in the pack for anything over 2-3 nights. Also, I'm 6'3" so I need a little more room. That is also a contributing factor...your personal height/weight and what tent/shelter you can fit in. I also like being able to put most or all of my gear in the tent to keep dry, sort through/prep for the next day, and now to keep from the coyotes. When my funds increase I will look for something lighter, but similar in size. It all comes down to what you want/dread the most...weight in your pack or comfortable sleep.

Grantbvfd
03-08-2012, 09:31 PM
I have a copper spur ul4. Later down the road when money isn't an issue I will get something for more solo use but since my daughter and/or wife go scouting with me I had to get something comfortable enough for the 3 of us as well as solo.

There is plenty of vestibule room for all our gear and them some. Just wish I could shed that extra 3 lbs when I'm going solo.

Musket Man
03-09-2012, 12:15 AM
Has anyone used either of the appy trails tents? They look interesting considering how lite they are for their size.

mcseal2
03-19-2012, 07:56 PM
I got a Kifaru paratarp earlier this winter and like it, but I haven't tested it out much yet. I did set it up with a tarp under it to catch moisture before we got a 3 day long rain. It wasn't a downpour but it was 3" over the 3 days. The only moisture on the tarp was a few droplets under the seam along the middle of the tarp where it needed seam sealed. I kept the tarp in about 4" or so from the edges where the soild got damp. I like that it weighs under 1lb with stakes and sets up very quickly. I carry stakes for the sides, but just cut poles or use trekking poles to raise it. Even my Stoney point bipod works in a pinch. I have the annex and pipe for the parastove I picked up from a forum on the way, should be here tomorrow. I bought a Seekoutside bathtub floor for it also that weighs 8oz with the stuff sack I have it in. I thought that might be nice to keep it dry under my bedroll and still be able to have muddy boots inside. I'll get it tested further fishing this spring and summer. The paratarp itself is light enough I plan to keep it in my daypack with my Adventure medical bivy sack and other survival gear when day hunting. If I have an emergency sitution or just get far enough back I decide to stay the night they will be way better than nothing.

The guy I hunt with and I are looking to add a sawtooth and a pipe for the stove to our gear for when both of us go.

EdD270
03-20-2012, 05:36 PM
I prefer a tarp for light weight and room for gear out of the weather. Tarps offer no insect protection unless you pitch some mosquito netting with it, which adds to weight although minimally. they give stand up room for dressing and a sheltered place to eat or lounge. A bivy is lighter, usually but not always, but gear is out in the weather, and there's no shelter for dressing, lounging, eating, etc. Tents offer greater protection from the elements, but weigh a lot.
The Appy Trails tents are very light, and offer great protection. Look at them at www.appytrails.com. I'm saving up for one. Until then, I'll keep using my tarp.
If you're shopping for a tarp, check out Bushcraft USA's store, online at www.bushcraftusa.com. BTW I have no connection with either Appy Trails or Bushcraft USA, other than posting from time to time on BCUSA's forum.

dcestnik
03-20-2012, 09:30 PM
I'd be curious to know more about appy trails materials. When doing a DIY shaped tarp I went with 1.1 oz silicone coated nylon since anything polyurethane coated was extremely heavy and getting sub 1# was not an option. For $100 I might have to see for myself and also test the grommets.

sapper1
07-15-2012, 07:50 PM
I posted this in another thread as well but have any of you used one of these?

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Hunter-Bivouac/746779.uts?Ntk=AllProducts&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch.cmd%3Fform_state%3D searchForm%26N%3D0%26fsch%3Dtrue%26Ntk%3DAllProduc ts%26Ntt%3Dbivy%2Bsack%2Bshelter%26x%3D0%26y%3D0%2 6WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts&Ntt=bivy+sack+shelter&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products

huntabsarokee
07-17-2012, 10:16 AM
I just picked up 1 of these from Cabelas. They had them on sale for $99. Hard to pass up. I have not used it yet but its small and pretty light. Will be taking it to CO in September.

sapper1
07-18-2012, 09:58 AM
After reading the reviews on it there seems to be a minor issue with condensation.

huntabsarokee
07-19-2012, 07:21 AM
I read the reviews but many single wall tent reviews complain about condensation even the $300 models except the guys that have stoves in them. I figured for $100 it was worth a shot. Figure if its warm enough I will just leave the door open all night. I will write a review after I use it in CO.