bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

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Oldknees
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bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby Oldknees » 16 Sep 2011, 10:33pm

Hello Folks, I
My Vango TSB 100 one man tent has pretty much done it's last trip after 12 years I have no regrets. What I was thinking of was trying a bivvi bag out. It should be much lighter and put up pretty much instantly for 'wild camping'. So, I'd be interested in reading what experience and opinions people have on bivvi bags. Will I have to get a thicker sleeping bag? Is condensation a problem? All contibutions would be appreciated. Thanks,

Richard
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby Richard » 16 Sep 2011, 11:38pm

Bivvi bags come in various guises. They range from the hooped type that give a "tent for the head" to what are essentially waterproof sleeping bag covers.

Condensation can be a problem, particularly if you cover your face, which is necessary if you don't want rain to get in. There is nowhere to cook, there's no space to keep your stuff dry and there's not much you can do once you're in it. They don't offer the privacy or security a tent does but that is of little importance unless on a public site.

However, combined with a tarp they can be quite lightweight and versatile. I have an Alpkit Rig 7 tarp http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?target=product&product_id=16474&category_id=253 (not sure about the new colours though) and one of their Hunka waterproof bivvi bags http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?target=product&product_id=16312&category_id=253 which seems to give a good range of shelter options whilst not being bulky. I've also got the material to build one of these http://www.backpacking-lite.co.uk/diy/make-an-ultralight-solo-micro-tarp.html which is more minimalist but looks interesting.

I have to admit I've not used these in anger yet - too much to do this summer and not enough time to do it - but the kids have camped out in the garden and it seemed to work well, even in heavy rain.

I don't think you have to choose between a tent or bivvi. They're cheap enough that it's worth trying them out.

snibgo
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby snibgo » 17 Sep 2011, 12:01am

You might find you need a thinner sleeping bag with a bivvy. IME they are warmer than tents, but YMMV.

I don't get condensation in mine, which is Goretex, a "Phoenix Phoxhole". I don't use a tarp with it.

It's less obtrusive than a tent, which is handy for wild camping. There's no room for anything other than sleeping, which is okay for me.

I'm not fond of getting up and getting dressed in the rain. If it's raining, I generally go back to sleep.

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andrew_s
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby andrew_s » 17 Sep 2011, 2:17am

snibgo wrote:I'm not fond of getting up and getting dressed in the rain. If it's raining, I generally go back to sleep.


What put me off bivvy bags was the time I found a nice discreet spot in a field at dusk, then went to the pub 1/4 mile down the road. When I emerged from the pub, it was in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm, and I completely failed to pass the "unpack bivvy bag and sleeping bag and go to bed without getting everything soaked" test.

As a result, I'd only recommend a bivvy bag for more than weekend use if you also take a tarp (probably 2m x 1.5m minimum size, or thereabouts). If you take a tarp as well as the bivvy bag, there's little or no weight saving over a small tent like a TN Laser Comp (though it is easier to find sleeping spots).

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Helen
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby Helen » 17 Sep 2011, 12:07pm

I've been using a Terra Nova Jupiter bivvy without any tarp for 3 years because:

1. It saves money to camp wild. (And I don't like bivvying on a proper campsite - too many odd looks, and no privacy.)

2. When touring the Alps I could get high up a climb before finishing it off in the morning.

3. If you wake up rain that looks like it won't stop, you can slip out of your bag and into your waterproofs, roll up bivvy with bedding inside, and shove it into bin bags until you get to shelter to sort stuff out.

4. If it looks like rain at night, it's easy to doss in a bus shelter, toilets, under a porch roof etc etc. Of course, you could do this in just your sleeping bag, but I don't like the idea of being open to insects, snakes etc.

On trips where I know I'll be on campsites, or where wild camping is legal and I can pitch in daylight, I might take a proper tent to hide from mozzies and read in the evening.

bealer
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby bealer » 17 Sep 2011, 1:27pm

I like my bivvi/tarp set up as it's ultra light weight, like 700g in total. Also for wild camping you are better hidden than using a tent. I don't use it for every occasion though. Summer weekend rides, or possibly a week ride it's very good.

A bivvi is far less convenient than a tent. It's a lot more harder to get changed in, or sort your gear out, generally relax, read a book etc... especially if the weather is bad.

I found a nice middle ground with my tarptent (it's a brand). £180 got me a tarptent moment, a 900g (once sealed) single-skin tent. It has one pole, 2 pegs and can be setup in 1 minute. It's only 200g heavier, and I now have the convenience of a tent, at the weight of a bivvi. There are even lighter models and brands, closer to 700g if you look around. The only disadvantage is that it's more visible, so you have to pick your wild camping spots a bit more carefully.

hamster
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby hamster » 23 Sep 2011, 3:29pm

I bought a Jack Wolfskin Gossamer this summer. I treads exactly down the fine line between tent and bivvy. Inside it feels like a tent - there's wriggling space. However you still have to crawl out to dress unless you are amazingly supple, and I wouldn't want to spend a rainy weekend in it.

johnb
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby johnb » 23 Sep 2011, 6:29pm

I have an army bivy bag that I have never used, your welcome to it

Forgot to add. It's a gortex one
The lead Greyhound never has to look at another Greyhounds derrière.

Oldknees
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby Oldknees » 29 Sep 2011, 9:23pm

Thank's for the very kind offer of a bivvi bag. Still weighing up the best options so will say thanks but no thanks for now. I have been looking at one person tents too. The reviews are quite shocking. I must have been so lucky with the Vango TSB micro 100. I am quite keen on a minimalist approach to cycle camping. I bagining to wonder if it's called the YHA.

vernon
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby vernon » 29 Sep 2011, 10:41pm

YHA is a minimalist approach to cycle camping as there's too few of them open and available to impromptu bookings to make it a worthwhile activity.

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horizon
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby horizon » 30 Sep 2011, 1:01am

Oldknees wrote: I have been looking at one person tents too. The reviews are quite shocking.


Can you say a bit more?
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

uphillbothways
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby uphillbothways » 30 Sep 2011, 2:54am

Using a bivvi bag inevitably entails being a bit wet and miserable. Condensation is difficult to avoid, even with the very breathable modern bags. Even with a tarp, if it starts chucking it down your gear is going to get soggy as you pack and unpack. This is tolerable for a short trip I suppose, but things can become very unpleasant in just a few days if you can't get properly dried out. Ultralight tents are a flimsy contrivance, but there are plenty of good sub-2kg tents that are either cheap (Vango Banshee 200) or tremendously durable (Hilleberg Akto).

I can see that bivvi users like the discretion when wild camping, but I do wonder how useful that really is. For me, smartphones and the internet have completely changed the game when it comes to impromptu touring. It's incredibly easy to plan routes on the fly, find and book accommodation and generally not worry about where you're going to stay the night. I'm just not hardy or masochistic enough to sleep in a plastic bag in a field when I know I could get a bed and a hot shower almost anywhere in the country for under £20, or find the nearest proper campsite on my phone in two minutes.

The YHA has gone downhill somewhat, but IMO that's more than made up for by the huge number of independent hostels, cheap hotels and services like Airbnb. The cheap but sociable side of things has been somewhat taken over by the likes of Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. I think there's never been a better time to be touring on a budget; Thanks to the hospitality exchange phenomenon, I think it would now be entirely plausible to do a long-distance tour on a budget of just a few quid a day without camping.

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horizon
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby horizon » 30 Sep 2011, 10:30am

uphillbothways: when I first read this thread I too wondered why anyone would bivvi when good lightweight tents were available at just 1.5kg (or less?). But then I remembered times when I did "bivvi" even though I had a tent with me. This included sleeping on the central verges of motorway intersections in America, several beaches around Europe, and dubious barns and outbuildings. And then there was the positive side as well: who wants to sleep even in a tent on a warm Mediterranean night? And then back to camping: I camp for the joy of it not just the cheapness (in Spain it's often the more expensive option). The argument that I would make against bivvi-ing though is in the UK: if you are OK about campsites then carrying a small tent means an extra 1kg of weight but a huge increase in amenity. And we are talking cycling here not backpacking or mountaineering. But just as many people wonder why campers camp but respect their choice, I too respect the choice of those who bivvi. They probably look at me with my 3kg tent in the same way as I regard people in motorhomes.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Oldknees
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby Oldknees » 1 Oct 2011, 12:03am

Well, It was the lack of camp sites in parts of Belgium and France and the mountains of Germany and Switzerland that made me start to consider a bivvibag approach to camping.. The one man lightweight tents all appear to be made from weak material, badley designed and suffer from sever condensation. Theey are also loads of hundreds of pounds for a sub 1200 gramme version.

T other Dave
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Re: bivvi bags, how do they stack up against tents

Postby T other Dave » 3 Oct 2011, 8:45pm

Hi I bought a Gelert solo @ £35 I class it as cheap small lightweight disposable tent, just gives a bit more than a bivi bag as in a little more space to get changed if raining, a bit more civilised on campsites and put up and nip off to pub/food shop and it keeps insects and big foreign ants out. It paid for itself after 2 nights on a recent multi day trip (as opose to hotel) so if I never use it again its no big deal (although I will probably use it till it dies or leaks).
Bivvis are great just depends on where you are and what your doing as to what works best for you.
Dave