View Full Version : Do I need a bivy sack?

05-30-2007, 01:55 PM
Hi Everyone....
I'm considering a supertarp to go along with my new Siwash for solo backcountry bowhunting in Eastern Oregon this Sept. I want something light and easy to pitch, but I need something that will stand up to serious all day downpours/snowstorms. I have no experience w. a single wall tent, and am wondering about the condensation issue. I will not be packing a wood stove. My question is, do I need a bivy sack with this set up? I use a WM down bag. Weight is a big issue in the kind of hunting I do, but obviously staying dry and safe are ultimately the most important concerns. In the past I have used only an Outdoor Research bivy sac, but in serious weather it doesnt keep me dry/comfortable.

The 3 options I'm considering are:
1) supertarp w no bivy sac
2) supertarp w bivy
3) light-weight double wall bivy tent for 1 person.

Thanks in advance for your feedback,


05-30-2007, 02:30 PM
The tarp/ bivy combo is light and versatile. The tarp can give you a place to hang out in most precip and keep things generally dry. But there will usually be some condensation and particularly for for blowing snow, I'd want a bivy. A small,rock fireplace can be snugged in close to the tarp and provide significant warmth and drying.

05-30-2007, 02:58 PM
I use a ST with three different WM down bags and don't use the OR bivy that I have. It's much drier in CA that OR but the ST is large enough to keep you away from the sides and unless you have an annex that is closed off you won't get condensation at a level that will be a problem. The open front will vent that even in a very humid area from what I've seen.

I've also found that the DWR finish on my WM bags works quite well for the brush up against the tent, etc. Doesn't help too much for a complete dunking but it works well for what it was designed to do.

05-30-2007, 04:51 PM
Big Agnes Seedhouse under 3-lbs is my suggestion.

Woods Walker
05-30-2007, 07:41 PM
For the tipi if using a down bag I crack out the DWR top/ Sil bottom MLD bivy. Comes in at 9 oz. For the tarp camping in bad weather I use a full Gortex bivy and tarp. But you don't need a bivy inside a ST or Paratipi.

05-30-2007, 08:25 PM
I live in Alabama, possibly the most humid state in the union. I use my WM megalite in my ST. When condensation coats the inside of my tarp, I slide my bag out on it's pad, give the inside of the tarp a wipe down with a handtowel, and am back in business in less than a minute. I'm good to go for another 24 hours.

Condensation is an overrated danger and can be dealt with simply enough. A sponge or a hand towel is lighter, cheaper and smaller than a bivy.

05-31-2007, 10:46 AM
I wouldn't be caught out in the Wallowas (or really anywhere else for that matter) any month of the year with a down bag. I'd spend money (and weight) on a good synthetic bag before I'd spend money on a bivy bag.

Might be a different way to skin the cat.

05-31-2007, 01:14 PM
Lots of folks here with more bivy experience than me but here in my neck of the woods, (intermountain west) this is how I do it: I have gone exclusively to single wall floorless tipi or tarps for backpacking, hence always in the dirt and since I get Army Bivy sacks at (shall we say) less than cost, I have modified two of them by replacing the goretex top halfs with untreated 1.1 silnyl. This accomplishes several things for me. It provides a very breahtable surface for body vapors to pass through, gives me a bivy at under 1 lb total weight, adds warmth (I'm a cold sleeper), keeps the drips and wind blown stuff off my bag, it keeps my bag out of the dirt, protects my bag from any errant sparks that my stove or fire may put into the atmosphere and it provides a place for my Thermarest to reside that 1. Prevents it from sliding out from underneath me in the middle of my slumbers and 2. Protects it from punctures. I only use down sleeping bags here in the Rockies and Great Basin. I would probably own a synthetic bag in a wet climate but this thread wasn't about bags now was it?

05-31-2007, 02:11 PM
do you want the condensation on the inside of the tarp or the inside of the bivy?

a bag with a good DWR should be fine with a groundcloth under you.

05-31-2007, 05:03 PM
Thanks for all the feedback!