View Full Version : Which Bivy?

12-21-2004, 09:55 AM
Hello All, yet another Bivy dilemma!

Iíve got to replace my old Gore bivy that has finally given up the ghost! but am bewildered by the current choice on the market (not too bad a thing I guess!). I need it for a combination of things; as a winter bag cover for snow caving / emergency bag and as a Ďsafety blanketí for my down bag for the rest of the year when using a paratarp.

It would only cost around $80 for a replacement nearly new Army surp bivy but itís an eight foot long monster of a bag with a string clinch open face. I guess I need to figure if I need a fully featured waterproof bag or something like a Bibler winter bivy? As my bags are to an extent water repellent, what good is just a water resistant cover?

So far what Iíve been looking at:

Montabell Ultralight (Gore) 7.2oz $179
OR Basic Bivy (Gore) 20oz $179
Bibler winter Bivy (Epic) 9oz $99
I.D. south col (eVent) 1lbs 6oz $235

The Montabell looks like a lightweight smaller version of what I have, just not sure about going with the open face again. The Integral Designs eVent kit looks sooooo good but weight and price are a pain!

Some advice & thoughts would be handy!
Thanks Doug

Ed T
12-21-2004, 10:03 AM

I have a Bibler Winter Bivy and like it a lot. For the duties you mention, I think it would be excellent. If you are using it in more unprotected setting then I would opt for something like the ID, OR or higher end Bibler bivys.

Ed T

12-21-2004, 01:57 PM
Doug, I recommend the Mountain Hardware Conduit.
$105.00 retail $60.00 new on ebay
weight = 1lb
Conduit is advertised as Waterproof and breathable. IMO similar to Goretex.
Designed for tarp tents and single walls. Mates with any bag with 70 inch zipper so you have just one zipper. You can vent from the bottom aswell. So far it has preformed well on two over nighters.
Final thought is if you are using the Kifaru stove and you have a spark or melting episode you are not out alot of $$$$.

Travis Scott
12-21-2004, 02:24 PM
I bought the OR advanced bivy this winter to use for next yr's elk season. It's got lightweight poles that keep the material off your face. A must for me, being closterphobic,sp?. I just figure if I ever have to spend the night in a rainstorm, this feature will save me some sleep. I plan to use the paratarp or tipi as a base camp, and hunt out of the bivy.
Also, the advanced bivy has removable mosquito netting.

12-21-2004, 02:49 PM
There is one little word in your post that should answer your question, that is "emergency". A simple bag cover, while useful in a snow cave, brush shelter, quinzeh snow hut or igloo, won't cut it in an honest to gawd emergency. I have used quite a number of these rigs for many years and I have found that only the full-on, alpine bivies work as you need them to in severe weather conditions.

Then, an emergency frequently involves a fractured leg and all of your cunning trapping, fish catching, shelter building and snowstompin' aircraft signaling survival efforts are beyond your capability, so, you slowly die, in pain, cold, alone and wishing that you had taken up table tennis instead of hunting. Too bad.

However, the wise bushwhacker knows that he can save his sorry a___, IF, he carries about 20 lbs. of easy to use gear that will keep him warm, dry and both fed and hydrated while he awaits the helicopter rescue teams. This is done by having a bivy that you can get into with a fractured leg, without much trouble and a matching sleeping bag and pad arrangement. I am not a "gearhead", but, after rigourous examination and use, I find the Integral Designs bivies to be absolutely the best out there; I own and use Bibler gear and love it, but, I.D. just kicks a___ and it is tough and lasts.

For what you want, I suggest the "Chrysalis" bivy and "Sylshelter" as being the lightest, most versatile system available. I have had a " Unishelter" for about 11 yrs and prefer it for hunting, but, the combo I mention is now available in Olive green and I am going to buy this, with a "Nanok" Endurance-25C bag for all weather, light, low visual signature camping and emergency use.

The "Chrysalis" and "Nanok" bag have zippers on each side, slightly heavier it's true, but, you can get your injured body into this much easier and still make a bit of a "hootch" with the Sylshelter. The total weight with very good pads and groundsheet comes to about 10.5 lbs and this will keep you alive down to -40C; the indivdual conponents are very versatile for various types of trekking, hunting, fishing, etc.

Ed T
12-21-2004, 05:43 PM
With all due respect to Kutenay and his vast wilderness experience, in most instances my wilderness trips are of a nature that I couldn't possibly burden myself with 20 lbs of survival gear. I have had many instances where I have gone 40-60 miles on foot in very rugged wilderness country in a day's time. To accomplish trips like that, every ounce must be trimmed from my gear.

What I carry for emergency gear might be far too little for others. Each man must decide what he must carry for peace of mind. For me, a 9 oz. Bibler Winter Bivy is a probable take along. Any heavier and I would go without. While the Bibler Winter Bivy might not be the finest in protection, it is much better than nothing.

Of course, until a person has a considerable amount of backcountry experience, it is far better to error on the too much side rather than too little.

Ed T

12-21-2004, 06:09 PM
Well, I did mention very severe weather, although I have no Arctic experience. My TOTAL pack weighs about 20 lbs. as my post indicated, this includes stove, fuel, pot, shelter-sleeping and first aid, plus emergency rations. I add water to this according to ambient conditions, but, I always carry some water with me.

Everyone certainly has their own way of doing things and individual level of experience. When I started going out into wild, wet, snowy country with one or two companions, in 1956, there were about 1,000,000 people living in all of B.C. and there was wilderness, rugged wilderness around every small town.

One thing I learned about emergencies in the nearly 50 yrs. I have been bushwhacking, is that trouble happens when you least expect it and, if you are prepared for the worst, you can cope with anything else. Some guys from Rossland, B.C. just had to go into the bush exactly where I was hunting last November to rescue some skiiers from Washington State who got lost in the fog that is a frequent feature of B.C. conditions and these tourists were not equipped for an overnight forced bivy; they were lucky as there is a huge "front" of warm air over B.C. now; if temperatures were as cold as they usually are, he and his boys would have come out on the chopper skids, in body bags.

I try not to "err" when I go out in the mountains because I kinda like to come home again. My younger brother is a "paramedic" who sometimes gets the unenviable task of helping to rescue the frozen corpses of those who seem to think that B.C. wilderness is a "playground" and that we locals are hicks that just don't understand mountain trekking and emergencies. Sad.

12-21-2004, 07:19 PM
A very good point was made that environement dictates gear choices.

Another very good point was if your carrying it for an emergency, an emergency may mean you cant stand up, can only use one hand, have broken bones, or otherwise are functionally impaired.

An item that would keep you from hypothermia during an unexpected desert rainstorm in Arizona, obviously would be woefully inappropriate for a shelter above treeline. Conversely, a heavy bivy suitable for surviving a blizzard would be overkill in the summer.

Personally, I like my Bibler Hooped Bivy. Its light weight, has a bug screen and opens wide for summer. It can be closed off and provide bomber protection in the winter... Its big enough to bring in your "must have" gear, and theres enough room for even the thickest bags to loft up... but its major flaw is, its difficult to set up, and can be even harder to get into.

There are other options... most have been mentioned. But, as with the hooped bivy, you will find that there is give and take on features. maybe no mozzie net? maybe no hood support? maybe no easy enter/exit? maybe its too constricting? maybe the shell is *too* waterproof? maybe not enough?

More and more Im realizing that appropriate gear choices are not so much a matter of who makes the "best gear" but rathers whos gear best fits your needs.

12-21-2004, 09:54 PM
That is exactly why I do not use my Bibler gear when I am solo trekking, it is wonderful stuff and both the folks at the original Todd Bibler company and the current manufacturers have been extremely friendly to me, but, I find the tents and bivies more difficult to set up than the I.D. models I mentioned. Right now, there is nothing on the market that is as simple, weatherproof and durable as the I.D. Chrysalis and it will adapt to any temperature and humidity regime.

But, my concern for quality and versatility may not be quite as important in climates far less severe than B.C.s. I have camped at recorded temperatures from +104F to-41F and I want to have gear that will keep me safe in every weather condition between those extremes.

I have found that, in hot weather, I sleep on my bag inside my bivy and this is very comfortable. In colder weather, the bivy feels to me as though it keeps my bag quite a bit warmer, so, it works for me, each to his own.

12-22-2004, 03:14 AM
As usual, thanks for the good advice! Iím lucky in that the conditions in Europe Iím likely to encounter are far less severe than those you see in N.America, that said Iím far less experienced than most people on this board so I feel Iím more likely need robust backup plans. I am also somewhat uncomfortable with using super lightweight marginal gear, so having a bombproof, easy to use shelter in any worst-case scenario seems like a good starting point for that plan. For an extra $100 and a few ounces Iím now thinking this is definitely not what I should skimping on.

Iíve overlooked the Chrysalis and Conduit in my research so will have a good look at both, though at the moment I prefer an all enclosed design, Iím going to keep clear of anything that requires separate hoops or set up but may well split the tasks between a light winter ski touring bivy like the BWB and a full featured bivy for all other use. Iíll at least have a bit of time to think about it while I save some pennies!


Btw, Kutenay, good steer on the CVG boots, simply great, thanks.

12-22-2004, 06:11 AM
The I.D. Chyrsalis has a wire stiffener and dome over your noggin, which is why I think it tops for your uses WITH a Sylshelter; without, I prefer the Unishelter, which can be set up one-handed, although it is awkward.

I am glad that my advice re: boots was helpful to you, I enjoy these discussions and helping others based on what bush skills and equipment knowledge I have acquired. To use inadequate gear is an example of what a famous countryman of yours once wrote...small learning is a dangerous thing.... cheers, mate.

12-22-2004, 07:11 AM

The one condition you're very likely to encounter in Europe, that some of us don't have to deal with much, is high humidity. I'm sure you already realize this, but I thought it was worth mentioning, especially along the lines of which gear you choose. I lived in Germany for three years, and backpacked and climbed extensively, both in the low mountains along the Rhine River, and also in the Bavarian Alps. That was over 20 years ago, and great strides have been made with equipment. But I can tell you some soggy, soggy stories.

12-22-2004, 02:14 PM
Soggy! yes indeed it does get a bit wet here, though as I don't know anything else it's never really bothered me that much, unless you count the havoc it reaps with reading materials! It also feels like it's getting wetter and warmer over the last few years! never been rained on mid winter in the Alps as I was last year, a horrible combination.

"...small learning is a dangerous thing...." I hope not, or else I'm in big trouble!! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Have a great Christmas and new year


12-23-2004, 08:55 AM
I have an OR bivy with two hoops and mesh. I used it a couple of times when It is to far to get back to camp and the end of the day. I spent a night in it last year when the temp dropped to in the 20's I had a 20 deg. bag. It snowed about 8" that night. I was plenty warm, but they kind of freak me out a little. Not because I am scared of tight spots, I just worry that I am completely and totally defensless. Getting in and out of the bivy is an effort, but so are mummy bags once completely zipped up with hood on etc. However they do what they are designed to do, and do it well. This bivy is relatively once inside, and relatively tough.

12-25-2004, 02:46 PM
On the bugs, a piece of mosquito net hung from the paratarp pole will keep them off you.

On the bivy, I would consider upgrading your bag to one that includes dryloft or other GTEX type shell. Mountain Hardware make some that have welded seams and are very waterproof. It makes for a much lighter total package. Just something to think about before you drop big $$$ on a bivy.

12-27-2004, 07:23 AM

I have a Bibler Tripod bivy which has been really great in terms of weather protection. However, it is difficult to set up and even more difficult to get in and out of. Would be a tough stunt with a broken leg.

Also have an OR Advanced Bivy but haven't had the opportunity to try it out.

12-29-2004, 04:17 PM
I carry my bivy not so much for medical "emergencies" but so that I have options.

It is a Cabela's brand and weighs 1 pound. I dont have a catalog, but they were under $100.00. It has held up well and has been used in the snow and in ice storms. It is just a mummy style shell with face draw string.

Like I said, it gives me more options, especially when I am solo hunting. I even carry it in my fanny pack when I don't have a sleeping bag or pad with me. I have never been "turned around" or lost overnight. But, for the area I hunt, Northern CA and Eastern OR it is suitable for an overnight adventure in typical weather. If it snows I carry more equipment, even on short hikes.

When on longer three season hiking trips I usually let the other guys carry their heavy tents, and I make do with the bivy. They say I am slumming.

12-31-2004, 09:21 AM
Is that the Cabelas XPG bivy? I was looking into getting one. How waterproof is it?