Mar 27, 2008 at 2:58 pm #1228017
I am going on a 4 day trip to the Grand Canyon in a couple of weeks, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on whether an Equinox bivy would be enough protection in the Canyon. From what I have heard so far, dew is the main concern as far as precip is concerned.
Anybody have any experience in the Canyon as far as weather conditions?Mar 27, 2008 at 3:28 pm #1425861
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Take some sort of tarp with your bivy.Mar 27, 2008 at 7:57 pm #1425904
@cascadejeffLocale: S.Cal/High Sierra
Dew is your main concern until it pours rain, hail and snowMar 27, 2008 at 8:06 pm #1425910
Hmmm… My problem is that I don't have either a bivy or a tarp right now. I'm just getting into UL gear this year basically. I have about $100 left to spend on gear before the trip and I have to buy food out of that. Should I just buy a tarp instead, and wait on the bivy?Mar 27, 2008 at 9:02 pm #1425915
@pwszolekLocale: Desert Southwest, USA
If you're spending any nights in the corridor campgrounds, then "site selection" is just taking the best of what's available when you get there. So you can end up pitched in a depression or on a slope, even though you know better.
On one of my trips last year, I can't forget the sight of the people across the way under their tarp in the downpour, trying to hold their bags and the rest of their gear up off the ground. Their site was away from the creek, up against the wall of the canyon, and all of the water coming off the wall was doing it's best to flush them right into the creek.
We fared better, our tent was in it's own little pond for about 30 minutes, until the water had a chance to drain.Mar 27, 2008 at 9:17 pm #1425918
I've spent a lot of time in the Utah desert and can tell you that when it rains, it pours. Also, there are chances for big wind storms, especially in the spring. Even though setting up tarps in the sand is difficult (try using big rocks), I would still take a tarp over a bivy, to protect me from the rain. Chances are you won't have to use the tarp, but if the weather calls for it, you'll definitely be glad you chose the tarp over a bivy. Also, the canyon floor usually won't retain the rain well so it might run under your tarp, meaning you should take a ground cloth too, or a bathtub floor. This will also help with the sand.
Hope you have a good trip.Mar 27, 2008 at 9:33 pm #1425923
@maynard76Locale: New England
Well, you could get a Golite poncho tarp and it would only cost you 50 bucks. You might find a larger tarp out there for simular money. I do hesitate to recomend a tarp that small to someone new at tarping. I would practice a lot at home in the rain setting it up if you choose that route.Mar 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm #1425998
Honestly, it sounds like you're tempting fate here. Taking just a bivy might work…but then again, it might possibly ruin your trip or (worst case) put you in jeopardy.
If you are just getting into hiking and packing light, don't make the mistake of thinking you need to have 'ultralight everything' until you've had time to test and experiment with your gear in more favorable conditions. Pitching a tarp properly will take some trial and error, especially if conditions are less-than-favorable. I wouldn't want to try to learn those skills on the fly in a place like the Grand Canyon, where it can be a challenge for even experienced hikers.
My advice would be to get a cheap one man tent that you can count on to be watertight. It will be heavier than a tarp and bivy, but you've got all the time in the world to try those systems out when you can do it right.
If you're sold on the tarp/bivy idea, then you can always make your own tarp practically cost-free with some plastic sheeting or tyvek. Use a groundcloth, read up on site selection, and practice pitching it without driving stakes into the ground until you can get a good pitch quickly, hopefully in windy conditions.
Don't go ill-equipped just for the sake of going 'ultralight' and by all means, put yourself in a postion to enjoy your trip as much as possible. The Grand Canyon is one of the most magnificent places to hike on the entire planet!Mar 28, 2008 at 7:51 pm #1426031
Thanks for all the input, everyone. It certainly sounds like the Canyon can have worse weather than I was anticipating. I have been there several times on trips, but never spent more than a few hours on the rim. I will be hiking with a group of friends who for the most part are not UL campers. Actually, the plan was for me to share a 3 man tent with 2 other guys, but they are both about 6'2" so I'm thinking there won't be much room for me. I've never liked the confines of tents anyhow, although I love to camp and hike.
I'm kind of thinking that I will go ahead and go with the bivy. I've got an A16 for the "critters". Then if the weather starts to turn sour I can always wimp out and run to the tent. Eventually, I will definitely get a tarp of some sort, but maybe baby steps will be good enough for this trip.
Thanks again, everybody!Mar 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm #1426032
@fairweather8588Locale: The Desert
April is one of the lowest precip months for the canyon, with the best water supply due to snow melt, and the most comfortable weather you will find out there…and as a result April is also the busiest month!
I suggest you try tarping, not only does it free your insecureties about adjusting/relying/living under questionable weather conditions it will enhance your knowledge of your surroundings…and you will be a better man when you can survive without fear of mice/raindrops/the boogyman.
so my point is, enjoy your ultralight hiking and gear but mooch a tent spot from anyone/everyone if you need to!
let us know what part of Grand Canyon you are going to hike in.Mar 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm #1426035
Kevin, good call. It's a prudent decision to use an overhead shelter in the GC. The Equinox bivy just isn't enough by itself. I have used the same with different tarps. The bivy & tarp is a flexible solution.
A great beginning tarp for a reasonable price is at Campmor — http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=88643&memberId=12500226&storeId=226&catalogId=40000000226&langId=-1Mar 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm #1426038
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I've been off the north rim at Monument Point several times at this time of the year. You might have snow on the rim and temperatures in the 50's on the Esplanade. You also might experience 60° at the rim and 80° near the bottom. I've never had much trouble with dew. Later in the season thunder showers are common. The weather this time of the year is fairly stable and, unless there's a front moving through you should be OK.
I believe you can get up to date weather information from the US Weather Service office in Flagstaff at (928)774-3301.Mar 28, 2008 at 8:46 pm #1426039
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I'm backpacking the Grand Canyon April 15th through 21st. I'm taking my TarpTent Contrail. Since the Contrail does me fine for various weather here in the southwest and mountain west I see no reason to carry more… or less.
At 1.5 lbs. I'd recommend the T.T. contrail over a bivy/tarp combo any time. It's bug free, cooler (W/O a bivy). has a small vestibule for pack protection and has lots of room for one. Plus it sets up in only TWO minutes.
If you prefer a free standing tent T.T. makes the Rainbow but you need both of your adjustable hiking poles to do it.
To me, a winter camper, a good bivy must be eVent laminate(needed breathability)and should mainly be used in winter and in snow shelters. Bivys can be VERY damp and, without a tarp, miserable in a rainstorm. I've seen it and it wasn't pretty. The bivy camper got soaked getting in & out in the rain.
EricMar 29, 2008 at 12:30 pm #1426108
We will going down the South Kaibab tuesday and spending two nights at Bright Angel campground, then spend the last night at Indian Garden before coming out on Bright Angel. Sometime in there a few of us might try a climb to the North rim and back. We'll see how ambitious we feel after the first day!
If I decide to try a bivy/tarp I'll try to let you know how it went.Mar 30, 2008 at 5:50 pm #1426256
Sweet I am excited to hear trip reports from you guys. I'll be staying in mather camp ground for my first trip to the canyon in late april.Mar 31, 2008 at 10:58 am #1426370
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Just be sure to bear in mind that the Equinox bivy is NOT waterproof, only water repellent, and even that is limited. If the dew is heavy it can eventually wet through, inhibiting the fabric from breathing, which in turn causes the insensate perspiration to condense on the inside of the bivy, which in turn wets out your bag. This could be bad news depending on whether you're using a down or synthetic bag. If you have only $100 to spend, I'd check out Campmor as suggested above and take a look at the Crazy Creek tarp they had for around $70 and pair that with your bivy. It's catenary cut with beaks and weighs about a lb. including the guy lines and stakes. But your plan B of ducking into a buddy's tent works, too!
Happy trails!Apr 1, 2008 at 8:58 pm #1426636
Well, I was able to acquire an Equinox bivy and a solo cat tarp for a very reasonable price(Thanks, Roger!) So now I guess I'd better figure out this whole tarp thing so my wife won't tell me I wasted my money!
I still need some stakes. Anybody have some input on what type of stake would be best for the Canyon? I was going to buy the LAZR stakes here on BPL, but they are sold out. So I was looking at these 3 designs:
Any thoughts on those? Are there any others I should look at? I'd like to stay as cheap as possible.Apr 3, 2008 at 10:32 am #1426910
@mrschurrLocale: SW US
The ground where you are going is very hard and rocky. You may want to consider http://www.gossamergear.com/cgi-bin/gossamergear/easton_stakes.htmlApr 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm #1426931
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
I use Al gutter spikes with a washer in the Canyon. They still bend when you try to drive them in, but at that cost you don't whine as much.Apr 3, 2008 at 3:33 pm #1426974
The ground at BA Campground is very, very rocky. The sites are small so you don't really have a ton of options to move around. Be prepared to get creative with tying off to things and using rocks instead of staking your tarp. Terra firma at Indian Gardens is a little more forgiving so staking might be easier.
I did the same hike a few years ago but with only one night at BA Campground. Even if you don't hike to the N rim from BA, at least head up to Ribbon Falls on the N. Kaibab. Make sure to take in sunset from Plateau Point when you hit Indian Gardens…that's a must see if the weather agrees…heck even if it doesn't.Apr 3, 2008 at 4:03 pm #1426981
Staking in the canyon can be hard, and as soon as the wind blows your tarp could be laying flat. I always stack big rocks on top of my stakes, especially if the wind is blowing hard. In the canyon it can be blowing extremely hard in one area, but if you walk 30 feet away, next to a cliff or something, there can be no wind at all. So find a good camp site that has a lot of natural protection to begin with.Apr 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm #1426985
@mcjhrobinsonLocale: Waaay West
kevin i just did the canyon around the middle of last month (same route as yours minus the possible north rim exit). i used a ID silponcho and my generic Hi-Tek (yes the shoe maker) synthetic sleeping bag with the AMD Bivy 2.0. I got minor condensation on my sleeping bag and bivy, i hung them in the sun for 10mins and they were dry as a bone. at both BA and IG i was able to use AL stakes but i bent about half of them, id say go with something titanium.
also from the rim to about 5000ft its icy, if you dont have any shoe spikes you can pick up a good $25 pair from the general store at market plaza. its worth the $25 (i saw MANY scary slips). aloha!Apr 3, 2008 at 6:06 pm #1427001
Hey, thanks for all the good advice. Russell, I will be sure to take your advice on the different hikes. Right now, I am thinking I'll probably go with Easton spikes for my main stakes, and maybe just get a couple, big 4-5" nails at the hardware store for pilot holes.
Also, good heads up on getting good sites and getting creative with staking. I set up my tarp for the first time today. The first couple times were pretty laughable, but after that it wasn't too bad. Now, I think I just need to experiment with pitch height and guy length to get the right pitch.
Does anybody have any links that goes into some of the finer points of pitching a tarp?Apr 4, 2008 at 1:25 pm #1427133
Kevin, are you ready for the motherlode?
Not only the finer points, but every point! Do some looking around on this site and others, like Whiteblaze.net as well.Apr 4, 2008 at 7:40 pm #1427199
Motherlode indeed! Somebody put a LOT of work into that!
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