Apr 25, 2014 at 3:45 am #1316047
Hi, I would like to get some thoughts if possible on sleeping in an Alpine area.
I'm considering simplifying for three/four day treks in Alpine environment. Focus of these treks is high mileage on moderately high altitude. Generally 40~45Km per day at 2500~3200 meters high (25~30Miles at 8000~10.000 ft).
I have a duomid-like tarp/tent that I could bring, but I'm thinking about using a bivy only. I'm not really a camping kind of guy, and often prefer to keep on going over making camp and cooking (might or might not bring a stove).
If I go the bivy route, I think it would be better to have a waterproof bivy, even though I could camp next to a lodge and pay up and go inside if it does rain.
I would like to hear about people's bivy experiences if possible.
I know I can set up my duomid, but I was thinking with the bivy I can sleep in smaller spots, and set up/break up would be quicker. No problems with high winds (though it shouldn't be a problem with the duomid either), no problems if there is sudden tropical rain storm, etc.
I realise the duomid should be totally up for the task, and might be more comfortable, but like I said, I kind of like the added simplicity and weight saving it would give me (in my case I would loose about 200gr if I go with the bivy I'm looking at). Hike till late, crash. No getting in and out of tent, adjusting stakes, etc. Just crash, tend to feet, look at stars, sleep.
It's just something I'm looking at, but it should be a good solution or I don't really want to spend the money.
Any experiences, greatly appreciated.Apr 25, 2014 at 7:05 am #2096197
Art …BPL Member
almost sounds like you have answered your own question and talked yourself into a bivy.
its all about weight v.s. comfort during your down time. so anticipated weather is definitely a factor. high mileage days are not really about comfort, a waterproof bivy should serve its purpose for most situations if it saves you weight and hassle.
when I do high mileage days I tend to drop the stove and kitchen items before the shelter.Apr 25, 2014 at 4:29 pm #2096368
Hi Art, thank you for your comments.
Reading back I can understand it does look a bit like I'm already set on the issue, but I didn't mean it to come across that way. I guess I focussed on what I would like about the bivy but I truly haven't made up my mind.
So if anything I would like to hear about experiences of being in a waterproof bivy. You write
"anticipated weather is definitely a factor".
What weather would you be more inclined to go with a bivy – bad weather?
And what if it turns out pretty mild – will the waterproof bivy be too warm (not sure if that will be the case above 2500 meters)?
Good point also on dropping stove first.
Any other thoughts greatly appreciated.Apr 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm #2096378
Rick MBPL Member
delApr 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm #2096379
The type of hiking you do/plan to do Ito is primarily the hiking I do (high miles and higher altitudes). I have an eVent bivy that I've tried using outside of Winter and if you have any expectancy of temps above 50 degrees, a waterproof bivy is a sauna (in my experience) regardless of how awesome the fabric is supposed to be. I've delegated that bivy back to strictly winter use.
Now what I use for the rest of the year is a water resistant bivy (Titanium Goat Raven Omni) and a small tarp (Golite poncho tarp at the moment) if it looks like rain is going to happen that night. Majority of the nights I just sleep in the bivy with no tarp.
If I'm going for a summit hike where there's some unpredictable snow/weather patterns and I'm already geared up with crampons and the like, then I'll forgo the tarp and bring the pyramid (along with the water resistant bivy).
That about sums up my different higher up in the air setups.Apr 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm #2096383
My hiking style tends to be close to what you are facing. I ended up with a mid style shelter. On most nights I sleep under the stars. On those nights where a shelter is needed a mid would be a much better setup IMHO.
My current setup. MYOG duomid style shelter, add bivy in winter, bug net in hot bug season. Max weight is about 18oz and this setup is very flexible.Apr 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm #2096394
A mid setup with fully enclosed bug net for 18oz? That is pretty sweet.
I just picked up a sil pro poncho and borah bug bivy with silnylon ends for total weather protection.
Raingear AND shelter for ~16 oz and cheaper than any comparable setup.Apr 25, 2014 at 8:40 pm #2096431
Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I've just come back from Japan (9 months in Tottori) and the rain there makes me think that a bivy alone is a bad idea, or at least, not a very comfortable one. However, if its for a race (the Trans Japan Alps race sounds fantastic, pity one of the requirements is fluent Japanese, I have "scoshi nippongo"), I think the bivy is the way to go. You are right, you can choose to get up and keep walking through horrendous weather, also, you can wait a bit longer to find somewhere more sheltered (good forest canopy) to camp.
A very small tarp, eg like a MLD dog tarp, in cuben (even .3 stuff), pitched in a flying diamond over a bivy that is mostly waterproof (eg bottom 2/3 WPB, top DWR only) would work well and give you a good degree of comfort. The flying diamond can be pitched low easily in a sheltered location in Japan with probably no pegs at all (just cords to trees/bushes), very fast to set up. This option you will dry out inside the bivy faster with the DWR top and hood open and venting-you'll be getting in it soaking wet. Overall weight would probably be the same as a WPB bivy (or possibly lighter if you could get say Zpacks to do a .3oz cuben tarp for you like that). No pegs-thats less complication and weight savings. If you break your ankle high on a mountain pass just get in the bivy with everything on (inc your rain jacket) and wrap the top of yourself with the cuben tarp, no problems.Apr 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm #2096437
Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
Given what you've described, are you putting speed and simplicity over weight?
If so, than a bivy would work well.
Imo, the "good" standalone bivys are heavier than the tent&tarp counterparts, especially nowadays.
I still use an old Integral Designs Slalthe bivy, mainly for its simplicity. The Tegral tex fabric is awesome.
Waterproof, manages moisture well, and durable. It also had two side zips and mosquito netting half way down, for great ventilation.
You can likely find any of the old school Bibler/ID bivys out there for cheap nowadays. They probably work just as well today as they did a decade ago.
Nothin like unrolling that bivy with the quilt & pad already inside of it, and hitting the sack. Toss over the poncho tarp only when needed. I've slept through severe storms without any issues whatsoever… Except with the noise of the hail.Apr 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm #2096441
@dandruLocale: Down Under
I was reading the article below this morning, it may be of help. I've got a Rab Ascent bivy, I know climber that love them but I don't because it weighs 600 grams, obviously it's made to last the distance whereas the lighter bivy's, maybe not, so be careful about getting a 200 gram bivy, because it might not do what you want.Apr 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm #2096444
Randy MartinBPL Member
For Alpine only where space, performance in high wind, speed and simplicity are desired, I would consider thisApr 26, 2014 at 3:34 am #2096461
Thank you, appreciate the variety of feedback.
I've seen that race on tv a couple of times. Very inspiring.
I go out into the mountains once or twice a week and do 24Km as my smallest distance, regularly 36~42Km, and 50+Km occasionally. I'm not racing. Just pushing myself.
I've tried those Zeltes but they are not for me. Rather have my mid or a proper bivy then.
Very useful to hear about the temperature and sauna qualities. I think the bathtub/breathable upper bivy would be a very good option. The only thing that makes me hesitant about this is the rain here in Japan. It can be the nicest day you've seen that year and 5 minutes later your trail is gone because it turned into a little river. This is partly why I'm thinking about the fully waterproof bivy. I just wonder if a bathtub/breathable upper bivy would hold up in that situation.
I think what you bring up though is kind of the crux of the situation. If I do get a full eVent bivy, it might not be all that useful. Or too stuffy/uncomfortable. Was it mostly an air circulation thing for you? I do think even in mid summer the temps would be below 10˚C/50F when above 2500m (8200ft).
I really like your idea of just adding my Khufu mid above a bivy if it does end up raining. Just wonder if that would be doable with the intense typhoon/flash rains you can get in the summer here.
Hiking Malto –
Do you get a lot of very intense rains that could flood your site? I understand this is a lot about site selection but I like you solution. Just need to know that we are talking about similar conditions.
The full eVent bivy I'm looking at is 337gr/11.9oz for a size long (240cm/94.5"). This is part of why I'm looking at it.
Adam Kilpatrick –
Do you think a bathtub bivy with a breathable upper would work if it rains that bad? I will be above treeline, but could of course add the Khufu (think Duomid) when it rains. This is what Matt also describes above. I like this idea. Why I was looking at a full eVent bivy is because I thought it would eliminate potential flash flooding. I.e. simplify site selection, no hassles with stakes and high winds etc. Since I'm not really into 'camping' anyway.
Basically I would like to camp in a bivy (keeps my quilt draft free). Breathable bivy seems most comfortable and I can imagine adding my mid only if it rains. If this is a well doable option concerning the rains we get here then I prefer this. It would keep me from spending more money, at a small weight penalty (eVent bivy alone will be lighter than breathable bivy plus tarp and stakes). I guess I am trying to find out if in Alpine environment, the fully waterproof bivy would be a better idea. It might be too stuffy, but it would be lighter and I was trying to confirm if it would take away any worries about real bad rain (except for getting in and out!?). Would love to know what your take is on this.
In my situation I would get speed and simplicity and weight, at a financial cost. My Khufu mid plus breathable bivy is 505gr. The full eVent bivy I'm looking at is 337gr. It will probably be not as bomber, but my mid is fragile as well.
"Nothin like unrolling that bivy with the quilt & pad already inside of it, and hitting the sack. Toss over the poncho tarp only when needed. I've slept through severe storms without any issues whatsoever… Except with the noise of the hail."
Yeah, exactly what I was thinking about. Except probably for getting in/out thought during a storm..
Dan Dru –
Thanks for the interesting article. I'm not so much concerned about durability. Or I am, but at least not when comparing the one option to the other.
Thank you, interesting option. I would buy something smaller but lighter locally though.
Sorry for the somewhat long reply – I appreciate every bodies comments so thought I'd reply to all of them.Apr 26, 2014 at 4:42 am #2096467
In the eastern US we certainly can get very heavy rains. That was part of the appeal of a mid, it is likely the best design I have used for a variety of bad weather. When I designed the shelter system I was looking for these main elements.
1) modular, allowing me to set up or take only what I need for the season or the weather. I also wanted to be able to set up the bug net and add the mid later in the night. Or setup the mid and add the bug net. (That might have been the toughest design element.)
2) small footprint. I hike not camp and my shelter is used to sleep and little else. I wanted flexibility to throw down at the first partially flat spot and if the mid is needed easily and quickly setup in the dark. I also minimized the height. At 6'2" my head is in the peak when I sit-up. I did this to minimize the wind footprint.
3) ease of setup. I wanted no fiddle factor.
4) weight. That was actually last because I added in an ounce or two for flexibility and ease of use.
mid with bug inner installedApr 26, 2014 at 5:07 am #2096470
Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I think the breathability factor in Japan is a tough one to answer, due to the overall wetness and the generally high humidity. It depends on how wet you are when you get in the bivy (if you are damp or wet WPB bivy's aren't fun-you'll be very humid in there for a long time, even all night long). I think with bathtub sides and a water resistant/more breathable bivy you have to be unlucky, or really dumb in your campsite selection to have water flow inside, if you are under decent shelter already. Its not hard to find (or get made) a bivy with 15-20cm bathtub sides that are waterproof. If you are in that much water, you really need to move ;-).
Not camping on damp ground (if you can help it, often impossible) means that humidity and condensation inside your shelter will be lower.
Not camping in the absolute most sheltered spot-eg a spot with a bit of a breeze, will help with airflow around your bivy which might help in shifting moisture from inside to outside.
Not having the external surface of the bivy wet, helps it to breath better. So a full shelter or tarp helps with that.
I think, personally, if I was carrying a khufu/duomid, I would not use a bivy myself. Carry it maybe (for the fast camp conditions where you are time pressured or lazy) but I would not always sleep in it. If it has bathtub sides and a full side zip, leave it fully unzipped while sleeping under shelter, and if its not raining/snowing and not under shelter, leave it unzipped for as long as possible. With practise you can get the pitch down to a couple of minutes for the mid anyway.
A tyvek bivy top or partial top might be a better option for you-not as waterproof as WPB but potentially better breathability. I know from the MYOG Japan facebook page these are quite popular MYOG projects in Japan :-)Apr 27, 2014 at 11:45 am #2096850
Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
I also do a lot of high mileage at higher elevations.
If my primary forcus is mileage (and weight), okay, it always is, no if's.
So I will just bring a strong 8 by 8 foot ground cloth that weighs about 5 ounces or less (polycro or tyvek). I then put some strong tape piece on each corner and 2 centers to make it able to pitch as an "A" frame.
If the weather calls for rain, I just need to bring some stakes.
If it calls for no rain but does, I'll just make fold half of it over me.
In alpine condition, you can even go with 2 stakes by tying the high sides up to trees.
I make my own gear and use a bivy because I love the Impetus 1.1 material.
So I have the option of a 4.5 ounce bivy or an 8 ounce tarp.
If you're going to go with a bivy, it should be much lighter than an 11 ounce Event Bivy.
1Apr 27, 2014 at 11:54 am #2096855
Do you use an umbrella with that bivy? I recently heard of some hiker that did that.
I drew up some similar designs but couldn't imagine crawling in that if it were raining.Apr 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm #2096990
Great feedback, thanks so much. And nice to see other people focussing on high mileage, minor camping.
I will try out first time I can to just use a breathable bivy with a bathtub floor (Katabatic Gear Bristlecone Bivy), which is the simplest way to just lay down and look at the stars and keep my quilt wind free.
When it rains or look that it will rain, I'll set up my mid first. Then use with or without bivy.
Seems like a full WPB bivy could be useful, but since I'm most often wet when I stop (from sweat or rain), it might not be such a no brain solution as I thought. The breathable bivy might be all the simplicity I need, with the mid (or a flat tarp) as rain back up. Hope this solution holds up in Alpine stormy environment as well, but I will try to test in an area with a hut to fall back to if necessary.
I'm thinking about buying or making a bug net with WP bathtub and head/foot ends for lower elevation bug season.
Thanks again – learned a ton just reading your experience.Apr 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm #2097006
Sounds like you are going with exactly what I use. I love mine at only 6.34 oz and that's in silnylon! cuben would be crazy light.
I encourage you to try a long size if possible. Mine is a Long/Wide which means I can fit all of my gear into it when the weather gets rough (and I can get away with a smaller tarp such as the poncho tarp I use).
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