Minimalist overhead cover for bivy camping in winter
Jan 20, 2021 at 7:50 am #3694671
I’m in the process of testing my winter sleep system by sleeping outside in my backyard. The system consists of:
- Base layer
- vapor barrier suit (socks, pants, jacket, nitrile gloves)
- Light down jacket
- MYOG Apex 15 (2 layers apex 7.5) hood
- 0F UGQ Renegade quilt
- Neo-air Xtherm sleeping pad
- Borah Gear snowyside eVent bivy
On Monday, I slept outside on a clear 3F night and was plenty warm. Tonight it is expected to get a little colder (right around zero) but the forecast is also calling for light snow.
I don’t want to go to the extent of rigging a tarp (the whole point of acquiring a WPB bivy was to avoid the need to set up a shelter) but I also don’t want to have to breathe through the small opening of the bivy…that seems like a sure fire way to create a lot of condensation. Unfortunately my backyard doesn’t have any trees I could sleep under either.
So I’m looking for ideas for minimalist overhead protection for the head end of my bivy. Since there’s a sizeable snow pack in my area right now, one idea I had was to form a u-shaped wall out of the snow around the head area of my bivy and simply drape my WPB jacket over that area.
Would greatly appreciate any thoughts on that or other ideas that could work.
Thanks in advance,
PatrickJan 20, 2021 at 8:05 am #3694674HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Not winter, but one hiker rigged a simple tyvek small “half-pyramid” over the head of her bivy sack for a PCT thru hike (she was an REI employee and her blog post on the REI website a couple years ago). It was more for rain of course, but having a XL bivy myself (eVent MLD Soul) been looking at that.
Seems a pole supported peak would ward off any snow .. perhaps silnylon and have the slick side facing out to really help in that regard.Jan 20, 2021 at 10:20 am #3694689
Not winter, but one hiker rigged a simple tyvek small “half-pyramid” over the head of her bivy sack for a PCT thru hike…
I was thinking something like that could work. I found the Hiker’s post here:
It almost looks like there might be a floor sewn to the sides, which seems like it would be helpful because then you might be able to avoid stakes by just having your sleeping pad stretch out the sides. Unfortunately I don’t have time to sew something like that but it might work as a long-term solution.
I might also look into some kind of superlight flexible pole material to form an arch to spread out the floor instead having to rig trekking poles.Jan 20, 2021 at 3:32 pm #3694729Mike BBPL Member
If you are building for one night a wall of snow or cardboard boxes would work, put your trekking poles over to form a bridge and drape something (folded tarp, rain jacket, trash bag, etc) over the top. Weigh down everything around the outside edges at ground level and call it good.
Depending on your pack you may be able to rig something so that you can put your head in it and have something like a pool noodle to hold the opening up so your breath can escape.Jan 20, 2021 at 4:52 pm #3694745Michael BBPL Member
I feel like you could make a 3’x3’ tarp and just construct a mini lean to. It would literally cost you an ounce. Just stake it out to the ground on either side above your head, and use trekking poles on either side of you torso, close enough to adjust the height without leaving my your bivvy.Jan 20, 2021 at 6:55 pm #3694798
I feel like you could make a 3’x3’ tarp and just construct a mini lean to. It would literally cost you an ounce. Just stake it out to the ground on either side above your head, and use trekking poles on either side of you torso, close enough to adjust the height without leaving my your bivvy.
Yes that could work but my aim is to avoid stakes.
On all the past winter trips I’ve taken in my area it has always been a huge time suck trying to set stakes. Either there has been too little snow to hold snow stakes and you have to find a rock and pound in titanium nail pegs or it has been so cold that the snow won’t stick together and I have to hold my hands over a dead man anchor until the snow melts enough to set. With a small tarp and only a couple stakes that might not be too bad but I would still prefer to avoid stakes if I can.
For tonight, I’ll probably just follow Mike’s advice and put a couple trekking poles over some mounded up snow and suspend a jacket on top but I’m starting to really like the idea of sewing a sort of mini half tunnel tent where tension on the floor is what keeps the pole standing rather than stakes.
I don’t think this would be much heavier than what you are suggesting…I was reading on some other threads that carbon kite spars make excellent poles and they weigh very little – 4 ft x .25″ diameter weighs about 1 oz.
Here’s a pic of what I was thinking:Jan 20, 2021 at 10:11 pm #3694837Michael BBPL Member
I think what you are describing would totally work. Maybe instead of a toggle, a simple lineloc sewn in on your mini-tunnel would be more effective. Kite spars, from what I’ve seen are relatively rigid at the shorter lengths; maybe you could get a couple of shorter pieces and connect them with an elbow – or maybe some flexible tubing would be enough.
also, it would be cool if you could get borah to build this into your bivvyJan 20, 2021 at 10:47 pm #3694840Luke SchmidtBPL Member
It sounds promising. But remember snow will move more in a light breeze then rain. I tried camping in a bivy under a poncho tarp once. It did not work real well. I wasn’t buried but a lot of snow drifted in and if I left the bivy open I always had cold snow on my face. This was with the poncho pitched reasonably low.
Something closer to the ground sounds better.Jan 21, 2021 at 5:21 am #3694853
Something closer to the ground sounds better.
With the floor sewn to the walls, no snow would get in around the sides…it could only come in from the front. So are you saying the top of the arch needs to be lower so the opening at the user’s face is smaller?
Another idea could be to actually fully enclose the head end of the bivy so that you have the floor and roof fabric extent beyond the arch and then come back down to the bivy and secure there with a drawstring that would cinch (loosely) around the bivy.Jan 21, 2021 at 7:59 am #3694870
I think Andrew Skurka actually has the best idea with his suggestion of using a face mask with remote breathing tube:
Something like this might work:
…but extend the tube and ditch the wizbang box at the end of the tube. Then you could just zip up your bivy completely without much worry about condensation or asphyxiation.Jan 24, 2021 at 3:35 pm #3695388
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