The Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy (18.9 oz / 536 g, $259) is of interest to alpinists, backpackers, and bikepackers by virtue of being one of the few waterproof-breathable bivy sacks on the market that weigh just over a pound and also includes mosquito netting.
This review of the Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy is a Limited Review.
A couple of years ago, I started engaging in one or two-night winter backpacking trips, mainly in the White Mountains of NH. I first started with four-season tents, but the weight of those was around 5 lbs (5.25 kg) or more. Then I had a couple of overnighters in my winterized hammock. I was extremely satisfied with this setup considering its warmth, comfort, lack of condensation, and ease of entry and exit. However, I noticed that when heading to unknown locations, particularly in the Whites, sometimes finding the right trees took longer than expected.
I started thinking that a waterproof, breathable bivy may be the solution to unsatisfactory camping spots.
When using a bivy, if you have enough room to lay or, worst-case scenario, sit, then you have a place to sleep. We find ourselves in these locations typically in the summer, and so the mosquito netting and wide opening of the Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy are desirable when compared to other offerings.
I tested the bivy at Mount Washington State Forest in MA. Conditions ranged from cold and dry (below freezing) to 44 F (6.6 C) with winds above 15 mph (24 km/h) most of the night (the maximum was 22 mph / 35.4 kmh). I also had ample opportunity to test the Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy in rain ranging from drizzling to extended downpour.
Features and Specifications
- Enlarged head area
- Side entry
- Mosquito netting
- Two stake loops
- One guyline loop
- Fully taped seams
- Stuff sack (4 in x 4 in x 12 in / 10 cm x 10 cm x 30.5 cm)
- Fabric: Ascentshell 3L, 100% nylon, 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face with 100% polyester 12D backer, 100% nylon, 40D ripstop with TPU lamination floor
- Weight (claimed): 18.9 oz / 535 g
- Weight (measured): 19.6 oz / 555 g (bivy 17.3 oz / 490 g, pole 1.8 oz / 51 g, stuff sack 0.5 oz / 14 g)
- Dimensions (claimed)
- length - width at the top - width at the bottom): 82 in - 26 in - 19.5 in / 208 cm - 66 cm - 49.5 cm
- Dimensions (measured)
- length - width at the top - width at the bottom: 77 in - 25 in - 19 in / 195.5 cm - 63.5 cm - 48.2 cm
- Bathtub floor with a height of 2.75 in (7 cm)
- Waist-length #3 zipper with a 1 in (2.5 cm) stiffened storm flap plus a second 3 in (7.6 cm) flap on the hood
- Overhead pole sleeve and volumizing pole. The pole is 52.3 in (132.8 cm) in length. Once inserted, the base of the created arch is 29.3 in (74.4 cm), and the peak height is 18 in (45.7 cm)
- The length was measured along the right side, from the pole sleeve to the footbox seam. The width at the top was measured 5 in (12.7 cm) lower from the left pole sleeve and the bottom width was measured about 10 in / 25.4 cm from the footbox. Both measurements were made from floor seam to floor seam, not including the bathtub floor seams.
- Pole sleeve opens on one side only and is secured with velcro.
Since this is a Limited Review of the Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy, a detailed performance analysis based on long-term use will not be presented. Instead, performance observations and issues are noted below.
Member's Only Content
- Performance Analysis
- Waterproofness and Breathability
- Roominess and Comfort
- Author's Wishlist
- Compared To...
- Strengths and Limitations
- Related Content
Member's only version is 2,812 words and includes 10 photographs and/or illustrations.
- Ryan Jordan reviewed the Mountain Laurel Designs eVent Soul Bivy in 2014.
Where to Buy
- The Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy can be purchased direct from Outdoor Research here or at other retailers online:
Use GearFinder: Search for sales and other retailers for the Outdoor Research Stargazer AscentShell Bivy in our GearFinder Search Engine.
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