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Old 08-27-08, 09:02 AM   #1
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Bivy vs. Hennessy Hammock?

I'm looking for ways to cut weight for the next tour as well as avoid more broken tent poles, and the biggest way seems to be going from my 5 lb REI quarterdome tent to either a bivy sack or hammock. I've returned the tent and groundtarp to REI for full store credit (I LOVE that) so my price range is sub $200, and something that REI carries.

I was specifically looking at the $139 dollar hennessy hammock REI carries because of the larger rainfly.

Still, I'm uncertain as to whether I should go hammock or bivy. The bivy would be nice for winter camping but the vast majority of my trips will be 3 season. On my last bike tour, nearly every site we camped had trees for hanging a hammock with only a few exceptions. Flat ground on the other hand, was sometimes hard to come by.

Thoughts? Any bivy-hammock converts?
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Old 08-27-08, 09:07 AM   #2
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I am a backpacker first, cyclist second...go with bivy, hammocks have not impressed me. The tree problem can get you down.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:11 AM   #3
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I've carried both. The bivy itself adds negligible weight, and some people use the Hennesy on the ground. I don't find either particularly comfortable, it may be that I am on the size edge for the Hennesey, buying the tall is about twice the price since they don't discount them as often.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:26 AM   #4
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Hammocks - you either love them or hate them. It can also be rather involved working out the right insulation to keep you warm in them. I don't like bivies as they are prone to condensation and are cramped. I'd buy something else with your REI credit and look at

www.tarptent.com

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Old 08-27-08, 09:37 AM   #5
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One of the guys that joined us for 4 weeks on the tour had a tarptent. He was always the fastest to break down/set up the tent but he said they didn't send him any poles by mistake and it was a hassle dealing with customer service.

Also I really can't think of anything else to buy in terms of camping gear. REI doesn't sell phil wood bottom brackets unfortunately.

I think I'm leaning towards a bivy.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:45 AM   #6
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http://www.rei.com/product/747989

this would beat a bivy....
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Old 08-27-08, 11:17 AM   #7
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I've done both tent touring and touring with a hammock. I have the Hennessy Backpacker with the hex fly to provide extra coverage. While I really enjoy the sound sleep that the hammock provides as opposed to sleeping on the ground, I have to say that it's an odd feeling not to have the isolation that a tent provides. I've been rained in on two of my tours with a tent and both times was thankful to have had the extra room that the tent provided. I can't imagine spending a full day in the hammock comfortably. For me comfort trumps weight savings every time, so now I carry a lightweight tent and the hammock.
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Old 08-27-08, 11:46 AM   #8
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The comfort thing is true, but I carry a 10x12" tarp and enough line to rig it up to some trees. It can serve as a cooking shelter, or a way to keep the bike from staying out in the rain all night.

Really I'm looking for something just to sleep and change my clothes in. The clothes changing may be more of a challenge with the hammock. On my first/previous tour that's all I really did in the tent anyway so the extra room seemed gratuitous.
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Old 08-27-08, 11:52 AM   #9
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10"x12" wow your bike must be really small, I'd need want a 10' x 12' personally.
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Old 08-27-08, 12:09 PM   #10
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The hammock is light for 1 person at 1.5-2lbs and is reasonably comfortable as long as the temps outside are warm. As soon as the temps drop you need extra insulation in the hammock which defeats any weight savings over a light tent. The hammock does give you more stealth camping options though.

If I could only have one shelter it would be my Big Agnes SL2 Seedhouse tent at ~3lbs it is a very roomy solo tent and sleeps men [6'] and my GF [5' 8"] comfortably enough I'd use it on an extended multi-week tour.

Having the hammock as a second shelter I use when circumstances permit is a nice option, but it's cold enough around here that often that wouldn't be the best choice and when I travel with someone else the tent is more comfortable without any weight penalty over two hammocks.

BTW - I also own a bivy and they are not that light - certainly not worth the lack of comfort or room compared to a light tent.
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Old 08-27-08, 02:24 PM   #11
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Sorry for the hijack but I'm curious about your thoughts on the REI 1/4 dome. Besides and weight issue for you what was wrong, what did you not like about the REI 1/4 Dome tent? I actually have it on my wish list as a replacement for my last tent which was ruined on our last tour. Should I be thinking about a different tent for two people? I thought it was 4lbs 7 oz??

Thanks for your input.
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Old 08-27-08, 02:31 PM   #12
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Sorry for the hijack but I'm curious about your thoughts on the REI 1/4 dome. Besides and weight issue for you what was wrong, what did you not like about the REI 1/4 Dome tent? I actually have it on my wish list as a replacement for my last tent which was ruined on our last tour. Should I be thinking about a different tent for two people? I thought it was 4lbs 7 oz??

Thanks for your input.
I got a new quarter dome T3 in the mail yesterday and immediately set it up in the living room. I don't have much for a review yet, but it appears to be very roomy. I read in some other reviews that it's a bit short for taller people to lay down in, which is mostly true. I'm about 5'11" to 6'0" and my head and feet were barely touching the tent walls. I simply turned to a slight angle and that solved my problem. We opted for a T3 over the T2 tent due to the extra floor space and minimal weight difference, and I'm glad I did. I'll be testing it out over labor day weekend and will have a better review after we get home. In fact, I might go set it up now in my neighbor's yard (I live in an apartment, and miss having my own lawn ).
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Old 08-27-08, 08:32 PM   #13
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I had the 2006 version of the quarter dome. It was very roomy but I broke a tent pole setting it up one day. Copious quantities of duct tape provided a temporary solution but the broken pole would poke through the sheath and rip it. The tent also did pretty well in a very heavy shower, however the tent floor under my sleeping mat was soaked.

2 people seems like a tight squeeze but it could work.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:14 PM   #14
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I've been looking into this as well, less for weight and more to get the most compact tent possible. As far as I can tell, the smallest packing double-walled tent is the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1.

A few things about bivys. They're single-walled and very tight; most bivys barely wrap around a sleeping bag. Changing clothes inside one will be quite a challenge.

Condensation is also a big problem, especially during a heavy storm when you'll want to seal up. A tarp-bivy combo is good, but that cuts into your weight savings and takes longer to set up.

Third, in general ultralight gear is not going to be very rugged. You'd have to repair or replace an ultralight shelter long before something more standard (i.e. heavier). You're paying for the weight savings not just with the price tag, but with the robustness of the gear as well.

The most promising mini-tent/bivy item I saw was the Nemo Gogo, which uses a pneumatic tube instead of a tent pole. Packs down very small and light, and is roomier than things like the Black Diamond Lightsabre Bivy (but not as much as some other hoop tents). I haven't used it, but some reviews point out that it's not particularly tough, and condensation is a challenge (as with any single-walled bivy).

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Old 08-28-08, 11:24 AM   #15
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Like bckpk2rev I am a backpacker primarily and a bike tourer second, and I have to say go with a small, utlralight one person tent. I have used them all, bivys, ponchos, tarps, hammocks, and unless you really enjoy sleeping in a hammock, a tent cannot be beat, especially for when you need to change clothes, get stuck in because of bad weather, etc. Also, a hennesey hammock or Clark Jungle Hammock (what I have used alot) can be totally insane in a bad storm. They swing like crazy in really windy places, and in prolonged rain almost always water gets in somehow.
Many of the one person tents out now are suprisingly light, and spacious for a solo tent.
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Old 08-28-08, 11:53 AM   #16
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I like the small tarp and bivy combo, myself. There's so much flexibility in pitching it - you can really lock down the tarp for a storm or on a nice night you can set up the tarp as a backup and sleep outside it and look at the stars, bug free. I honestly don't feel cramped in my bivy, it's one of the light breathable ones from backpackinglight.com and it's no more confining than just being in your sleeping bag. If the mesh over your face bothers you, you can wear a hat with a bit of a bill to keep it off.

The REI minimalist bivy is less breathable but is a really light, awesome design and if you don't like it you can return it. I take it when I feel like being in a more durable bivy, like if I know I'm going to be hanging out in it in the evenings and will want to prop up on my elbows and knit or read.
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Old 01-13-09, 12:24 AM   #17
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I do have to second 8bit, if you want to go lighter than a tent, your best option is a bivy/poncho or poncho sized tarp option. It gives you a lot of versitility. If you are in really cold weather, you can even build a small fire under the tarp and angle the tarp in such a way that it funnels heat into the bivy. you have a lot of options. The biggest thing about bivy bags is that some folks feel cramped in them. I used to, but when I was in the army we were forced to use them, me for many years, so I just got used to them and now kind of like them if I really want to go light.
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Old 01-13-09, 03:12 PM   #18
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I am a backpacker first, cyclist second...go with bivy, hammocks have not impressed me. The tree problem can get you down.
I'm not sure where 'Nasti Navi" is, but it must not have trees. I have found just the opposite; trees are everywhere and a Hennessy hammock can also act as a bivy if for some reason you can't find two trees.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:15 AM   #19
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for copious space inside and small packed size/weight, Black Diamond Epic-encapsulated singlewall tents like the Firstlight and Lighthouse are difficult to beat and available at REI.

A lightweight tent/bivy coupled with a silnylon tarp or two make for very versatile shelter space.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:21 AM   #20
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Hey, I've been backpacking much longer then I've been biking and got a hammock a few years ago to contribute to my sub 20 pack. It is love or hate, I love them. Keep in mind I backpack in the northeast where there is no shortage of trees. If you have any doubts if there will be tress, I'd go with something else.
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