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The bivy thing

Old 05-19-21, 12:52 PM
  #1  
gauvins
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The bivy thing

I keep considering a bivy + tarp combo (hereafter b+t). One frequent b+t use case that is mentioned in reviews is solo bikepacking, because b+t packs small and is a better system for stealth camping (small footprint, quick setup, inconspicuous). OTOH, the same reviews almost always conclude that if there is serious bug pressure or hot and humid weather, tents are a better option -- if there are bugs, you'll have to sleep inside the bivy (tarp or not), there will be condensation, it will be no fun at all).

Looks like a good touring b+t setup would be a bug bivy with bathtub floor (ex: Paria, Borah) + UL tarp ( ex: Zpacks hexamid). For the record, my tent weighs in at 600g, i.e. very close if not lighter than many t+b. However, the tent packed size is roughly 7.5L vs 2.6L (or less) for a t+b.

Part of my hesitation is that I've always carried my tent on the rear rack -- so there will not be water/dirt contamination of the rest of my luggage. Therefore the reduced volume would make little-to-no difference in touring logistics.

So... do you tour with a tent or b+t (if b+t -- what kind of weather?). Any advice?

---

ps. looks like demand for outdoors hardware is going trough the roof, insanely. Manufacturers are out of stock and used items on eBay are listed at crazy prices. So, I'll stick to my current setup for this season and, depending on what I learn, hope for bargains next year...
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Old 05-19-21, 01:49 PM
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I used a gortex bivy in the 1980s. I toured the west coast before shipping out to Germany. I wasn't worried about theft then. I am now, so I use a three man tent which allows me to put the bicycle gear and all inside with me.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:10 PM
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What do you plan to use for the tarp support pole?
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Old 05-19-21, 02:11 PM
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Rick Interesting argument. If I may -- lost a bike while touring?

I saw a review of the OR Helium where the tourer used the bike to support the tarp (bike upside-down, guy-lines to the grass. Clever.

Last edited by gauvins; 05-19-21 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
... my tent weighs in at 600g, i.e. very close if not lighter than many t+b. However, the tent packed size is roughly 7.5L ...
Double check your numbers.

I have a tiny little tent that weighs twice what yours does (without pole), but it is a bit under 5 liters packed.

Or, consider a compression stuff sack for your tent.

A 0.6 kg tent is amazingly light, is that correct?
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Old 05-19-21, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
What do you plan to use for the tarp support pole?
Either the bike or a folding pole -- assuming I'd go for the Hexamid -- a single pole shelter.

Last edited by gauvins; 05-19-21 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:17 PM
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the truth is ... a bivy is best ideal only for some weather and only for some locations...in essence it is a niche...


for me it is an aspiring thing but for most of the time it is just not practical. The best justification I could think of is - advantage to sleep in stealth camping setting...one does not need the foot print of a tent and simply can roll into a ditch a depression, roll up under a tree etc...
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Old 05-19-21, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Interesting argument. If I may -- lost a bike while touring?

I saw a review of the OR Helium where the tourer used the bike to support the tarp (bike upside-down, guy-lines to the grass. Clever.
If you use a leather saddle, I would suggest you not put the bike upside down. You can't keep the saddle dry that way.

I find a bike is high enough for a clothes line. You certainly could use a bike for the low end of a tarp over your feet, does not need great height there. I am assuming you want a tarp low so wind does not blow rain in under the tarp. I have a kickstand on the bike, use an elastic to lock my brake handle so it does not roll, but with a longer line you could stake it down with tent stakes.

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Old 05-19-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Double check your numbers.

I have a tiny little tent that weighs twice what yours does (without pole), but it is a bit under 5 liters packed.

Or, consider a compression stuff sack for your tent.

A 0.6 kg tent is amazingly light, is that correct?
Actually, less than 600g if you use your trekking poles. Yes, remarkable. Volume is debatable. The 7L+ figure is nominal -- that's the stuff sack provided by Zpacks. Makes it (much) easier to pack. Probably possible to get to a smaller volume with compression -- never felt the need.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:26 PM
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Thanks for the references in the first post, I hadn't looked at those before. If I was thru-hiking (with poles) I would be very interested in this setup. Partially that's because thru-hikes tend to be in places where this setup would work well. Perhaps most bike tours are as well, though personally I've slept in places where I wouldn't have been able to get stakes in the ground (abandoned outdoor discoteque in Sicily on concrete, forgotten paved road segments, concrete pads here and there). That's not something I tend to do hiking. So I'd have a little hesitancy there - though I'm certain that a 600g tent is not free-standing, so no difference for you really.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:34 PM
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The one I have that I said is twice the weight of yours is this, uses one trekking pole:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/133622440877

I bought one of those in light gray, pre-covid for a bit less money. My weight measurement is on my scale with stuff sack, stakes, a couple stakes that are longer than the ones provided, and plastic ground sheet.

I bought that tent for backpacking, but I want a bigger tent for bike touring.
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Old 05-19-21, 02:51 PM
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Tourist in MSN yeah.... I guess that I am striving to achieve ultralight wallet status Your pick is certainly a wiser decision for most use cases. I went for the Duplex in the context of a month-long solo hike (overkill for bike touring, I'd say). All things considered -- well over 100 nights, zero problem, I am quite satisfied.
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Old 05-19-21, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
I've slept in places where I wouldn't have been able to get stakes in the ground (abandoned outdoor discoteque in Sicily on concrete, forgotten paved road segments, concrete pads here and there).
Yes, I remember worrying that my kit wasn't freestanding. Interestingly, I don't recall a single instance of not being to set camp because of the ground surface. I "think" that once I might have had to tie a guy line to my bike , but usually I am able to find a decent spot. Now, this past week, riding on a longish rail to trail path, I couldn't help noticing several great spots for a bivouac (and just a few large enough to accommodate a tent). Which is why I fight back the urge to spend on something that isn't necessary
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Old 05-19-21, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
The one I have that I said is twice the weight of yours is this, uses one trekking pole:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/133622440877

I bought one of those in light gray, pre-covid for a bit less money. My weight measurement is on my scale with stuff sack, stakes, a couple stakes that are longer than the ones provided, and plastic ground sheet.

I bought that tent for backpacking, but I want a bigger tent for bike touring.
looks like the lanshan pro by 3f ultralight
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Old 05-19-21, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
looks like the lanshan pro by 3f ultralight
I think mine lacks the word Pro on it. But otherwise, yes.

My last tour was Jun/Jul 2019, met a gal that had that tent in yellow, she was very happy with it. I was thinking about a tent like that for backpacking, so I bought one.

Photo was hers, Bay of Fundy in background:



I looked at a few reviews of it on youtube, then bought it. I carry one trekking pole on backpacking trips, so that should work fine.

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Old 05-19-21, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes, I remember worrying that my kit wasn't freestanding. Interestingly, I don't recall a single instance of not being to set camp because of the ground surface. ...
My tent is the one on the left. Not self supporting, needs to be staked out. The wood deck prevented me from using tent stakes. The deck was wood planks, I jammed twigs in between the planks to use as tent stake substitutes. Took a lot of time but it worked. This was a state park hike-in site in a mangrove in Florida Keys.


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Old 05-20-21, 12:50 AM
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I've done some of the things mentioned here.

The yellow blob on the left is my gortex bivy. It has a mosquito mesh and uses a single hoop pole over the head if desired.
We camped here as we rolled in at 12:30 am off the side of the road. My friend had a hammock and we rode a long way looking for a situation where he could hang it.
I like it for definite sunny camping like a Gulf Island trip in July/August.






I used a larger tarp and smaller tent inner for this trip. My plan was to keep the bike under the tarp so I could see it at night. An alternative to a larger tent to bring the bike into.






My current 1 man tent. Just over 2lb's and packs fairly small so if I need a fly and bivy this wins out.



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Old 05-20-21, 05:09 AM
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As far as pitching tents on concrete or other hard surfaces... Often there is a way to improvise something like cords to legs of picnic tables, poles, or off the edge of the concrete. If the surface is a wood deck there are often spaces between the boards that allow for cords with twigs underneath.

Also often if on a concrete surface you are also under a roof so you really don't need rain protection, so you can get by with less than a full pitch of the tent. No fly and maybe just the mesh inner body held up off you or even just off of your face. The remainder of the tent could lay on your sleeping bag and any gear you bring inside. As little as a single cord to a rafter might suffice. I've never needed to resort to that with a tent, but I have often used a bivy that way and see no reason why the tent wouldn't function just fine for sleeping in that mode.

Truth be told if under a roof I wouldn't bother with the tent at all unless the bugs were biting. That is one advantage of the bivy you can decide not to use it if the weather looks good or you are under a roof and it only takes a few seconds to climb in if the bugs start biting.

Maybe it isn't for everyone but I really like cowboy camping when conditions allow and the bivy is great for a quick bail out if they turn bad on you. On those nice nights I also keep the tarp handy to pull over me and my gear if not under a roof. Obviously if bad weather seems likely and there is no roof, the tarp is pitched and ready to start with.
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Old 05-20-21, 06:35 AM
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I've traveled so many miles and years with my Tarptent Contrail (700 g, $200) I can't imagine changing again. I tried the bivy/tarp route, every combination. I sleep better in a tent, which is key for my daily recovery and enjoyment of a trip. The Tarptent is a good compromise, and is versatile, rugged, and affordable. Gram weenies with money can now get a Dyneema version of the Protrail. On the bike I carry the 100 g folding pole.
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Old 05-20-21, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I've traveled so many miles and years with my Tarptent Contrail (700 g, $200) I can't imagine changing again.
Thanks for the pointer. Didn't know about them. Looks like this is exactly what I was looking for (a solo version of my Duplex).

Will look into this. Thanks again
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Old 06-14-21, 09:20 PM
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New here but feel right at home

I use a Snugpak Stratosphere Bivy, a Outdoorsman Lab sleeping pad, an a Enlightened Equipment APEX Quilt with a footprint I cut to put the Bivy and I'm coming in just over 5.5 lbs.
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Old 06-15-21, 07:03 AM
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Bivy-ing down the silk road from China to England:

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Old 06-15-21, 07:52 AM
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There's such a nice offering these days of 1 man light weight well built tents that I'm not sure bivys hold that many advantages that they once possibly did.
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Old 06-19-21, 05:27 AM
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I have not sat on a bike saddle for 10+ years, but I have been camping with a tarp for around 7 years, in all seasons, from +30 to -22 C.
I would say a lot depends on the locations. If you have trees available, then a tarp is in my opinion much more comfortable choice. Bug-net keeps you sane and depending on how you set the tarp up, you can be protected from the winds or be cooled by the airflow under the tarp. I have never been cold nor wet under a tarp.
For winter use, a slow burning long log-fire keeps things nice and comfortable. A proper sleeping gear, of course, is a big bonus.
It takes practice to be able to set tarp up in a fast and effective way. So do expect some learning curve.

A tent for me is a big no. It is claustrophobic and the condensation problems are usually terrible.
But if you are going to sleep in someones backyard or more public places, then a tent provides what tarp can not- privacy.
Tarp will (no matter how much you close it in) always be a more open shelter.
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Old 06-22-21, 07:50 AM
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There is no need for ultralight anything on a bike tour. Ultra safe is what you want. We have two tents, one for summer and one for the rest. It's nice to know that whatever happens and wherever we are, we can crawl into the tent, spend as much time as needed in total comfort and safety and never worry about anything. Saving 900 grams could just bring you grief.
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