Author Topic: Bivvys and bivvying.  (Read 5610 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Bivvys and bivvying.
« on: August 24, 2018, 03:51:47 pm »

We have 2 threads for those who prefer their camping to have more rigid protection (campervans/motorhomes/caravans etc...), which got me thinking, should we have a thread for those of us who prefer our camping super minimal?

My preference for outdoor sleep shelter is always the bivvi bag, being able to drift off watching the stars, and not having to worry about what it is rustling next to the tent, is something that I find simply brilliant.


Somewhere near the Belgian/German Border.


Somewhere in the Netherlands.

Anyone else got a soft spot for the bivvi?

Don't breathe into the bivvi bag.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2018, 04:06:44 pm »

We have 2 threads for those who prefer their camping to have more rigid protection (campervans/motorhomes/caravans etc...), which got me thinking, should we have a thread for those of us who prefer our camping super minimal?
Yes, I think we should.

I'll say nothing more though, because although I can certainly see the attraction of the idea, I do prefer my camping to have a bit of rain-proofness, somewhere to curl up in a hole and sometimes a bit of privacy. Plus, one of the greatest feelings in the world is sitting or lying in a tent with the door open watching the rain fall.
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 04:10:39 pm »
How are bivvies on multi-day/weeks long tours?

In my last camping trip I borrowed my mum's retro tent (from the 80s) which, after a few days in Scotland, was flatly minging on the inside. Do quality bivis stay tolerable even in spite of internal condensation? Maybe giving them an inside wipe with a dry towel in the mornings might be enough. Then you just need to figure out how to dry the towel...
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quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2018, 04:17:31 pm »
Yes, I think we should.

I'll say nothing more though, because although I can certainly see the attraction of the idea, I do prefer my camping to have a bit of rain-proofness, somewhere to curl up in a hole and sometimes a bit of privacy. Plus, one of the greatest feelings in the world is sitting or lying in a tent with the door open watching the rain fall.

If it's raining, or very likely to rain, I pair my bivi bag with a small tarp. My tarp is 198g, so nice and light. You can have all the same experience of watching the rain from under the tarp in your bivvi bag too...

As for privacy, my usual approach is a geographic one. There's noone else crazy enough to be out here... :p

How are bivvies on multi-day/weeks long tours?

In my last camping trip I borrowed my mum's retro tent (from the 80s) which, after a few days in Scotland, was flatly minging on the inside. Do quality bivis stay tolerable even in spite of internal condensation? Maybe giving them an inside wipe with a dry towel in the mornings might be enough. Then you just need to figure out how to dry the towel...

Depends how you use them, like all bits of equipment. If you are sensible, then no problems. The main trick is that any opportunity, you pull your sleeping bag and bivvi bag out, and let them air. Stopping to sit and each lunch admiring the view? air your sleeping bag. It's sunny when you wake up? Air the bag while you make breakfast and get everything else packed.

And above all, obey the first 2 rules of bivvy bags:

1) Do not breathe into the bivvi bag

2) Do not breathe into the bivvi bag.

I know that some may consider these the same rule twice, but it's so important it's worth repeating...

It's also a good idea to make sure you aren't too warm in the bag. Having your -10°C down bag, when it's +10°C, is likely to result in you sweating more than the bag can shift. It's also a good idea to make sure there is some air movement over the outside of the bag. The bivvi bag outer is a breathable membrane, and the system of getting moisture across that membrane is osmosis. The greater the gradient between moisture in the bag, and moisture out the bag, the better it will breathe. With gentle air flow over the outer of the bag, the air near the bag will get constantly refreshed and will thus not get too moist. This is why using bivvi bags in doors, or inside tents is generally considered A Bad Idea™. It's also why on warm humid nights in summer they don't breathe all that good. But if you know how to use your bag, you should stay dry, and keep dry for the length of your trip.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2018, 04:22:38 pm »
I quite like bivvying, doesn't seem to wind people up quite as much as if you'd put a tent up :thumbsup: We tend to go with tarp and bivy bag thus providing the rainproofness desired by Cudzoziemiec  ;D

Here's my wife snug under her tarp on a recent trip based on various canals in the North of England



Looking over some sea loch at Easter in Argyll



Bivy above Dolgellau on the May Day Bank Holiday



Lost in France



Bludger - that last shot was on this year's French Divide, night four. We also did a six day tour in Brittany but stopping on campsites which was "interesting" and drew a few stares and comments. If things get damp you just stop during the day when it's sunny and let things dry out in the sun, perhaps while having lunch  :thumbsup:

DaT

Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2018, 04:23:20 pm »
What bivvy bag would you recommend? I've got an overnight trip in two weeks so it wouldn't hurt having a crack.

Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2018, 04:32:10 pm »
What bivvy bag would you recommend? I've got an overnight trip in two weeks so it wouldn't hurt having a crack.

As good as any for the price would be the Alpkit Hunka but if you want to have your sleeping mat* inside the bag then get the XL.

* assuming you've an inflatable mat, probably OK with CCF.

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 04:36:19 pm »
Cheers bivvyers I really appreciate the tips. Unfortunately in my last tour I had a bad habit of taking ages to leave in the mornings, and then spent the rest of the day in a mild hurry to reach my next stop. The next time I'll focus on doing less daily mileage which should allow time to properly air the bag, especially factoring in some warmshowers stops.

Gorgeous snaps Whitestone :D

In terms of picking a bag, I was looking at a Dutch army gore tex sleeping bag but given the advice on airing it as often as possible perhaps a lighter "civilian" one would be more practical.



https://forcesuniformandkit.co.uk/products/dutch-gore-tex-camo-military-bivvy-bag
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Oscar's dad

  • Cheers!
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2018, 04:39:29 pm »
Is anyone going to be near Mid-Essex next Friday night?

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2018, 04:42:38 pm »
What bivvy bag would you recommend? I've got an overnight trip in two weeks so it wouldn't hurt having a crack.

I have three, depending on what I am planning:

-AMK SOL Escape bivvi - For when I'm going very light, very fast (ultra racing), or as an emergency, wouldn't generally recommend

- Alpkit Hunka Xl - works great, best balance of breathability/weight/cost But they only ever seem to be available in batches every few weeks/months, so at short notice can be hard to get.

- British army goretex bivvi bag - Brilliant, very breathable, spacious, but very heavy, and quite bulky. But it is the nicest of te three to use.

I am hoping to treat myself to the Exped Event Bivi some time soon.

I quite like bivvying, doesn't seem to wind people up quite as much as if you'd put a tent up :thumbsup: We tend to go with tarp and bivy bag thus providing the rainproofness desired by Cudzoziemiec  ;D

Agreed. If you arrive late enough, you can roll it out in the dark, sleep, and be up and on the move again by the time the sun comes up. People don't realise you're even there.

This is one of the reasons all my bivvi kit is green or camo.

This is three of us bivviing 50m from the North Downs Way in Kent.


Mine's the middle of the three.

Else where on the NDW, this was mysetup:



The bivvi bag is the AMK SOL one mentioned above (it was a simple over nighter). The sleep matt is a bit too bright, but with a bivv bag over the top you can't see much of it. My new one is mummy shaped, so it doesn't show up as much under the bag.

This camp site looked like this form the direction of the path, 20m or so away:



and the view I woke to is:



Quote
Bludger - that last shot was on this year's French Divide, night four. We also did a six day tour in Brittany but stopping on campsites which was "interesting" and drew a few stares and comments. If things get damp you just stop during the day when it's sunny and let things dry out in the sun, perhaps while having lunch  :thumbsup:

I've done the whole using a bivvi bag on a campsite thing, it tends to get interesting looks... It helps if there is a hedge you can use for one side of your shelter, ala:



Mines the one on the left. My friend had their tent which provided some privacy on one side, the hedge on another, and the angle meant very little view from the left hand end as you look in this picture.

I was sat drinking tea in the morning, and the guy 2 tents over ask "you slept in that?" "yep" "wow"

I don't like using a bivvi on campsites, and will carry a tent (I have the same tent as the one pictured) if I am only going to use campsites, if I leave the inner behind it's about 700g, if I take the whole thing, 1.4kg. But I tend to avoid campsites if I can...

On longer trips I tend to plan a hotel every 3-4 days so I can have a shower, wash kit, charge stuff etc...


What bivvy bag would you recommend? I've got an overnight trip in two weeks so it wouldn't hurt having a crack.

As good as any for the price would be the Alpkit Hunka but if you want to have your sleeping mat* inside the bag then get the XL.
* assuming you've an inflatable mat, probably OK with CCF.

Ah, the perennial sleeping matt in the bag, or not... I've tried both when using the Army bivvi, and it was ok on my back, but if I tried to sleep on my side, It was very tight. I am a side sleeper so it's not really an option, ditto with the alpkit. When I use the bivvi bag I have the sleep mat on the outside, and I then cinch down the drawcord on the entrance so that the only part of my that isn't covered by the bag is my nose and mouth, so that breathing out goes outside the bag. I then roll over, snuggle down, and sleep. If I am expecting flying beasties, I wear a mossie headnet (not needed in winter...).

Cheers bivvyers I really appreciate the tips. Unfortunately in my last tour I had a bad habit of taking ages to leave in the mornings, and then spent the rest of the day in a mild hurry to reach my next stop. The next time I'll focus on doing less daily mileage which should allow time to properly air the bag, especially factoring in some warmshowers stops.

I find the secret to less faff in the morning is having less stuff to faff about. If all you have to do in the morning is pack away sleep matt, sleeping bag, and bivvi bag, it's pretty damn quick. If you take the Josh Ibbott approach, you can roll the three together, and pack them in your saddle bag as one (I find it's more space efficient to pack them individually). I can go from asleep in my bivvi bag, to riding away with everything packed in under 15 mins. Tho doing it in closer to 30 mins is preferred.

Quote
In terms of picking a bag, I was looking at a Dutch army gore tex sleeping bag but given the advice on airing it as often as possible perhaps a lighter "civilian" one would be more practical.



The Dutch bag, like most hooped bags to me seem to be the worst of all options, you've got all the weight penalty of a tent, with all the lack of space of a bivvi bag. It seems silly. Also with these I feel it's too easy to breathe into the bag. You also lack the visibility that a traditional bivvi bag gets you. These days light weight tents are so a light they are often lighter than hooped bivvi bags.

The British army goretex bag is a nice compromise between the Dutch tent^Wbag, and the alpkit.

J
--
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http://b.42q.eu/

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2018, 04:50:27 pm »
Ooooo those surplus British Army ones are going for £45. Tempting!
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Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2018, 04:52:35 pm »
From my climbing days we always had the mat on the outside to protect the bivy bag but then the mat was always CCF and not an expensive inflatable one.

These days I'm soft ::-) and have a nice Exped inflatable mat. I can get it, summer sleeping bag, quilt as a wrapper to that if it's colder, and me inside an Alpkit Hunka XL, with the normal Hunka I can get all the kit in but not me :facepalm:

I've four bivy bags (and I've just sold another!): the Hunka XL and two from Borah Gear in the US, their lightweight bivy and their cuben fibre superlightweight bivy. These are both the same size as the Hunka XL, they aren't "waterproof" so need to be used in conjunction with a tarp if it's going to rain. They'll keep spray and condensation off but not much more. The final bag is the SOL escape bivy, generally I'll use this on races where I might need to kip out but generally not planning on doing so, I'll probably only take a light down jacket to use with this.

Edit: meant to say. Agree with Quixoticgeek - arrive late, leave early and no-one need ever know you've been there. Try and avoid anywhere where you can see house lights, the countryside is a dark place at night and if you can see a house then they can see your lights moving around and since not much happens in rural areas they'll know it's someone out there.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2018, 05:15:15 pm »
I've four bivy bags (and I've just sold another!): the Hunka XL and two from Borah Gear in the US, their lightweight bivy and their cuben fibre superlightweight bivy. These are both the same size as the Hunka XL, they aren't "waterproof" so need to be used in conjunction with a tarp if it's going to rain. They'll keep spray and condensation off but not much more. The final bag is the SOL escape bivy, generally I'll use this on races where I might need to kip out but generally not planning on doing so, I'll probably only take a light down jacket to use with this.

I reviewed the SOL escape bivvi on my blog http://b.42q.eu/2016/02/17/review-amk-sol-escape-bivvi-bag/

Interesting that we both keep it for the same use case.

Quote
Edit: meant to say. Agree with Quixoticgeek - arrive late, leave early and no-one need ever know you've been there. Try and avoid anywhere where you can see house lights, the countryside is a dark place at night and if you can see a house then they can see your lights moving around and since not much happens in rural areas they'll know it's someone out there.

Aye, I have a petzle e+lite, which in red mode doesn't carry very far, but gives you enough to see what you're doing. I also  can pitch camp by feel alone (a fun skill to learn), meaning if I want I can check over the ground at about 200mm off the floor with a light to check it's safe, then everything else can be done by feel. I also tend to switch the bike lights off early if I can so they don't draw attention to me.

Bivvying... or adventures in creative trespass...

J
--
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http://b.42q.eu/

Phil W

Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2018, 05:40:16 pm »
I have three bivvies

Rab ultralight which is 190g and the one I take on overnight audaxes or if sleeping away from civilisation.

Another Rab bivvy, bit more robust for mountaineering trips. Weight about 340g

Nemo which is an airbeam single skin bivvy with a mesh inner door and venting either end for airflow. The airbeam is an inflatable hoop instead of a pole, and keeps weight low. Total weight 760g including pegs etc.  Use this if touring or some of my stops may be on campsites.

Will try and dig out pictures.

I also have a 1980s tent in the loft, about 1.5kg in weight. Forgotten I still had it. Will have to air and see if mice have gotten at it.

jiberjaber

  • ... Fancy Pants \o/ ...
  • ACME S&M^2
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2018, 05:54:04 pm »
......
If it's raining, or very likely to rain, I pair my bivi bag with a small tarp. My tarp is 198g, so nice and light. You can have all the same experience of watching the rain from under the tarp in your bivvi bag too...
................
J

Which Tarp have you got J ?
Regards,

Joergen

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2018, 05:58:08 pm »
one other advice is that if you choose to bivvy in someone's private territory*, be aware that there is a high likelihood of a dog(s) which will bark like mad if they hear you. when arriving at night carry your bike with lights off, tread gently and make your "bed" quietly. no worries if the dogs see you leaving - you already had your good nights' sleep! :thumbsup:

* e.g. on a stack of sheltered drying planks of timber

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2018, 06:15:38 pm »
......
If it's raining, or very likely to rain, I pair my bivi bag with a small tarp. My tarp is 198g, so nice and light. You can have all the same experience of watching the rain from under the tarp in your bivvi bag too...
................
J

Which Tarp have you got J ?

I have 3.

- the British army basha, it's 1.2kg, huge, but great. I use it when I'm camping in one place and weight isn't an issue.

- Mil Tec flecktarn camo tarp. 450g, with most effective camo for the terrain i usually bivvi in. I take this when camping places I perhaps legally shouldn't, or areas where there are lots of people.

- Integral Designs, now RAB, siltarp1. 198g, with an extra 20 once you add guy lines (1mm micro paracord),  and stuff sack.

I have 2 sets of pegs too, one set is a set of 6 Alpkit Y beams, the other is 2x Y beams, plus 6 titanium shepherds hook pegs, that are about 6g each and cost me $2.50 each from the states. When you've gone to the effort of such a light tarp, to then use heavy pegs seems... Foolish...

All told, I can do sleep mat, tarp, bivvi, and sleeping bag for about 1.5kg. less if I use my 190g Ccf... And the sol bivvi...

And my drinking mug is 44g, and I don't drill the handle of my toothbrush, i just don't carry it on overnighters... What do you mean I'm taking the weight saving too far... :P

J
--
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http://b.42q.eu/

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2018, 06:32:59 pm »
I was just about to start booking b&b's for next summer's island hopping, but this is giving me ideas. I'll have my landrover so no issues about carrying kit, and Scotland, so right to roam and wildcamp.   

I quite fancy the idea of bivvying rather than full on camping. I have a CCF sleeping mat somewhere, so I'd need tarp and bivvy bag.  My sleeping bag is an old ex forces v. heavy feather filled number, nice and warm, but seemed to have developed a leak last time I used it it.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2018, 06:37:52 pm »
I was just about to start booking b&b's for next summer's island hopping, but this is giving me ideas. I'll have my landrover so no issues about carrying kit, and Scotland, so right to roam and wildcamp.

One word: midges.

J
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ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2018, 06:45:58 pm »
do you use both bivvybag and sleeping bag together, or would a warm sleeping bag be sufficient for the Isles in this time of year.

Midges - didn't experience any on Islay.  This year will be Mull and Islay again - I've booked B&B for Islay, same as this year becasue I liked the place so much.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2018, 06:48:14 pm »
do you use both bivvybag and sleeping bag together, or would a warm sleeping bag be sufficient for the Isles in this time of year.

I use both together. If you use a sleeping bag on it's own, you'll have issues with wind chill, and dew.

Quote
Midges - didn't experience any on Islay.  This year will be Mull and Islay again - I've booked B&B for Islay, same as this year becasue I liked the place so much.

Lucky!

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2018, 07:06:43 pm »
Hmm, thinking simple tarp rigged at an angle using one side of the landrover as anchors (roofrack) and windbreak?

Hmm, how to hide gear purchase from SWMBO?  I already have cooking and eating gear, just need the camping gear.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2018, 07:12:21 pm »
Hmm, thinking simple tarp rigged at an angle using one side of the landrover as anchors (roofrack) and windbreak?

Then I'd say you'll be fine if you tarp is big enough (British Army basha is cheap and a good choice).

Have a look at the youtube videos of Paul Kirtley for some good tips on tarping.

Quote
Hmm, how to hide gear purchase from SWMBO?  I already have cooking and eating gear, just need the camping gear.

On this I have no advice, I have no partner to justify my purchase too...

J
--
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http://b.42q.eu/

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2018, 07:15:29 pm »
Interesting to see the photos. I hadn't realised bivviers use tarps like that – it's almost the flysheet of a tent.

If anyone's inspired by this thread to buy a Hunka, Alpkit have 15% off till midnight Monday with code AKlONG15. You probably knew that anyway, but just in case it benefits anyone.
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

Re: Bivvys and bivvying.
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2018, 07:17:40 pm »
For my "race" tarp I've six carbon fibre pegs and one y-beam that is used for the main tensioning point at the head end. Tarps need quite a bit more tension than tents so you need to make sure the pegs can handle that. I use the bike's handlebar as the other "pole".

Race setup is a Trekkertent cuben fibre tarp - 140g, lightest bivy bag (also partly cuben fibre) is 130g, pegs and pole are 100g, torso length Klymit X-frame is 175g, Cumulus 150 quilt is 370g. So 920g or thereabouts.

Touring setup is an Alpkit Rig3.5 at 350g, Borah gear bivy at 170g pegs and poles at 150g, Exped mat - 400g, Cumulus quilt at 370g. Total of 1540g

If I'm touring with my wife then it's an Alpkit Rig7 at 550g but one of us will carry that and the other the poles and pegs.

Apart from the carbon fibre pole (made to measure by Stuart from Bearbones), it's all off the shelf kit.