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Thread: Bivi for a beginner?

  1. #1
    Mini Goon
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    Following on from thisthread about getting a ME Dragonfly or Laser posted a couple of months ago, I got neither, partly becausethe sleeping bag was out of stock (it's supposed to come back in shortly..) and the cost.

    Yesterday I was looking at Alpkit and saw the Hunka Bivi bag and it got me thinking, maybe a bivi and a piece of tarp would be sufficient for spring summer nights, leading to this thread...

    So my question is how good an idea is it to get a bivi and tarp for nights on Dartmoor and a week's walking on the South West Coast Path (in good weather)? The pluses I can think of are the weight and price, and ease of moving on/conspicuosity of it over a tent. But the negatives include the lack of protection for my Bag (with camera kit in) and the whole beginner bivi experience?

    What Bivi would people recommend if I do go for that option, would the Hunka be the best bet for a reasonable price, or perhaps the Rab Survival Zone or Storm Bivi?

    Also with respect to a tarp to cover me I was thinking of makinga basic triangle one pole design to go over the top of me, with a peg at the point and a tripod/monopod and two guys at the open end, would that be the best option? With respect to where I could find tarp to make this would something like the "Brand New Genuine Issue Olive Green Tarpaulin 5ft x 9ft" (three from the bottom) be something I should be looking for?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Hi Amp34.

    Can't say I'm an experienced bivier. I've been out for a few nights in Italy but was lucky enough not to have any rain. I used the survival zone which was fine but not tested by wet conditions. Your link doesn't work for me but I'd think 'tarpaulin' a fairly heavy material but a small section could be ok.

    For a mini tarp something like this might suit you for head cover and is pretty good value. Bob at Backpackinglight (UK) sells a micro tarp too, but he'll be away for a couple of weeks on the TGO challenge.

    Making your own is probably pretty easy but I'd try and find some sil nylon if you can as the lightest fairly cheap material. Team IO might be another source for getting something made up for you. Saying all this though, you coul probably make something up from a piece of builders plastic that could last well enough to get out there for a trial and see if this is an approach that works for you.

    I've no idea how experienced you are but for the SW Coastal path which is pretty busy the stealth opportunities of this kind of system can be a plus to tuck yourself out of the way and you could probably plan your initial stops to stay close enough to civilisation to bail out if things got nasty.

    No wish to patronise, as I said I've no idea of your experience, but I'd urge a bit more caution heading out to the remoter parts of Dartmoor until you had some experience dealing with bad weather and ensure you're confident of your navigation skills etc. Otherwise I see no reason why this couldn't work well ..........and it gets you out there.

    Stay safe and I hope you enjoy a good experience.

  3. #3
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    hunka is cheap and effective. a dustbin bag can provide extra protection for your bag. if you put all your stuff in drybags aka anything waterproof from a carrier bag to a full blown dry bag you don't need to worry about it. my camera and anything electronic goes into drybags as packs are not usually the slightest bit waterproof.

    my firewall doesn't like the link you posted. it thinks it may be not be real.

    i use one of the older versions of these solo tarpor a cuben fibre tarp made for me by team io teamio

    i think a bivvy bag is always handy (at least to keep dew off).

    i would suggest you get hold of anything waterproof and tarplike and try it out for yourself. you may hate the experience and thus save yourself some money.

    i've only used a tarp for overnighters so far and i like it. a lot.

    i use dyneema cord and line loks - also avaialable from team io.

  4. #4
    ‹bermensch Chris OutdoorsGrubcouk's Avatar
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    If you know it won't rain, or it's very unlikely to rain, then a very light bivvy bag saves loads of weight over a tent. When you think it could well rain, you need to be better prepared (bivvy and large tarp or proper waterproof bivvy and small tarp and a small piece of groundsheet) and the weight saving over a tent is much less (if any). This tarpfrom Team IO seems a good deal and good weight.

    Personally I bivvy when I want to be surreptitious (where a tent would be too much of a giveaway) and when I want to be in touch with the outdoors -- lying back in the fresh sweet evening air gazing at the stars is an experience not to be missed!

    In rain, pitch the tarp first (needs to be large enough to crouch under) and squat on a small piece of groundsheet or plastic to keep your bum dry. Unroll the bivvy and get your sleeping bag in quick, then off with shoes, socks and trousers and slide in. With care neither you nor your sleeping bag will get wet.

    Rucksack and shoes can go under the tarp and/or be protected by a rain cover.

  5. #5
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    just to add. a tarp makes an excellent shelter from the weather for breakfast/lunch stops as you don't look like you're camping. you can throw one up in no time as doesn't need to be "overnight" sturdy.

    oh. pack up early and move. walk a bit then set up for breakfast to look like someone's who stopped beacuse they're hungry.

    during the day at some point and if conditions allow, give your bag and bivvy an airing and pack the bag in the bivvyso it's ready to just throw on the ground when you stop for the night.

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch R_Mac's Avatar
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    I've only used a bivvy once, last October using a German Army poncho. It worked fine and although we were in a forest and I tied it to a tree I'm sure it could have been attached to trekking poles.

    They're cheap and would let you see how you like the bivvy experience.

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3153/...48b86c.jpg?v=0

  7. #7
    Mini Goon
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    Whoops, I seem to have stuck the covering words in the link as well...

    Here's the proper link http://www.denbigharmysurplus.co.uk/...arpaulins.html(third from the bottom)

    The link seems to suggest it is a poncho type material, having said that any links to the bare material would be appreciated. As much as buying a ready made one would be easier I do baulk at paying £50-£60 for what is essentially a bit of cloth with a couple of holes in when the material itself could be got for around £10-20 (at least to begin with).

    I have spent a few days on Dartmoor and have a reasonable experience with the outdoors (but have only camped there once due to lack of tent) so I trust my abilities in that respect.

    Parky - I was wondering about gettinga drybag to go over the whole of my bag, if I can et one big enough, for protection at night.

    So would the Hunka bag be waterproof enough, it implies it is fully waterproof, and with a tarp over the top (how would you recommend I put it up, only 1 pole/tripod) it would be fine? One of the major reasons for a tarp is for a bit more"protection" for my bag, i'd feel a bit vunerable with my bag just lying next to me.

  8. #8
    Initiate Kish Logan's Avatar
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    When I was young I spent every summer night (June to September) for six or seven years sleeping out in Europe, central asia or north africa without a tent or bivi. Sometimes I'd have to find shelter, but not very often.

    I'd say go for it, with a failsafe.

    Sleeping under the stars is one of the best things there is.

  9. #9
    ‹bermensch R_Mac's Avatar
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    If it's the IPK tarp you're referring to I don't think they have eyelets. They're designed to cover a foxhole/trench supported by the cord which is criss-crossed between the pegs and then earth is pilled on top. Something tells me the tarp part is simply heavy duty polythene.

    You can get silnylon from Shelby, (made in England)

    http://www.shelby.fi/catalog/product...roducts_id=221

    They're in Finland but shipping is no problem. Point North and Pennine Outdoors sell fabric to.

    Know someone who can sew? you'll make one cheaper than you can buy. Need a pattern? check Tinny's tarp plans/build videos for his 'Hasty Hooch'at Minibull Design. Also on Youtube.

  10. #10
    Mini Goon
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    Ah ok, I presumed it wouldn't have the eyelets (not difficult to put in if I remember rightly) but didn't know how thick it would be.

    So how much material would be needed, approximately 3m I guess, and i'll have a look at the link now.

    Thanks.

  11. #11
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    use a dustbin bag to go over your pack at night. you're only covering the pack as everything else is either under the tarp or in drybags inside your pack.

  12. #12
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    For a taster tarp, just use a cheap poly tarp - often bright blue, but green annd camo ones are available. They are pretty light.

    2oz Green Silnylon is available from PointNorth (they call it by it's old description - silicone elastomer coated ripstop)

    If no eyelets. Can attach guys directly to fabric with a sheet bend knot - as used for milennia.

    Lifters can be attached anywhere using a small pebble/plastic ball - using this method gives the effect of curved edges thus taughtening the pitch. You can gather any excess material after you've pitched the edges. I've made countless party/stage shelters over the years using big tarps this way.

    Hunka is waterproof, can also get Rab Survival zone on ebay for £32 new at the moment.

    Like Parky says - Bin bag for gear - always the lightest option - can get 'tough' ones (in green too!). I always take a couple in the bottom of my sack if likely to be wet- instant waterproof jacket/kilt too. I have a drybag for my down sleeping bag only, otherwise polybags are lighter/more versatile/expendable for keeping things dry.

  13. #13
    Initiate Steve I's Avatar
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    I don't think your weight argument holds up. Add together the weight of your Bivi bag + tarp + cord + pegs + poles and you'll be struggling to beat the weight of a Terra Nova Laser Comp, even if you normally use trekking poles. The tent will be warmer, drier, more wind resistant and can also be pitched very quickly in the day as a shelter for a lunch stop (if necessary).

    If you're sensible about where and when you camp you'd be surprised at what you can get away with. A tarp is just as conspicuous as a small tent.

  14. #14
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    Personally I think it's more about the experience of being 'outside' than weight though?

    Also,

    I'd rather have a roomier tent than a Laser Comp so 1.2kg+ for tent with inner...

    Lightweight tents cost £150+

    Hunka plus cheap tarp = £40 or Hunka plus pricy mini tarp = £80

    For occasional summer use - no contest on price.

  15. #15
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    As Mole has said, bivvying isn't just about weight. It's a great experience simply lying down on a mountain summit and watching the sunset and sunrise.

    Saying that, you can have a ligtweight tarp and bivvybag for around 400g or lighter, if you use UL fabrics.
    If you use lightweight fabrics, i wouldn't use metal grommets in a tarp, as i have read accounts of them tearing the fabric when put under stress.

  16. #16
    Goon Jonno2's Avatar
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    I have a hunka and tarp that I haven't had the chance to use in anger yet. I'm wary of the local insect population getting a little too close when bivvying - when you're in a tent you know the wildlife is staying outside

  17. #17
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnoS View Post
    I have a hunka and tarp that I haven't had the chance to use in anger yet. I'm wary of the local insect population getting a little too close when bivvying - when you're in a tent you know the wildlife is staying outside
    Why did you buy them?

  18. #18
    Goon Jonno2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike fae Dundee View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JonnoS View Post
    I have a hunka and tarp that I haven't had the chance to use in anger yet. I'm wary of the local insect population getting a little too close when bivvying - when you're in a tent you know the wildlife is staying outside
    Why did you buy them?

    I didn't say I didn't like it or wouldn't use it, just pointing out to others for whom sharing a bivi bag with some creepy crawlies might be a deal breaker

  19. #19
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    You should follow my example and only buy one new shiny a year.

  20. #20
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    weight isn't an issue as a bivvy and tarp can be very light. poles are zero weight because you've got them anyway. dyneema and a couple of line loks weigh sod all. the bivvy is a bit of insurance rather than an absolutenecessity too. i prefer one.

    a tent is one size. a tarp can be whatever profile you want it to be so you can make it almost invisible.

    an erected tent is camping.

    a tarp is just someone taking shelter/having a picnic and if doing a full cammo job possibly being a scarey nutter too.

    horses for courses i guess. a laser comp? isn't that one of those nylon coffins that kitty would tear to shreds if being swung about?

    (runs away)

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