Bivy or One Man Tent

Mike Jones

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Feb 19, 2013
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147
I am planning to do a trip this summer and think it time for a new sleeping system. I do a lot of camping in the desert on the weekend with my Jeep and usually use a hammock.

I love my hammock and take it everywhere with me! But I am looking for something a little more robust and simple for when I go on week long backpacking trips. I had a decent North Face 2 man tent that I took on a week long hike through the Grand Canyon:

S5U5QSM.jpg


Its worked great for me, but the rain fly has started to chip and I want something lighter more like a 1 man.

I have been really looking at and reading every review of the Advanced Bivy by OR. I really really like what I see and what I have read. But part of me is leaning toward a 1 man tent because I want something I can use in warmer climates too. Basically I want something I can use pretty much anywhere...
 

slc_dan

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Jun 7, 2012
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To me, a bivy feels like being in a body bag. I'd only use one if I really had to go ultralight, ie carrying ropes and the like, or didn't plan on having to use it. I can't imagine waiting out a 2 day storm in a bivy, sounds terrible.

You'll get a lot more comfortable use out of a 1 man.
 

gnwatts

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This is an old Garuda single wall. Someone must make a similar design now. I liked it because it was a little larger than a bivy, had a small vestibule, very light weight. You could pitch it with a single pole if desired.
I owned a bivy once, it drove me crazy.

I0000qyd.1jKnLCw.jpg


I0000mpuYmlmdIvk.jpg
 

Dan_85

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Jul 25, 2013
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At 39oz, that OR bivy is about exactly the same weight (if not heavier) as the BA Copper Spur yet without the space. The BA Fly Creek doesn't have as much space as the Copper Spur but is about 25% lighter still. How about some of the tents from the cottage manufacturers? ZPacks, Six Moon Designs, Tarptent etc? Lots of great, light and spacious options there.

I used a bivy for a short while a few years back and as slc_dan says, it really wasn't much fun in the rain. Like being in a coffin. At least with an actual tent, I can sit up, stretch, cook, read a book etc if i'm pinned down by weather. Considering many 1P tents are in the same price/weight range, for me it's a no brainer.
 

pstm13

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Dec 27, 2012
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I 2nd the body bag feeling in the bivy and the thought that the heavier bivy is similar in weight to several 1 person tents. Bivys have their place but if it's an either/or choice you may want to get a tent. In most cases in the summer you would also want a tarp and trekking pole to keep rain off your pack and out of your bivy while you are crawling in to sleep. This adds weight making a tent even more appealing.
 

Wyatt Carson

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Apr 15, 2015
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I crawled into several high end bivys in the local shops and felt like Tutankhamun in a sarcophagus. For me a good amount of personal space in a shelter is not only optimal but necessary. It depends on your individual makeup. I've had a Mojave Green rattler living close to my camp once and too many scorpions and other creepy crawlies make tracks across my face at night to cowboy camp in comfort so at the least a tarptent or other light tent for me.
 

Mike Jones

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To me, a bivy feels like being in a body bag. I'd only use one if I really had to go ultralight, ie carrying ropes and the like, or didn't plan on having to use it. I can't imagine waiting out a 2 day storm in a bivy, sounds terrible.

You'll get a lot more comfortable use out of a 1 man.

I dont mind the feeling of the "body bag" I use a bivy at work all the time and would go weeks in one

I used a bivy for a short while a few years back and as slc_dan says, it really wasn't much fun in the rain. Like being in a coffin. At least with an actual tent, I can sit up, stretch, cook, read a book etc if i'm pinned down by weather. Considering many 1P tents are in the same price/weight range, for me it's a no brainer.

Good point about the weight being similar between one man tents and the bivy. If there the same weights or less might as well go with the one with more room
 

Jackson

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May 31, 2015
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3,027
Honestly I am not counting pounds or ounces, I want light but high quality so that it will last. I am not the type of person trying to cut every once possible. I just like simple but nice.

Then I'd reflect what everyone else is saying here. I've heard lots of good things about various Tarptents. Great quality, lightweight, and good customer service. There are lots of Big Agnes users here too, and I've not heard much negativity about them either. I'm in the market for a new tent right now. The internet sure provides you with a lot of options, but it is overwhelming at times.
 

Nick

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Considering there are plenty of good tents and shelters that weigh nearly as little or less than a bivy, can someone tell me why you would even want to consider one as an option? I honestly don't understand the appeal.
 

Mike Jones

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Feb 19, 2013
Messages
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Considering there are plenty of good tents and shelters that weigh nearly as little or less than a bivy, can someone tell me why you would even want to consider one as an option? I honestly don't understand the appeal.

Set up and tear down time. For work I love my bivy because you can throw it out in an instant and roll it up and be on your way in another instant. I think this and simplicity are the two major advantages of a bivy.

Also in a storm with a lot of wind a good bivy can be bomb proof especially with its super low profile.
 

Nick

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I'll agree to the lower wind profile, but it takes a hell of a storm to put down a decent backpacking tent. And the difference in tear down time is negligible at best. I'd bet less than a minute for many ultralight tents. Maybe a few minutes for most others. Hardly worth having no space to move around in. I just don't get the bivy thing whatsoever and I've camped with people in them quite a few times. The best thing to ever come of it was a girl we camped with that brought one full of holes and missing it's only pole, and to the Uintas of all places (lots of rain). We patched her up with my duct tape to keep her dry, but the best part came when she woke up to a moose nose-to-nose with her the last morning. The inquisitive moose decided he needed a good sniff of her face. She woke up to hot moose breath on her face and I woke up to her screaming and the loud thud of hooves slamming down outside my tent. That could have ended a lot differently. But then again, I spend most of my bag nights in no tent at all, so my opinion is probably biased.
 

Mike K

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Jul 6, 2012
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My first thought was also that a 1 person tent and a bivy weigh about the same...and that you get more space from a 1 person. But, you guys have already hammered that out.

I think everyone has covered most angles on this topic in general and given good advice. I guess it comes down to weighing your personal bivy advantages/disadvantages vs the 1 person advantages/disadvantages. I also find it helpful to prioritize the variables (weight, cost, durability, ease of use, etc).

Good luck. It's always fun researching and buying new gear. Let us know what you decide! =)
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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I just can't get myself to sleep in, what feels like a coffin to me. I'll carry an extra pound to have a decent and comfortable shelter.
 

Wyatt Carson

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Apr 15, 2015
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I'm betting you didn't spell Tutankhamun right on your first attempt.

Dude you hit the mark on that one. I can't even spell kat most of the time so I didn't even try, just opened a Google window and after I messed up the spelling there were several choices they gave me... LOL

I'm fine with ideas and spatial relationships and making my own choices but spelling? Not a chance :uhhuh:
 

Jimmy Olsen

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Aug 13, 2012
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Been real happy with my BA Cooper Spur UL1—when I can't bring my hammock, that is. I typically lay my empty pack inside my tent by my head to keep it dry and away from rodents. It's also roomy enough that I could easily spend a day inside, if I needed to. I looked at bivy sacks before I bought my hammock and tent but I wouldn't trade either for a bivy.
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
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I have an older (ca. 2000) OR Advanced Bivy that I've taken on many backpacking trips and love it. I get stressed out about securing a tent in the desert where half the time you can't get the stakes in far enough or find a big enough flat area. One time I came back to camp and found my (staked and guyed) tent blown about 20 yards away, luckily lacking major abrasions or punctures. In contrast, when you leave a bivy for the day you fold it in half, put a big rock on it, and it's not going anywhere. A bivy is not only quick to setup but also you can put it just about anywhere you can fit your body -- no searching around for largish flat areas. Another thing I like is being able to open the top and look at the stars on the 9 nights out of 10 in Utah where it's not raining, I feel kind of claustrophobic in a tent with the roof hanging just over my head.

The main thing about a bivy is you're only in there to sleep-- you're not reading, changing clothes, sorting gear, or eating. So if it's buggy or storming, life is going to suck. So basically a bivy is a great match for Utah desert trips, maybe not so much Alaska.

Not too long ago I got one of these:
http://www.milesgear.com/UberBivy.html
It's great: still has a tiny footprint and can't blow down, but big enough to change clothes inside.

If I was a regular person I'd be satisfied with two bivy bags but since I'm a gear slut I've been wanting one of these too:
http://rab.equipment/us/shop/shelters/ridge-raider-cocoon-bivi

Anyway summary: it's not about the weight, you can find a tiny little tent that hardly weighs more than a good bivy bag. The choice comes down to wanting some sort of rigid structure hanging over you catching the weather vs. sleeping in a big old hefty bag.
 
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