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Re: [at-l] Bivy Sacks and broken stuff



Jeff,

I didn't post my original note (I didn't want to broadcast about a product
I haven't seen yet!), but I'll answer your question on the list.

**** BEGIN DISCLAIMER ****

Please note that I haven't used this product yet, nor do I have any REAL
experience with bivy sacks in general.  I've talked to a lot of people, and
done some reading.  I have at least two years before I'll have a chance to
try a thru-hike, so I'll have plenty of time to make sure my gear works for
me.

**** END DISCLAIMER ****

In general, some people seem to love bivy/tarp combos for warm and cold
season hiking, some people like bivys in the winter, and some people HATE
them with a passion.  I suspect that part of the problem is that people
think of different things when they hear the words "bivy sack".  The other
part of the problem probably has to do with how much they sweat.

Bivy sacks run from waterproof sleeping bag covers used by climbers and
winter campers, to "hooped bivys" like the OR Advanced or the Unishelter,
to "bivy tents" like the Eureka Gossamer (really a small tent in my book).

From what I've been able to figure out, the four biggest problems with bivy
sacks are:

(1) getting into or out of them in the rain.
(2) a zipped up bivy can turn into a sauna in warm weather.
(3) where do you put your gear
(4) no space to do anything

All of these problems can be addressed by carrying a tarp.  Some people
carry a large tarp, which lets them set up an elaborate shelter, and some
people just carry a small one to create a small shelter at the head end of
the bivy.

In either case, the idea is to make getting in and out drier, create a
sheltered place to drop your gear & air out your clothes, and to let you
leave the bivy partly open so your breath has someplace to go.  An added
benefit is that you can cook under the tarp.

The Integral Designs Unishelter has particularly nice ventilation options,
since the double zipper runs from the waist area around the hoop at the
head and back down to the waist.  The whole (85 inch) zippered area is
backed by bug netting.  I figure that I won't use the tarp at all unless
rain looks likely, and that I can get by with a small tarp since I always
have the option of zipping the bivy up a bit more.

The tarp they are making for me has sewn in loops (spaced every 18 inches
or so) instead of grommets, two loops on the body of the tarp, and a
reinforced patch so I can prop it up with a walking stick.  They are using
1.1 oz coated rip-stop.

Why am I interested in a bivy/tarp combo?  Mostly because I don't really
like tents.  Bivys require virtually no setup (unless you rig a tarp), can
be used anywhere there is room to lie down (even in a shelter), and can
help keep you warm (they add 5-10 degrees to your sleeping bag's "rating").
 They are fairly light, but not necessarily lighter than a small tent.  My
(admittedly heavy) bivy weighs (spec) 2lbs 14oz, and should come to about
3.5 lbs including tarp, four tent stakes, and rope.  I don't plan to carry
a ground cloth.

By the way, the bivy and sleeping bag I ordered are stock items.  Integral
Designs will do custom things for you, but they charge a little extra.

As for broken gear, if you send it back to them they'll look at it and
repair it for free, if it looks like the problem is theirs, or make a
repair for a nominal cost if the problem looks like normal wear or abuse.
Given their small size that policy doesn't surprise me at all.  I suspect
that they'll try hard to be helpful (they seem like nice folks).  I don't
expect any warranty on the tarp, since they are making it to my design!  If
the bivy breaks, I'll fall back on my (slightly too heavy for solo) tent,
or on a large tarp, or something... the right thing to do probably depends
on the season and my mood.

To be honest though, a thru-hike probably counts as about 6-10 years of
"normal use" for most gear.  I kind of expect some stuff to wear out.

-- Jim

At 11:32 PM 1/16/97 PST, Jeff Mosenkis wrote:
>On Thu, 16 Jan 1997, Jim Mayer wrote:
>
>> Jeff,
>> 
>> I have a tall/wide unishelter on order.  I'll post some info when I
>> actually see the item!
>> 
>> I plan to use it with a small, 5x7 tarp that they are making for me.  The
>> tarp is made from coated 1.1 ripstop nylon, and should weigh next to
>> nothing.  Their cost was VERY reasonable.
>> 
>What's the tarp for - over? under?
>
>I was also impreseed that the prices were so good considering how much 
>custom work it is.  The only thing I would be afraid of would be warantee 
>repairs on the trail.  I don't know what their turn around time is, but 
>just considering how far away they are, if you have to send something 
>back to them, that could be a long time, no?
>
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