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[pct-l] Bivy Sack opinions

> Robert Knoth <robertkn@mdhost.cse.tek.com> wrote
> To: pct-l@saffron.hack.net
> Subject: [pct-l] Bivy Sack
> Date: July 30, 1997 10:15 AM
> Hi,
> I am going to be doing some solo backpacking soon, and have been curious 
> about bivy sacks.  

. . . stuff deleted . . . 

Bivy sacks were developed for climbers, for emergency bivouacks.  Note 
"emergency".  As emergency shelters they are much better than nothing
but they are not suitable (IMHO) as planned shelter in any but the
most benign weather.

For a single example:  Turn on your yard sprinklers and then try and
setup for sleeping: spread out the bivy and your sleeping bag and then
try and get into it.  You will quickly go back to a tent or tarp.

If you want absolutly the least weight a 10x10 tarp or HD poly sheet
will do the trick at a fraction of the cost and about the same weight.
I would add a yard or two of bug net... especially if you go anywhere
near Waldo Lake <g>.

I have for years used a very light Eureka tent (not made any longer)
that comes in at 5 pounds.. tent, fly, stakes and groundcloth.  The
extra 3 pounds above the weight of a tarp are well worth the extra
comfort and room... _especially_ if the weather is bad.  There are
quite a few tents on the market in this weight range... take a look
at some and talk to owners about their favorites.  You might find
some for rent in the larger outfitters.  (The reason you cant rent
a bivy sack is they know you would never buy one after using it once).

I have never used a GoreTex tent but have a lot of experience with
GoreTex clothing.  GoreTex is at least as good as coated nylon in
most conditions.  Seriously, if you think about how GoreTex works
you will have a hard time finding a reason to use it in a tent instead
of much cheaper coated nylon.  The water molecules pass thru the
fabric from the inside to the outside.  In mild conditions this
generally works pretty well... but as soon as the outer surface of the 
fabric becomes _wet_ (like in rain?) the pores in the fabric are
now blocked by a solid water film and can no longer "breathe".  In really
wet conditions, just when you want the properties of GoreTex most,
it works no better than coated nylon.

If you have a hard time believing this, the next time you go to an 
outdoor show find the GoreTex exhibit.  They almost always have
a glass tube set up on it's side over a camp stove, with GoreTex
sealing the ends of the tube, which is half-full of water.  The 
water is boiling merily away, liquid is held inside below the
waterline, and steam is dribbling out of the GoreTex above the
waterline.  Ask the demonstrator to splash a little water on the
outside of the GoreTex (where rain would hit it).  If he knows this
trick he will refuse.  If not he will do so and as soon as the fabric
is good and wet the GoreTex will pop off the end of the tube as the
steam is no longer escaping.  You will want to be standing off to the 
side when that happens.

GoreTex makes great outer clothing for those with a big budget because
it is much more comfortable in mild conditions than a coated cloth
would be.  If your budget is more constrained you are better off with
a poncho or supplemental rain jacket of coated nylon.  The biggest
problem in avoiding GoreTex is finding a well-made garment (or single-wall
tent) made from something else.  Almost all top-of-the-line outerwear is
made of GoreTex these days.. it's what's expected on the "best".

Kurt P. Herzog   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   
1440 N.E Tenth Street     | kpherzog@cdsnet.net   |     COBOL Lives!
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