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I have spent too much time in them... not to sound negative, as they definitely have a place, however, i can't reccomend them for motorcycle touring because the few extra pounds of a tent (which your motorcycle will be carrying, not you) add a world of difference to your sleeping, night time enjoyment vs. the cramped quarters of a bivy sack. If you are still craving to know what nights are like in a sack, just imagine it. You are inside a sack, it is raining outside, you sit/lay there, try to stay dry, the hours pass on, you try to read... it works, it is light, but it isn't a lot of fun. My biggest advice is to never seal it all the way closed, you will be hyperventilating in an hour. My bivy of choice is the advanced outdoor research version (u.s. made). It is pretty crucial to have a pole or two to keep the bag off of your face, so go with a hoop style. Regards.
I don't tend to use tents and prefer to travel light. I usually carry a combination of a UK army (PU proofed nylon) bivvy bag and either a groundsheet or a fly sheet from a two man tent. This way it's possible to just climb into the bivvy bag if you're exhausted, or use the bag under the sheet. Normally I lash this to make a shelter onto trees or rocks, but it's easy to make a low shelter using the bike at one end and a stake in the ground at the other. With practice making these shelters is fairly quick (though not as quick as most modern designed tents).
The advantages of this combination are that if it's hot you can lie on the bivvy bag with only the sky above. If there is a danger of light rain, you can climb in the bag, and if you need better rain protection you can erect the fly sheet. I like to have lots of air and be "out in nature" as much as possible, and this combination is fairly light, compact and versatile (if you get the right stuff - best to choose carefully). It tends to be more discrete than a tent, and you can also rig up the fly sheet with a hammock. Also, repairs to this equipment are a lot more straight forward than they would be to a complex tent.......
The disadvantages are that the set up is never as warm as a tent (too much air!); it can be difficult to find room to keep all your kit out of the rain (but that's the same as a tent); although you don't need poles you will need plenty of cord (but that's always a handy commodity); the fly is a LOT more susceptible to wind, and it can take more time than a tent to set up properly.
In the end it comes down to how much you like tents and camping generally, and also what the weather is likely to do where you're going. One thing I really hate is peeling off cold, wet bike gear and trying not to get the sleeping bag wet as you struggle into it (whilst worrying whether your gear has somehow been knocked out of the shelter into the rain). Then putting it all back on again the next morning! No worries if you're in the Atacama of course. The last time I was there I got away with a sleep mat and sleeping bag - a tent would have been too hot, and would have concentrated the innevitable ants........
as said above I think bivy bags have there place . . .fantastic for solo tramping (thats kiwi for hiking, sort of . . .)and in the past I've found one invaluable for long hitch-hikes. Mine is a macpac, goretex and still going strong although its over 10 years old. in saying that, it doesn't get as much use as it used too . . heres their site:
Having spent many years using Gore-Tex bivi bags, I would reccomend a lightwieght compact dome tent. The bivi bag has its place, as a shelter, but for overlanding, with all the differences in temperature, rain, and insects its just lot easier using a modern compact dome tent. If you want to stargaze dont use the flysheet, but you always get protection from creepy crawlies and mossies - something to think about on a long trip, where you may not use anti malarials all the time. Bivi bags are worst in warm, wet weather where the gore tex cannot shed moisture away fast enough and you get wet from the inside. If you have nothing to cover your head, you have to pull it over you - making the condensation problem even worse, unless you have a hooped Bivi, a little better, but nearly as big (packed) as a small tent these days. Also in the Sahara, with an open bivi bag you would probably wake up with a nice mouth full of sand fairly often- the wind can be relentless, and a well pitched tent is a welcome refuge from this. For backpacking they are fine for occasional use, when you fancy a night out under the stars, but where the Bivi Bag excels, is in Arctic/Cold conditions, where you can dig a snow hole /shelter to get out of the elements and then use the bag between you and the snow/ice, and keep you, your sleeping bag/mat/clothes/boots dry inside, and improve the performance of your sleeping bag. Cheers, Grif.
I would use a lightweight one person(if just you of course) tent if two of you go for a two/three person,as extra space is always useful-VAUDE OR TERRA NOVA,the VAUDE is cheaper and erects outer first,which is better in wet weather.
if you want a shelter(an hour or so) for stopping for something to eat or drink or making a brew whilst in wet cold or windy weather)or dusty/sandy) then get a BOTHY BAG by TERRA NOVA very small and lightweight(waterproof and windproof),doubles as a pillow or seat etc,get a four person one afew quid more but much more versatile
I'm not sure what a bivvy bag is, but we use a thing here in Australia called a 'swag' which is basically a piece of canvas that is folded to give protection. Inside are matress,sheets and blankets (depends on how cold it is), the can be rolled up and strapped to a bike. They are a bit bulky but I have met people who travel around Australia on bikes using them. Come in various styles some hotel like, some very basic. If used with a 'hoochie' can be very comfortable and dry.
ps. summer here in Rocky warm to hot have not seen rain in about a month.
Originally posted by Norbert: I'm not sure what a bivvy bag is,
A bivvy bag is basically just a large waterproof bag just big enough for one person to crawl inside. Generally used by hikers who must carry all their gear on their back and very concerned with weight.
On a bike, I think if most of my nightswere going to be spent in hotels and the bivy was only for occasional/emergengy use that would be fine. I wouldnt want to use one over the long haul however. No room for any gear. Difficult to even change your clothes inside let along brew a pot of tea.
If you are that concerned with weight and space consider a silnylon tarp. I use one combined with a bug hut two person screen tent. Shelter for two people and your bike at around three pounds.
Originally posted by Ian: Any experience or opinions of usng these?
They seem an interesting alternative to a tent.
I am a big fan of these and now use it exclusively. Only thing I have used when camping where I don't wake up with a sore back, screw the Thermarest and tent, I have consigned it to the junk room at home
1. It replaces the tent/thermarest and is small (1/4 the size of the two of them)
2. Can camp just about anywhere ie no need to find a flat camping spot eg over a creek, over long grass, over rocks etc I tend to stay well off the beaten track and bush camp so it suits my style. If you like to stay at camping areas where they cut all the trees down to suit tents it might be different
3. Is off the ground ie away from snakes, downpours of rain aren't a problem etc
4. Bug proof i.e beats just using a tent fly and ground sheet (which I used to mostly use) and getting the crap bitten out of me by mosquitos. Also means I can plug my little fluro light into the BMW Adv and read a little at nigth and keep the insects at bay with the built in insect mesh.
All depends where you're travelling. I would leave the bivvy bag at home and get a lightweight tent.
Bivvy bags can be very miserable places compared to even the smallest tents, especially if it rains.
The hammock looks a good idea, but you'll be a long time finding somewhere to pitch it in desert countries.
Where are you going? Will it ever rain there?
Ian have a look at the Hubba Hubba - good for one (think two small for two m/c ers with wet gear unfortunately) Weights very little and you can use as Mossie net most times ? or tarp and agroundsheet for true open view. If they did a 3 man one I'd buy one right this second
If you are going to use a bivvy bag, I'd suggest taking a lightweight tarp or army poncho that can be suspended as a shelter to keep the rain off while you get on with the usual camping duties, such as cooking. Trouble is by the time you pack all of it up you might aswell take a small lightweight dome tent (I do these days) and live in luxury. I only ever found the weight and volume savings of bivvy camping to be justified on mountaineering trips when a lot of climbing equipment had to be carried.
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