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How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

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How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:09 pm

at the moment I do not own a single freestanding tent. And I haven't missed it a bit.

The options I have are perfectly weather worthy and easy to set up.


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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby rlown » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:59 pm

i've only used a bivy twice. both in winter and only with a polarguard bag. Once at -20 in Minnesota which was fun, and once at Winnemucca Lk on a winter trip (same bag). At -20, there is surprisingly little condensation. Your nose hairs do freeze, but that's part of the experience.

The other experience at Winnemucca was a Nov trip and in my bag and bivy i suddenly realized that in the morning there was about a quart of "water" floating around my feet. still warm. I love that bag. It was easy enough to drain it and pack it up. Down would have been a really bad experience.

If I had a choice, I would always use a free standing tent in winter camping. Room to move around. Ice crystals on the tent beat condensation any day, and if you don't like where you put it on the 6' of snow, you can relocate it in seconds.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby Hobbes » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:01 am

AlmostThere wrote:at the moment I do not own a single freestanding tent. And I haven't missed it a bit. The options I have are perfectly weather worthy and easy to set up.

I rec'd a reply from one of the sources; here's what he has to say:

Two things:

In typical conditions for the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2:
It’s way better to stake out the rear corners, essential actually, and way better to stake out the sidewalls if you don’t need the fly. Takes 30 seconds and makes the tent way more roomy and more comfortable.

Potential bad weather:
With a light tent, in potential bad weather situations, like a gathering t-storm, I stake my tents out, tight as a banjo string, including the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2, keeps it from beating itself to damage in a big breeze.

Since you still have to (a) carry stakes; and (b) use them when erecting the shelter, then I'm not seeing the big advantage with a free-standing tent. If I'm going to go through that hassle*, might as well keep my 20oz weight savings with MYOG tarp-tent.

*By hassle, I mean when you're above tree-line and even MSR mini ground hog stakes are hard to pound in, much less Ti shepherd hooks. Many times, I have to haul together big rocks to sit on top of the Ti side stakes. I use the MSR minis for the two center-line pole guy lines - they have to go in and are essential to keeping the tarp taught.

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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:52 am

Hobbes wrote:
*By hassle, I mean when you're above tree-line and even MSR mini ground hog stakes are hard to pound in, much less Ti shepherd hooks. Many times, I have to haul together big rocks to sit on top of the Ti side stakes. I use the MSR minis for the two center-line pole guy lines - they have to go in and are essential to keeping the tarp taught.

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Big rocks, or enough rope to put around the larger boulders. The Lightheart tent only needs one strong guyout on each end of the tent - the awnings can be tied off to smaller rocks. I use two groundhog stakes and two ti hooks. There are plenty of additional tie outs but they are not necessary to keep the tent standing, just to pull out the edges a little more. If any are necessary those would be the two additional ties on the awnings, to keep it taut and wide.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby KathyW » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:42 pm

and this is why it is so hard to give and take gear suggestions. The type of shelter that works for one person, does not work for every person. We don't all do the same type of backpacking.

A 6 day trip would be a really long trip for me; so I'm no thru hiker.

I have a number of tents (some I still use and other that I don't use often or at all) and my bivy sack - I pack what I think will work best for each individual trip.

I don't carry a bivy to save weight - lightweight tents only weight a pound or two more than a bivy sack- it's all about how fast I cant set up and break down camp and all the places I can camp with a bivy - I can stop just about anywhere and camp with a bivy sack. I don't carry a bivy for trips longer than a few days and don't usually head out when the weather forecast isn't good with it. Sometimes in windy weather in unsheltered places, a bivy works better than anything else.

As far as tents go, I don't mind a few extra ounces if it sets up easy. I stake free standing tents - I flew away inside an unstaked tent once; so I learned my lesson.

This summer was a dismal one for me - not too many backpacking trips at all. I spent a good number of nights in the back of my truck at trailheads, but not enough in the backcountry.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:59 am

I have used a bivy a lot - on several 10-12 day trips in the Sierra and on shorter trips in the Rockies. I also have an OR basic bivy. A few things help. I take three very skiny tent stakes and stake down the foot and head (there are tiny loops for that). Then I use my trekking poles to raise the head piece (there are also tiny loops for that). The trekking poles are held up with some tent cord tied from the head tent stake to one of the foot stakes. That provides some ventilation. Tents are definitely more comfortable, but a bivy is great when you have very limited flat ground. My bivy, with extra cord and the stakes is 1.5 pounds. Pretty light. And if the weather is good, I can still cowboy camp on top of the bivy with the ability to quickly get inside if needed. My sleeping bag is down but has a DWR outer layer so even if it gets damp, it seldom seeps into the down. This system definitely does not work well if you get into repeated days of drizzle or rain. The bivy is easy to dry out - simply turn it inside out and hang it over a bush. A bivy and poncho also is a good combination, since you need the rain gear anyway.

I have been in my bivy during heavy rain and it DOES work. Another nice thing, while walking down the trail and a storm builds, I have jumped into my bivy to wait out a brief downpour above timber.

I agree that a bivy is not obsolete, but it is not for everyone or everywhere. In general climbers are a little more masochistic with regard to comfort so I think using a bivy while I climbed has made transitioning to using a bivy for backpacking seem more "normal" to me.

In general, in the Sierra in the summer, a bivy works if saving that 1-2 pounds over the weight of a tent is important, you do not get too freaked out with a little condensation, do not mind drying out at rest breaks when you get sunshine, and spend most of your time hiking, not in camp. I do not use a bivy in shoulder season when there is less daylight, because I want to be more comfortable while spending much more time in the tent due to so much darkness.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby Hobbes » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:33 pm

A bivy is obsolete if it's being used merely to protect a (new, high quality) sleeping bag against condensation & dew. Everyone is familiar with how much technology has advanced in electronics, but in more obscure areas like materials science, there isn't as much knowledge amongst the general public.

Where there is a lot of awareness, however, is in the PCT world. Perhaps it's because aspiring thru-hikers study & save to make major purchases; we become comfortable with older equip because it still works. But if one were to sit down this winter and really go through what the leading companies like Feathered Friends & Western Mountaineering are up to with both their down & fabric, well, then maybe you would come to the same conclusion.

As for actual rain, wind and general weather, a bivy will always have its place in mountaineering because that's your only shelter. Kathy, of course, is our resident mountaineer, so it stands to reason that she likes/uses bivy sacks.

However, for the vast majority of hikers (with new equip), a bivy is going to be both superfluous and somewhat non-functional. You don't need it with the newest materials, and they tend to have well known condensation issues. So, what's the point?

Since there is always a chance of actual weather, you should always be carrying some kind of "real" shelter even if you're only heading out for 1 night. Everyone on this board understands that; so the question then becomes, how much more extra weight do you want to carry in your shelter?

This was/is the heart of Ray Jardine's argument - a low profile, tightly strung tarp will get you through the night. Still, it's pretty sweet to have something like the BA Fly Creek or AT's Lightheart if you're willing to carry the extra weight.

Me, I only get out a few times each summer. I can't be away for even a full week, so I cram in as much as I can during my short trips. That's why I don't pull in at noon, set-up and hang; I'd rather keep going. But that's the classic HYOH.

For others, a nice tent is just what the doctor ordered. I'm really impressed with the Fly Creek - if I can find a used one in good condition this winter, I might just go for it to have it around. It would be pretty cool to show up @ a TH with the mountains looking like they're gonna let loose, and have a tent that PCTers swear by ready to be shoved into the pack if need be.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby KathyW » Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:58 pm

If you use a tarp, does that mean you don't have any bug protection? There are certain times of the year that must be awful. I hadn't given that much thought until now. If I think the bugs area going to be bad, I carry a tent - that way I can cook and eat and hang out in my tent in the evening without having to deal with getting attacked by bugs. I know that is a no-no, but I've done it for years in the High Sierra. I doubt I'd do it in a campground in Yosemite Valley, and I'm sure I'd need a new tent that doesn't have food residue in it to go to Grizzly country.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 24, 2014 7:50 pm

I have totally disagree that a bivy is not a "real shelter". Mine as kept me protected, even if not the most comfortable, in many severe storms. That is why mountaineers carry a bivy - to protect them from severe weather if they get caught on a mountain. A friend of mine climbed Mt Rainier: she used a bivy, others used light weight tents. A storm at night blew down everyone's tent and she was snug as a bug in her bivy. On alpine climbs in the Sierra I have been protected in a bivy (without sleeping bag - usually you just carry the bivy and not a bag) on North Palisade, East Ridge of Lone Pine Peak, White Mountain, to name a few.

My bivy also has a mosquito net, however I do prefer a tent during peak mosquito season. All the fancy new sleeping bag material is not going to keep you dry in a 4-hour downpour. I do not think backpackers who have not spent considerable time in a bivy in a storm are actually qualified to state that a bivy is not a real shelter. The issue is not if it is a real shelter (it is) but rather that it is not the most comfortable shelter and you have to plan ahead more. Go out to pee in the major downpour phase of a storm, and you get wet and some wetness gets in the tent, or bivy. There are breaks in every storm, and that is when you dart out and pee. My backpack goes inside the bivy as a pillow, as does all my gear so it all stays dry. If your pack is too big to go inside, then bring a rain cover.

I agree that most backpackers would prefer a tent. I would not have specifically bought a bivy for backpacking, but since I own three (from climbing days), I have used them plenty of times in the Sierra when I simply wanted to go very light- including a 14-day trip. Now, I bivy about a quarter of the time, and use my Tarptent the remainder. I do not consider myself adverse to new technology - I have some fancy high tech new stuff, and STILL use my bivy.
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby FeetFirst » Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:05 pm

In my garage, in my toolbox, I have no less than 5 different 1/2" wrenches (e.g. open end, box-end, combo, flare, ratchet). All different, but essentially they perform the same task. The situation dictates which one I choose.

For me, I approach shelters, and most backpacking gear, the same way; pick the appropriate tool for the task at hand.

Unfortunately, I don't have the funds or space for all of the different types of shelters for every niche trip, but I've covered most of my bases and learn to compromise for the rest.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: Bivy, tarp or tent?

Postby hikin_jim » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:32 pm

Hobbes wrote:When multiple PCTers mention the same advantages - quick set-up, ability to lift & move around without disassembling & re-staking, they (specifically, Big Agnes) didn't collapse in major storms, etc, I think regular "civilians" should sit up and take notice.
That's a pretty compelling argument.

I did a trip in the Eastern Sierra for Labor Day and one of the people along had a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. I also went on a trip in the San Gorgonio Wilderness earlier in the year, and again a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. Danged things are everywhere. ~2.5 lbs for a roomy double wall tent. Tough to say no to that.

The only problem I see with the Fly Creek UL2 is that it takes a lot of space. I can get my tarp set up in a much smaller spot.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
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Re: How do you deal with condensation in your bivy?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:48 pm

I would love to say "yes" to all the high-tech UL tents out there. Problem is the $$$. For now I will have to do with my bivy or Tarptent Moment. The Tarptent is on its last legs - have replaced the zipper twice and the floor is beginning to seep. I can also see pin-point daylight through all my bivys. I am going to have to drop some $$ for a new shelter within the next couple of years.
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