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Sgathak
2003-03-19, 07:21
Bibler Hooped Bivy

Name: J Robbins (Sgathak)

Age: 23

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 170lbs

Experience: Numerous years of camping. First camping experiences were family car camping in the Colorado Mountains, and then moved into primitive wilderness survival type camping in the western Colorado high desert. Following this I got to go on a few “hikes in the woods” with the US Army. After my discharge from the military I spent 3 months traveling around the western United States desert country (Western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico) where I hiked, rock climbed, kayaked, and mountain biked my way around and made camp where darkness found me. Since then, most of my camping has been short overnights and day hikes.

Similar Products Used: I’ve also used Outdoor Research Deluxe Bivy, US Military Canvas Bivy, US Military Gore-Tex Bivy, US Military Camo Poncho (buttoned and used as a bivy), and numerous Homemade Bivys.

Locations/conditions tested: Over the past 4 years, I have used this product in almost all conditions as it is my primary shelter. I have used it in temperatures ranging from 75f to –20f. I have used this product in numerous rainstorms, snowstorms, and windstorms as well as dry cloudless weather.
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Weight (advertised): 23oz

Weight (as tested): 21oz (with stuff sack)

Price: $199

Manufacturer web address: http://www.biblertents.com

Phone Number: (801) 278-5533

E-mail address: tents@bdel.com

Single wall PTFE membrane (Todd-Tex brand name), poleless bivy sack with single non-removable delrin hoop.

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Construction, Design, or Initial Impression:
At first glance, I found this product to be well made and of great quality. The upper cover of the bivy is of “todd-tex”, a propriety Gore-tex clone with a nice velvet like feel on the inside of the material. The lower, bottom, portion of the bag is of a thin black Polyurethane covered fabric that has held up fairly well, though feels very flimsy and the polyurethane is sort of “sticky” to the touch. Around the opening (located at shoulder level when inside the Bivy) is a no-see-um screen, which can be used or rolled up and stowed out of the way.

I chose this product because it was well priced and well made. I also liked that unlike other bivy bags of similar quality sold at the time (early 1999) it did not have a zipper along the body length, which I preferred for water tightness in wet or snowy conditions. This particular model came in a camo print, which I liked as well… I tend to enjoy “stealth camping” and this bivy fit the bill well.

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Initial Tests:
VERY easy to set up camp with this Bivy. It requires no set up time in an emergency as it has no poles and its weather tightness is wonderful (if you seal the seams… more on that later). My first test other than setting it up in the living room was using it (along with other, well tested, gear) out in the backyard during a snowstorm. It passed with flying colors, though entering it is rather awkward I found out. There is very little room to remove boots (and other gear) inside a bivy (your sleeping gets wet and dirty if you do this) and if you attempt to take your boots off outside in a snow or rain storm you get cold and wet very quickly. Getting you and your gear situated without getting yourself into too big of a pickle is a skill that takes practice and more practice, though is quite doable… I did not have any practice at this time and things got wet and dirty my first time out… though in the end I survived quite well.

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Trail Test:
This Bivy is exceptionally easy to set up as, again, it has no poles to worry about. It stuffs (with some effort, though this too is a trail and error skill) into a small stuff sack and is easily removable for use. Simply open the sack, grab the bivy, and pull.
You will find that the Delrin rod holds it shape rather well, and so the entrance to the bivy is still tightly rolled once the bivy has been laid out. However, this is just a small annoyance when setting up camp.

In an emergency, the bivy can be used as soon as it is pulled from its stuff sack, though for comfort you will want to put in a sleep pad and sleeping bag. Due to the delrin hoop holding its shape, and the “stickiness” of the polyurethane coating, I found it helps to slide the sleep pad in by rolling it lengthwise and sliding it in while holding the bivy vertical in the air. Do the same with your sleeping bag if at all possible. With a small amount of practice this can be done in less than 2 minutes.

Ive also used it quite successfully for weather protection while swinging quite happily in a Mayan hand woven hammock (for all you hammock people)

While Bibler seam tapes all of their tents and Bivys, they recommend that you seam seal them as well… this is for GOOD reason! That reason is, their seam tape DOESN’T DO A THING! I found out the hard way about this, as I had not seam sealed at first like I should and used this bivy in an Oklahoma rainstorm. I went for a swim that night because every seam on this bivy leaked like a sieve! Luckily my sleeping bag was a borrowed Wiggys bag and despite being soggy, I remained quite warm. This was sheer luck however! If I used a down bag that night, I might not be here today, as I would surely have had severe hypothermia by morning. What makes this mistake worse is that they provide seam sealer and an application syringe in the package.

SEAM SEAL THIS PUPPY!!!!

Since then, I have had little to no problems with this bag (the entrance is still a bit of a hassle however), condensation has been almost nil as the entrance zippers and hood provide a fantastically weatherproof cover that can be left open for breath (and to a lesser extent)body vapor to escape in all but the worse weather. Only in very hot, muggy weather, or tightly sealed up in a downpour, did I feel that condensation may have been a problem. The delrin hoop, while not providing a cavernous headspace, does allow for a good amount of standoff and makes more than enough room for use in “sitting bivys”. I have spent several hours waiting out storms in this bivy by sitting up, leaning back (I use a seat system with my thermarest, though you can easily lean back against a tree or rock) and reading a good book, eating a PB&J sandwich, and listening to some music.

This Bivy is long enough for me to stretch out completely (including my arms fully extended above my head) and provides plenty of room for me to use a winter sleeping bag. For taller people, a long version is available, however it may prove quite tight for people who are significantly larger in “diameter” than I am.
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Conclusions/Recommendations:
Good gear, but its not for everyone, and need, absolutely NEEDS, to be seam sealed by the owner. The claustrophobic need not apply, though it is warm and comfortable in nearly all conditions, and if you don’t mind the tight quarters, it is a great piece of gear.

Its size is sufficient to fully hold all my sleeping gear and leave room for me to roll around, but surprisingly, it even has enough room for me to fit my backpack into. Though not everyone may have the same fit.

Life in a bivy can be a bit rough if you like to spread out a bit like I do. The bivy is not the place to be sloppy with your gear. Its too easy to loose things in a bivy… there is so much fabric, padding, and insulation inside that if you set something down haphazardly it will likely be lost until you break down camp. I have found that the stuff sack makes a fantastic place to keep your gear (glasses, flashlight, etc) and if stuffed with a shirt makes a decent pillow, which is fortunate as the use of a regular camp pillow in this bivy tends to put my face uncomfortably close to the top of the sack. Your comfort zone may differ though.
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