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The Climbing Club • View topic - Poled vs. un-poled bivy sacks

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Preference on bivy sacks
Poled 50%  50%  [ 4 ]
Un-poled 50%  50%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 8
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:12 am 
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Tenacious Lee
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Location: Seattle
After two trips where the sheltered bivy sites were too small to accommodate my tent, I've decided it's time to invest in a bivy sack. I'm all for minimizing weight, but the option to have a single pole over my face seems like it would be weight well spent in a rain or snowstorm; on the other hand, it was pointed out to me that - if the bivy has the appropriate attach points - one can rig up a support structure using trekking/ski poles to keep the bag off one's face. So I thought I'd ask: what do other club members use? Here are the packaged weight specs on some of the bivy sacks I've been looking at:

(poled): 670 g, 23 oz
(un-poled): 302 g, 10.7 oz
(un-poled): 280 g, 10 oz


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:41 am 
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Alpine Slogger
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Location: Too far from a summit
I'm too claustrophobic for unpoled.

I'm partial to the Outdoor research Alpine, which is slightly heavier than those you posted.
http://www.outdoorresearch.com/site/alpine_bivy.html

They also have unpoled options:
http://www.outdoorresearch.com/site/aurora_bivy.html

Read lots of reviews online...some bivy's seem to not get the job done when the weather gets rough. These seem to be pretty tough.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:15 pm 
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UW Climber
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Location: Edmonds WA
I got the BD Big Wall Bivy a while back and have used it on everything ever since. Love it! I didn't realize it's pretty heavy for a bivy, but compared to a tent its amazing. It's fully waterproof and instead of a pole it has a little wire that kind of works like a pole; not fully, but good enough to provide a little extra breathing room.
http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en ... ooped-bivy

A couple of the bivys you listed seem to be designed as emergency ones rather than heavy use bivys. Also, you mentioned using the bivy in a downpour or snowstorm, might want to consider a truly waterproof fabric rather than a coated one. Just a though.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:24 pm 
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UW Climber
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Location: Seattle
Lee, the one I've been using is the Integral Designs Exp eVent with hoop pole:

http://www.integraldesigns.com/product_ ... EN=8667558

I have to agree with Brian about the claustrophobia thing -- it sure is nice having that 6-12 inches of space above my head, and I think it's easier to get ventilation with a poled bivy in nasty weather. I can zip mine up almost all the way and still get a good cross-breeze without any rain getting inside.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:50 pm 
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receiving spoon
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I've slept in my unpoled OR aurora bivy even in a light rain, and it's kept me mostly dry and decently ventilated. I guess the pole issue is a matter of personal preference--it's slightly less fuss and weight, and I find I don't really sleep well in the backcountry regardless. You can, however, get most of the bivy off of your face since it's kind of stiff. It apparently has guy line loops and loops for stakes as well, but I haven't tried it.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:05 am 
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One Armed Wonder
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I like the OR Alpine Bivy (poled). It like it better than my lightweight REI <1lb bivy (which was cheap!) b/c water proof/breathability and more room.
Whatever style you get make sure that you have mosquito netting.... Here is the result when you don't have it.:

Image

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:57 am 
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receiving spoon
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:03 pm 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Location: Seattle
I'm going to throw in a vote for un-poled due to the fact that they are lighter. If it's raining/storming, I think it's extremely unlikely that you're climbing something and have a need to fit in a small bivy location. You're more likely to run into storms on backpacking trips in which case I think most camping spots will accommodate a tent without too much difficulty.

Check out Mont Bell's (only 7.2 oz)

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:20 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Location: Wallingford
I have an unpoled, with a small wire. I've only used it a couple of times, but was rained on once and frosted another time. Both times I had it zipped and velcroed completely, and I had no issues.

A couple things to keep in mind: when it's light out, it's easy to see the fabric, in which case overcoming the mental hurdle of claustrophobia is, I think, easier. If it's dark out, you can't really see where it is anyway, so 2 inches or 10 inches off your face doesn't really matter. This is especially true depending on how you tent to sleep; in beds, I sleep on my stomach. This isn't really a very feasible position in sleeping bags, especially with little or no pillow, so I tend to sleep on my side. It is almost impossible for me to fall asleep on my back - laying in that position seems to put me in a very awake mental state. I bring this up because I think it would make sense for you to consider how you sleep. If it's on your stomach or side, the bivy being in your face is not an issues, as it's either on your back or shoulder. Then a non-poled bivy might be in order. If back, then poled.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:12 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:15 am
Posts: 129
Great question, Lee.

Reducing weight, in everything I use, is always a strong consideration for me. Cutting corners regarding weight is good style.

High functionality often is in direct competition with decreasing weight, however. Cutting corners regarding functionality is rarely a choice I make.

I've logged several dozen nights in un-poled bivvy sacks. Some all-night rain, some all-night snow, some all-night heavy winds, some under heavy mosquito assault. It's easy for me to offer my opinion that un-poled bivvy sacks are considered as emergency only, for me.

A poled bivvy sack is the only way to groove. From my experience poled bivvy sacks are generally better and occasionally outstanding when compared with un-poled regarding:

mosquitos can still bite you in an un-poled bivvy when the netting is resting on your sleeping face

ventilation, which prevents getting that clammy feeling and extra funky body odor

claustrophobia, fo sho

snow slides off, rather than accumulating, directly atop your head

rain slides off, rather than pooling up, directly atop your head

an increased sense of sanity during heavy winds

significantly enhanced functionality when reading (route topo, guidebook, a little sci-fi)

Research poled bivvy options and certainly seek light weight options, and I promise any buyer's remorse you might have with the extra weight will be far less than after a few rough nights spent inside a goretex tube sock.

By the way, what did you choose??????


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:32 am 
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Longshanks
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Location: Denver
I second Jim's opinion. There's no way a bivy should weigh more than a pound. In bug season I use something like to add the required protection to my open-faced sack. It has an integral ring that keeps the netting off your face. It also works well in light rain when you throw your jacket over your face.


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