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Tech Tip: Question Bivy gear

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Mountaineer, May 29, 2013.

  1. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Opinions on the best gear to take for a planned overnight bivy (canyoneering trip)? Planning to do the full Imlay route end of June, so staying at the crossroads area.

    Usually I've taken 3-4 lb small tent, sleeping bag, and pad when backpacking. However, I haven't acquired any lightweight gear for a night while canyoneering. This will be a first. Understandably, you need to take minimal equipment. I've heard some just say take a light tarp and sleep on the ground (bug and scorpion prevention?), others take a lightweight bivy sack (prices range from cheap to several hundred bucks). There are even fancy ~1lb weatherproof small tents.

    What do you use? What do you recommend? All opinions welcome.
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  2. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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    Ah, if there's one thing I love it's expedition style canyoneering...

    I'd carry a 3/4 length z-rest, and sleep on top of my wetsuit. Sleeping bag would be lightweight down, preferably one pound. I'd skip the tarp all together and carry a piece of tyvek and maybe an emergency blanket. (this is HIGHLY dependent on the forecast, however). Are their alcoves, places where you can at least survive the night if it rains? Inflate the drybag for a pillow. Steripen or aquamira for water treatment.

    I skip stoves, carry cold food unless one stove can be split by everyone.

    I have mountains of different ultralight backpacking gear, but light stuff is always expensive. The key to going light is to try and take LESS stuff, and what you carry should serve multiple purposes. If you can do an overnight trip for only a 5 or 6 pound penalty, then you are in business!
  3. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Thanks Dan! Excellent advice. Got the steripen, it goes with me always. Love the idea of the z-rest and wetsuit! 1 lb sleeping bag? Nice, will shop around.
  4. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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  5. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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    I also did a bunch of modifications to a Go-Lite backpack for big overnight canyon trips. Used the zrest for the backpanel framesheet, put in some grommets, etc... Saved a few pounds there. I find the drybag and zrest give me plenty of structure. But, I wouldn't use it in Imlay. The pack likely wouldn't survive.
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  6. TJ Cottam

    TJ Cottam Adventure Plus

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    I've packed one of these escape bivvy's around a few times, haven't had to sleep in it yet but it's supposed to be rated to 50 degrees by itself. It's thicker and more durable than most emergency shelters, but the biggest difference is that it's breathable.
    http://www.adventurepluslc.com/canyon/emergency/survival/escape-bivvy.html

    If you can get by without your wetsuit for the upper narrows it's not a terrible sleeping pad, that's what I used last time I did full Imlay overnight. We carried a jetboil and some mountain house dinners, but like Dan said it added a fair amount of weight. Freeze dried food sounds light until you start packing the extra water to cook it.

    The best bug and scorpion remedy is to not think about the bugs and scorpions :D. When we made camp at the crossroads a scorpion ran out of a bush, waived it's claws at us, and ran away.
  7. Sam G

    Sam G

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    I bought a fleece-lined sleeping bag liner made by ALPS mountaineering and sewed no-see-um netting over the open face part. It cost me $40 and weighs 1lb 10oz. This is what I use for overnight canyon trips and it's awesome, except it's only practical if the temp isn't below mid 50s at night... even then I layer up heavy.

    Definitely go w/ Dan's advice and sleep on your wetsuit... but only if you're positive it'll be dry. If I carried a sleeping pad it would be a z-rest type thing probably cause I've had too many inflatable style Thermarests pop in the desert.
    Also, I carry two emergency blankets for a ground sheet and overhead tarp in case it rains... but it never does.

    If you're trying to go as light as possible the question isn't what gear to bring it's what gear can you do without.
  8. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

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    This is what I used for my Heaps trip last weekend. I used the Escape Bivvy, with some Polypro underwear for some additional warmth. I used my Wetsuit as a pad and slept under a pine tree where there were lots of pine needless to soften the ground.

    I also carry cold food (jerky, cliff bars, trail mix etc) instead of carrying a stove along.
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  9. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    If you need a tent, you shouldn't be in the canyon. And, its rare to not find a sheltered alcove to sleep in anyhow. So, perish the thought of ever carrying a tent for a canyon in Zion.

    I carry a 8oz BD bivy sack is all. Sleep in my clothes. Like a friend says, "if you're not sleeping in all your clothes, you took too much stuff."

    Really, you don't need a sleeping bag if the lows are above the 40's. That said, if its chilly, I'll carry a primaloft 1lb overbag (I think mines either an MEC brand). Down, if your keg or dry bag leaks, will be worthless if wet. Better than a bag, though, is a primaloft style light shirt, like a Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with hood. Plenty warm enough to sleep in, and, if you get chilly in the canyon, you can pull out and wear it.

    I pull the pad out of my pack to sleep on. Sometimes I'll replace the pad with a 5mm enzolite pad, cut to fit, and, also add a lightweight air mattress to the pack padding too. Carries nice and you can pull both out for the bivy. Those yellow ensolite pads cut down to fit your pack are super sweet and have a high enough R value to get some insulation from, and, can be enough for hard ground (or sand). Rope for a pillow. Have slept on my wetsuit with my feet in my pack for the unexpected bivy.

    You're overnight pack should look like a small daypack. And, you'll appreciate the the lack of bulk and weight even at the expense of some comfort at night.
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  10. MrAdam

    MrAdam

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    When we did Imlay last June, I didnt even bring a sleeping pad, just laid my wetsuit on the sand and that was more than enough, and I normally dont sleep well outside even on a thick sleeping pad.

    X2 for the western mountaineering sleeping bags, I have a 20 degree long bag and it is under two pounds and packs up extremely small. They are expensive, but it was worth it!
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There's a couple pieces of gear that I use in these situations, and the mix depends on the expected temps:

    1. fleece balaclava: the best bang for the buck. Jrat brand preferred, but they are hard to find.
    2. polyester underwear: makes a huge difference in warmth, also wearable around "camp" to keep the bugs off.
    3. 1 lb sleeping bag. Having a real sleeping bag, no matter how light, is WAY better than the equivalent weight in a down jacket, WAY warmer. Montbel Hugger #3 is my new lovechild! 1 lb 4 oz. But expensive for sure. I have a LaFuma one that is inexpensive, and not warm at all.
    4. an emergency blanket at 2 oz is always good to have along.
    5. Off the ground: wetsuit yes, foam from pack, yes, a little more foam also good. Toss your pack down at your feet to keep your feet off the ground.
    6. Tucking in under that alcove makes a big difference.
    7. NeoAir is amazing, and I would take it now that I have one, since it would allow me to sleep WELL: http://www.campmor.com/thermarest-n...html?source=CI&ci_sku=40750&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw=

    The ultimate sign of a non-clued-in canyoneer is taking a tent. I remember interviewing the people involved in the "Rescuer or Rescuee" Heaps incident, and the telling sentence was: "we were just packing up the tents..." If you need a tent, you would not be in Imlay or Heaps! Bring a little bottle of bug repellent in case the bugs are bad.

    I like a hot meal, myself. Jetboil = a lot of weight. Fashionable, yes. Light, NOT. A small cartridge stove and small cartridge, and small ti pot is a LOT less weight than a Jetboil. A cup of Chai Tea in the morning really works for me. If you run out of fuel, do without or use a small twig fire, but don't bring extra fuel 'just in case'.

    Less is more, more or less.

    Tom
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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  13. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    1: Yeah. Even a super lightweight one is worth its weight. I have a light mid weight Turtle Fur model that rocks.
    2: Silk weight patagucci for me. Amazing and packs up teeny.
    3: Mines a Marmot Atom. Takes up about a liter's worth of room in the pack is all. Warm enough down to freezing for me.
    4: I remember pouring a cup or two of water out of my space blanket on that Mountain of Mystery bivy we did, Tom. That was a clammy night!
    Stove: MSR pocket rocket with a small can of fuel. Light and fast. Nest it into a Ti pan. But, I usually go cold breaky dinner.

    Ditch the water pump, embrace iodine.

    Fun stuff. Try a few things, leave out the non used items, adopt the "good enough for a night" mentality...
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  14. Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers

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    1 & 2. I'm a wool guy. Provides a modicum of warmth even when wet. And I usually stink out the synthetics in a day to the point were EPA makes me treat them as toxic waste.
    3. I pay a big-guy penalty and have a 1.5 lb Western Mountaineering caribou--slept comfortably into the upper 20s.
    4. I've deployed that emergency blanket a couple of times--good insurance.
    5&6. A side sleeper, I really like the Neoair. Light, warmer than traditional air mattresses, and I use a piece of tyvek on the ground as protection for pad, bag. I sleep much better since I started using it a few years ago, and a good night's sleep pays off in terms of energy and alertness. The alcove is great as wind and night sky radiation (cooling) protection. I usually don't use a tent, but I'm not anti-tent, however, and in some situations they make a lot of sense. A tent can add 10 or more degree of night time comfort with elevated air temps, reduced wind, and reducing radiation cooling. Adding a 19oz. Tarptent Sublite, isn't much more weight than bumping up to the warmer bag--and its great rain protection when real rain is a possibility (my trips tend toward multi-day). I've also used a home made Tyvek bivy, and I'm intrigued by the Escape Bivvy mentioned above. I have a two-person Tarptent at 33oz. (Also have a BD pyramid which a 2 lbs will sleep 4 and keep you dry in sustained downpours.)
    7. I like the warm meal at night unless it's hot out. Seems to add a couple degrees to the sleep system! And I like to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or three in the morning unless I'm in a rush to cover miles. The Jetboil is heavy--but it's not an unreasonable choice if you're in a group of 3-5 (or more) as the fuel efficiency starts to come into play. Lighter options if you're solo.

    Search the lightweight backpacking sites--tons of great suggestions. Some expensive, but some less is more and homemade options.
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  15. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    I highly recommend looking into cottage companies that make lightweight backpacking gear.

    Borah bivy - 5 ounces, does just as well as my old BD bivy, just weighs/costs less/better design for bugs.
    Enlightened equipment 40 degree quilt - way lighter and way cheaper than most other down bag companies. 14 ounces 175 bucks.
    Foam pad only if its cold out, or the ground is hard (grand canyon). Otherwise sand is pretty soft.

    Been looking to grab one of those SOL bivys. You only have to survive the night right?
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  16. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Right! My 5 day backpacking tent, bag, pad & other gear is pretty good, but clearly not designed for a haul through a canyon.

    Tons of good advice here.

    I think I may try a few of them in the back yard first.
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  17. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    As I dimly recall the climber Jim Bridwell saying, "there's no need to train suffering."
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  18. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Very good Brian! This really cracked me up. Very true.
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I highly support the idea of Mike carrying one of these. Heck, if he brought two, he could have one too.

    :moses:
  20. Sam G

    Sam G

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    Here's an, uhh, interesting webpage on ultralight backpacking... http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/RMM.Backpacking.equipment.list.htm

    There's some awesome info on how to do-it-yourself for real cheap. There's also some rediculous quotes like...
    and
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