Bivy and Tarp?

Loper

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Jul 1, 2020
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I’ve been thinking about reducing weight for my shelter and sleep system. One thing that has my interest currently is using a bivy. I already have a tarp (that I haven’t used yet) and was thinking that a tarp with a bivy would be a good combo and would accomplish my goal. However, the more I started thinking about it, I wondered if the tarp and bivy are serving the same purpose (keep me and my quilt dry while sleeping). Would it be better to go with one vs. the other to minimize things I’m carrying and further reduce weight?

Am I missing something? If the conditions don’t call for precipitation, does a person really need the tarp? If conditions do call for rain and I bring the tarp, should I also bring the bivy? In what situation would a person need both? I know wind might be a consideration, but how big of a consideration is it?

I’ve always used a traditional tent, so this would be unchartered territory for me.
 

Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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I use a tarp and bivy most of the time if I'm backpacking. Always have the tarp because weather pops up whether it's forecast or not. I usually only use the bivy if it's buggy - but if I know it'll be a wet trip, I'll also being the bivy to keep my pad and quilt together, clean and dry. I don't use a fully enclosed bivy, only the ones with mesh on the upper 1/3 to 1/2 of the top panel.
 

rclouse79

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Dec 10, 2019
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During archery season I often bring my Borah bivy and tarp. I had the bivy custom made to have an 8 inch strip of bug netting down the middle. This ensures no condensation inside the bivy while still providing some splash protection if the weather gets nasty. The bivy is also nice to act as a barrier from ticks and such.
 

UtahJimmy

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I have both, but my bivy isn't weatherproof. I only use a bivy when it's skeeter season aka for scouting.

During hunting season if precipitation is forecast, I bring the tarp.

If no precipitation and no bugs, I don't bring either.

I cannot imagine trying to wait out a long rainstorm in a bivy...
 

Dirtydan

Lil-Rokslider
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May 11, 2016
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An ultra light bivy is hard to beat even in a traditional tent. Keeps everything together and super fast to pick everything up and jam it in your pack. If it's going to be a nice night I don't even set up my tarp, just throw the bivy out and cowboy camp. I always carry some kind of shelter but don't always set it up.
 

nnmarcher

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Jun 11, 2019
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I use a tarp and bug bivy (mesh, not weatherproof) all summer/archery elk and really enjoy the versatility. The bug bivy is great for keeping mosquitos out of my ears and helps a bit with splashes during a storm. It maybe adds a degree or two of warmth. Mine is from Outdoor Research and has a small pole to keep the net off my face. I love having a tarp to sleep under, but it also comes in handy throughout the day whether glassing or waiting out a storm. I agree with @UtahJimmy, waiting out a storm in a bivy alone would be rough.
 
Joined
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During archery season I often bring my Borah bivy and tarp. I had the bivy custom made to have an 8 inch strip of bug netting down the middle. This ensures no condensation inside the bivy while still providing some splash protection if the weather gets nasty. The bivy is also nice to act as a barrier from ticks and such.
That is a great idea. This past weekend I hit the sack a little too to warm in a bag that was already to warm for conditions and woke up to a ton of condensation inside by bivy.
 
OP
L

Loper

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Thanks for all the feedback.

During archery season I often bring my Borah bivy and tarp. I had the bivy custom made to have an 8 inch strip of bug netting down the middle. This ensures no condensation inside the bivy while still providing some splash protection if the weather gets nasty. The bivy is also nice to act as a barrier from ticks and such.
I like the idea of having the big netting down the middle. I’ll keep this in mind if I end up getting one. Who made yours?
If no precipitation and no bugs, I don't bring either.
If you don’t take either, what do you take, just your bag/quilt and a sheet of Tyvek?

An ultra light bivy is hard to beat even in a traditional tent. Keeps everything together and super fast to pick everything up and jam it in your pack. If it's going to be a nice night I don't even set up my tarp, just throw the bivy out and cowboy camp. I always carry some kind of shelter but don't always set it up.

I like the idea of using a bivy to keep things together when you are sleeping so you don’t slide off the pad. That seems like a great benefit that I’ve never thought about before.

So when leaving camp in the morning you just keep everything (bag/quilt and pad) in your bivy and roll it all up together? Don’t you need to take the pad out to deflate it or inflate later the next night when setting up?
 

Dirtydan

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May 11, 2016
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I do pull the pad out so I can fold it up but I leave everything I sleep in, quilt, pillow, stocking cap in the bivy. That way I know exactly where it is come bed time.
Thanks for all the feedback.


I like the idea of having the big netting down the middle. I’ll keep this in mind if I end up getting one. Who made yours?

If you don’t take either, what do you take, just your bag/quilt and a sheet of Tyvek?



I like the idea of using a bivy to keep things together when you are sleeping so you don’t slide off the pad. That seems like a great benefit that I’ve never thought about before.

So when leaving camp in the morning you just keep everything (bag/quilt and pad) in your bivy and roll it all up together? Don’t you need to take the pad out to deflate it or inflate later the next night when setting up?
 
Joined
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I've gone the bivy with tarp setup before. It's a nice setup to use, but not mandatory. In some situations I go that route and in others I don't. It just depends.
 

Walkstoomuch

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Jun 30, 2021
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Mountain laurel designs makes a couple different bivys that are full mesh on top with different options for side height/storm proofness. I always woke up wet in my borah bivy, just never seemed to breath well at all for me. I switched to the mountain laurel version this spring and have been using it extensively. Bug protection is mandatory until October where I live and carrying this plus a tarp has been great for me.
 

Greenbelt

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Mar 2, 2023
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I always have a light weight tarp. It can get you out of a bind, you can bed down under in a bad situation, use it to guard you from the sun, snow, rain, etc. A tarp is an essential piece of my kit.
 
OP
L

Loper

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Mountain laurel designs makes a couple different bivys that are full mesh on top with different options for side height/storm proofness. I always woke up wet in my borah bivy, just never seemed to breath well at all for me. I switched to the mountain laurel version this spring and have been using it extensively. Bug protection is mandatory until October where I live and carrying this plus a tarp has been great for me.
Good to know. I’ll check out Mount Laurel’s bivy. Thanks.
 
OP
L

Loper

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I always have a light weight tarp. It can get you out of a bind, you can bed down under in a bad situation, use it to guard you from the sun, snow, rain, etc. A tarp is an essential piece of my kit.
Out of curiosity, what size tarp do you use? How much does it weigh?
 
Joined
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Borah bivy fan here.

only time I don prefer a tarp is when there are bad bugs or I am expecting major rain.

I run a tarp (DCF 8x10 or a seek dst) and a ground cloth (DCF or matty mcmatt face). TBH the whole set up starts to approach the weight of a light single person tent But it is roomier and more comfortable for me.
 

Greenbelt

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Mar 2, 2023
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Out of curiosity, what size tarp do you use? How much does it weigh?
I carry a 9x9 tarp that is 12 oz. I could drop prob an ounce or two with another brand and a little smaller but this can be used as a shelter also. I may end up going w borah in the future but right now I have an rei ul. Pricing is a little less on borah but lead times are crazy.
 
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Borah bivy fan here.

only time I don prefer a tarp is when there are bad bugs or I am expecting major rain.

I run a tarp (DCF 8x10 or a seek dst) and a ground cloth (DCF or matty mcmatt face). TBH the whole set up starts to approach the weight of a light single person tent But it is roomier and more comfortable for me.
I run the same setup. It’s nice and roomy but I have also considered going to something like a Zpacks Altaplex because it would we lighter overall. But the versatility of a tarp system still wins out for me at this point along with the $650 price tag of a super light DCF 1 person tent.
 
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