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Considering selling swag for bivvy

MJC88

Les Stroud
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So I currently use a moondyne swag with a coleman sleeping bag when I go out camping, every time it is in my 4wd. Whilst the swag is solid and the sleeping bag warm, I find the whole system quite bulky.

For vehicle based camping it's fine (does take up a lot of cargo room though), but I'd like to start going on trips on foot or even on mountain bike and a swag is just not practical.

I'm thinking of selling both the swag and bag in an effort to help fund a lighter sleeping system (ground based, not hammock).

Is a bivvy going to be a good option? I've had no experience with them, but correct me if I'm wrong there just like a light weatherproof outer shell? You still need to provide some form of mattress and sleeping bag yeh?

Are there certain make/models that are quite popular here? I see on ebay you can get US military Gore-Tex bivvys for $130. Thoughts? Any cheaper options, or worth the $$?

Appreciate your input!

PS. I plan on using a tarp (bunnings cheapy short-term, Terra Rosa when finances allow :) )
 

MongooseDownUnder

Richard Proenneke
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I like bivvy bags they are good for fast and light, you definately need a good mattress underneath you but they add a degree of warmth to your sleeping bag. The only downside I have experienced with bivvy bags is the lack of shelter unless you carry a tarp as well. I have always stayed dry in my bivvy however they can build up moisture in your sleeping gear over longer trips.
 

Lepmeister

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Hey Matt,

I'm only new to the bivvy world, but from what I have experianced they are a good thing. The first one I purchased was a New Zealand army issue item, worked well but I wasnt 100% on zipper layout so I purchased a U.S. one like you speak of.

I have had that one for a while now and have got a matt sorted out that fits in the bag and provides some good comfort and warmth. a simple mod made mine fully enclosed with mesh and zip which suits me great.
 

DJ*

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Hi Matt and welcome. Nice part of the world that part of WA, although pretty much all WA is nice in one way or another. I've been outdoors most my life for leisure and work but as a pomme had never seen a swag until I arrived down under. Every Aussie bloke seems to have a swag, something I have never really understood due to thier size and weight. I have used bivi bags extensively all over the world, excellent for thier durability, speed of set up, space and weight, but get a good Gortex one (military ones are very durable) and the ones with a hoop over the face provide more sleeping comfort in very bad weather. Also worth getting one with mozzie net over head area. However, as Mongoose says in bad weather you need to think about keeping any gear dry too, and cooking, etc, meaning you need a tarp or something. Then depending on what you are doing, where you are going and the weight you wish to carry a one man tent can become more viable. My bivi bag and Tarp set up was only a fraction lighter than my tent designed for all extremes. Now if I'm needing to be light I go with a bivi bag, and use the waterproof cover off my Karrimore Predator for shelter (which is very big and very light). If it's for a long duration or I'm happy to justify the extra grams I take the small tent which always means better sleep. A lot depends on your activity, duration, hiking distances, etc. DJ
 

DylanMC

Les Stroud
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The pack size always put me off the British/Dutch/US military bivvis. They are all nearly a kilo and a little bulky. I'm looking at investing in a Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi, of which I've heard nothing but good things about and it packs down to about the size of a softball. My idea was to keep the bivvi over my sleeping bag with an Exped Downmat 7 inside and then roll it up like a swag and put it in an Ortlieb bag.

The resulting package is 100% watertight, and can be strapped to the bottom of your pack if required.

Just my 2 cents, and others have the experience to back it up which I don't.
 

DJ*

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The Snugpack SF bivi is excellent I have one for when weight and space is crucial. We use a fair bit of Snugpack stuff, clothing and sleep bags, all great. Bergans not much cop yet though, that's a fairly new diversification for them though. The Snugpack bivi has no hoop at the head end to keep it off your face and no mozzie net, but otherwise really good. I have a mil tech hooped one too, but it's a bit more bulky and a fair bit heavier but in very bad weather is better with it of your face. When I said military ones in my post above I meant specialist civi military suppliers like Snugpack/mil tech, etc. we use mainly military kit for durability, but rarely any issue military kit which is usually of a much poorer standard. Karrimore SF, Snugpack, Mystery Ranch, Platatac, BCB is always near top of our list (no affiliation). DJ
 

DylanMC

Les Stroud
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Good to hear some more feedback on it. I plan on using it with a Terra Rosa Gear Japara tarp, with the setup described, so its basically just to keep my sleeping bag clean and dry and bundle it together with the sleeping pad. Coverage isn't too much of an issue.

On the topic of military kit, I also use a Karrimor SF Sabre 45 and find it brilliant. I'm a bit of a sucker for British kit in general actually.
 

DJ*

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Don't get me onto Bergans Dylan I've tried them all. Fortunately work pay. We looked at the Sabres but needed lots of extra molle and more space as we carry lots of heavy gear. Loved the Predator 45 for short deployments or as a nice hiking pack for a couple of nights, but for a while my big Bergan was a Mystery Ranch at about 120 litres. Then good old Karrimore brought out the Predator 80-130 which ticks every box. Using built in zips and compression straps it can go from a spacious but compact profile 80 litres to a whopping 130. It's simply all round awesome even for a kit junkie like me and unlike many Bergans it's not designed to fit above a belt kit so it's weight distribution lines up great with the latest expert recommendations for hauling heavy weight over long distances. Pleased you like your Sabre though... I'm a pomme originally so I guess the Brit kit is familiar too. DJ
 

MJC88

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Thanks all for your input, great to hear some first hand experience. It sounds like one would suit my current needs, but will also have to factor in the cost and weight of a suitable mattress and new sleeping bag. From what I've read just being in the bivvy itself the temperature is considerably warmer than outside so hopefully I could get away with a cheapish, and hopefully smallish bag. Besides, the places I'd be using it would be relatively mild temps. I will definitely be using it in combination with a tarp as I like having extra room for storage/cooking/eating/drinking etc if it is raining/windy.

Doing a bit more searching I came across the TAS Auscam Bivvy. I contacted the company direct and got a some more info. It's made of Gammatex fabric which they designed and produced to their standards. It has 2 tie down points at the base, two on the side of the hood, two at the top end of the hood and one half way between the two mid tie points of the hood. It has a dual slider system around the hood with mosquito proof netting. I will have a look at one in the flesh next time i'm in a town with a reseller to get a idea of quality and size when folded up.

Has anyone used TAS gear before?

From their website "Our initial aim was to give Australia’s young cadets, quality military gear without the huge price tag. In the space of 5 short years, with the guidance and product knowledge of industry insiders, the TAS brand has utilised it’s strong relationship with our Chinese manufacturers, (who manufacture for the EU Military guards), to bring to the customer an affordable range.

This collaboration had led to our fabrics, studs, zippers as satisfying the current Australian military specifications. With the World in mind, we now also run the majority of our lines in: AUSCAM, KHAKI, MULTICAM and BLACK. Whether your need is military, security or just for leisure we have the product for you."


Thanks again guys!
 

MongooseDownUnder

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My bivvy is one made by Arktis. I don't think they make them anymore though. One point of interest is you can still roll your bivvy up like a sea with your mattress and sleeping bag inside. I have done this in wet weather to reduce the chance of sleeping in a wet bed works great.
 

MJC88

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Good tip Mongoose. How does it all go size wise when rolled up together? Guess it depends on each item, but still a lot smaller than a swag I'm hoping? Could fit a decent backpack or strap it on?
 

DJ*

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Not used any TAS stuff, but aware of thier bivi bag and know someone who had one. A bit heavier than some I think, but made ok. In many areas I have slept fine in just a bivi on an old foam mat. Mainly out of the need to be light and mobile, but if weather is kind it's ok. Even managed in colder weather in just a bivi wearing thermal base layers and a Snugpack quilt paratex jacket. But not that comfortable when the snow started and wind picked up. Not a fan of strapping stuff outside as if carrying heavy weight over long distances in rough terrain a) it impacts upon optimal zone loading and weight distribution if not careful and b) your valuable bedding and sleep gear can get damaged easier. Platatac defence bivi is nice and much lighter I think with ties to hold off your face and rolls nice and small. Don't think it has a mozzie net from memory though. I still prefer the Snugpack over these mainly as it's much lighter or the Mil tech if very bad weather is expected. The bivi is really just to keep dry and help with wind chill temp, it's your gonk bag and mat that provides the insulation. Bloody good gonk bag is your primary investment depending on region, use, etc. I have a number of Snugpack gonk bags that I use either on folding foam mat, self inflating mat, or Neoair depending on where I am and for how long, combined either with light or heavier bivi or Snugpack tent. It really does depend on what you plan to be doing, in what weather and for how long. As I'm sure you know you can spend a small fortune on kit and spend a lifetime refining it so my best advice plan it's use, climate and essential requirements first. Happy Kit accumulation...DJ P.S keep an eye on the net and eBay, etc for some bargains, hundreds of ex mil lads now selling gear after recent troop withdrawals . ARRSE forum and similar is always a good place to look or some surplus places even. You can often pick up stuff like a bivi really cheap.
 

Aussie123

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Just 2c more .... The standard US military bivi is a tight fit if you are 6 foot and probably not too good if you are over 6.
They do make a larger version which occasionally comes on sale, but check the dimensions carefully.

I think some of the European and Aus tac bivis are generally longer than the standard US bivi, so that adds a little to the weight.
 

DJ*

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Spot on Aussie, not a bad bag though if you are after something cheaper. Lots of these about cheap online, etc. Size is another factor to consider, as you say, not just based on your size, but your gonk bag and other clothing. If you are wearing several layers, quilt type jacket, and your in a thick gonk bag that goes down to -20 then you will likely want a larger width bag. In very hot humid weather a bigger bag also allows better ventilation and at other times in other regions when it's a cold but not extreme climate it's real nice to be snug with a close fit. Region, climate, use all important. Sadly it's very hard sometimes if you don't know where you will end up to find good all round use and all climate gear, hence the search continues and this forum is so useful. DJ
 

MJC88

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Yeah I should of mentioned, I'm unfortunately on a limited budget so I will certainly be in the entry level end of the scale for most kit.
Fortunately for me I'm not tall (174) and only a lightweight so size is not a huge factor. The medium TAS would suit dimensions wise and weighs in at 820g which seems ok to me. As tempting as it is to buy all this gear online and get it delivered express so I can play with it lol, I think I'll resist the urges and wait till I go to an surplus store to have a look and feel of a few options.

It will be used in mild temps for short trips at this stage. I think size when packed, weight, having mozi net, tieouts, and overall build quality will be my key requirements. I think I'll be using an el'cheapo yoga mat initially and new sleeping bag- but that's for another thread!
 

Mountainwalker

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Another angle for a light weight ground based system is Integral designs Silshelter Bug Liner, Terrarosa tarp (or cheap tarp) and an exped mat. Superlight and no need for a bivvy and heaps more room to move around.

15606113166_523bacf474_b.jpg
 
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Wentworth

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Hi MJC88,
I'd personally recommend steering clear of a bivi. Having said that, I'm currently using a horrible water-resistant pertex/ silnylon one from a US maker. I picked it up so that I could just unroll it, stick the mat and quilt inside and go to sleep.
I did use a goretex bivi for a few years and it only took one night of heavy rain for me to realise how miserable they are. I know you will be using a tarp with one though.

I also made one from uncoated ripstop nylon a few years ago too. That was probably the best of the lot, as it didn't get as much condensation as the others. My goretex one was quite narrow, so when I had a 2.5" thick mat inside it, the fit was too tight and crushed the loft of my quilt.

If I was going to buy again, I'd get a 3 by 3 tarp to keep the rain off and a bug-bivi or just a mozzie net to keep the insects away.

Let us know how you go.
 

MJC88

Les Stroud
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Decisions decisions, so many options out there! Thanks MountainWalker and Wentworth for your additional light weight options.

Prior to looking at bivys, the top of my wish list was a Terrarosa tarp. Originally I was looking at the Wilderness (3x2) but then thought for the extra $40 I would go the Prospector (3x3) as it would give me more options. Both the bivy and tarp are around the $200 mark, so I'm not sure which way to move. Gotta love new hobbies!
 

DJ*

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Talking with someone today at work back from a very wet and cold tasking and kit always comes up. He was using one of these RAB RIDGE MASTER Bivis. I had not seen this before, only the RIDGE RAIDER. The MASTER is great for taller people, as it is a good length, it's very durable, fast tp put up, is off your feet and legs, very waterproof and wind proof and easier to get in and out of. It even has a small awning and room for your Bergen (just) or essential gear at least. It was certainly getting a good review from the recent user and it weighs in at about 1kg. I will try and get my hands on it for a test.

http://www.amazon.com/Rab-Ridge-Master-Nestor-Bivy/dp/B00EJTZQBG

A closer look here (found on net) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6iNRgOY8ue4


Anyone else used one..? DJ
 
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