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Tuolumne Meadows and Lembert Dome during a summer storm, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite

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Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 24, 2013 10:49AM
I realize this topic doesn't have to do with trail conditions, but I want some input from people who hike where I hike. At any rate, I typically use a small one-man tent in the Sierras but am thinking of giving a bivy a try. Saw a guy snuggled in a little spot next to one of the rims in a bivy a few years ago and I've been wanting to go for it ever since. Big concerns are the skeeters and condensation (ans wasting $). Any thoughts from bivy users out there? Is summer a bad time? Thanks.
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 24, 2013 01:37PM
OMG, I never want a shelter, much less a tent unless conditions absolutely warrant it! Rain/seriously strong wind/insane bugs.

As I mentioned in nwhkr's Waterwheel thread, with the breeze, there was no condensation, no moisture, nada. Many (most?) nights are like this. My bivy has a bug net window, so when the breeze got strong, I put on my puffy hat and pulled my quilt up a bit more.

I'm a side-sleeping, quilt and bivy-lover. I've used my combo in the Sierras sleeping as high as 12000', no problems. I've had condensation build up on and between bivy and quilt. I've shaken ice out when that's frozen. I've never been cold with my current combo. Drying out the bivy is easy. Shelters condense too and are more tedious for me to handle, especially solo.

Many of our friends have converted to shelters-as-necessary and enjoy sleeping "out".

Chick-on said something like "once you sleep out, you don't want to go back" in a previous post a while back, and I couldn't agree more.

Gotta run, more later...
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 24, 2013 01:42PM
I use a bivy sack, and I think it can be a great option for summer backpacking in the Sierra. For one, they're lighter than most tents, and they're usually much more durable than those ultralight solo tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1. They take up much less room in your pack, and they don't rely on poles which can break or bend. From an aesthetic point of view, they give you that "sleeping under the stars" feeling without exposing you to foul weather.

On the other hand, if you're expecting any more precipitation than an afternoon thunderstorm, it's much harder to keep yourself and your gear dry, even though the bivy sack is waterproof. If it's raining at night, it's not fun to sleep with your backpack, your boots, and all your other gear in the bivy sack next to you. Also, when it's raining, you've got to close the opening of the bivy, which means a clammy, stuffy, wet night regardless of how waterproof the shelter is. This is reason enough for me to bring a tent if I'm expecting any sort of foul weather.

I own the Outdoor Research Aurora Bivy which has a bug mesh at the head so I can direct my breathing out of the shelter, thus mitigating much of the condensation problem while still keeping the mosquitos off my face. I use it when I'm sure there won't be any rain overnight. It's great to wake up to the sun in the morning, and to see the stars as you go to sleep.

If you have a fairly light one-man tent, then I'd say keep using that. The weight you might save, to me, isn't worth the inconvenience. If, however, you can find a bivy sack that cuts down a good amount of weight, it's a great option to have for solo trips in the summer. It's much more pack-friendly, and it gives backpacking a different feel when you're out under the stars.

My Trip Blog
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 24, 2013 02:49PM
I almost always bring a bivy and sleep outside as long as conditions permit, which in the Sierra is almost all of spring, summer, and fall. If the forecast calls for rain, I'll also bring a lightweight shelter--usually a pyramid (DuoMid, BD Megalite).

I use a lightweight bivy that's not rain/snow-proof--it mostly keeps the breeze, bugs, and any stray condensation/drips off me. My current sack is from Katabatic Gear, but Mountain Laurel Designs, Titanium Goat, and ZPacks also sell lightweight bivy sacks. Unless you're a mountaineer, I don't think the heavy bivy sacks make sense--a lightweight bivy and shelter will generally be lighter and provide more room for gear storage.

Condensation inside the bivy sack can be an issue, especially for the lighter fabrics like Pertex and Momentum. Still, things usually dry out quickly in the morning.
avatar Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 28, 2013 11:34AM
Sierra is almost all of spring, summer, and fall.

and winter...

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 28, 2013 11:40AM
Seriously though... you don't really need a bivy...

What I'd recommend is that you take the tent you own... along with a groundcloth of your choosing...
and sleep on the groundcloth... if weather threatens or mosquitos are an issue... then setup tent
and dive in. If it's windy... setup tent and dive it.
Your sleeping bag may get condensate on it... it's never been a big deal for me... same thing
can happen if you have a bivy.

Once you are happy with sleeping out like that... then you can get some sort of tarp and ditch the tent.

The thing I use now most is MLD SoloMid. The thing does GREAT in wind... much so I simply take
it along all the time now... well... the times I don't just take a tent due to this, that, or the other.

Here's MLD SoloMid near Watkins... ridiculously windy... and I'm nice and snug and happy in der:

(we spent the previous night on that there hill over yonder)

(I've said it a million times.. I'll say it again... as long as you can stay warm and dry... you're good to go)

Have fun and hope this helps somewhat

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 07:25PM
Thank you guys for the great input. And oh man that pic is great to see since I finally went up Watkins last week and I am looking at going with the solomid. Only real concern is the skeeters but I typically get eaten anyway in July unless I spend evenings in my tent--which I absolutely do not do. Anyone just use a bug bivy?
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 08:10PM
I'm a veritable, certified mosquito magnet. I sleep in a regular bivy with a mesh window. Yah, changing clothes can be tricky, if I can't time it with the wind and I think I'm going to be sucked dry while changing, I just change IN the bivy. Also a handy thing to be able to do when it's really cold and I don't want to stand in the cold changing. I'm 5'5" and Basilbop and I have the same size bivy sack, so yah, it's easier for me than for him! smiling smiley

I use 3M Ultrathon in very small amounts on my face and hands. Sadly, permethrin-treated clothes haven't been as effective for me the last few years... so I still get bit through my shirt and pants unless I spray DEET on them - same issue at that point tent/no tent. So, I'm fine going with a bivy in bug season.. But Basilbop is happy to carry a tent if he thinks they will be swarming... if he carries it, then fine.

I have a bug suit, and if I think I'd rather sit out, I think I'd rather carry that and sit peacefully wherever I pleased. Years ago people made fun of me at Sunrise HSC when I'd go sit out in my bug suit, but I'd be the one reading a book for an hour happily. Others didn't last 10 minutes at a stretch.
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 08:46PM
Oh man, I hope that wasn't me laughing at you because I know I've done that and found myself climbing in my tent not too long after. Actually, there was a guy in a long bug net type thing--sort of ponchoish--at May Lake one time. It wasn't too long after I laughed at him that I was sitting in my tent, sweating my behind off, thinking "I've got to get me one of those."
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 09:41PM
Gaak, we can't remember when we were doing the HSC camps (before Basilbop tricked me into "real" backpacking), late 90s? Pre-digital camera for us, so we can't recall. Sad, eh?

But yah, after that first evening when I sat out after dinner... the next day, I had a bunch of people asking about the suit... Which wasn't anything special, had picked it up at REI. (hooded jacket + pants)

Since we started out lightweight, even dabbling with ultra-lightweight, I never did take my full suit with me on any full backpacking trip, kinda forgot I had it, until this thread, actually (wonder where it is?). Bivy plus suit gives me a lot of freedom... hm... Heck, I'm carrying a chair, a tennis ball and a "Stick" to roll out my muscles, the suit won't add too much more. At this rate, I'll be back to 20 pounds base! Ugh.
avatar Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 08:58PM
I have a bug bivy... used it a few times... but usually I just try to avoid the hugely buggy areas.
Been super lucky the last few years... especially when there is snow up to yer eyeballs in July.
Anywho. I JUST bought the inner mesh tenty thingie for the MLD Solomid. It's kinda snug
but nothing near as snug as their bug bivy. The big issue with MLD at the moment gonna
be that there is a huge delay in getting your gear. So the skeeters will prob. be all gone
by the time you get anything from them.
Dunno if mentioned it or not... but if I think gonna be skeeters and going with wifie... then
I just take a 2 person tent... and we set it up for lunch and eat it in. It works the treat.
Of course you want to be setting it up in the shade. We've been in it at Rodgers with
bugs and it wasn't too much fun... we ended just moving on instead of spending the next
day there... not far away... amazingly... near Murdock it was nice and nearly bug free.
So... location location location baby...
Again... I recommend something like MLD SoloMid mainly b/c it's super light... it's
great for the wind... and it's great for rain and snow... and super easy to setup...
stake 4 corners... insert poles... done... if you are really tall or claustrophobic... it
may not be your cup of tea though...
Hope this helps

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Bivy Camping in Yosemite
May 29, 2013 09:34PM
You say solo, I say duo! smiling smiley I get that claustrophobic thing in ultra small shelters... Duo is palatial for one, can work for two (if I take the door side) and weighs 3 ounces more.(both cuben) The solo innernet can be used in the duo, or use the duo-sized innernet for a few ounces more.

Me with my DuoMid nest at Sunrise on the first night of my JMT trip. Tried to outrun a storm going over the last ridge from the Valley...got the shelter up just as the hail started to hit. And it hit hard. But only for an hour or so... First and last time I used the Duo on the entire trek to Whitney.

The rest of the nights looked more like this (I would consolidate before going to bed and only my mostly empty pack, shoes, stove, bear can and poles would sit out:

Heart of hearts - I'd go with a full-sized mid for two in a heartbeat, but they do weigh more. Our trusty big mid is dying..and we're waiting on a Trailstar to see if we can be happy with that..but if that doesn't work, I'm promised another big mid!
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