/ NEW REVIEW: The Bearable Lightness of Bivi Gear

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Sunrise behind Ben Loyal, 3 kbDan Bailey sheds the pounds to test a range of bivi gear...

"From mats to shelters to cookware, most bivvying gear has shed weight and bulk in recent years. Though kit seems to be getting lighter all the time, is it improving in other ways? I'm no fast and light fanatic and would never willingly sacrifice comfort, usability or durability on the altar of a featherweight fetish. But all else being equal, lighter has to be righter."

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=3728

winhill - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear:

I'm surprised you put the SteriPEN in Dan, for an overnight you can take chemicals that weigh less than hundredth of the weight of the SteriPEN.

Are you new to the fast'n'light stuff?
In reply to winhill: Slow and heavy, that's my motto
Cheese Monkey - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear: Personally I use a poncho rather than a dedicated tarp. Just need a few good lengths of paracord and it will go up next to anywhere. Find the right spot to make camp and theres no need for poles. Poncho also keeps rucksack a bit drier!
mattrm - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear:

Pity that you can't buy the Alpkit Tarp as it's now sold out. :/
mkean - on 26 May 2011
In reply to mattrm:
I think Decathlon sell something fairly similar.
henwardian - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear: By the time you have eliminated all the times there could be midges, snow, heavy rain or boggy ground and factored in the increase in sleeping bag weight you will have to endure to counter the chill of a constant through wind I have great trouble seeing a use for a tarp at all in Scotland.
I've also discovered first hand elsewhere that tarps are more prone to tearing than tents and the stress put on pegs, guys and other anchors is greater than tents also.
I see nothing to recommend them - just my two cents :)

One thing worth mentioning about the UV pen is that, unlike a filter, it will not remove suspended debris from the water, so you need a fairly clear water source to begin with. It's a minor point and probably the only places this would become an issue would be where there was very limited water (not the UK!) or you needed to use glacial melt water.

I hate poxy little pots too, if it isn't at least 4 litres, it can't hold enough food for me! 5000 calories a day or you just weren't putting in enough effort :P
Only a hill - on 26 May 2011
In reply to henwardian:
I wrote a review of the Steripen a few years ago:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1131

Since then I've used it extensively, and would always carry it instead of Chrlorine tablets, which make water taste vile. One of the pleasures of being in the hills for me is tasting crisp, cold mountain water from a stream ... Chlorine destroys that pleasure.
mrchewy - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear: Drinksafe Travel Tap for me when it comes to purifying water. No need to carry much more than litre normally so that and a collapsible water pouch and you're sorted. Instant purified water too - non of this waiting.
Duncan Campbell - on 26 May 2011
In reply to Only a hill: Just drink out of the river then!?!? is what I always do... people can be reet soft... carry some chlorine incase the water looks real mank...

kamon - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear:

I've used a steripen over the past 3.5 years in Peru for trekking, mountaineering and travelling. No problems/illnesses from water I've treated using it.

In the hills I generally treat water that actually probably doesn't need treating (fast-flowing streams in sparsely populated places), but being able to drink tap water when travelling has saved a fortune in bottled water as well as the associated plastic waste.

The "water sensing prongs" that only allow the bulb to light if the steripen bulb is immersed are a complete pain. Especially at altitude or if the water is very cold I get several fails before successfully treating each litre due to the unit either thinking the prongs are wet when they are dry or vice versa.. This means that rather than day dreaming and looking at the scenery I have to keep my eyes fixed on the LEDs when treating water. A pain when you are at basecamp and doing lots and lots of water in a go. It is difficult to see if the bulb is on or the LED is lit in bright sunlight. Much easier and more fun at night - spooky lightshow!(However prefer pumping water through an MSR filter as this warms you up!)

The steripen has also been much happier with lithium batteries than normal AAs or rechargeable ones.

I had excellent customer service from the company when I broke the bulb on one.
Michael Gordon - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear:

Lovely photo of Ben Loyal, Dan. Looks like a great bivi.
martin_longmuir - on 26 May 2011
In reply to UKC Gear: Great article.

Im a believer in the lighter the better. My preference is to take just a bivi bag and my sleeping bag. I use the bivi bag i was issued in the army and a down sleeping bag. A bit of warm kit, some food, an msr stove, my first aid kit and fill the gaps in my daysack with water and a few sweeties maybe even a cheeky beer.

I have done the mountain expeds with tents and while it is comfortable and provides an escape from poor weather you just cant beat looking up to the stars on a clear night from your scratcher.

Only a hill - on 26 May 2011
In reply to Duncan Campbell:
> (In reply to Only a hill) Just drink out of the river then!?!? is what I always do... people can be reet soft... carry some chlorine incase the water looks real mank...

People do get sick from drinking water that is apparently clean and healthy. It's happened to me, and has happened to several other people I know. I purify ALL mountain water before drinking nowadays--you can't tell if water is contaminated just by looking at it.
henwardian - on 26 May 2011
In reply to Only a hill:
> One of the pleasures of being in the hills for me is tasting crisp, cold mountain water from a stream ... Chlorine destroys that pleasure.

I wouldn't use chlorine. I use a filter when a proper sort of foreign expedition is in the offing. When at home or elsewhere for a day or two, I don't bother with anything, stream water is healthy enough in Scotland and the only people I know who got ill from drinking outside water in england were drinking raw sewage, for the life of me I can't remember the full story but it was enough to make you want to vomit.
henwardian - on 27 May 2011
In reply to Only a hill:
> People do get sick from drinking water that is apparently clean and healthy. It's happened to me, and has happened to several other people I know. I purify ALL mountain water before drinking nowadays--you can't tell if water is contaminated just by looking at it.

Hmmmm. A counterargument to this is that there are any number of things that can go wrong in the hills and if you take equipment to deal with all of them you would never be able to lift your backpack. Objectively I see the risk/hazard analysis of dirty drinking water breaking down as:
Risk - low. See my first paragraph.
Hazard - low. Diarrhoea and vomiting are pretty piffling in comparison to severe trauma or hypothermia.
I guess on a trip of a couple of days where I'm pretty sure the water is safe I don't consider the risk serious enough to bring anything.
Only a hill - on 27 May 2011
In reply to henwardian:
> I guess on a trip of a couple of days where I'm pretty sure the water is safe I don't consider the risk serious enough to bring anything.

Fair enough. After my own experience I consider the risk substantial enough to take precautions!
Lankyman - on 27 May 2011
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> (In reply to winhill) Slow and heavy, that's my motto

Similar attitude to myself, Dan. I'd rather pack some durable gear. Hint: it helps to have another body/mule to share the weight of tents, food and other kit! I'd think tarps are fine in the pine forests of the California sierra but given our open landscapes, weather and MIDGES I prefer a tent like the Macpac Olympus - stands up in a gale and has good netting.
jjbb on 01 Jun 2011 - cpc1-sgyl29-2-0-cust245.sgyl.cable.virginmedia.com
I like the look and coating and handles on that Primus pot but it's 50g more than a trangia mini pot and fry pan. With the trangia you lose the (pot) coating but have a more efficient shape and maybe a nicer shape to eat from. Bigger fry pan too.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Ian Logan - on 01 Jun 2011
In reply to UKC Gear: I have the AlpKit tarp and I have found it really versatile. You can easily peg down one end and avoid any through draft. I have used it in ruined bothies, sheep folds, scraps of hillside and even on Signal Rock in Glencoe - no room for a normal tent! I rig it up using a pole at the entrance and then use the other pole to fly the closed end from. The lifting points mean you can attach it to almost anything. I also use a plastic garden refuse bag slit down the sides as a groundsheet beside my AlpKit Airic. So I can avoid the bog, etc. The real plus side is the 500g weight and the only down side is midges in summer. However I have mastered the knack of eating my porridge inside a midge hood! One other useful feature is the ease with which you can quickly set up a shelter for a meal break, etc. Last weekend in the high winds and hail I was able to have lunch under the tarp in just a few minutes.

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