/ Bivy recommendation for Scottish winter?
I'm looking for a bivy during Scottish winter. I'm going use it for various purposes as camping on ground or snowy mountains in Highlands. A versatile bivy is what I'm looking for.
My sleep equipment
Bearpaw Minimalist 1
HMG flat tarp
PHD Minix (0C) sleeping bag
Therm-A-Rest Xterm mattress.
I bought net bivy for summer and I don't think it is adequate choice for winter camping on ground or does it? The choice of bivy is overwhelming and I don't know where to start.
Borah bivy with M90 and E-vent bivy seem popular choices but how do they work in Scottish winter conditions?
I would be concerned about your bag. 0C is really 3 season, unless you've always roasted in it at that temperature. If you're considering some remoter bivis I would say it could be risky. You won't have anyone else heating up the tent either.
I won't use that bag in -20c climate somewhere in Highlands. Otherwise I could add Combi Bag from PHD to complement the current bag.
I'm more interested to know how much bivy is usable with selected fabrics under wide range of weather conditions? From wet, rainy to freezing sub zero.
Let's assume that I want use bivy in Lothian area on ground camping. Average low temp 0-5C.
I'm not being facetious, but, do you really want to lie on the floor, in a fabric coffin, in Scotland, in winter, for potentially 12 hours of darkness?
haha, do you have better suggestion? A more spacey, luxurious coffin?
Even if I wished, I couldn't carry whole house.
Its not that uncommon. But the people who do it may well have something wrong with them. =D
Without weirdos I reckon the world would be awfully boring.
I've used the Alpkit Hunka in a summer downpour and really liked it, I recommend getting the XL though because I think my down bag would be a bit compressed.
I recently got the fancy Outdoor Research Alpine bivy with gore-tex and a hoop to give head-space. I've only used it once, it got down around 0 degrees and I had frozen condensation all through the foot area of my bag. Didn't have a warm enough bag but pretty scary to have my feet in an ice box! I think once I get my system sorted it will be a good bivy, heaps of room if set up correctly and sensible tie-downs for the mat. But it does really require pegs which is a pain.
I do agree that a 0C bag might be a little on the cool side for a winter bivy.
I hear eVent is great if it is dry, not good enough in wet conditions.
To add more complexity to your search, there are some really light tents now which match weight with heavier bivy bags and provide the same protection without the limits of a bivy bag. The best options pitch using hiking poles and pegs to save weight. I'm super tempted by a couple from Tarptent(http://www.tarptent.com/index.html) Which seem to be the best of both worlds.
hm, I've thought about tent though I want to build "modular" system. I already have tarp (cuben fiber). To set up tarp/bivy/matress in fast way is important for me and I'm fan of UL gear.
I could skip bivy as well, and I don't like idea of being closed and breathing inside (it causes condensation problems).
How about adding extra outer bag to inner bag like Overbag from PHD and set up tarp in storm mode and call it for day? Is Drishell fabric supposed to work well in rainy day?
Is -10C enough? If not, add Combo bag instead of Overbag? ..man it starts to be expensive :)
Setting up a simple tent could cover both tarp/bivy set up times and be very fast. =]
The Alpkit bivys are good because you cannot seal them, so its more like a waterproof outer bag.
Nothing against PHD but it seems using their gear causes things to get expensive. Also I think UL is always pricey, as is being comfortable in the hills in winter!
I agree its tough to decide, I really want to get into UL more since getting a lightweight(ish) tent and a Thermarest Neoair and discovering how much smaller and lighter my pack can be. I am still trying to decide between UL tent and tarp/bivy system. Of course you'll always be more comfortable in a lightweight 2-man tent, and more sociable too!
As others have said, I'd be surprised if you found this sufficient for Scottish Winter. I run on the hot side ( I have never suffered from hotaches ), I have a PhD Hispar 500 rated to -15 and still found this cold.
Ok, fair enough.. Weight difference is hard to ignore :) if I have more budget for expedition tent, the design of MountainHardwear Direkt 2 or BlackDiamond Firstlight looks interesting. Sort of bivy/tent with Event fabric. I think Integral Designs has such one.
How about condensation? What fabric do they use? Good for winter?
I agree. I have problem with my back, and light rucksack is nice to carry on long trips and you get more space for food/water. Cuben Fiber stuffs are awesome!
You should go for tarp/bivy setup. You save 1-1.5kg difference which is a lot. My flat tarp is suited for 4 season and you don't worry about selecting campsite on a weird location.
I start to think that E-vent bivy is the way to go. You use flat tarp for rain/wind protection whether it is winter or rainy wet weather (-25 to +10), just keep bivy dry, tucked in flat tarp in storm mode.
Now I need to decide how much space I need for bivy.
I don't think I want to use my bag under -5C. What conditions/place do you find your bag cold in? It is so many variables that affects the setup.
There are many locations in Scotland in winter where your tarp will simply blow Way in winter, even assuming you find somewhere with trees or hang it from.
Have you ever camped/bivied in Scotland in winter ? unless you're just dossing something close to a pub or car park, you'll in your bivy bag for 12 hours plus. A tent may weight a few grams more but is much more pleasant
I never tried winter camping in Scotland as I'm student from abroad. I have heard about Scottish winter but have no idea how harsh it could be.
I'm prepared to get pyramid tarp tent if it doesn't work regarding prevention of cold.
The flat tarp I have is quite bombproof. It is not something you buy for 50£ online. It's high end stuffs :)
I look forward to test it in Scotland.
Look at review http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Ultralight-Tent-Reviews/Hyperlite-Mountain-Gear-Square-Flat-Tarp
Doug, Dave and Skol have given good advice. When the forecast is good, meaning little precipitation a bivvy can be very nice, as soon as the weather is poor the drawbacks far outweigh their advantages.
It's very hard not to get damp in a bivvy in scottish winter.....most of the time the temperatures fluctuate around freezing, it's normally windy which will blow drizzle, rain, spindrift under your tarp. We rarely get it cold enough for a cold but dry environment and even more rarely get cold, dry and still.
By all means use a tarp......you'll be in a very small minority of people using them in scottish winter, particularly above the tree line, and you'll rarely meet a regular hill going local using one. Which I think tells you something..........
If you're intent( no pun) on using a bivvy and tarp, why not plan a route to a bothy and try it outside there, then at least you will have a safety net?
Ok I understand now better. Thanks for explanation. I was confused by posts about wind resistance. Dampness is different matter.. I agree that weather around 0c is tricky.
So Rab Elements 2 is sufficient? Doesn't it matter with any fabric so long it is sealed at all sides and it provided big space enough around a bivy/sleeping bag inside the normal tent?
I might experiment with tarp tent configuration and see if it is possible to make pyramid of square sheet of tarp which I use currently. It would be quite small space inside.
I have camped in various places in Scotland this summer and I can tell that the weather was quite rough!
Personally, I want to avoid buy various gear which adds up storage space at the end. Hence I'm looking for a modular system instead.
I've never seen anyone using a tarp in Scotland in winter, considering they're cheaper than tents, plus the reputation of the Scots to be careful with their money, that might just mean that tarps are a bad idea.
Or maybe we are all stupid :-)
You are trolling ?
You have good use of English, but text like someone that is taking the piss:)
what we need is to be openminded. :)
Most are old chaps who fall in their comfort zones. Just take car, drive up and make one night camping then feel awesome next day and boast for your wife. :)
My advise would be to try scottish winter from a nice warm bunk house a few times before you throw yourself in the deep end. I started my winter climbing career camping every trip for the first year. The things that put me off were:
- Trouble drying kit and clothes. Wet boots in the morning are particularly unappealing. Most bunk houses have drying rooms.
- Feeling beaten up by a mini epic what you want is a warm bath / shower and a bed and to cook in a nice warm kitchen.
- snow drifts coming under the fly, don't underestimate this in scotland!
- 60 mph winds keepign me up all night flapping material etc The average MEAN wind speed on the cairngorm plateau over the whole winter is 40mph! This should tell you how often it's windy in the area.
- Very slow early starts due to -5 temps numbing fingers and body
In the summer I don't use bunk houses btw. Also if you look about there are some pretty cheap deals on bunk houses with just two beds in the rooms.
Whereas my advice is to ditch the tarp and bivi and, if you can, get a two man tent (light, but roomy for all your winter gear etc).
A tent is still light enough to carry pretty much anywhere and in the long hours of darkness allows you to at least sit up and read, cook, eat etc which really is nicer than lying horizontally in a bag.
My two pennies worth...
thanks for the constructive post and my picture of the challenge got clearer.
I would still camp in winter in Scotland but I'd save it for times that the experience is about camping and the weather is favourable. For example I met a couple walking out of the northern corries on a glorious january weekend some years back. They had camped in snow cover around loch etchechan whilst doing a 2 day winter walk in the area. Sounded pretty ideal.
Ofcouse late season on the Ben is often spring low down and I've had some very reasonable days camping in those conditions coupled with winter climbing.
I've decided I'll go for 2 persons tent just for extreme weather. I can continue use it in other eventual expedition trips anywhere in the world. What are your recommendations of tent in extreme weather?
Hilleberg tents is top choice of course but expensive for me. Smaller tents from BlackDiamond, MountainHeardwear might be work. MH Direkt 2 looks relatively light though 3kg tent Hilleberg Janne seems as good compromise.
Are there any low-budget, comfortable tents that can make out of Scottish weather? I listed 100£ tent from Integral Designs in earlier post.
One could back off winter climbing when it is needed.
Some years you get a lot of blue sky still weather, but the nights can be very very cold in the glens (not unusual to get below -20, the tops rarely get below -10 though as cold air falls in to the glens at night when it's still / really cold). However these years are not the norm and there are more years where the wind and rain/sleet/snow seem to hardly let up! Typically you get mostly windy weather with the odd really good weekend and quite a bit of mid week good weather if you can take the time off work at the drop of a hat!
For ultralight I'd go for one of the sub kg 1 man mountain marathon type tents to balance the comfort/weight equation but you're looking at more like 300 quid for one of those (Terra Nova, Mountain Hardware, MSR type things)
And watch it blow away.
Not if you're in it!
My own preference for lightweight winter camping is either a snowhole if suitable where my Alpkit Hunka is ideal for keeping by sleeping bag dry. I sleep warm so get by very comfortably with a three season bag. Otherwise I use my Vaude Taurus Ultralight (approx 1800g) which has survived some hellish winter winds and precipitation.
As suggested by a previous poster, a sub 1kg tent may not be robust enough. I saw someone's Akto split in harsh weather.
For me, it's always a question of personal choice. I prefer to avoid "ultralight" in winter and opt for the more comfortable options. The tent makes for an easier environment during the longer nights.
A lightweight shovel is useful if pitching in snow. Either for filling bags as guy anchors, or for prepping the pitch. A bit of a wall can help to break the wind and give an easier night.
In this particular case I think I agree with you, a tarp in Scottish winter is not really ideal. However I don't think locals not doing something mean not to do it. In my experience "outdoor" people tend to be fairly set in their ways. A regional consensus is reached, and change comes very slowly.
For example, using half ropes in the US is fairly uncommon. Coming from Britain I chose halfs for wandery routes and my partners were very suspicious. After trying them out they agreed that they were ideal, but went back to singles when climbing with other people.
I'm not sure what fabric the Alpkit bivys use but I stayed dry in a few summer rains. I haven't used the bivy in winter but in warm and humid conditions my bag was only slightly damp.
If I was only using the system in a cold/dry place (California Sierras) I would definitely go with a tarp/bivy. But for a wetter environment like Scotland I think I'm leaning towards a tent.
Did I tickle your arse?:)
I guess you're the famous UK Climbing forum troll. Keep doing..:)
It's interesting that none mentioned pyramid tarp tent. I think it'd well in rough winter weather. It sheds high winds and loads of snow. The question is if attachments work well enough on ice/snow ground as wind might blow it away otherwise.
I've found an used Hilleberg Jannu tent (3kg) and it is on way to me. I like the fact that it is double wall, also self supporting (3x poles) because I'm concerned of lack of firm attachments on the ground.
Things progress forward and people carry less heavy stuffs. At the moment 3kg tent sounds much for me but since I do bike touring sometimes, it is ok. I can always sell Hilleberg tent when I find another working UL solution as pyramid cuben fiber tarp. Since I lack experience in winter camping, it is better to play safe.
You're right. Doublewall tent sounds nice, and one could use UL gear for the rest of year and save "heavy" gear for extreme weather. I tried to avoid spending more money on the gear that is useful only for short period of year. Well...I blew my budget :)
"It's interesting that none mentioned pyramid tarp tent."
Does it have a ground sheet that is sewn to the tarp?
The Jannu looks nice and looks like it's been designed with snow in mind and that you will likely get away without needing a snow skirt.
Welcome to Scottish winter! I never expect to have savings again. =D
No, but you could walk towards one. Any camping in full winter conditions tends to be pish, bivvying liable to be life-threatening!
Scottish winter is grim. I do know people who enjoy camping in it however. a few observations.
Tarps are a daft idea imported from america where its dry and benign weather is the norm.
there is an amusing film somewhere with cameron mcneish i think watching ray jardine (surely the godfather of ligt hiking) getting a soggy bottom trying to make his tarp work in scotland in summer.
make friends and kit becomes a lot lighter.
have lots of friends and snow holing becomes kinda fun. bothying is great particularly recomended is the queens bothy below lochnagar and the ethcagen one also the shelter stone.
AVOID tnf tents they are crap.
consider mountain hardwear or terra nova quasar for me still a gold standard 4 season tent.
in damp scottish conditions a down bag will get progressively wetter and crapper no matter how good your tent/snow hole is.
the gore tex exchange light fabric makes terrifiv bivvies mostlu cause you can zip it up and still breathe they really are that good. However its still a miserable way to spend a night.
buy gaiters for your boots if your unlucky enough to get them frozen solid your in for a crap morning.
are you studying over here? the Edinburgh and heriot watt uni clubs are very active and you should find partners in (mis)adventures there.
It can be great, it can be grim - get the right weather and you can have a sublime time. Can often fall back on a bothy if the weather is really bad, so worth planning trips with that as a fall back option.
Not any pyramid tent with cuben fiber fabric I've seen. GoLite SL3 might serve as inspiration to build/customize things.
Cuben fiber is not breathable, so I rather make a custom inner mid then attach it to outer mid (tent). To build a ground sheet in "bathtube" style and attach to outer tent with velcro stripes (or something stronger) is another option. In summer you use outer tent and another inner mid with net. It offers options for a modular system.
I like the idea of using trekking poles. If two people, use 4 poles in inverted V shape to make the setup stable in worst conditions. Also it saves weight for the whole package of tent.
I'm excited to try out it. I found one thing that it is super easy to set up the tent even in worst weather conditions. I didn't want gamble and get 2 kilos tent and it may break apart after a few years. Good to have ready tent for Greenland and Antarctica =D
Now I know why Scots became good on saving money =D
good advices thanks!
I'm obsessed of cuben fiber as you migt notice. It becomes very expensive if one builds it by Hillenberg tent specs, I guess.
Mountain Laurels Duomid is good start to build on. I like the design of Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2, and I see why Black Diamond Firstlight was popular choice for alpine rock climbers. The silnylon fabric of Direkt 2 is much better than BD of course.
To have light camping stuffs for easy, fast climbing up away from basecamping tent or bothy is an option I want to experiment with.
I enjoy winter summit camps but mainly below 3000ft level. I prefer to pick nights that are clear and if possible ideal full moon to light the place up. In these conditions I spend most of the time outside the tent wandering about or just sitting. I use a old Rab expedition down jacket very warm. Even nodded off on a summit on Arran once and awoke covered in a thin layer of snow!
I do use an oldish North face expedition tent that is solid and will cope if the weather starts to blow. I bought the gear second hand off ebay. The tent I particularly wanted and had it shipped from the states.
I don't see a problem using a bag if you pick the right conditions.
Couple of things :
1.Keep the hot drinks going while out n about in the insulated mug.
2. Don't use gas its a pain to work.
3. Remember ear plugs because it can get really noisy.
So seeing that this is the only winter thread anyone is reading and this is only a bit of topic, has anyone used any of the inverted gas stoves like the one below in winter, has to be better in the cold than the regular model, right? It always annoys me having to sleep with a gas cylinder in my bag.
Primus Omnilite is way better. =D I'm sure its subjective though. And Titanium! =O I mainly use white gas, you don't have to worry about it getting cold. The Omnilite comes with a 35 cL fuel bottle which I've found is more than enough for 2 people for 2 nights without melting snow.
I'm back for my masters degree this winter if you're looking for a partner for silly adventures btw. Though I'm trying to push my winter grade (to V hopefully!) so climbing trips have priority.
I have a similar 'fire maple' brand gas stove with a flexible tube.
I wouldn't want to have the canister inverted all of the time- I think better to invert it once its getting empty or it can be a bit uncontrollable.
However, for winter camping its paraffin all the way.
I gladly join you in silly adventure trip! :)
Re stove, I have tiny MSR Microrocket.
Hopefully Primus Winter gas canister could help in such Scotthish weather.
I'd like experience that.
Is it necessary wearing a down jacket, or would it be enough to have Gore tex jacket and pants with several layers?
Go for a synthetic belay jacket, then it will be warm if you get wet!
I thought Primus only did one type of gas...PowerGas...which is 4 season? (propane, isobutane, butane mix)
I pick up Powergas and Powefuel (their liquid fuel) from Tiso/EB/Cotswolds no problem.
Your flat tarp is fantastic, and will probably be fine as long as you are careful with the location of your camp site if you plan on camping at any really exposed parts go for a lovely pyramid tarp. As far as bivy bags go getting a heavy waterproof climbers bivy is over kill and pointless just go for the MLD superlight bivy One note on your sleep system, as long as you sleep in all your layers and have a big synthetic belay jacket (DAS parka) you will be fine.
my tarp: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=81
Super light bivy: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=30
Pyramid tarp: Any thing from MLD
Have you camped / bivied much in Scotland during the winter months?
I can't help thinking this might be more cosy if the single skin design is suitable for Scottish winter conditions.
Apologies for it not being what you asked about. (:-))
You might want to browse through http://tracksterman.tumblr.com/ He has spent a couple of winters Corbett bagging, using a combination of bothies and camping. I think most of his trip used one of the Golite tepee style tents. Note this involved living in either a bothy or tent for the whole winter, not a series of trips.
nice to see that we have similar interests! :)
MLD pyramid tarp would be fine, I think. E-vent bivy seems heavy so it is better go with a 200gram bivy as Borah and modify it a bit like this
Re sleep system, I found trousers and boots in PHD site (Minimus down) which adds 10 degrees. I'm considering Filler sleep bag which adds another 10c also. so Phd Minix sleep bag with PHD Filler sleep bag and Minimus trousers & boots, I get around -20c capable sleep system.
Currently I have Rab Xenon X, maybe it is not warm enough to keep up with Minimus down trousers. I might add Compressor Vest and Citadel jacket from ME for worst weather.
It looks good!
I have got Hilleberg Jannu. It is fantastic tent!!
Single skin design is good idea if one wants carry light weight upon climbing. So combining it with lightweight bivy, it should work. It acts sort of double wall system.
It seems that Golite tent is inconsistent in quality.
I noticed also that Trailstar tarp tent is popular due low profile and wind resistance.
you may have a -20 system but in Scotland dampness will eat into that effectiveness very quickly. I never use a down jacket for that reason. There are lots of great bothies in Scotland often in remarkably remote places sign up to the mountain bothies association. you can all ways tie your tarp up outside so you can feel hard core
how does it work inside double wall tent in such weather?
Good to hear about bothies.
using only synthetic sleep bag and clothes would be good choice to avoid those problems.
The citadel would be a must for a Scottish winter you really wont get many "nice" days in winter i would skip the vest a light fleece and a rab xenon would be plenty when active, the citadel would be only be for briefly stopping and when you bivy.
It's scary that you're reading my thoughts! :)
I love ME stuffs and I use Tupilak jacket and pants, and Eclipse zip tee. I also had good use of Rab Xenon recently in North of Sweden there was damp as well. I got PHD bag and Jannu tent soaked several times and Xenon saved me.
Citadel jacket is next logical step. I might add medium weight fleece jacket (Concordia) and Eclipse pants. Compressor Vest would complement Xenon jacket and Citadel. It may be overkill but it doesn't hurt to carry it as spare outside Scotland. It is last thing I have in mind. I worry more about selection of gloves, lol.
There are many train of thoughts to hand wear you can go for many cheap light fleece gloves and rotate them as they get soaked through out the day, there is also the super mitt where you have a mitt that's over kill but that's all you have you simply take your mitt off when you need dexterity, then you have the traditional layering system for your hands with the liner glove then the insulating glove then over all of that a shell(not a good one for dexterity)and finally you have my one, fine leather glove (rab guide glove), big semi dexterous ski glove and finally a massive shit hits the fan mitt.
There is allot of talk around glove systems and i would encourage you to read up and make your own decision.
Are you Andy Kirkpatrick's love child? You should be paying him royalties with all your plagiarism of his blogs! ;)
I was reading some of his blogs a few days ago so probably a good part of what i said is plagiarism :P
At least it's well sourced plagiarism!! :D
thanks! it makes sense..its similar to clothing system.
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