Outdoor Research – Alpine Bivy


Avg. Weight

32.0 oz. 907 g
Avg. Weight w/o Pole 30.7 oz. 870 g
Length 84 in. 214 cm
Peak Height 20 in. 50 cm
Width at Shoulders 26 in. 66 cm
Width at Feet 19 in. 49 cm
Packed Size 15¼ x 4 x 4 in. 39 x 10 x 10 cm
Pole Material Delrin

Retail Price:  $239.00

When I first decided that I would be backpacking solo from time to time, I opted to go the lightweight route.  I looked at a variety of Bivy’s and the one thing that bothered me was the material sitting on my face.  Outdoor Research have multiple Bivy’s that have taken this problem into account with their unique design.  With a single pole that rests above your head, it gives you ample headroom and solves the claustrophobia of most bivy’s.  Also, the head can be converted into a bug hut style enclosure, when no rain is present.

I set this bivy up in the store and the first thing I noticed was stakes had to be planted to create the tension needed to hold the pole up and in place.  I decided that 4 stakes wasn’t a huge deal and at least it didn’t need guy lines.  Also if need be you could use the bivy without stakes, but it wouldn’t be as “puffy” as in the pictures.  The overall set up was pretty straight forward and the pole slides neatly into the sleeve and there are pockets to hold it in place.  Next I put an air mattress inside, abut 1.5 thickness and a sleeping bag and climbed in.  The entry was a little complicated and some care had to be taken to keep the overhead pole in place.  This was of course without the stakes so the poles stability was compromised.  Once inside it felt extremely roomy for a bivy and I could flip over easily and without twisting the material around.  I could even lean up on my elbows without feeling cramped by the roof.  One of the nice things about this bivy is that it has a second head cover option built in, a mesh inner wall so that you can have access to air and sky yet be protected from insects.  In order to work this function you have to pull the rain cover over the pole, and it leaves an excess of material hanging inside from the pole.  This kind of creates a little more of a cramped feeling, but contrarily you are more open to the outside.  I had a pretty major problem with the way the hood was supposed to stay, as with small movements it would fall off the pole and onto my head.  Though a pretty big drawback, I felt that I might be able to fix it with some velcro tape.

I took this for an over night with some friends.  The first nice thing is that this shelter weighs 2lbs as opposed to my previous 2 man tent which was 5lbs.  Also its quite small and doesn’t take up very much space in the backpack.  Pulling it out of it’s stuff sack I had this thing set up in about 5 minutes, mat and sleeping bag inside and all.  The process was basically to roll it out, insert the pole and stake it at 4 corners to create the tension for the pole to stand strong.  Climbing in was much easier with the stake tension applied and the inside was even roomier than before.  As indicated earlier I used velcro tape to adhere the hood to the body of the bivy and it seemed to hold pretty well.  The roominess was nice and I was able to stay up and read a book inside the bivy.  Space was excellent, enough even to bring my 25lbs dog inside with me!  Granted I am 5’6″ and weigh 160lbs, but still were talking about a bivy sack here.  Throughout the night as I tossed and turned the velcro tape became unstuck to the shelters material and the hood fell.  It was too much of a pain to fix while sleeping so I decided to zip the hood down and sleep fully enclosed.  I slept well in the enclosed bivy, when I woke I didn’t have any problems with condensation.  Packing up was easy and fast.  Upon inspecting the velcro tape, it was done for.

Ultimately, I decided to return this bivy to the retailer.  I decided that my preference was to go with a one man tent and sacrifice the light weight.  If you feel a bivy is the correct shelter for you, I would suggest commiting and getting the real deal, no frills or poles, just a water proof sack for your sleeping bag.  The hood design was extremely appealing, but in the end was not very user friendly and didn’t work well enough.  The roominess was nice, but again if thats important to you perhaps its time to give in like I did and accept that a tent is the more enjoyable option.

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