Bivy options with Snugpack softie

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Joeking

Member
Jan 14, 2022
10
4
40
Leeds
Hi all,

OK quick intro, I've done plenty of walking in the hills, shambling, climbing and mountaineering. My parents walked and climbed and while I hated it as a kids, it undoubtedly instilled a sense of adventure in me. I have a young family now which is making longer adventure problematic (temporarily impossible).

So I've been finding some smaller, closer to home options. For example desperately missing adventure, last year I bought an inflatable canoe. One night after putting the kids down, I drove to within a mile of a local river (the Wharf near East Keswick) dropped of the canoe and a bag of kit, drove a few miles down stream to a know get out point, parked up, rode my fold up bike back to the start, collated the gear, went and found a place to get in the river, load the canoe with the bike and other gear. Paddled down stream half way back to the car, found somewhere to sleep by the river, just a snugpack Softie 6 and lightweight tarp. Up and in the boat in the morning, back to the car and home in time to take the kids to nursery. The access to the river, the navigability of the river and where i was going to sleep were all totally unknown, making it feel like a proper adventure.

Apologies that was longer than I'd intended.

Anyway, onto the reason I'm here. Planning some similar adventures this summer, I've been looking at bivy bags, wanting a bit more confidence while sleeping under the stars. Long story short, I'm not sure if I need one. For a micro adventure, if the weather was looking bad I just wouldn't go (I'm not as hardy as I once was). On the river bank the tarp had a lot of dew on it but my sleeping bag almost none. If I took the tarp away would the dew be on the bag or would the heat from me keep the dew off? The Softie claims some water repellence properties and it was for this reason I got it, having had a few sleepless nights in down bags fearing leaks.

I'd probably throw in the tarp or maybe even my Terra Nova Superlite Voyager in case of weather changes.

Do any of you guys sleep out in synthetic bags without a bevy or a tarp?

Thanks in advance.
Joe
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
2,043
198
51
Kent
Welcome to the Forum. You may find more replies if you post in the shelter and sleeping section.

As you say a lot depends on the weather. I don't trust forecasts anymore so will pretty much always have a tarp or a poncho above me.

Budget is always a factor. 3 possibles:

1. Bivvy bag, for me cant beat the UK military issue ones, try and get a brand new one.
2. I have a dutch hooped bivvy that works quite well and I would trust it without a tarp. Quite expensive and mostly surplus.
3. I will one day try a Snugpak Ionosphere as I like the all on one option with baggage protection.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,600
4,970
Mid Wales
Welcome to the forum :)

If I'm using a tarp I rarely use the bivy bag. If I think it could drop cold I take it, but I tend to use a 3 season bag even in Autumn and Spring because I like how compact and light it is. I try to keep my canoe pack pretty light; not backpacking ultra-light but certainly no cast iron cooking pans!

I have slept under the stars in just the bag on balmy nights - can't beat it! but I'll have options for cover if things turn.

Perhaps as importantly, what are you sleeping on? Even in British summers the ground can get cold.

The BA Gore-Tex bag takes some beating though there are plenty of options.
 

Joeking

Member
Jan 14, 2022
10
4
40
Leeds
Thanks for the replies, I'll try posting something there too.

Considering the dutch military or Snugpak stratosphere at one end of the scale or a Snugpak Special Forces at the other end. I want to be as open as possible, as that's the whole point (for me at least).

I'll use my snugpak self inflating thermorest style one that is fine for summer at least, I've been cold on it in the spring but had a ridiculous 1 season bad that I blame. The softie 6 seams much better although I think the temperature ratings are very ambitious, it's still a summer bag.

Does a bivy make much difference to temperature?
 

punkrockcaveman

Full Member
Jan 28, 2017
1,132
990
yorks
I can only Echo what Broch has said above. I've slept in minus very comfortably with a snugpak elite 4 and a BA bivi on a standard foam mat, however I have just purchased an alpkit hunka xl bivi to try out soon hopefully. It feels very thin compared the BA bag but it is half the weight.
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
2,043
198
51
Kent
I didn't see your tent option, I guess its the same thing although a little more stealthy the ionosphere.

One of the things to consider is the Bug issue. having a bugnet is bliss compared to the alternative of broken sleep and general irritation. A lot easier to do with an all in one and possible still with a tarp of course. I got a standup UST bug net and have slept with a headnet.

This review on the ionosphere amongst others has swayed me towards a bigger option than the stratosphere.

This is not me, and there's more on amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snugpak-Ionosphere-Person-Olive-Green/dp/B003U9851E/ref=sr_1_1?crid=AVM5L0MSLASA&keywords=snugpak+ionosphere&qid=1642190651&sprefix=snugpak+io,aps,71&sr=8-1&th=1
I've had the opportunity to setup both Snugpak bivvie tents: The Ionosphere and the Stratosphere.

The advantages of the stratosphere are that it is lighter, ultra quick to setup, nearly free standing,
has a lower profile, less water gets in during setup and it is warmer in the winter.

As far the Ionosphere, it is more roomy, breathes far better, has a back poll to keep the tent further above your legs,
better defined doorway and the top can be removed or peeled back when the weather allows.

I've seen posts on the internet asking if the extra weight of the Ionosphere is worth it for backpacking. The answer is YES. I've never considered myself to be a claustrophobic person, but the Stratosphere felt like a coffin. I was uncomfortable to the point that I didn't want to zip it up. It is almost like a larger second sleeping bag. But the worst part is not the room, but breathing. I found it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. It was simply too enclosed and too hot.

By comparison, the Ionosphere is more like a real tent. I'm 6-3 and wide boned, but the length is enough for me and I can partially sit up to change. This tent doesn't feel at all claustrophobic, apart from being roomier the two Layer construction allows you to partially see around the perimeter which further alleviates any couped up feeling and allows the air to cycle. As far as warmth, I won't comment since I'm the last person to feel cold. The two layer construction can allow some drafts in, but I consider this to be a positive since a small space needs to ventilated.

In conclusion, I wouldn't recommend the stratosphere except for special use cases. On the surface it might seem like it has a lot of advantages, but they are mostly disadvantages when it comes to comfort and the overall feel of the space. For a fairly marginal weight increase, you can get a far more comfortable tent in the Ionosphere with a minimal increase in price.

Enjoy.
 
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MikeLA

Full Member
May 17, 2011
1,676
161
Northumberland
Do any of you guys sleep out in synthetic bags without a bevy or a tarp?

I used too, when I was a kid. Then moved on to just a basha, then on to just a bivi bag. Used both a lot too. But my favourite when in spring summer is just a bivi bag.
 

MikeLA

Full Member
May 17, 2011
1,676
161
Northumberland
I can only Echo what Broch has said above. I've slept in minus very comfortably with a snugpak elite 4 and a BA bivi on a standard foam mat, however I have just purchased an alpkit hunka xl bivi to try out soon hopefully. It feels very thin compared the BA bag but it is half the weight.
Tried one went back the BA bag I even found their XL to tight. Like the length of the BA to throw over your head or the Room to put things I need inside.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,600
4,970
Mid Wales
As far as bugs are concerned, I just use a Myrtle extract insect repellent on my face and hands when under a tarp keeps the slugs of too :)
 

Joeking

Member
Jan 14, 2022
10
4
40
Leeds
By the river there were plenty of bug and I was sure I was gonna get eaten alive but I smidged up face, neck, hands and to my amazement didn’t get a single bite. A sown in net does appeal but I want to go as full nature as possible.

Sounds like it will be a good investment. Currently leaning towards a BA or snugpak SF.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,600
4,970
Mid Wales
I've not heard of that before, is it readily available?

Lifesystems Natural used to have Bog Myrtle in it but no more for some reason.

There are a few around but here is one:

 
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Brizzlebush

Full Member
Feb 9, 2019
310
196
Bristol
Sounds like it will be a good investment. Currently leaning towards a BA or snugpak SF.[/QUOTE]

I have both bags.

BA is bombproof, cheap, reliable, it'll last for years unless you do something stupid, plenty of room, and can be used as a pack liner. Generally, it's my go to.

The Snugpak is significantly lighter, and quite a different product. Where the BA has almost no moving parts, the Snugpak has a zip and velcro flap. They work, and it's easier to get in and out of as a result.
But then I don't find it difficult to get into a sleeping bag, it just means a bit less wriggling.
I tend to use it for hiking when I want to cut weight. Apparently the material is tougher than it feels, I haven't really put that to the test.

The BA suits me better because I don't own any kid gloves, and I'll take the weight penalty on that basis.

Sent from my SM-A715F using Tapatalk
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,345
1,347
Berlin
It's not only the weight. The Snugpak SF saves so much space compared to the British army bivvy bag that it often allows you to use a smaller rucksack if your other kit is also relatively compact.

I prefere the Snugpak SF bivvy bag but I recommend the British army bivvy bag as well.
It really depends on what you intend to do. In the end both are very similar.

Stratosphere, Ionosphere and Dutch army hooped bivvy bag and similar Carinthia bivvy bags and the Defcon 5 bivvy tent are for civil use less good options than something like a Hilleberg Akto, because the weight and pack volume is similar but the room in the Akto is larger and better accessible.
If I want to carry 1,5 kg I can take a tent like the Akto.

And one point more:

I personally also take sometimes a tent with me but don't use it every night.
I use the tent mainly on camping grounds where it's expected and sleep in the woods only in bivvy and sleeping bag and perhaps with a poncho shelter above me.

Because the bivvy bag surely adds 3°C to the insulation of the sleeping bag I use it in the tent too. And here it becomes important that the Snugpak SF bivvy bag is better accessible.

If you take a used BA bivvy bag you pay perhaps 40 € and carry 800 g.
A used German Army poncho weighs approximately 1 kg and costs you 25 €.
You get for 65 € a bomb proof 1,8 kg solution and can leave the rain suit at home and don't need to buy and carry a dry bag for the sleeping bag, because the bivvy bag works well as a rucksack liner.
It will surely last you for decades.

With a Defcon 5 poncho, 350 g and a Snugpak SF bivvy bag 340g you just have 690g all together.
If you take additional the Hilleberg Akto you carry additional 1,7 kg. Altogether 2,4 kg. That's also stuff that's made very robust and has a NATO stock number. The Akto doesn't but lasts a lifetime and is absolutely storm proof.
(Other tents could lower the weight but aren't so versatile and robust.)

You don't carry in the second example so much more but get a very versatile very comfortable equipment for a lot of money. That's interesting for people who want to use it for very long tours also in areas without forest.

BA Bivvy bag and BW poncho are the high quality solution for real men and those who wish to become it. That's the best recommendation for everyone who is young or poor or both.
 
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Joeking

Member
Jan 14, 2022
10
4
40
Leeds
All good info, thanks guys!

Question, why do people go for the SP1 over the softie 6, they the same weight but the softie6 claims colder rating.

I like to travel light so leaning towards the snugpak.

Maybe I’ll make life difficult for myself and get their standard bivy and install a side zip.
 

Joeking

Member
Jan 14, 2022
10
4
40
Leeds
For 1.5gk my Terra Nova Superlite Voyager is a bomb proof palace, great for poor weather in the mountains. I want the outside feel but don’t want to carry more weight than my tent… just feels wrong

Nothing to prove regarding being a real man so I’m thinking stasha (already got) and snugpak Bivy is a good combo and versatile regards temperature
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,600
4,970
Mid Wales
OK, just a note about ponchos. In my opinion, based on the ones I've tried, they're just not big enough. In UK weather, swirling rain, you need something larger, 2.5m minimum, 3m ideally, or you are going to get wet from wind blown rain. Yes, you can make an enclosed wedge shelter with a poncho but it's uncomfortably restricting especially if you have to sit out a long period of bad weather.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
884
582
Ceredigion
When sleeping under a tarp, I always have a bivy bag over my sleeping bag, either a big army surplus one or a smaller lightweight one from Rab that’s more of a sleeping bag protector. It adds a bit of warmth, protects the sleeping bag from the ground when I move about in my sleep and from any sideways rain getting in under the tarp, and makes for a great waterproof stuff sack for the sleeping bag in the rucksack (I just shove the whole thing in). Unless it was really hot and dry, I would always use one.
 

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