Mil-Tec Bivi Bag

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SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
Several months ago, I purchased this Bivi Bag from The Bushcraft Store. This is my review having used it in various circumstances since purchase:

Carrying...
What the store's description claims:
I tend to leave my sleep mat and sleeping bag inside and then roll all 3 up together. It makes a very simple "Matilda", simply take it out of your Bergan and unroll it and you are ready to go.

What I've found:
This is true... though you should be able to do this with any non-disposable bivi bag.

The packed size is very reasonable (occupies less space than a cheap standard Thermarest inflating mat), the weight is good, and it does indeed come with a stow bag featuring the typical pull-string closure. In fact, it fits quite nicely in the main compartment of a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack.

Build quality...
The stitching looks good, and the seam tapes appear to be of good quality. No puckering, no holes, no tares. The buttons feel as though their riveting is solid, and the zips certainly stand up to even my ham-fisted yanking.

Ease of use...

What the store's description claims:
The side zip descends far enough so you don't have to struggle in and out and the whole zip area is protected by double storm flaps that press stud down and is generously cut to accomodate many layers.

What I've found:
All very true. This is a very roomy bivi bag, the zip descends about half way down the length of the bag (it's right-hand zipped, by the way) which makes it easy to enter and exit. The storm flap also has riveted snap buttons to "baton down the hatch" in more extreme weather... and would certainly help prevent rain penetrating through the zip.

So far, so good...

Waterproofness and Breathability...

What the store's description claims:
It is made from waterproof and breathable Tri-Laminate material (I can't say it is G***-Tex as it is Trade mark).

What I've found:
Well, this is where the store's claims and my real-world use experience are in complete opposition.

Yes, it is impressively waterproof... but it's about as breathable as a submarine! Seriously, I genuinely believe that I would suffocate to death quite quickly in this bag if I were to spend any significant time (25+ minutes) inside it in its full closed-down state. Within 10 minutes, I begin to get light-headed, confused, and develop a headache: the first symptoms of hypoxia.

What's almost worse than the genuine suffocation hazard this product presents is the condensation.

Until I tried out this product, I had never had so much as a drop of condensation inside my shelters, let alone touch the sleeping bag. With this product, however, you'd best not expect to spend more than a single night out... because your sleeping bag will be soaking wet by morning.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not allowing myself to become hot to the point of sweating... this is just normal condensation caused by the absolute absence of breathability in the material.

One night out in this bivi bag equates to a day and a half of drying my sleeping bag, and that is simply insane.

Conclusions...

At the £80 price point, this bag is a rip-off. Hell, at £10 it would be a rip-off.
This product is downright dangerous, and shame on The Bushcraft Store for misrepresenting the material of which it is made as even remotely resembling "Gore-Tex".

What's worse is that the product doesn't even look like the pictures on their sales page, which are clearly photographs of the US GI (genuine Gore-tex) bivi bag, rather than this cheap imitation Mil-Tec piece of rubbish!

For the sake of your life, do not buy this product!
 

Johnnyboy1971

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Dec 24, 2010
4,155
25
49
Yorkshire
I bought one of these the other year and mine wasn't a Mil-Tech one, used it a good few times and never any problems with it. The one I bought was in the Flecktarn pattern so wonder if they differ in material and pattern.
 

SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
I bought one of these the other year and mine wasn't a Mil-Tech one, used it a good few times and never any problems with it. The one I bought was in the Flecktarn pattern so wonder if they differ in material and pattern.

This one actually has the Mil-Tec label inside it, and the one I bought was the Woodland Camo.
 

SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
Did you ckntact the retailer?

They'll be getting a phone call from me in the morning. I have given this product every chance in the world to perform even slightly as it should. Last night, I didn't even zip it up... just had the side slung over me and the top wide open (I was breathing directly into the outside air) and it still filled with condensation. My sleeping bag has been in my bedroom with a 4KW gas heater since 10AM and it is still wet to the touch!
It's definitely not water settling on the outside and penetrating through, either, as the nylon Bergen cover I had slung over my kit next to me was bone dry (as was the exterior of the bivi) all night and through morning.
 

Teepee

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 15, 2010
4,115
4
Northamptonshire
'Breathabilty' in the case of waterproof/breathable fabrics just refers to the ability to transfer moisture through the fabric. It doesn't actually mean you can breathe through them.

I don't think manufacturers should have been allowed to call these laminated waterproof/ slightly breathable membranes breathable when they first hit the market. Partly breathable would have been more accurate. Even the actually very good W/B membranes are more akin to a plastic bag than a paper one for breathability.

FWIW, condensation will build up on any fabric-even mesh. When warm and moist exhaled breath meets a cold surface, condensation will occur.

This piece from Andy Kirkpatrick makes very good reading; http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/the_truth_about_breathable_waterproofs

Sometimes, condensation will form really badly, others not IME. I have a bivvy bag made from a much lighter weight than the laminate you tried-it suffers condensation at 3c and above but strangely stops when it's even colder. :)
 
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SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
'Breathabilty' in the case of waterproof/breathable fabrics just refers to the ability to transfer moisture through the fabric. It doesn't actually mean you can breathe through them.

I don't think manufacturers should have been allowed to call these laminated waterproof/ slightly breathable membranes breathable when they first hit the market. Partly breathable would have been more accurate. Even the actually very good W/B membranes are more akin to a plastic bag than a paper one for breathability.

FWIW, condensation will build up on any fabric-even mesh. When warm and moist exhaled breath meets a cold surface, condensation will occur.

This piece from Andy Kirkpatrick makes very good reading; http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/the_truth_about_breathable_waterproofs

Sometimes, condensation will form really badly, others not IME. I have a bivvy bag made from a much lighter weight than the laminate you tried-it suffers condensation at 3c and above but strangely stops when it's even colder. :)

That was a fine read, and while not really telling me anything I don't already know, it does lead me to question certain aspects of my thinking on this subject (bivi bags in general, I mean).

However, I never expected a bivi bag to be 100% waterproof. I would be more than happy for it not to be waterproof (merely wicking would be more than sufficient) as most people using a Bivi bag when facing a realistic chance of precipitation will take some kind of tarp (even a small Basha) to provide that waterproof layer.

The issue isn't even quite so much as the suffocation hazard the bag presents (though in a more "idiot-proofing" sense this is a major issue).

The issue with this particular product is that the inside condensates to an absurd degree, and across a broad range of temperatures, humidity and conditions. Hell, it condensates in my livingroom at a comfortable temperature (again, without sweating, and without breathing into it).

I expect some condensation (I'm realistic in that regard) but enough to drown a family of mice is, frankly, insulting... especially at this price.

It might be waterproof, but it is absolutely not breathable... not even a little bit.

I'd have been better off last night with a small ground sheet and no bivi bag at all, and that'll probably be the direction I go in from now on.
 

roman-soldier

New Member
Mar 7, 2012
592
0
colchester
Simon, it's a shame you had this experience, I know from my younger days I've spent many a night in hoofing down rain with only an army goretex bivvy bag zipped right up and been dry in the morning. There's sometimes a bit of condensation when the bivi bag becomes waterlogged and can't breathe but I've never had the hypoxia effects although I've always been aware of the possibility. Seems like you have a different material from goretex.
I must admit unless I've been caught out without a Tarp my face is always out of the bag anyway as I like the fresh air.
I've got a rab pertex bivi bag and that's great but obviously not waterproof, and I've got the Norwegian bivi bag with the silver lining but not risked it in the rain.
 

Teepee

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 15, 2010
4,115
4
Northamptonshire
A bivi bag does really need to be waterproof on the bottom for most users to stop the water wicking up from the ground and the rain getting in.

I just noticed you've not spoken to the vendor- It might be a good idea to speak to the vendor about your issues instead of slating them publicly beforehand. ;)
 

SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
A bivi bag does really need to be waterproof on the bottom for most users to stop the water wicking up from the ground and the rain getting in.

I just noticed you've not spoken to the vendor- It might be a good idea to speak to the vendor about your issues instead of slating them publicly beforehand. ;)

Waterproof at the bottom makes perfect sense... but waterproof on top.... I question the value of that (at least, for my uses)

As for the vendor... they're marketing it as a Gore-Tex material (or at least with identical properties) when it clearly is/does not. I'm pointing out for the benefit of others who sold me the product as their site does not identify the specific brand of product they're selling.
"Slating them", no... I'm just doing what they haven't and informing potential customers!
 

ozzy1977

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
8,558
2
43
Henley
But you have concerns over the bag and didnt contact the retailer first, I am sure that if others had had the same problems with the bag they would pul the product from sale and investigate.
 

brambles

Settler
Apr 26, 2012
749
43
Aberdeenshire
but it's about as breathable as a submarine! Seriously, I genuinely believe that I would suffocate to death quite quickly in this bag if I were to spend any significant time (25+ minutes) inside it in its full closed-down state. Within 10 minutes, I begin to get light-headed, confused, and develop a headache: the first symptoms of hypoxia...

What's almost worse than the genuine suffocation ...


For the sake of your life, do not buy this product!

I have both one of these, in flecktarn, and the genuine USMSS Gore-tex bivvy bag it is based on, and have to say that your description sounds more like a panic attack than suffocation - are you claustrophobic? My reason for the question is that there is zero chance of suffocation, the bags are not airtight as there is no zip around the head area, it is a simple fold over with a velcro tab, so whilst it protects from the elements there is ample airflow.
 

SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
I have both one of these, in flecktarn, and the genuine USMSS Gore-tex bivvy bag it is based on, and have to say that your description sounds more like a panic attack than suffocation - are you claustrophobic? My reason for the question is that there is zero chance of suffocation, the bags are not airtight as there is no zip around the head area, it is a simple fold over with a velcro tab, so whilst it protects from the elements there is ample airflow.

I don't suffer from claustrophobia at all. I genuinely find it impossible to draw a proper breath inside the bag with the zip done all the way up and the flap velcro'd closed. If I had a device to measure the oxygen and CO2 levels inside, I'd demonstrate it.
Also, it's been pointed out (see one of the first replies to this thread) that the Flecktarn pattern bivi being sold by this retailer isn't the same as the Woodland one... so I have to ask: is yours the Mil-Tec branded bag?
 

Corso

Full Member
Aug 13, 2007
5,060
373
none
Seriously - why arn't you talking to BCS rather than us?

They are good people if its a defective product I'm sure they would pull it
 

Big Stu 12

Full Member
Jan 7, 2012
6,025
3
Ipswich
I would also say that contacting the Seller should be the first move..

not just put a post on a public forum slagging the product off.. and also the supplier in a harsh manner without first of all speaking to them and perhaps replacing/refunding a faulty one off example of that product...

I have not got one so cant comment how they perform...
 

huntersforge

Full Member
Oct 14, 2006
756
47
southern scotland
I have one of these Mil-tec bivi bags in olive green which I bought second hand from a member on here so I have no idea of its age but can honestly say its been a good buy with no more condensation buildup than any other bag ive used. I don't sleep with my head covered so cant comment on issues of hypoxia but the build quality of the bag is good.
 

SJStuart

Settler
Jan 22, 2013
997
1
Suffolk Coast
not just put a post on a public forum slagging the product off.. and also the supplier in a harsh manner without first of all speaking to them and perhaps replacing/refunding a faulty one off example of that product...

Did you read the review, Stu? Where in my review did I "slag off" the supplier in a "harsh manner"? I merely pointed out that their marketing blurb differs from the product's actual state... which it does.

I'm actually getting quite ****** off that people are criticizing me for posting a review of a product based on my experience with it... as though I'm the bad guy for having a negative experience with a product not matching its sales description.
 

PeterH

Settler
Oct 29, 2007
547
0
Milton Keynes
I would guess that the section below is rather departing from the objective review into your opinion and rather brave accusations on a public forum and what Stu and others are trying to caution you about. You have had it several months, repeatedly had issues and not even spoken to the retailer by your own admission, if you do I would not expect a sympathetic hearing if they see this ...

Conclusions...

At the £80 price point, this bag is a rip-off. Hell, at £10 it would be a rip-off.
This product is downright dangerous, and shame on The Bushcraft Store for misrepresenting the material of which it is made as even remotely resembling "Gore-Tex".

What's worse is that the product doesn't even look like the pictures on their sales page, which are clearly photographs of the US GI (genuine Gore-tex) bivi bag, rather than this cheap imitation Mil-Tec piece of rubbish!

For the sake of your life, do not buy this product!




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