I have been racking my brains over the past few months as to a suitable set up for the winter that involves a bivvy with or without a tarp. Ok, slightly mad I’ll admit, but I am sure it can be done although a few caveats spring to mind – wind, rain and temperature to name but a few ….hmmm maybe this needs more thought. No really, I am looking to test out a bivvy or bivvy/tarp combo for the winter at least once.
Ok, using a bivvy in winter…..extra insulation required – a given. Safer? Posssssibly……given that a tent can be blown down if the wind is fierce does seemingly throw up a paradox that a bivvy would be a better bet. Imagine the scene. The wind is howling, its not pissing it down but it may do later. You are on or near a summit and the available space to pitch a tent is limited either by bogginess (making pegging difficult) or lots of rocks (ditto). There is the possibility of a teeny bit of shelter offered by a slight outcrop of rock. Perfect bivvy conditions or a recipe for adopting the foetal ball of pain in the middle of the night? I would like to think that a bivvy in these conditions even in winter is not only doable but doable in a stylish/comfortable/slightly deranged mwahahahaha type of way (delete as applicable).
On its own, the bivvy would need to be waterproof and probably oversized to allow for kit/extra insulation. But what about when the precipitation falls with a particularly sickening thud (heavy rain to the layman)? This is where I believe a small tarp would be of immense benefit. If its small enough and low enough, I believe it would help with entry/exit to the bivvy itself and also allow for simple cooking/eating/superman-like changing of clothes. All this is nothing new.
What I want to do, is test these principles out in a good old fashioned British winter. I would prefer little wind, little rain and gentle temperatures of course but want to be prepared for armageddon.
So, my rig? Without a tarp and assuming no great deluge, I would use my MLD soul bivvy. Add to this my Golite ultra 20 quilt, Gossamer gear thinlight full length pad and additional torso pad and I have the beginnings of a set up. If its peeing it down, then I would add a tarp. I have a small cuben fibre tarp which can be pitched as a head cover area or just about cover the length of me if pitched to the ground as an A-frame.
The set up without the tarp is around 1Kg. With the tarp it rises to 1.25Kg
Of course, sensible clothing choices would be made to compliment this arrangement but I feel that its a good option for a winter set up. There is also a local hill where this could be tested in relative safety. 900feet high and only 3miles from home so definitely bale-outable