Bivvies and Bothies

Quick update on the weekend’s trip. I managed to get out and about to the Black Mountains on Saturday night with a walk around on the Sunday. The walk in to Pen-y-Gadair fawr was done in the dark which although seems daunting is actually quite easy from the car parking spot in the Grywne Fawr valley. Nothing much to report apart from the fact that I bivvied with a tarp in the night and it was fine. However, I wasnt too sure about the weather and so took my 3m x 3m tarp which I used as a basha type set up. Good job too because it was very cold overnight (about -2deg C) and there was a fair breeze with a heavy dew forming in the night that froze over. Still, after decreaking my bones and warming up with coffee and porridge the sun came up into a brilliant blue sky. Perfect

I made my way along the ridgeline over Waun Fach and on to the Rhos Dirion promontory. Waun Fach is always a bit of a mixed bag with regards to terrain and today was no exception. Its a bog in simple terms but the frost overnight turned it into a mix of crunchy and wet slurping ground. It was here I decided to test how good my selection of pegs was for saturated ground 🙂

After that interlude I wandered back down the Grywne Fawr valley bed toward the reservoir. At the head of the reservoir is a rather nice little bothy. I really like this bothy even though its only about 12 foot by 8 foot in size internally. It has a nice woodburner and a big window and thats about it!

After this, another short leg past the reservoir and back towards the car. By now the late morning sun was climbing high in her sky and the early frost giving way to a beautiful day.

Well, only a short trip but it felt good to be out. The night was cold but dry and the best bit was a chance to further test my peg pulling experiments. Oh and I have managed to persuade my kids to come out with me this weekend to stay in the bothy on Saturday night.

Should be fun 🙂

About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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12 Responses to Bivvies and Bothies

  1. Ben says:

    Nice to see the bothy is still in reasonable repair. After we stayed there I said I would join the MBA but still have not got round to it. Just a quick question do you go light weight so you can fill the rest of your sac with your measuring equipment ? 🙂

  2. backpackbrewer says:

    Well Ben…..I could be accused of that…. 😀

    I might join in one of the MBA repair details for that bothy just to help keep it in good nick. In fact, I will be taking some gaffer tape and foam to do a few reapirs to one of the chairs there over the weekend

  3. GUB says:

    I am thinking of having an organised bash at this bivvying.
    I’ve spent an unplanned, chilly night on top of Sgurr na Stri, in brilliant weather — couldn’t be bothered putting the tent up!
    Didn’t have a bivvy bag at the time!
    I’m doing research on what to buy.
    Everyone seems to be going for the MLD Soul bivy, including your self.
    What i’m wondering is did you get the bag off the peg or did you take advantage of any of the options available eg Event top.
    I know that in poor weather you will need to use this with a tarp,
    the ones on the MLD site are ridiculously priced even though they are at the ‘cutting’ edge of current fabric technology.
    What do you recommend?

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi GUB,

    good question. It all depends on what you are going to do. Are you going to bivvy all year round, just a particular season, only when you know the weather is going to be “good” etc etc

    That is the question you need to ask yourself. I am afraid bivvy bags are a bit like tents. Once you get one, you tend to want to get another…. 🙂

    For me I use a standard MLD Soul Bivvy most of the year. ie the one with DWR momentum material not event. Would I use the soul bivvy on its own in pouring rain? No, not unless I had no other option. It will eventually wet out in persistent rain. However, whenever I bivvy I always take a small cuben fibre tarp with me anyway. It gives me lots of pitching options and since the bivvy and tarp, poles, lines etc weigh around 450g its not a heavy option either

    If I want to just take a sleepin bag cover for inside the tent or outside/on its own use if the weather is good enough (and cant be bothered to pitch the tent like you did), then you could use the Terra Nova Moonlite as a cheap and light option. The Alpkit Hunka is even cheaper and although twice as heavy is still light at around 400g and is much more robust. Another cheap option is the Rab Storm

    It is up to you and the conditions you want to bivvy in. I have several bags and pick and choose which one to take after looking at the weather, the time of year (think midges) and my baseweight and also where I am parking myself for the night.

    If you are not sure then maybe go for a cheap option to begin with and take it along with your tent to your next outing, that way you have insurance against lousy weather and can still try it out in safety

    Hope this helps

  5. GUB says:

    Thanks for the feedback.
    I’m now trying to work out what size bag to get!
    I’m 6′ 2″.
    Any advice?

  6. backpackbrewer says:


    not sure. I am 5ft 7inches so no where near your size! If you aim to go winter bivvying I would get an XL size as it allows for your size, extra kit and a bigger lofting bag

    Other than that I would contact the retailers directly for their advice

    Hope that helps


  7. Ben says:

    This should be big enough for a summer bag

    Rab Storm

    Email Bob at he could tell you for sure

  8. backpackbrewer says:

    thanks Ben,

    Bob will know for sure

    a) he sells bivvy bags
    b) he uses bivvy bags
    c) he’s a big fella!


  9. GUB says:

    I’ve ordered the Soul bivy in large. Just waiting for delivery!
    I’m getting excited!!
    Now for a tarp!

  10. backpackbrewer says:

    Excellent choice sir!

    plenty of tarps to choose from. What are you looking at? Simple, catenary, with beaks, back enclosed?

    The choice is endless 😀

  11. GUB says:

    Plenty of tarps!
    Beaks and bug shelters!
    I never knew a sheet of material could be so complicated!
    I went for the MLD Grace Solo EXP in the end with the dedicated poles.
    I’m doing the WHW next year and for all of 5 seconds considered the bivy and tarp combination, actually it was more like 2 seconds!
    Why not?
    Those midges are fierce, when they swarm it gets nasty quickly.
    In Skye I took off at run on a couple of occassions, trying to get the tent up was a torture, so gave up. That led to the unplanned bivy on Sgurr ne Stri.
    The all singing all dancing Tarp system has got to be
    Hyperlite Mountaingear Echo 1 Shelter system. BUT the price!!
    Thanks for the input I’ll let you know how I get on!

  12. backpackbrewer says:

    I’ve looked at the Echo 1 system and it looks the bees knees.

    Having said that the MLD Grace Solo is an excellent choice. I got the Patrol Shelter recently but still have a hankering for the clean lines of the Grace Solo.

    I know what you mean about the midges. I had an incident last year when I got attacked by a swarm of the blighters. I got my tent up but somehow hundreds got inside the inner. I had to break out the bivvy bag and close the top over my head to escape!

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