BLACK DIAMOND TRIPOD BIVY
BY ALEXANDER CHARD
June 07, 2008
Peterborough, New Hampshire
5' 10" (1.78 m)
160 lb (72.60 kg)
I have been backpacking since the mid 90's with trips generally 2-10 days. I
have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I generally pack for comfort, and
my shelters are usually tarp or bivy sack. Spring to fall pack weight is
about 16 lbs/7 kg, and about 2 lbs/1 kg food per day. Excursions
include trips in the Smokey's, White Mountains, Grand Canyon, Southern
Canada and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I consider difficult terrain
and adverse conditions the ingredients for interesting and memorable
Product: Bibler Tripod Bivy
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment LTD.
Manufacturer's Website: www.bdel.com
MSRP: $299.95 USD
Size: 1 person
Area: 20 sq ft (1.9 m²)
Listed Weight: 3 lbs (1.35 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz (1.5 kg)
Listed dimensions: 88 x 34 x 25" (224 x 86 x 64 cm)
Measured dimensions: 91 x 34 x 25" (231 x 86 x 64cm)
Listed packed size: 6 x 15" (15 x 38 cm)
The Tripod Bivy is manufactured by Black Diamond Limited (BDL) and is one of the company's four alpine bivys. Their web site states that their philosophy is to "create the most innovative shelters possible and that BDL bivys are "durable and able to withstand the abuses of big mountain climates." The inside dimensions of the head and shoulder area of vestibule measures 31(l) x 34(w) x 24(h)" (79 x 86 x 61 cm) at the widest point and narrows down to 13" (33 cm) wide on the floor in the head and shoulders area, while the toe box area measures 17 (wide) x 14" (high) (43 x 36 cm) when staked. The extra room in the top canopy area eliminates the claustrophobic feeling in standard bivy sacks, and the area in the toe box is large enough so as not to crush the loft of below zero sleeping bags. Every grommet is mounted in webbing and sewn into the body of the bivy.
The bivy includes a nylon stuff sack with a draw cord closure and cord lock. Three Easton aluminum poles make the Tripod Bivy self standing, with the exception of the toe box which must be staked down. Each pole has a different number of sections and elbows which allows the poles to fold up in a compact bundle. The canopy and body are constructed of ToddTex, which is Bibler's proprietary waterproof, breathable fabric, and the awning is constructed of nylon fabric. The bottom is a bathtub style floor constructed of a "70-denier nylon taffeta fabric, laminated with a polyurethane film yielding a high tear strength, waterproof, lightweight and durable floor." According to the technical information section of BDL's web site they take great care in the sealing and stitching of the seams. To date BDL claims never to have had a seam failure.
The outer surface has a textured crumpled suede look which is unlike the smooth silicon coated nylon materials used in most other shelters. ToddTex is made up of two layers; the exterior layer is a thin waterproof film laminated over a "super-light ripstop fabric" preventing water from penetrating. The inner layer of ToddTex material is made of "Nexus® which has a fuzzy texture." This layer wicks the moisture along the entire canopy and body area then through the PTFE layer to be wicked away. There are two individually adjustable, dual-slider zippers. Both zippers measure 61" (155 cm) in length starting from the left side approximately 14" (36 cm) from the ground and travel up to the top and take a 90° turn at the peak of the canopy, traveling down the left side gentling arching so that the zipper travels parallel to the ground over the legs (body area) approximately one third of the way to the toe box. One zipper is for closing the ToddTex canopy, the other for "no-see-um netting." After the zipper curves past the vestibule and moves parallel to the ground, this is where the transition from ToddTex canopy and body to the laminated nylon taffeta fabric floor occurs. The bottom side of the zipper measures 7" (18 cm) off the ground. I discovered exiting and entering to be challenging due to the length of this section of the zipper. This section of the zipper measures 47" (119 cm) from the center of the peak down the right side of the vestibule arching/changing direction parallel to the ground and then traveling 20" (51 cm). The shape of the opening makes it difficult to get my legs inside. I enter the bivy by first having both zippers opened entirely. Then I sit in the bivy in the area where the zipper curves and begins to travel parallel to the ground and enter my sleeping bag and the bivy at the same time. Basically I am sitting in the open bivy at an approximate right angle, and then lay down into the canopy area, and zip in for the evening. When exiting for the day I simply reverse the above procedure. For a brief exit and reentry, I simply stand up in the sleeping bag and drop the bag straight down so that I can step into the bag and bivy openings for easy reentry, except for when it is raining.
Setting up the Tripod Bivy the first few times was challenging. According to the directions the shorter of the two vestibule poles must be installed first. This pole slides through a hole in the ToddTex area of the awning and fits into a pocket where the floor and ToddTex meet in the head area. I found that installing this pole first from the peak of canopy area in the front of the bivy and inserting the end into the pocket, then inserting the opposite end into the grommet located on the awning prevents the other end from popping out of the pocket. Then I thread the second longer pole through sewn fabric openings on the left and right sides of the canopy. Then one at a time I insert each end of the longer pole into the grommets located outside the bivy on the floor. Next I insert two stakes in the ground through the web loops sewn in at the top of the canopy floor. To finish the set up I install the u-shaped pole which supports the toe box area into the grommets mounted on the floor and using the provided cordage looped through the reinforced openings on the toe box awning I stake the foot section down. The first few times setting up and installing this pole I pulled on the fabric so hard that I thought for certain the ToddTex would tear. I contacted BDL and they assured me that the bivy would not tear.
My past experiences with other manufacturers' provided stuff sacks are that they are generally too small to repack the product. The stuff sack BDL provided was large enough to repack the bivy without struggling. Since the canopy area is larger than the lower body area I fold the top over to make the widths closer to even. Personally, my modus operandi is to roll the stakes and poles inside the bivy starting at the lower end and roll the bivy toward the top, leaving the canopy zipper open just a smidgen to allow air to escape, and then place the bivy into the stuff sack.
I have used the Tripod Bivy mainly from early spring to late fall, and occasionally in the winter. I have used it on multiple backpacking trips during early spring to late fall with evening temperatures ranging from approximately 20° F (-7° C) 85° F (30 C°). Locations include the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, White Mountains National Park, New Hampshire USA, Algonquin Provincial Park and Awaga Canyon Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario CA. Altitudes ranged from 100 ft (30m) to 4,000ft (1,200 m). Wearing gloves during a set up is a bit more of a challenge. In colder weather temperatures ranging from -25° F (-32 C°) to 15° F (10 C°) the pole sections were difficult to separate. Placing the ends in the pocket and grommets, took a bit more time, however was not especially difficult. When the humidity was high I found sleeping slightly uncomfortable.
When the entry way is opened a little at the peak, I did not experience any problems with condensation. I really have become fond of the head room which eliminated the constricted claustrophobic feeling of traditional bivy sacks I have used in the past. The canopy height allows plenty of room for reading, or extending out my arm for cooking, and the yellow color brightens up the interior. The one feature I found quite useful is the small gear pocket in the head area which is ideal for eyeglasses and headlamp.
The interior has ample room for a Therm-a-Rest and cold weather sleeping bag; the foot box pole prevents loft compression. Although the Tripod bivy is spacious, there is little room for gear in the canopy head area. Personally I bring a couple of heavy duty plastic trash bags for gear storage. Several times I had to set up in the rain and there was some unavoidable (minimal) accumulation of water near the entry area. Speaking of rain, on a ten day trip (Awaga Canyon) it rained practically non-stop for a several days and there was no leaking. However, the continuous rain did require me to set up and pack away the bivy wet. When the rain stopped, I turned the bivy inside out and suspended it, and the material dried quickly.
I have used the Tripod Bivy on many trips in the past five years, including many trips in difficult terrain, conditions and temperatures in the White Mountains. Additionally wind speeds in excess of 40 mph (64 kph) are not uncommon in the Presidential range. Under these conditions there were not any flapping noises nor did the canopy bend or loose shape. The Tripod Bivy is constructed well and has proven to be a high quality one man shelter. In my opinion the overall performance was superb.
WHAT I LIKE:
Wind and waterproof
Extra room in the vestibule area; both height and width when
compared to other bivy sacks.
Weight savings verses a tent.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE:
Entry and exiting can be difficult.
Initial set up when new.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE:
Lengthen the zipper.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Read more reviews of Black Diamond gear
Read more gear reviews by Alexander Chard