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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Integral Designs eVENT Crysallis Bivy > Kathryn Doiron > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron
Integral Designs eVent Crysallis Bivy
Initial Report: Feb 22 2007
Field Report: April 30 2007
Long Term Report: Jun 16 2007
Image from Integral Designs website
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Height: 1.7 m (5' 8")
Weight: 68 kg (150 lb)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA
Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently starting getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.
Manufacturer: Integral Designs
Material: no-see-um and eVent fabric
Weight (as stated): 1.8 lb (810 g)
Weight (measured): 1.6 lb (729 g)
Colour: Dark Green
Feb 22 2007
The eVent Bivy comes in just one colour, dark green. The bottom fabric is a dark blue while the upper fabric is the dark green colour mentioned. The bivy has a wire stiffened hood section that keeps the top of the bivy off the face. The wire section arcs over the head area but also on each side of the arc is a leg that points towards the foot of the bivy giving the wire arc some stability. The zipper runs around the side of the bivy, starting at about the chest, and over the head such that the whole section can be peeled back and laid on my waist. Another zipper allows for a no-see-um mesh to be zipped up into place over the head but inside the bivy. This allows for bug free sleeping without the bivy being completely closed. There are little ties at the base of each section allowing them to be rolled out of the way when not needed. The zippers are easy to reach. The mesh has a small tie at the top which seems to tie into a similar tie on the inside of the wire stiffened hood section. On the side of the wire stiffened hood is a small chimney-like opening that can be closed with a draw-string closure.
The eVent bivy also came with a small tube of SeamGrip and a small sheet of paper with instructions. Sealing the seams has been left to the discretion of the user and depends in some part on the conditions that the user would be encountering. The instructions note that while this is not necessary, some people in wetter climates might feel better about sealing the sewn seams. As I have no idea what I will encounter and when, I will be following the sealing directions before using the bivy for the first time. They suggest that the outside sewn seams around the zipper, vent and bug net be seam sealed. They state that the seam around the floor has been double taped and should require no sealing unless extremely wet conditions are expected. In which case, they then recommend that seam sealing of this taped seam be done while the bivy is new and unused. As a last note, they do mention that waterproof breathable materials work best when there is a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the bivy and that condensation can be expected in warm and humid conditions. I will look into this as it can be very warm and humid down in the DC area. I typically use a down sleeping bag so I will look for condensation and wet spots on the bag and around the vent, or chimney as I called it earlier.
The bivy requires no setup other than pulling it out of its stuff sack and shaking it out. I did find that when I pulled it out, that the wire needed a little coaxing back into position. I suspect that due to the nature of the wire, its length and the size of the stuff sack that this will be the only setup that the bivy will require. The wire was easy to gently bend back into a semblance of an arc. One thing I worry about is that the wire loop does not seem very stable. I will look into how well the loop keeps the bivy fabric away from my face in various types of weather. Another thing I worry about and will look into further is how well the chimney will keep out rain or other falling projectiles.
For my frame and given my sleeping gear, there was plenty of room inside the eVent bivy. My sleeping bag caused more restriction on my sleeping space then the bivy did. As such I will be looking into the possibility of storing small items in either the head-space of the bivy or possibly the foot-space. There are no interior, or exterior pockets associated with the bivy. The stuff sack could in itself be a handy pocket for keeping small items together. The stuff sack comes with a fabric loop at the bottom which I have found to be a handy grab point as the fabric of the stuff sack is slick and the string a little hard to grab.
As the zipper on the bivy allows for the top half to be folded back, I found that this made it somewhat easier to kneel onto the head portion and setup my sleeping bag and air mattress onto the bivy before sliding the sleep set up inside. This particular sleeping bag hugs my air mattress which made for easy placement within the bivy. I will also be using another sleeping bag that does not hug the air mattress to determine how easy it is to get the sleeping bag set up comfortably inside the bivy.
The field conditions I expect the bivy to be used under will include overnight hikes in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. I expect to encounter powder, wet snow and rain as well as varied terrain and tenting platforms.
I have had a chance to take the bivy out several times. The first time was just a simple overnight on my living room floor mostly to see how I would react to the bivy's low head room and to familiarize myself with the bivy and the space constraints. The bivy is actually quite spacious compared to the mummy bag I typically use when backpacking. I found that the bivy in no way restricted my sleeping room when I was inside a sleeping bag. I did notice that the bivy does add to the temperature rating on my sleeping bag. One night the temperature dropped to between 50 and 55 F (10 - 12 C). Normally I would be quite chilled in my 30 F (0 C) bag but combined with the bivy, I didn't notice the cold. I have not yet had any problems with condensation. I did have a problem with heat build up but that was when I was sleeping on the living room floor. I simply unzipped the top section and flipped it back and I was much better.
I have not encountered any inclemental weather yet. Mostly the weather has been dry and cool. The few nights I have taken the bivy out, there was a gentle breeze and fresh air easily entered the bivy through the little stove pipe like opening. I haven't had a problem with fresh air yet. The wire that keeps the bivy away from my face does have to be reformed every time I set up the bivy. I don't always managed to get the wire formed correctly as sometimes the top of the bivy is close to my face. If I close my eyes I don't notice it much. It also helps that I sleep on my stomach. The weather has still been a little too cool to use the bug net feature. While the bugs were out the last trip, it was cool enough that I zipped the bivy up all the way. I haven't had any bugs enter through the little stove pipe opening, yet.
In setting up for the night, it is much easier to lay out my air mattress on top of the bivy and attach my sleeping bag to the air mattress then slide the whole system into the bivy. I am currently using a Big Agnes sleep system which allows me to easily set up for the night within the bivy. I then sit on the top of the sleeping bag and pull off my sandals. I usually tuck my sandals under the top of my air mattress to act as a pseudo-pillow, so I lifted the top bivy and placed my sandals under the bivy. While this is not complete protection, I also feel that my sandals are somewhat protected from the elements. I am hoping for a good rainfall so I can determine how much protection this overhang provides.
So far the bivy is in excellent condition. As there were no pine trees in the area, I have not picked up any pine pitch on the bottom of the bivy. I have not had to wash the bivy in any way yet. Mostly I just hold up the bottom end and shake out the loose debris. I do have some trouble getting the bivy rolled down tight enough to fit back into the provided stuff sack. It is not that the stuff sack is too small, but rather it seems I have to fold the bivy down to the right size before I start rolling it. The metal hoop restricts how much the bivy can be folded before rolling can occur. The seams are still holding up well and the seal sealing is in great shape. I hope to take this bivy out in a good rainfall to see how the floor and the seam sealing hold up to rain. I did spend one night on a tent platform. As the weather warms up I will also be looking at the effectiveness of the bug netting. I will be looking in to how effective the netting will be when there is no support to keep it away from my face.
The field conditions I have so far encountered have been relatively easy climbs. The two real trips, not counting my floor, have been overnights near the Tom Floyd Wayside shelter near the Shenandoah Nation Park. Elevation is 1900 feet (579 m). The temperatures where about 65 and 80 F (18 and 27 C) on the two trips and dropped to about 45 and 55 F (8 and 12 C) at night. The weather was dry with some to little humidity.
I have taken the bivy out on three more overnight trips out on the Appalachian Trail near Front Royal, Virginia and into the Shenandoah National Park region.
The first overnight hike was under dry conditions with the temperatures around 65-70 F (18-21 C). Total elevation gain was 1000 ft (304 m) with a distance of 6 miles (9.6 km). Total pack weight was about 27 lbs (12 kg). The trip was along a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. There was little leaf cover as the leaves were just barely peeking out. There were some bugs out but as the weather was still quite cool at night, I kept the bivy zipped up completely.
The second overnight hike saw some rain fall. Mostly it was drizzling and dripping from the trees during the day but overnight the rain alternated between downpour and drizzle. Total elevation gain was about 1500 ft (457 m) with a distance of 12 mi (19.3 km). The trip was along a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. This trip out I encountered somethru -hikers and we got to talking about gear. They liked my body bag as they took to calling the bivy. I had the bivy set up near the shelter but as the rain continued, I ended up pulling the bivy partially under the eave of the shelter so that I could make a rain-free entry of the bivy.
The last overnight trip was over Memorial Day weekend and was a two night trip. The weather was very nice over the three days with no rain but the bugs were out in full force. The temperatures were in the high 80's F (28 C) with the night time temperatures dropping to about 65 F (15 C). Total elevation gain was 2000 ft (610 m). The trip was along a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia to Harper's Ferry. The first night out, I left the top of the bivy unzipped for increased air flow but I did use the bug net covering. The bug net covering does not have any wire support and as such it draped across the back of my head. I was concerned about the bugs being able to bite through the mesh. I didn't experience any noticeable bites, but I might have had some remnants of bug dope on my face and neck. The temperatures were also such that I was burrowed into my sleeping bag. The next night I tried to jerry rig the netting away from my face using the wire hoop from the outer covering, it worked to a point but it was a little awkward to set up and the bivy covered more of my body. I didn't notice any discernible increase in heat buildup even with my body mostly encased in the bivy but the temperatures were still low enough that the extra covering may have contributed to my staying warm.
I finally managed to catch some rain while sleeping in the bivy. The day was mostly overcast and drizzling but as the evening progressed the rain became heavy at times. I noticed that while the bivy did not leak, it was hard to get into the bivy without letting rain enter. I was lucky that night to have a sheltering cover nearby that I could pull the top part of the bivy under to allow a rain-free entrance. Some of the water that had accumulated on the top of the bivy did manage to find its way onto my sleeping bag when I lifted the flap up. Once inside, I noticed there was no noise associated with the rain. I had wondered if I would feel the rain beating down on me but other than being chilled from the temperatures, I didn't feel the rain. Several other campers in tents informed me the next morning that it had rained quite heavily off and on over the night. I was thankfully oblivious to this.
In using this bivy, I tried to use it as a stand alone shelter. When there was no rain, this was fine as I didn't have to protect my sandals or pack from the elements. On the one occasion when I encountered rain, without the protection of the shelter nearby, I would have had a very soggy night. As I am new to using a bivy, I didn't think to carry around a small tarp to protect the opening of the shelter of the bivy. Being a tent and hammock user, I am used to the shelter providing for all my weather needs. In the end, while I realize that my pack can be protected with a pack cover, and my sandals are normally pushed under the bivy to make a pseudo pillow, the fact that I can't make a dry entry into the bivy in the rain was a little of a deterrent to using the bivy in rainy weather. I feel that a small tarp strung over the opening of the bivy is all that is required in the event of rain but that is one more thing to carry and add to the weight of the bivy. At just 1.6 lbs (729 g), the bivy is a reasonable weight for a one person shelter but I don't expect to have to add more weight in order to use this shelter.
The bivy has held up nicely over the four months of usage. There are no rips in the fabric nor has water seeped in through any seams. I still have a hard time rolling the bivy tight enough on the first try to fit into the provided stuff sack. I notice that when I first try to fold down the bivy, trapped air makes it puff out and fight my folding. By the second try, I have pressed out most of the air and it is more cooperative. The metal loop has taken a beating from my attempts to knock the bivy into a stuffable shape. The metal is still pliable and forms to whatever shape I need and the wire is still contained in the covering loop of fabric. When I am not using the outer covering, I find that I still form the wire into a semblance of shape. I will then either flip the flap over the top of the bivy or roll the flap up and tie it down with the provided ties. Over the first few trips, I would roll the bug netting in this fashion to keep it out of the way during the night.
The seam sealant has held up well and is still firmly adhered to the seams. I have not seen any evidence of peeling or looseness of the seam sealant. While it was tacky immediately after application, it is now smooth with no peeling. I did not dust the freshly sealed seams with talc or powder as recommended. I did have the time to allow it to dry for several days on a flat surface. It did pick up a few cat hairs during the application process so in the future, I will be applying any seam sealer away from cat hair riddled locations.
This concludes my long term report on the Integral Designs Crysallis Bivy. I'd like to thank Integral Designs and BackPackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Crysallis Bivy, thank you for reading and following this test series.
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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Integral Designs eVENT Crysallis Bivy > Kathryn Doiron > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron