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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy > Test Report by Scott Wasley

OUTDOOR RESEARCH ADVANCED BIVY
TEST SERIES BY SCOTT WASLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 21, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Scott Wasley
EMAIL: snw61(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Idaho Falls, Idaho USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 180 lb (81.60 kg)

I am an avid backpacker, kayaker, backcountry skier, and all around outdoorsman. I began backpacking thirty-seven years ago at the age of 10. I have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round. I have hiked mostly in the Western part of the United States (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana). I have a great love for the out of doors and enjoy all the seasons of the year. I am generally a mid-weight hiker, mainly because I like to take a little extra gear to be comfortable. I have recently spent a good share of time in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS


Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2008 (per Consumer Tag)
Listed Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz (1.2 kg)
Listed Weight w/out poles 2 lbs 2 oz (1.0 kg)
Listed Size: 87 in long x 26 in wide at head x 19 in wide at foot (221 cm x 66 cm x 48 cm)
Listed Height: 20 in at head and 14.5 in at foot (51 cm x 37 cm)
Verified Weight with poles: 2 lb 6 oz (1182 g)
Verified Weight w/out poles: 2 lb 1 oz (1026 g)
Verified Size: 87 in long x 26 in wide at head x 19 in wide at foot (221 cm x 66 cm x 48 cm)
Verified Height: 20.5 in at head and 14 in at foot (52 cm x 36 cm)
Stuff Sack Size: 14 in long x 4 in dia. (36 cm x 10 cm)

Warranty (Web site): "We believe so strongly in the quality of what we make that if, at anytime, our product fails to meet your needs, we are happy to exchange or return it. Because of this solid belief, our products are guaranteed forever and are designed with this in mind. Your total satisfaction in our product is our goal."

Color: Mojo Blue (top), gray (bottom), white (interior)
Manufacturer's Web Site Outdoor Research.com
MSRP: $289.00 (U.S. Dollars) One Size
Country of manufacture: China

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

IMAGE 1
BIVY CLOSED

IMAGE 2
BIVY OPENED



The Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy (hereafter referred to as the "bivy") is a solo shelter utilizing two pole construction. The bivy is mummy shaped, tapering at the foot area. Attached to the stuff sack was a product card identifying the bivy's features, including the weight, dimensions, and operation of the entrance flap identifying the various positions. This product card is written in two languages (French and English). According to the product cards attached to the bivy, it is constructed of two different types of fabric. The top roof section is a durable, waterproof, breathable 3-layer Gore-Tex® Respiration Positive™ fabric. The floor section is a waterproof, anti-fungal, Hydroseal® coated taffeta. All seams are fully taped and sealed.

The pole system consists of two poles, constructed from Dupont's Delrin. According to Wikipedia, Delrin is "a lightweight, low-friction, and wear-resistant thermoplastic and is often used as a substitute for metal." The poles create overhead space during stormy weather and allow variable ventilation positions. The bivy came with five aluminum pole ends. Each pole end is 6 in (15 cm) in length and has the male part of a large snap at one end. This snap mates with the female portion, which is attached to the bivy itself. OR included an extra pole end, which I thought was good practice. There is a wide storm flap at the zipper area including a stiffened piping, which allows ventilation without admitting weather. The door (a.k.a. entrance flap opening) is a circular shape and has a coil two-way zipper. This zipper is 60 in (152 cm) long. The zipper includes a fabric covered piping and storm flap that extends the entire length of the zipper. This is intended to reduce/prevent the zipper from snagging and weather from entering the bivy. There is a 12 in (30 cm) long zippered vent at the foot area to allow ventilation and moist air to escape during use. The vent also includes a mesh netting for insect control.

Inside the bivy are two hook-and-loop sleeping pad straps, which are intended to prevent one's sleeping pad from sliding around. One strap is located at the neck area and the other is at the knee area. There is a removable, tightly woven no-see-um netting at the entrance flap opening for insect control. This netting is attached to the bivy via a zipper on that runs along the entire bivy entrance. A small zippered mesh pocket is located inside the bivy, at the head end. This pocket appears to provide storage for small items. The bivy has four small peg loops, two at each end. The loops are constructed from a lightweight nylon webbing. However, the bivy did not come with any pegs.

At the head end of the bivy there is a tag attached that states "Warning for comfortable breathing and to avoid any possibility of suffocation, always leave the zipper open at least six inches."

The bivy came with its own stuff sack. The sack itself is constructed of the same fabric as the bivy bottom. There is also a nylon cinch cord and cordlock to close the sack. On the exterior of the sack, running down the length of the sack, the company name, logo, and model are silk-screened in white.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Small, compact, and lightweight were my first impressions. The bivy was folded and rolled into the provided storage sack along with a heavy plastic bag.

I inspected the bivy for any loose threads, fabric snags, broken seams, etc. I also ran the zipper open and closed several times. It worked smoothly. However, I was somewhat disappointed by the screen zipper pulls, as they are single-sided and nearly impossible to operate from outside the bivy. The fabrics used in the construction of the bivy are supple, appear to be of high quality, and are a great color combination. The bivy appears to be of very high quality construction and does not appear to have any defects. The bivy is exactly as I had envisioned, with the exception of the flap opening control.

INITIAL TESTING:

After thoroughly inspecting the bivy, I set it up. I had difficulty removing the no-see-um mesh from the bivy. The zipper has single-sided pulls which face the interior of the bivy. After removing the netting, I had difficulty inserting the longer of the two poles in the sleeve running along the zipper casing. The difficulty was due to the short radius of the 180-degree bend that forms the shape of the lid entrance flap. However, I was able to easily insert the shorter pole to create the arch at the head.

Once set up, I placed a self-inflating sleeping pad in the bivy along with a down-filled sleeping bag. Next, I crawled inside the bivy. Entry is via a slithering motion as one slides in the bivy. Once inside, I zipped it up. The zippers worked smoothly. I also moved the entrance flap to various positions. The flap opening really has no adjustment or position control so it flops down wherever it wants. It did not operate precisely as shown in the instruction sheet. Inside the bivy, all zippers were easier to operate than they were when I was outside the bivy.

The white-colored liner helps reduce the closed-in feeling. In addition, it allows light to penetrate through the fabric.

MY INITIAL LIKES:

the Gore-Tex fabric
headroom
lightweight
compact

MY INITIAL DISLIKES:

zipper configuration
lack of control over positioning of entrance flap

PROPOSED TEST PLAN

The items I plan to evaluate during this test include:

· Overall Quality of Materials and Workmanship
· Comfort
· Fit
· Function
· Durability

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the Advanced Bivy solo shelter system.

Scott Wasley


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mid December, I spent the night in the bivy near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Idaho Falls has an elevation of 4,700 ft (1,433 m) above sea level. The skies were cloudy and snowing, winds were about 25 mph (40 kph) and the overnight low was 15 F (-9 C). I used my Kelty Foraker 15F (-9 C) sleeping bag in the bivy on this occasion.

Finally, in late December I spent another night in the bivy. This time, I was near Little Elk Creek near Palisades, Idaho at approximately 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level. The sky was again cloudy, but there was no precipitation this night. The winds were calm and the overnight low temperature was 20 F (-7 C). I also used my Kelty Foraker sleeping bag in the bivy on this occasion as well.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On the night I spent in the bivy near Idaho Falls, Idaho I awoke several times in the night to turn over. I could feel an occasional breeze across my face allowing fresh air, which allowed me not to feel claustrophobic. I slept in the bivy with the flap door fully shut, but not zipped all the way closed (50% open). Several times during the night I awoke and felt the bivy ceiling area for condensation, I was totally amazed there was absolutely no condensation, with the exception of the overhead pole arch sleeve. At this sleeve area there are several layer of fabric for the pole and that explains why it was wet in that area. When I got up I checked the foot box also for condensation, none was found, this Gore-Tex fabric is totally amazing, I have tried other bivys and solo shelters utilizing single wall design and there was always condensation. It was very comfortable and the white fabric actually illuminates the inside even in the dark and I did not feel claustrophobic at all. When I got in the bivy to go to sleep the wind was blowing quite hard and I had some concerns about the fabric flapping all night keeping me awake. But the bivy is small enough that there is very little wind effect, and flapping of the fabric was very minimal. The zipper functions pretty well once it passes the pole area. When I disassembled the sleeping system, much to my surprise, there was a fair amount of condensation between the pad and floor of the bivy. I just let it freeze and brushed it off, no big deal. It was actually kind of like sleeping in a cocoon all snugly but I did not feel restricted at all.

On my last outing of the Field Test period, the bivy slept well, protected me from dew frost and breathed very well. I slept with the zipper open about a foot, which allowed fresh air to come in, but not enough to make it too cold. Again, the white inside fabric helped to brighten things up, making it easier to see in the dark, especially when a flashlight was used. The fabric allowed the light to reflect off the white surface. As was the case before, the zipper was a little tough to get past the pole area on either side of the bivy, but once past that it went smoothly. In the morning I felt the ceiling for condensation and found a fair amount along the pole sleeve, but other places on the ceiling were dry. The bivy is certainly not for comfort sleeping, as I was restricted with headspace, which made it hard to comfortably read a book or magazine, but would be great when a lightweight shelter is needed and comfort is not such a big concern.


IMAGE 1
Bivy at Palisades

SUMMARY

Overall, I am pleased with the design, quality, and performance of the OR Advanced Bivy thus far. After experiencing two nights in this bivy, I have noticed that condensation problems are minimal.

After my two outings with this bivy I have not noticed any issues with the zippers, poles, or snagging of the fabrics. However, I have been less pleased with how well the hood flap stays in position between fully opened and fully closed. I will continue to monitor this during the Long Term phase of this test.

My Likes Thus Far:
Lightweight
Breathability
Bright white interior

My Dislikes Thus Far:
Operation of the hood flap
Zipper issues at intersection with the two poles

This concludes my Field Report. My Long-Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the Advanced Bivy.

Scott Wasley


LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Locations and Conditions:

In early March, I spent another night in the bivy near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Idaho Falls has an elevation of 4,700 ft (1,433 m) above sea level. The skies were cloudy and snowing, winds were about 20 mph (32 kph) and the overnight low was 25 F (-4 C). However, inside the bivy, the overnight low temperature was 35 F (2 C). The sky was cloudy and there was a light snowfall.

In April, I spent two more nights in the bivy. I was near Palisades, Idaho at approximately 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level. The sky was again cloudy, but there was no precipitation these nights. The winds were calm and the overnight low temperature was 40 F (4 C).

Observations:

Once again I am totally amazed by the lack of condensation inside the bivy. I slept with the flap/hood closed all the way and zipped up all but the recommended 6 in (15 cm). When I went to sleep, there was no snow accumulated on the ground, but it was spitting new flakes. Prior to going to sleep I was able to read a book with my headlamp. The white scrim cloth fabric in the inside of the bivy continues to reflect light very well. This made reading very easy.

The wind blew all night. Consequently, I awoke several times in the night as the wind blew. The bivy did not flap in the wind. However, I could feel a slight breeze over my face occasionally. During the night and when I woke up the bivy was not wet or damp inside or outside. I was quite comfortable inside the bivy.

On my March outing, one of the pole ends on the right side [the 6 in (15 cm) pole with thee male part of a large snap at one end] kept coming unsnapped from the bivy. This resulted in the bivy collapsing on my face several times during the night. I am not sure why the snap failed so many times on this outing. It may have been due to the fact that the pole was not completely centered in the bivy's sleeve and was therefore tighter on one side. Regardless, it was frustrating trying to correct the problem in the dark. I believe Outdoor Research would do well to consider a different design in this area. For example, a standard tent pole attachment configuration (webbing and grommets) may work well for the overhead pole.

On my last night in the bivy, I tried it without the poles. The bivy worked well as a sleeping bag protector envelope. The zipper functioned very well without the poles. This configuration allows one to reduce the overall weight they carry, but is probably best for mild weather.

After being stored in its stuff sack for any length of time, the shape of the plastic piping around the hood / zipper area becomes somewhat distorted. Consequently, the piping does not readily maintain its original designed shape. After several hours, in a warm environment, the piping eventually returns to its intended shape. I therefore do not believe the bivy should be stored in its stuff sack for extended periods of time.

It is hard for me to say whether the foot vent really worked. As there was minimal condensation, the foot vent either worked very well, or it was not needed at all. Because I tested the bivy during cold, wet, winter months, there was not an opportunity for me to test the zip-in insect netting system.


Summary:

After spending multiple nights in the bivy there is minimal room inside the bivy, but I am not a person that has issues with claustrophobic feelings. I am very impressed with the breathability of the Gore-Tex fabric. Although the zipper is a little cumbersome and hard to get past the pole area as described earlier, it continued to operate smoothly. The seams and seam tape remain tight, and there are no signs of fraying fabric. The fabric coating also remains intact. Overall, I would recommend this bivy to anyone looking for this type of shelter.

My Likes:

· Lightweight
· Outstanding Breathability
· Bright white interior

My Dislikes:

· Operation of the hood flap
· Pole and attachment points
· Zipper issues at intersection with the two poles

This concludes my Test Series. I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the Advanced Bivy.

Scott Wasley

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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