Survival kits and Bivvy bags

16 May 2018 12:48 #73503 by Adventurekim.com
Hi guys

Would be interested in what you guys would consider the important bits to go into your outdoor, survival kit. What works and what doesn't.

Who uses bivvy bags - are they helpful or waste of money - does anyone use them instead of the traditional sleeping bag? Advantages/disadvantages vs Bivvy and sleeping bag. Which one do you prefer the sleeping bag type or the one with the poles to elevate the area around the head making a little "tent". Where in SA can you buy one?

Many thanks.

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16 May 2018 13:49 #73504 by ghaznavid
Items I always carry (even on day hikes):
- Fleece
- Rain coat
- Bivy bag
- Towel (long story why, but the answer is 42)
- Headlamp with spare batteries
- Camera with spare batteries
- Hiking phone (full charged and off - cheap R100 phone with 5 days battery life)
- First aid kit (just plasters, antiseptic cream and a bandage)
- And obviously food and water
- 2-4 buffs, or 2 buffs and a balaclava (buffs make amazing gloves and are lighter than actual gloves)
- Sunscreen

For overnight hikes I add - when my new gear arrives, this additional gear will be down to 1kg + food:
- More food
- Sleeping bag
- Air mat

I own 2 bivy bags - one overpriced Black Diamond one that I used twice and will never use again, and a really cheap one from the UK that has worked really well. I have spent a few nights out with just a bivy bag and no sleeping bag (never by plan), and can confirm it is not fun - not something I would do by choice.

The mini-tent type bivies are usually as heavy as a full tent, so not much point in those.
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16 May 2018 16:17 #73507 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Survival kits and Bivvy bags
Kim,

Minimum stuff for me is:
- Down sleeping bag, -10deg (had to use it in Dec, weather can turn quickly on a 4 day hike, we had from 39 deg to me shivering in my down jacket with an outer shell on this occasion)
- Down jacket (see point above)
- Breathable but waterproof outer shell
- Shelter of some sorts (tent or bivvy).
- Enough food

The above would make sure you don't die in the berg, even in really bad weather.

Regarding bivvy vs sleeping bag, I think you are comparing apples with oranges here. You should be comparing bivvies and/or survival bags with tents or tarps. All of these are shelters, which a sleeping bag is not. A bivvy will make for a warmer night when used with a sleeping bag as it keeps wind chill down.

So, bivvies vs tents. Mmmhh. My take on it (others may differ). Bivvies are lighter, takes up way less space and are super versatile - you can sleep in it in a footpath on a steep slope (NOT a clever idea, just illustrating the point). Downsides are that if you are caught in a rainstorm, you will have to eat, cook etc outside in the rain. The bell of a tent is MUCH more user friendly in this case. Also, bivvies do suffer from condensation issues - period. Some less, some more, but it will always be more of an issue when compared to tents. My RAB Alpine bivvy uses an E-vent upper which is super breathable, but I find that when I am completely enclosed I still get condensation around my chest area.

On the other hand, outside of summer (i.e. rain) I love them! I find that wind can be a bit of an issue in winter, buy you can always put your hiking pack near your head to break some of the wind. All your gear will be left outside, so this could be a bit of a concern. I find bivvies best for caves, where in summer it makes your sleeping bag splash proof at the cave entrance if it rains (and yes, it generally does), and in winter it works better than a bag liner to keep you warmer.

For me I therefore generally use a tent in summer and in the non-raining seasons the bivvies with tarp (spring and autumn, when the winds are not high). If I know I'm spending time in caves I'll also just take the bivvy.

Doesn't bother me if the material is touching my face, but those little flap bivvies certainly works better for some folk. Personal preference. I think they mainly use those where mozzies etc. are a problem.
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16 May 2018 16:18 #73508 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Survival kits and Bivvy bags
Where to buy them?

Mountain mail order, Drifters. More your specialist hiking/climbing stores.
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16 May 2018 20:49 #73512 by Herman
Replied by Herman on topic Survival kits and Bivvy bags
I'm wondering - have you guys used a bivvy on the little Berg? I'm taking some friends and family up to the Cathedral shoulder this weekend. The weather seems ok, so I would like to take my bivvy. But we'll probably be spending the first night on the little Berg just past Shermans cave. I'm wondering whether all the "life" in the grass (spiders, ticks, possibly the odd Berg adder) like bivvy bags?

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17 May 2018 07:52 #73513 by ghaznavid
I have bivied in the open in a the small berg quite a few times (over 10), never had a problem with animals. Notably I have had ticks in my tent, and Cycad Cave was full of fleas - so its not like the other options are immune to that.
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18 May 2018 15:12 #73521 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Survival kits and Bivvy bags
@Herman,

Never had any issues with bugs, spiders, snakes etc. in my bivvy.
Biggest issue is condensation, but if your mouth stays outside the bag then it's fine.
Some bags cover your face with netting, in these you will guaranteed not have a problem - not sure what type of bivvy you have.
Anyway, temps are dropping so critters are not roaming around at night
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21 May 2018 16:07 #73525 by Adventurekim.com
fantastic thank you guys for the great feed back, much appreciate it!

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22 May 2018 08:36 #73530 by Adventurekim.com
The air mats you and Kelly used recently were incredible, especially Kelly's, and lightweight - definitely on my list! Thanks for the info. Looking for some ideas to get my pack as light as possible as the old back injury is really slowing me down as the old age creeps in and I was a little jealous that your packs were so much lighter than my 14kg, a lot better than the first time my son and I attempted Mafadi, my pack was a ridiculous 22kg as Wendy and Ian will tell you when they first met Jordan and I. Packing for Kili/Elbrus you have the luxury of having porters or leaving your stuff in huts, as with other slack packing trips but back packing in the Berg is a whole new ball game and takes far more precise planning. Have learnt the hard way so it is really a privilege to be able to get some feedback and from the "old guard"

My biggest challenge currently is my first aid kit, being an advanced life support paramagic my jump-bag weights 30kg and has 40 different drugs in it, add to that my ECG monitor 25kg, oxygen and airway bag 6kg, fanny bag 1kg and without all our box of tricks to intubate and shove tubes down and into any orifice we find or make one we feel a little handicapped! a simple band-aid does not cut it. Some of that initial 22kg - I even had a flippen IV and drip and some drugs for just in case, but have abandoned that! Ian has put a great first aid kit together. Want to perfect by pack to a max of 9kg, so work in progress.

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22 May 2018 08:44 #73533 by Adventurekim.com
thanks, Riaang - I have a bit of an over kill -20 sleeping down bag that the Millers have nicknamed by bombshelter, so I am with you on that one. The snow rats in the upper Injisuthi cave also appreciated my sleeping bag and slept on top of me during the night! Looking to buy a lighter one for the berg.

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