Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > The Gear and Tool Review Board

One Person Bivy-Cheap


     I usually have a bottom limit on price vs. quality when it comes to items that might be critical in an expanded BOB. I have usually gone to tarps and a mosquito net for quick shelter for a limited time. I recently pulled the trigger on a one person tent/bivy. I liked the design and the fact that it was a "light earth" color (although with some yellow accents at the ends. I gave those a quick dusting with some camo earth color, enough to blend it in. The kicker is that it cost 25 bucks at Walmart. Yes I know that Walmart is the "Great Satan" of retailing, but.....
     Anyway the closest thing to it was a Eureka one man for 90 bucks, at Gander, but that whole thing was bright yellow. The setup is easy; a segmented "hoop" at each end producing an ironic "coffin" tapered floorplan about 3' X 7'. The material is nylon and uses no fly. There is a large, awninged vent at the foot and a semi-circle door at the wide end. All are screened and there is a zippered "door". It has a surprising amount of room. The floor takes four "pins" to stake out the floor and two in front and one in back to tension the length. Seven stakes total. It does need to be seam sealed by the purchaser.
     I bought it because it was cheap, quick to setup, incorporated both a shelter from the weather and bugs (a real problem here in Summer), and it weighs about three pounds (rolls up small too). The fiberglass "wands" are a little longer and might not fit inside a "daypack" size bag. The stitching looks good, the pitch was tight. It could maybe use "pullouts" on the sides at some point and I think this can be done with adhesive patches and nylon loops. Have to think on that.
     Don't get me wrong, this is not a North Face four season shelter. For 25 bucks I think it is a good deal and definitely a step up from an emergency Mylar bivy. There is room to move around a little inside, read or fix a broken whatever. You would want, of course, a ground pad (I have been experimenting with a 1/4" yoga mat, also at Walmart) as a minimal insulator and a fleece or woobie. It would provide shelter from the weather (within reason I think), keep bugs out (replacing a mosquito net) and help contain a little warmth. I don't know how it would fare in the long run, but for a couple of nights, it should be OK. I haven't given it a test sleep yet, but will get back with what I find out.

Sounds reasonable.  What would you think about not touching up the “off” color in the material but keeping a flat earth tone spray can available in the BoB?  My reason for asking is there might be situations where you would want to be seen/found.  A bit of color could come in handy for searchers.  Other situations would argue against that.  In those cases you could tone down the color and use other materials to further blend in your shelter.

     I try to keep things that are "external" subdued. My various bags are black and could pass for a student's book bag (students seem to trudge along under great loads of stuff in book bags that we would have called backpacks for an Everest expedition). I'm pretty sure I could walk the Mall with my three day bag and not get much notice. My seven day bag is larger as is my three week bag, but those would be more for an emergency situation, still they don't scream "tactical". All of my bags (and smaller pocket kits) have signalling devices. A mirror and a loud whistle are basic, as is a flashlight of some sort and at least two means of making fire.
Signalling for help can be a night time thing, so a light or signal fire are also a good bet.
    Most kits have at least one chemical light stick. When they are whirled around on a length of cord, they make a large glowing circle of colored light to catch an air search planes attention. Most of my kits also have a section of a blaze orange plastic sheet. These are cut from orange shopping bags that some stores use. They are large bags and make an approximately 3' x 3' signal panel that could be waved on a long stick to attract attention. Being waterproof, it could also wrap up items that you want to keep dry, like clothing or foraged items. They could also make a "rain catch" to collect water.
     The larger kits all have three, single use hand held signal flares, the type that project a red flare a couple of hundred feet into the air. Three of anything out of the ordinary is a universal distress sign. Some of the kits have a sixty second, orange ground smoke signal. At times I've included a cut down highway flare (be sure to keep the half with the igniter). These red flares are intense, will burn for a couple of minutes, could be attached to a pole and waved, and in the worst of conditions will start just about anything on fire. Most camping outfitters carry the arial flares and smoke signals.
     All of this stuff will easily fit in a one quart Ziplock with room to spare. Yes, they do add some weight, but if you are concerned about rescue signalling, it's probably worth it. However, every kit should always have a mirror and whistle. By the way, an old CD disc makes great lightweight and free signal mirror.
     All of this signalling stuff, used to be found by rescuers, is balanced off by a "blend in" exterior, in the case that you would rather not attract attention. That way the choice is yours, depending on the situation. Just some thoughts; everyone does what they think will work for them.

    So, you seem to get what you paid for. I haven't had time to seam seamseal this thing yet (it's been raining and I need to set the tent up with a tight pitch). I watched some YouTube vids reviewing this item and they were very negative. The tent topside seams are apparently "taped" but the seam running around the bottom isn't. In the vid, rainwater leaked in around the floor form these seams (light rain, fair amount of water). Also, it was mentioned that there was a great deal of inner condensation, due to it being a single wall tent. With a large front, screened door and a rear screened window, I found this troubling.
     I've slept in single wall tents and If the screened opening are not left open, you will get condensation inside. These types of tents need good ventilation to avoid this problem. The "overhang" above the front door is small and in a rain (maybe with wind) I can see where the door would need to be zipped up a bit to avoid rain coming in. The rear "window" has an ample overhang. Sleeping in this type of tent with it closed up will lead to much condensation, that's a given.
     It definitely needs good seam sealing with an after market product, especially around the floor seams. The tent itself is apparently quite waterproofed as in the vids, rain had pooled in a low spot of the "roof" and not leaked through. A tight pitch is necessary to avoid low spots in the "roof".
     The YouTubers gave it a thumbs down, but did say that for $24 and 3 lbs. it is what it is; an inexpensive, lightweight, temporary shelter, bugproof, that with some aftermarket sealing would work as an emergency one person bivy, for the short term. it is not a "base camp" tent. What it is not is a "bombproof" out of the box, ready to go, top of the line, long term shelter. My reason for considering a $24 gamble is that in season, a temporary shelter needs to be bug proof. Mosquitoes are a real nuisance and we live in a tick infested area. I have suffered with Lymes Disease for two years in the past as a result of a tick bite; not a good thing. My current kits (with the exception of my "INCH" bag, include tarps to make shelter and separate mosquito netting. Making a suitable overnight shelter with this tarp rig takes time and and you are basically still sleeping on the ground. I have a netted, hammock and rainfly rig, but you need to find two suspension points (trees) and there's lots more weight and bulk.
     So, the bottom line, for me is that for my three day Get Back Home bag, I think it will replace the tarp and netting. I have a lightweight rain poncho that could be thrown over the front door awning to help with the "overhang" issue. I'll know for sure once I seam seal the heck out of it, and set up in a rain storm. By the way, I've switched from that foil laminated "bubble wrap" insulation material as a ground pad, to a length of thin, closed cell "yoga mat" from Walmart. Neither is for comfort, but to insulate from the ground. The yoga mat rolls up smaller and seems more durable.


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