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Tour Divide Gear: Tarp + bug bivy

June 9, 2010

When considering what shelter to bring on the Tour Divide, weight, flexibility, and volume were my primary concerns. Tarptents are great, but the one person version weighs only a little bit less than the two person version, so that wasn’t good. Many riders bring some kind of bivy sack, but I sleep warm and hate bugs, so I couldn’t see how that would work out well. For the same reason, just a tarp wouldn’t work. I had toyed with the idea of making a modified tarptent similar to what we used on the PCT, but sized just for me. However, sewing that piece was a ton of annoying work and I wasn’t motivated to take on that project.

So, I decided to bring a tarp and a bug bivy. The tarp is pretty simple: two pieces of catenary cut silnylon with tie out reinforcements and two little 1/2″ grosgrain loops for hanging the bug bivy. Normal people would simply have bought the buy bivy from Mountain Laurel Designs, but their product claims to fit people up to 6′-4″. As I’m 6′-6″, clearly that wasn’t going to be comfy, so I looked closely at the pictures of their product and did my best to knock it off, but 6″ longer. It worked just fine.

The photos here show the two elements set up together and with some garden stakes in the backyard. It sets up fine with the bike’s front wheel at the low end, and the bike at the high end. This setup will also be fabulous for hiking on the AT or LT, since buggy shelters are common, but setting up your tent in the shelter is a major no-no.  The materials weren’t particularly expensive, and the sewing was pretty straightforward.  Of course, having sewn a more complicated tent in the past helped.  If money was no object, getting a custom sized Cuben fiber tarp from MLD, with the bivy loops in the ridge, would be expensive, but lighter by a couple of ounces.

With any luck my ride will be dry and bug-free!

Tarp
1.1 oz/yd silnylon, gray
9′-2″ long, 6′-10″ wide at head, 4′-2″ wide at foot
catenary cut ridgeline
tie points reinforced with 1.5″ grosgrain tape
Liteline Guyline
7.6 ounces

Bug Bivy
0.7 oz/yd Nanoseeum netting
1.1 oz/yd silnylon floor, black
56″ #3 YKK coil zipper at ridge
7.0 ounces

4 Titanium stakes

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 10:18 PM

    This is great stuff. Can’t wait to read some more from you.

  2. December 4, 2013 12:41 AM

    I used a foam pad for a long time, but bring a bivy now. I like having the bivy because I can throw it in the pack (with sleeping bag) anytime I head out from camp and if I get on game and don’t want to hike back to camp I can stay wherever I end up. The protection of the bag is an extra bonus. The bivy is also going to add a few degrees extra in your sleeping bag and that’s another added bonus.

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