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  • Andy Rad
    Owner Review: REI Minimalist Bivy Date: March 29, 2005 Manufacturer Name: REI Website: http://www.rei.com Product Information Manufacturer: REI Model:
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2005
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      Owner Review: REI Minimalist Bivy

      Date: March 29, 2005

      Manufacturer Name: REI
      Website: http://www.rei.com
      Product Information
      Manufacturer: REI
      Model: Minimalist Bivy
      Year of Manufacture: 2003
      Color: Red & Black
      Size: N/A
      Dimensions: 88 x 31 in (223 x 79 cm)
      MSRP: $89.00 (US)
      Listed Weight: 17.0 oz (482 g )
      Measured Weight: 17.3 oz (490 g)

      Product Description

      The REI Minimalist Bivy is constructed from their proprietary 2 ply
      waterproof-breathable laminate on top (the red fabric in the photo)
      which they call REI Elements®, and polyurethane coated nylon on the
      bottom. The unit is factory seam sealed and has an integrated mesh
      face/hood to keep the bugs at bay. There are a total of six zipper
      sliders, thus allowing several combinations of entry and usability.
      The total zipper track is 90 in (230 cm) and extends from mid-way
      down one side, up around the hood opening, and to mid-way down the
      other side. This allows the unit to be opened for easy top entry by
      folding the top down, or from the side by opening either side.
      Because of the unique zipper configuration the user can sit in the
      bivy and fix a meal by partially opening the hood area (2 top zippers
      pulled down to neck level), and positioning the remaining 4 zippers
      to allow arm exits. In essence turning the bivy into a sort of rain

      The mesh bug panel extends from shoulders to top of head and can be
      rolled down and secured out of the way under the chin. There is a
      built in rain gutter over the zippers from mid section to hood
      opening, across the chest/hood opening, and back down to opposite mid

      Field Test Results

      First let me clarify that I'm not a heavy user of bivy sacks, but for
      a few summer nights a year. This is my second bivy, with the first
      being a total GORE-TEX unit I sewed up about 15 years ago. I
      replaced my home-made unit in 2003 when I got tired of rain water
      running into the hood opening, additionally the REI unit was a little

      The chest/hood gutter is the primary reason I replaced my home-made
      unit, because my unit allowed pooled water to run into the hood
      opening. REI's rain gutter allows me to just shelter my head and any
      rain that pools is directed toward the sides. If the rain is light,
      I find that sleeping under a tree is sufficient, and only on one
      occasion have I had to suspend my rain jacket over my face to keep

      That brings up the issue of condensation, and it can be heavy inside
      the bivy. This is especially troublesome when I'm not able to
      adequately expel my breath as when under a rain jacket. Even when
      adequately expelling my breath and consciously making sure that every
      time I turn over I'm freely venting out the mesh I will get
      condensation. If ambient conditions are moist as in heavy dew, fog,
      or rain; condensation can be so heavy that I'll have water running
      down the inside of the bivy next to my feet where the sleeping bag
      has not contacted. In dry conditions condensation is not noticeable,
      and then the bivy's purpose is that of a bug nest.

      For those that have never slept in a bivy, it is a bitter sweet
      situation. On one hand you have a very open view of the area, ability
      to see the night sky, watch the sun come up, and a light weight
      shelter. On the other hand, mosquitoes can be a very real nuisance,
      and don't believe anyone that indicates they sleep during the night.
      I always bring a pair of ear-plugs to keep down the mosquito buzz
      during bad situations, and sometimes I wear a a brimmed hat in the
      bivy to distance the netting away from my face. Sleeping with a hat
      can be a little bothersome, but in a few cases it was the only thing
      keeping those little devils from biting.

      Generally I only bring a small piece of Dupont Tyvex® for a ground
      cloth to cover up a sharp object or to sit on. In the picture above,
      I was on a summit and knew the sleeping area would be sharp rocks,
      thus a full piece of Tyvex®. As for a sleeping pad, I keep mine
      inside the bivy, and it does require a little shifting if I roll over
      and want to keep the bivy oriented so that I'm freely breathing out
      of the mesh opening.

      A note to those new to a bivy; they can be hot due to trapped
      air/moisture. If the bivy is opened to breath and bugs are around,
      expect them to become bed partners. That also means that a lighter
      weight bag can be utilized, thus saving weight and pack space. As
      for me, I limit their use to short weekend treks where there is
      little chance of night time rain, and not an abundance of mosquitoes.


      *Light weight
      *Open night time view
      *Small pack size


      Tester Information & Background

      Name: Andy Rad
      Gender: Male
      Age: 47
      Height: 6 ft (1.83 m)
      Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
      Email: aisrad@...

      I started backpacking 21 years ago, mostly 3-day trips with at least
      one 7-day trip per year. By backpacking, I'm referring to summer,
      winter camping, and fall hunting. About half my trips are light
      weight solo and the other half with my family. I own a llama that
      was purchased when my 3rd child was 2, some 10 years ago. This
      allowed me to continue backpacking as a family activity. When I'm
      not with the family/llama I tend to take less-traveled trails or
      bushwhack the hard mountainous terrain in and around Idaho. In
      recent years I've begun substituting a collie for the llama. The
      majority of my trips are in central Idaho, with a few into northern
      Idaho, eastern Idaho, and eastern Oregon.
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