Re: OWNER REVIEW-Black Diamond Lightsabre Bivy
- This is indeed my first bivy. Your comments are valuable and plan on making many of the
changes you suggest. I may not be able to comment much about the intricacies of the
material (I'm not as knowledgeable in this area), other than how well it performed. I'll
make the changes as soon as I can, but that may not be for a day or so given my schedule.
I may just have to meld yours and the official editor's comments together.
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "jeremiahs_mtn" <jeremiahs_mtn@y...>
> I liked your review of the Black Diamond Lightsabre Bivy so much that
> I could not help but get more involved with it. I am NOT an official
> editor, but I am exercising my option to edit any posted review as
> outlined in the Survival Guide, so consider all of my edits to be
> optional (and ideally, to your advantage). The goal of any editing
> is to improve the product, and that is what I have tried to do here.
> Some edits (e.g., metric values) will definitely have to be made, but
> others are to challenge you to improve your description and reporting
> of the bivy's performance (if this is your first bivy sack then some
> of my edits regarding comparisons to other styles of bivy sack may
> not be possible). If you decide to make any changes to your OR
> before an official editor edits it, then post it back to the group
> as "REVISED OR Black Diamond Lightsabre Bivy". Thanks for sharing
> your experience with the Lightsabre.
> -Jeremiah Kost
> Fellow OR Submitter
> BLACK DIAMOND LIGHTSABRE BIVY
> >>>edit: below your title add: Owner Review
> >>>edit: below Owner Review add: the date
> Name: Dan Feldman
> Age: 28
> Height: 5'11"
> Weight: 170lbs
> >>>edit: need metrics for height & weight
> email: podin04@
> Residence: Washington, DC
> Date: 29 November, 2005
> >>>edit: I'd eliminate this date & just go with the one above.
> Favorite Quote: "It would surpass the powers of a well man nowadays to
> take up his bed and walk, and I should certainly advise a sick one to
> lay down his bed and run."-Thoreau
> I consider myself somewhat of a backpacking fanatic. I completed a
> southbound thru-hike of the AT in 2002. I try to do one middle-
> trip a year (50-100 miles) and usually hike in the summer. I was most
> >>>edit: need metric for distance
> >>>edit: I try to do one middle-distance trip each year of about 50-
> 100 miles (80-160 km) . . .
> recently in Pisgah national Forest in NC for an 85 mile solo trip. I
> >>>edit: 85-mile
> consider myself a light weight backpacker. My pack weight ranges
> >>>edit: lightweight
> 15-25lbs. A 7-day summer trip I packed for recently had me at a 30lb.
> pack weight with food and water.
> >>>edit: need metric for pack weight and a space between 25 & lb
> I coordinate a wilderness backpacking program for disabled teens
> through the Sierra Club Inner City Outings program
> http://www.sierraclub.org/ico/dc/. I'm hoping to delve into some
> winter backpacking this year.
> Product Specs:
> Manufacturer: Black Diamond
> Year of Purchase: 2003
> Currently manufactured? Yes
> Warranty: 1 year limited
> Manufacturer URL: http://www.bdel.com
> Listed weight, with poles: 1lb, 4oz
> Listed Dimensions: 94"x35"x25"
> >>>edit: need metrics for weight & dimensions
> >>>edit: might consider 20 oz vs. 1 lb 4 oz (note space between # &
> Weight and Dimensions as delivered: same
> Sleeps: 1
> Poles: 2 DAC Featherlite
> Body Material: EPIC and SilNylon
> Time to Pitch: 1-2 min (with practice!)
> Factory Sealed? No
> Can I stuff it in a standard Nalgene bottle? You bet
> TESTING CONDITIONS
> I have used the Lightsabre during the summer and early fall. I've
> it to the White Mountain National Forest in NH, Caribou-Speckled
> Mountain Wilderness in ME, the Mahoosuc range/AT in Maine, Pisgah
> National Forest in North Carolina, and Shenandoah National Park in VA.
> Temperatures have ranged from the low 50s to 70s at night with
> to moderate rain and clear nights. I slept one night under modest
> >>>edit: how do you define "moderate rain"? can you approximate
> amount & duration?
> winds atop Tennent Mountain in NC. I have not exposed the bivy to snow
> or strong winds. I've camped mostly on surfaces that are mixes of
> dirt, low roots, pine needles, pebbles. I've spent a few nights on
> >>>edit: pine needles, and pebbles.
> grass and one on a tent platform. I have not slept on rock.
> WHY THE LIGHTSABRE?
> I began looking for a 1 person shelter in preparation for a solo
> >>>edit: 1-person
> backpacking trip in western Maine in 2003. I was interested first and
> foremost in a lightweight, durable shelter, with price as a secondary
> consideration. I needed a shelter with a pole structure as I do not
> carry trekking poles and some places I plan to hike in the future do
> not have a lot of trees (so no hammock). The lightsabre seemed a
> >>>edit: Lightsabre (capitalize)
> perfect fit and I made the purchase over the internet at the company's
> website. I do not remember what I paid for it, but the bivy currently
> sells for $185 US.
> The Lightsabre came with two poles, a stuff sack, SilNet seam sealer
> with application syringe, and a manual. There is an optional footprint
> that I chose to forgo. Unpitched, the shape of the lightsabre is
> >>>edit: Without the poles installed, the shape . . .
> >>>edit: Lightsabre
> rectangular. The bivy tapers slightly at the foot and forms a triangle
> at the head. The bivy is yellow with an olive green base. The Black
> Diamond name and logo are placed tastefully on either side of the
> Four zippers run in parallel across the head and course along the
> >>>edit: Two zipper tracks each with a double zipper run . . .
> ending approximately 2/3 down the length of the bivy. Two of the
> zippers are for an inner bug net and the other two open a panel
> >>>edit: One zipper track is for the inner bug net . . .
> >>>edit: . . . the other zipper track opens a panel . . .
> situated directly above the bug net in the main fabric of the tent and
> allow access to the outside. The double zipper design allows both
> panels to be opened and closed from a variety of locations. Two small
> loops are attached to the body of the tent, allowing the user to roll
> up the unzipped panels. There are two nylon loops attached at the
> and back of the bivy for staking.
> >>>edit: aren't there a total of six tie out loops, with two being
> in the shoulder area?
> The bivy reqires two poles. The main pole is horseshoe shaped and runs
> >>>edit: requires (spelling)
> across the width of the head. It attaches to metal grommets located on
> either side of the tent. A second pole runs from a sturdy pocket
> >>>edit: . . . side of the bivy.
> inside the apex of the bivy's head up along the length of the bivy to
> single grommet which intersects with the first pole at the bivy's
> midline. This is a little bit tricky to picture in 3D, so check the
> website for a good picture: http://www.bdel.com/gear/lightsabre.php.
> >>>edit: a link like this one may very likely change in the future,
> so it is best to just suggest visiting the Black Diamond site or
> simply supplying the main link (http://www.bdel.com)
> Both poles fold up to a very manageable size and I normally carry them
> inside my internal frame backpack (Granite Gear vapor Trail). Pitched,
> the tent's head is raised 25 inches from the ground and the material
> the head is held stiffly by the poles. A small awning extends forward
> over the zippered panel entrance to provide additional protection from
> the elements. The rest of the tent is loose and lays on top of your
> sleeping bag. The interior of the tent is non-decript. Black Diamond
> >>>edit: non-descript (Spelling)
> saves weight by eliminating needless pouches and pockets found on most
> The bivy is constructed of SilNylon and EPIC fabric. The 2 poles are
> DAC featherlites. The materials are described on Black Diamond's
> >>>edit: Featherlites (Capitalize)
> "EPIC Fabric by Nextec
> EPIC by Nextec® is constructed by silicon-encapsulating individual
> fibers, making it breathable and extremely lightweight. EPIC offers
> better protection than DWR-treated fabrics that wash out over time and
> is more breathable than PU coatings or PTFE laminates including
> Gore-Tex, Conduit SL and Pertex®. EPIC is excellent for use in tents
> when heavy condensation is an issue and during rain and snow showers.
> SilNylon Fabric
> SilNylon is a silicone-coated ripstop nylon that is twice as strong as
> high quality polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon. At two-thirds the
> weight of PU-coated ripstop, SilNylon offers excellent
> strength-to-weight ratio. SilNylon is waterproof, resilient in its
> durability and is very resistant to degradation over time.
> DAC Poles
> DAC Featherlite tent poles are used in our Superlight Series and work
> to inherently improve a tent's strength-to-weight ratio while
> the least chance of breakage because there are no glued inserts. Their
> sleeved and structurally sound connecting pole sections eliminate
> weakest link, glued pole inserts, reducing weight by 15 % over other
> commonly-used aluminum poles."
> INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
> My very first reactions to the bivy were excitement and wonder after
> feeling how light it felt in my hands. EPIC fabric is very soft and
> thin. Small, barely visible squares cross the fabric. The bivy can
> fold up as a comfy pillow if I want and doesn't have that
> characteristic cold crinkle sound that most tents have when
> My initial elation quickly turned into frustration when I attempted to
> set up the tent for the first time. Possessing a Y chromosome, I first
> tried to set up the tent without reading the instructions. After a few
> failures, I consulted the manual. After several more failures, I
> STUDIED the manual and the rather vague pictures included. After 6 or
> 7 tries, the bivy was up and I crawled in. Getting into the bivy is a
> bit of a trick. You have to unzip the double zippers (opening both the
> bug netting and the outer panel) and go in feet first, then hunker
> a bit and recline into the bivy. Once inside, the Lightsabre is
> >>>edit: how does entry compare to that of a traditional bivy where
> the entrance is near the end and one has to squirm feet-first for the
> entire length? Or the bivy with the side zip that allows the bivy
> top to be peeled off to the side? Is there an advantage to this mid-
> entry design?
> suprisingly spacious and doesn't feel restricting, something I feared
> >>>edit: surprisingly (Spelling)
> when opting for a bivy. While I can't sit fully upright with the bivy
> closed, I can come up on my elbows and there's plenty of room to shift
> and roll. With the bivy unzipped, I can sit up outside the bivy with
> my legs and feet still inside to eat or stargaze. There is enough
> space for a full-length ground pad (I normally use a 3/4 length
> ridgerest), sleeping bag, pillow, and some small gear (camera, extra
> >>>edit Ridgerest (Capitalize)
> clothes, headlamp, etc). A pack will not fit inside. Being 5'11" I
> had plenty of extra legroom. I think anyone up to 6'4" or so would be
> comfortable stretched out.
> SEAM SEALING
> This proved to be a half-day affair. (The bivy does not come
> seam-sealed, which probably allows it to be priced lower.) For those
> of you who aren't tent-savvy, seam sealing is the process of applying
> waterproof coating to the seams of the tent. I had never seam-sealed a
> tent before. Being a member of the Nintendo generation, I'm accustomed
> to my tents coming factory sealed. The sealing process was tedious and
> the bivy hung in my basement for a few days when finished, but I felt
> proud of my accomplishment and "authentic".
> True to Black Diamond's description, the bivy is water resistant. The
> >>>edit: water-resistant
> few rainy nights I spent in the tent, my body stayed warm and dry.
> >>>edit: . . . in the bivy,
> Moisture, however, usually formed on the inside of the tent fabric and
> I typically woke up with the foot portion of my sleeping bag damp. On
> >>>edit: rain quantity & duration? Wind-driven or gentle? Did you
> zip the bivy completely? If not, how much of an opening did you
> allow? Was the bivy fully exposed to the rain, or was there cover
> (tree, tarp)? Do you have a down or synthetic bag? Did the wetness
> effect the insulation of your bag? Did the moisture come from within
> or from outside?
> dry nights there have been no problems with condensation. The tent is
> >>>edit: condensation on the inside or the outside?
> well-ventilated if you leave the zipper slightly open as Black Diamond
> recommends. If I'm camping somewhere where there are trees, I'll
> usually pitch a lightweight tarp over the bivy to provide additional
> rain protection. The bivy does not have its own rainfly. The one
> >>>edit: traditionally, bivys are wind-resistant, water-resistant
> sacks that do not come with a fly. This might be a good time to
> discuss the Epic fabric and Black Diamond's suggested uses when this
> material is used for a bivy or tent. For example, shelters made of
> Epic are usually oriented for drier climates vs. rainy ones. And
> traditional bivys usually utilize a more water-resistant, less
> breathable material. What is the advantage of using Epic?
> night I was under modest winds I did not have the tent staked and
> feel the head of the bivy lifting up a little. This was remedied by
> putting my 3.5lb camera in the tent at the head.
> >>>edit: you might note that BD recommends staking down the bivy so
> that it doesn't take off in the wind (or move around when sleeping?)
> >>>edit: did the slick silnylon bottom cause any problems with
> sliding around? Of the entire bivy when not staked, or with your pad
> and bag inside?
> I've had no complaints about the durability of the materials. I don't
> baby the bivy. After two summers of use I can see that my seam sealing
> job has come loose in spots. I'm planning on re-sealing a few spots.
> The seams themselves and stitching have remained firm and intact. The
> portion of the tent that is under the most strain (the
> overhead/vestibule where the poles cross) has held up just fine. I do
> not use a ground pad and the base of the tent is without tears. All
> >>>edit ground "pad" or "sheet"?
> zippers have performed well. There are no tears anywhere in the body
> of the tent. Even when I've caught the fabric of the tent in the
> zipper, no damage has resulted. I have not washed the Lightsabre and
> therefore cannot speak to what happens after it is washed. I take good
> care of the tent when it is not in use. I store the poles fully
> extended and hang the tent from a hanger.
> FINAL THOUGHTS
> Overall, the Lightsabre is just what I was hoping it would be, an
> ultralight solo shelter at a reasonable price that is durable and
> reasonably water resistant. It takes some time to get good at setting
> the tent up and the self-seam sealing element is a little bit of a
> pain, but I believe Black Diamond has strove to make this tent as
> as possible. For that, I don't mind the initial inconveniences. The
> bivy is quite comfortable and doesn't make me feel claustrophobic.
> I'll continue to use this bivy on all my solo trips and may try it out
> this winter.
> Very lightweight
> Attractively Priced
> need to seam seal yourself
> not easy to set up at first
> >>>edit: Need . . . (capitalize)
> >>>edit: Not . . . (capitalize)