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EDIT: REVISED OWNER REVIEW-Black Diamond Lightsabre bivy

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  • edwardripleyduggan
    Hi Dan, I had, in fact, two-thirds edited your previous submission, but this version corrects some of the problems in what is otherwise a very interesting
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2005
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      Hi Dan,

      I had, in fact, two-thirds edited your previous submission, but this
      version corrects some of the problems in what is otherwise a very
      interesting first review. Please be sure to make all edits noted. The
      few comments are usually just that--suggestions rather than edits, or
      just an irrelevant remark on the side! The one exception is in regard
      to the quote from the manufacturer about their materials--this does
      need to be specifically evaluated in so fas as is possible,as with amy
      mfr. claim. In some cases (especially with measurements) I have
      indicated an edit that needs to be made universally within the review.
      I also ask that you don't make any edits not requested, as that makes
      my life complicated--like trying to hit a moving target.

      Please examine carefully and resubmit to the list, with "REPOST" at
      the start of the subject line.

      Best,

      Ted.

      BGT OR Editor


      --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "podin04" <podin04@c...> wrote:
      >
      > BLACK DIAMOND LIGHTSABRE BIVY
      > Owner Review
      > December 1, 2005
      >
      > Name: Dan Feldman
      > Age: 28
      > Height: 180 cm

      ### EDIT: Both Imperial and Metric measure is required for all
      measurements. For example:

      Height: 5' 11" (180 cm)

      PLEASE NOTE: All measurements in this review, including temperatures,
      need to be in imperial/mertic (or, if you prefer, metric/imperial)
      format. The reason for this is that BGT has a truly international
      readership (and many of our contributors are in countries that use
      metric rather than imperial measure). So we must have both. Please
      take a look at the converter at

      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/convert.html

      and do take the time to read the footnotes on how to present units.
      etc. I'm not going to point out each and every measurement that needs
      to be present in both forms--they all do, I'm afraid.

      > Weight: 77 kg
      > email: podin04@c...
      > Residence: Washington, DC
      > 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

      ### EDIT: I'd love to institute a favorite quote in reviews, but it's
      not BGT policy (and it is also, strictly speaking, irrelevant).
      Appreciated and enjoyed, but please cut.

      >
      > I am somewhat of a backpacking fanatic. I completed a southbound
      thru-hike of the AT in
      > 2002. I try to do one middle-distance trip a year (80-160 km.)

      ### EDIT: no period after km or any unit. Please remove all periods
      after unit abbreviations throughout review

      and usually hike in the
      > summer. I was most recently in Pisgah national Forest in NC


      ### EDIT: Spell out the state, please, for overseas readers

      for an 135 km. solo trip. I
      > am a lightweight backpacker. My pack weight ranges 7-12 kg. A 7-day

      ### EDIT: seven-day

      summer trip I
      > took recently had me at a 13.6 kg. pack weight with food and water.
      > 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. This is my first bivy. I
      formerly used a Sierra Designs
      > Ultra Light Year tent.

      ### EDIT: I regret that we permit links only to the top-level URL of
      the manufacturer page, and to the reviewer's own hiking pages, if any.
      Though well-deserving of recognition, the Sierra Club program is
      beyond what's permitted. Please put a period after "program" and
      delete the URL (and the following sentences). The information on your
      pervious tent would be better incorporated in the review proper.
      >
      > Product Specs:
      >
      > Manufacturer: Black Diamond
      > Year of Purchase: 2003
      > Currently manufactured? Yes

      ### EDIT: Though this is good to know, I'd omit it. This review will
      be here in two years--the bivy may not.

      > Warranty: 1 year limited
      > Manufacturer URL: http://www.bdel.com
      > Listed weight, with poles: 20 oz.
      > Listed Dimensions: 239 cm. x 89 cm. x 64 cm.
      > 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!)

      ### EDIT: I'd prefer pitching time to be discussed in detail in the
      body of the review.

      > Factory Sealed? No
      > Can I stuff it in a standard Nalgene bottle? You bet

      ### EDIT Stuffed size: (whatever the dimensions of the Nalgene bottle
      in question are). They do come in different sizes...
      Also needed (in all reviews and reports)
      MSRP: $185 US



      >
      > TESTING CONDITIONS
      > I have used the Lightsabre during the summer and early fall in the
      eastern United States.
      > I've taken 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


      ### EDIT: Please provide Centigrade equivalents in quotes.


      at night with exposure to moderate rain and clear nights. Moderate rain
      > defined here is starting and stopping steady rain for the duration
      of the evening, sheltered
      > by tree cover. (I normally seek out tree cover for camp.) I slept
      one night under gusting
      > winds just below the summit of Tennent Mountain in NC. This was on
      a grassy/rocky
      > ledge with exposure to the south and west. I have not used the bivy
      to snow or strong
      > winds. I've camped mostly on surfaces that are mixes of dirt, low
      roots, pine needles, and
      > pebbles. I've spent a few nights on grass and one on a tent
      platform. I have not slept on
      > rock.
      >
      > WHY THE LIGHTSABRE?
      > I began looking for a 1-person

      ### EDIT: one-person

      shelter in preparation for a solo summer 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 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.


      ### EDIT: Please delete the above sentence. MSRP above suffices, as
      retail prices can vary wildly, even from the manufacturer.

      >
      > DESIGN
      > 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.


      ### EDIT: I can guess the likely reasons you decided this, but it
      might be worthwhile to mention them here.


      Without the
      > poles installed, the shape of the Lightsabre is rectangular. The
      bivy tapers slightly at the
      > foot and forms a triangle at the head. The bivy is yellow with an
      olive green base.


      ### EDIT: It is... [rather than repeat "The bivy..."]



      The
      > Black Diamond name and logo are placed tastefully on either side of
      the head. Two zipper
      > tracks, each with a double zipper, run in parallel across the head
      and course along the
      > side, ending approximately 2/3 down the length of the bivy. One
      zipper track is for an
      > inner bug net and the other opens a panel situated directly above
      the bug net in the main
      > fabric of the tent and allows 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 head and foot of the bivy for staking.
      There are two additional
      > loops on each side of the shoulder region. One holds a single and
      the other a double
      > grommet for the poles. For best performance, Black Diamond
      recommends staking the
      > bivy at the head and foot using four stakes.
      >
      > The bivy requires two poles. The main pole is horseshoe shaped and
      runs across the
      > width of the head. It attaches to metal grommets located on either
      side of the bivy. A
      > second pole runs from a sturdy pocket inside the apex of the bivy's
      head up along the
      > length of the bivy to a 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 out
      Black Diamond's website
      > for a good picture: (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).

      ### EDIT: ...Vapor Trail).


      > Pitched, the tent's head is raised 25 inches from the ground and the
      material at 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.


      ### EDIT: please avoid the use of "you," "yours," etc. in reports
      wherever possible. The object is to avoid projecting your experience,
      telling the reader what they will experience. In this case, I'm sure
      the experience of most folks would be identical, but this should still
      read "my sleeping bag."


      The interior of the tent is non-descript.

      ### EDIT: nondescript

      Black Diamond saves
      > weight by eliminating needless pouches and pockets found on most
      tents.
      >
      > MATERIALS
      > The bivy is constructed of SilNylon and EPIC fabric.


      ### EDIT: silnylon [unlike EPIC, silnylon is not proprietary] It
      appears from your text below that this is the way that BD uses the
      word, so use their capitalization in the quote, not elsewhere.


      The 2 poles are DAC Featherlites. The
      > materials are described on Black Diamond's website:
      > " 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 providing the least
      chance of breakage
      > because there are no glued inserts. Their sleeved and structurally
      sound connecting pole
      > sections eliminate their weakest link, glued pole inserts, reducing
      weight by 15 % over
      > other commonly-used aluminum poles."

      ### COMMENT: While it is acceptable to quote, in moderation,
      manufacturer's blurbs, it's also important that claims be evaluated in
      the review where possible. I'm not sure that this quoted section
      really adds much over simply expressing what the mfr. states in your
      own words (noting the source, of course).


      >
      > INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
      > My very first reactions to the bivy were excitement and wonder after
      feeling how light it
      > felt in my hands.

      ### EDIT: Delete "im my hands." Superfluous.

      EPIC fabric is very soft and thin. Small, barely visible squares
      cross the
      > fabric.

      ### EDIT: The meaning of this isn't very clear. Are you referring to
      the ripstop texture in the fabric? I assume so--my Bibler Winter bivy
      has the same texture. This is designed to prevent a tear propagating.

      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 compressed.
      >
      > SET-UP
      > 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.

      ### COMMENT: This made me chickle. Been there, done that.

      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

      ### EDIT: six or seven (generally, spell out numbers used in text)

      tries, the bivy
      > was up and I crawled in. Getting into the bivy is a bit of a trick.
      You

      ### EDIT: I have to...

      have to unzip the
      > double zippers (opening both the bug netting and the outer panel)
      and go in feet first,
      > then hunker down a bit and recline into the bivy. I can't really
      provide a entry/exit
      > comparison to other bivys here, but I'll say that this type of entry
      allows me to slide right
      > into my sleeping bag, which I usually have set up prior to entry.
      Getting into this bivy
      > feels more like getting into a tent than getting into a sleeping
      bag. Once inside, the
      > Lightsabre is surprisingly spacious and doesn't feel restricting,
      something I feared when
      > opting for a bivy. I toss and turn quite a bit at night and there's
      plenty of room in the
      > Lightsabre to roll around without taking the bivy with you. While I
      can't sit fully upright
      > with the bivy closed, I can come up on my elbows. 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 clothes, headlamp, etc).
      A pack will not fit
      > inside. Being 180cm I had plenty of extra legroom. I think anyone
      up to 193cm 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 a waterproof coating to the seams of the tent.

      ### EDIT: This risks sounding condescending. I think "Just seam
      sealing is the process..."

      I had never seam-
      > sealed a tent before. Being a member of the Nintendo generation, I'm
      accustomed to my
      > shelters 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".

      ### COMMENT: Did you have any problems with seam adhesion
      subsequently? FWIW, I generally use talc or chalk on my seams to
      prevent them sticking to other parts of the tent.

      >
      > PERFORMANCE
      > True to Black Diamond's description, the bivy is water-resistant.
      The few rainy nights I
      > spent in the bivy (see "testing conditions"), my body stayed warm
      and dry. Condensation,
      > however, often formed on the EPIC fabric and I have woken up with
      the foot portion of my
      > sleeping bag damp, even when I left the zippers slightly open, as
      Black Diamond
      > recommends. (I cannot say whether this was inside or outside
      condensation as EPIC is so
      > thin, but the inside of the bivy felt wet to the touch.) This was
      not very bothersome as I
      > normally carry a North Face 35 degree synthetic fill mummy bag. The
      insulating quality of
      > my bag was unaffected. I usually leave the zipper slightly open at
      the foot of the bivy, not
      > at the head. Black Diamond does not say where the zipper should be
      open, just that it
      > needs to be slightly open to prevent asphyxiation. I now carry a
      lightweight REI tarp to tie
      > over the bivy at night for extra rain protection.
      >
      > On dry nights there have been no problems with condensation. The
      tent is well-ventilated
      > if you

      ### EDIT "I"

      leave the zipper slightly open as Black Diamond recommends. The one
      night I was
      > under gusty winds on Tennent mountain I did not have the tent staked
      and could feel the
      > head of the bivy lifting up a little. The wind did not penetrate
      the EPIC fabric and the bivy
      > itself did not move.
      >
      > The bivy does not feel stuffy. I think this is because the EPIC
      fabric is thin and breathable.
      > I don't feel like I'm encased in a shower curtain and there's lots
      of space in the head area.
      >
      > 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.

      ### EDIT: planning on re-sealing those.

      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 footprint and the
      > base of the tent is without rips. All 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
      has all of the benefits
      > of a traditional bivy (see "pros"), but without the claustrophobia.
      It takes some time to get
      > good at setting the bivy 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 light as
      possible. For that, I don't
      > mind the initial inconveniences. I'll continue to use this bivy on
      all my solo trips and may
      > try it out this winter.
      >
      > Pros:
      > Very lightweight
      > Durable
      > Attractively Priced
      >
      > Cons:
      > Need to seam seal yourself
      > Not easy to set up at first
      >
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