The second make-your-own-gear project of the year: the bug bivy! This was intended to be a modular pairing to my poncho tarp project.
My hope for this piece of this equipment was to have a light shelter to survive the intense bug pressure here in the spring and summer that could be used alone or paired with some sort of rain protection. It also needed to be big enough for me and my smaller dog and tall enough for me to sit up in, while being small enough to use solo. While a piece of noseeum mesh weighted around the edges would have worked, I wanted something a bit more durable, and be completely contained with its own floor.
By The Numbers
- ~2.5 yards of silpoly remnants
- ~3 yards of noseeum mesh
- 1 very long zipper (~5ft?)
- ~6″ grosgrain ribbon
- 4 beastee D’s
Dimensions: 75″ long, 21″ wide at the foot, 36″ wide at the head, 12″ tall at the foot, 40″ tall at the head, 4″ bathtub
I’ve used this bivy for 5 nights in the backcountry now, 4 of them with my Aussie. All nights were mild and clear, with bug pressure but no rain or significant wind. I never did end up pairing it with the poncho tarp, as that was 86’ed before it left the backyard. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos in the wild (at least not yet!), so these backyard shots will have to suffice.
- Cheap! ~$30 CAD in materials
- Fast – took ~4 hours from start to finish
- Fast to set up
- Ample room for 1 person
- Fairly easy to pitch
- Height is perfect for me (5’2″) to sit up, change, read, etc. and not feel claustrophobic
- The mesh has held up surprisingly well to dog use! The first time Sei got into it, he panicked and ricocheted around the bivy trying to escape. I was sure it would be toast, but to my surprise, it was fine! It has survived 4 nights of dog use with nary a scratch.
- ~6 inches too short for comfortable Sei (the Aussie) + me use. It works, and I will continue to use it, but I do have to be worried about him laying off the bathtub floor and onto the mesh
- Needs 6 stakes. This may not be a con to some, but I do find it a lot if the soil isn’t great for stakes
- Bathtub floor could stand another inch or two, but considering I have only been using it in good weather without a tarp, I haven’t confirmed this
- I attached the tie outs to the bathtub floor poorly. I attached them near the top of the bathtub, but when I pull them tight to pitch it, it just pulls the bathtub floor flat. I should have attached them in the middle of the floor.
- The pitch is not exactly dog-worthy on certain ground. With the main structure of the pitch being supplied by the single trekking pole at the head, if the pole gets knocked out it will fall down. That happens more easily on hard ground where the pole cannot dig in. This is not an issue solo (at least not one I’ve had!), but has happened twice courtesy of Sei. I don’t know how it would stand wind/weather, but given my use case I’m not that concerned.
If I had to rate it, I would give this project a 7/10. With some quick design modifications, I think it could easily be brought to an 8 or 9. It largely functions as I intended, is quite light, and is very usable. I really did like it as an alternative to a tent for clear summer nights when there was no need for a tarp or fly. For ~$30 in materials and an afternoon of work, I couldn’t ask for more! It will certainly remain in my gear room and see more summer use.