Bikepacking Gear-Shelter

Yesterday I wrote about the backpacks that I’ve been trying out and using. Today I’m going to share a little about shelter. After eating, the most important thing for me is being able to sleep comfortably.

There are three main approaches to shelter for a good nights rest. The most common being a tent of course. If you’re at all like me you probably already have a few tents in your garage. One for ultralight solo use, one for solo car camping use and a huge one to use with the wife and dogs. Most tents can also be setup without the tent body, using only the fly, poles and ground cloth for a lighter version.

Second to tents would be a bivy sack. A bivy sack is basically just a shell for your sleeping bag. A no frills approach to setting up a very quick camp. However bivy sacks offer very little privacy in terms of changing your clothes. I’m going to be trying out the Titanium Goat Ptarmigan Bivy soon. It packs down very small and only weighs 7oz. The bivy pictured below is the REI Minimalist Bivy.

The third option is a tarp. This is my preferred option. The tarp tends to be the lightest of all the options. Hikers can use their hiking poles to support the tarp, but any found object can be used as well. Trees, fence posts, tables etc. The tarp offers more privacy than a bivy, but less protection from critters than a tent. Tarps also tend to be the smallest packing of the three which is a big benefit. I like the open feeling of the tarp. Being able to look out at your campsite, or the stars, but still having some shelter is pretty awesome.


What forms of shelter do you prefer and use?

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  • I’m a Bivy + Tarp guy myself when going solo. My solo rig is an REI minimalist bivy and an Equinox Sylnylon Poncho. The bivy adds some warmth & bug protection to my sleeping Montbell sleeping bag. The poncho most often gets deployed as a tarp for wind & rain protection so I have a dry space to change clothes, prepare food and so on. Details here:

    http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2009/08/compact-comforts-of-home.html

  • the dude abides

    I used to volunteer in the Angeles Nation Forrest and we would do overnight trips all the time. My fellow vols would call my bivy sack a bear burrito.

    • With all the bears on the Great Divide I’m sure I’ll be a tasty morsel in a bivy.

  • i tried the bivy / tarp setup recently. decided that for the weight, and a bit more useable room, and relatively comfortable bug protection (here in the east…) – i’m settling on a tarptent moment.

    did like the rei minimalist bivy i picked up. would almost be perfect with a sea to summit reactor for summer trips, but with my air pad and down bag + my barrel chest and shoulders it was a no go for comfort.