Picking the right shelter system for your adventures is about as personal as setting up an online dating profile. Choices run the gamut from minimalist to luxurious: from nothing more than a sleeping bag on a pile of pine needles to a full-blown cot, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a spacious tent. The choices are nearly endless. Ultimately, your needs and your adventures will provide the determining factors in what works best for you. I have had a few people quiz me on my set-up, so I figured I’d discuss my process of selection, including the trial and error I’ve gone through. There are plenty of sites out there that go into great detail about the difference in materials among products. I’ve chosen to focus this article on personal experiences as those seem to be harder to come by and are often the deciding factors for many. Hopefully, some of the issues I bring up here will help you in making decisions about your shelter selection.
Shelter Selection: Bivy
When I started to look into touring via bicycle, I set out with the notion of going as light weight and compact as possible. After all, the more weight you carry, the harder it is to make it up those hills at the end of the day! When it came to shelter options, a bivouac sack (more commonly known as a bivy) seemed to be the natural choice. On the surface, it fit all my initial needs:
- As small as possible without any wasted space
- As light as possible while still providing shelter from the elements
- Quick and easy to set-up and tear down
- Free standing