Do You Need A Tarp With A Bivy?

With so many styles of camping available it can be hard to knwo exactly what you need and if you really need it for your trip. As there as so many accessories and items that can make your trip more enjoyable, dryer and warmer.

Essentially no you do not need a tarp with a bivy but it is worth looking into taking one. You may find you require a tarp with a bivy if you are camping in colder and wetter conditions, can physically carry the added weight. Look for a modern lightweight, waterproof tarp for maximum comfort.

In this article we are going to look at the the reasons you may need a tarp with a bivy, the advantages and disadvantages so you can decide for yourself if taking a tarp is worth it for you.

Do You Need A Tarp With A Bivy?

As with most questions to do with camping, and just life in general, the answer isn’t just a simple yes or no. There are times when you would need to use a bivy with a tarp, and times when a tarp would be unnecessary.

When it boils down to it, a bivy is essentially an extremely small tent which is good for covering not very much. It’s ideal if you’re one person looking to travel light and reduce your environmental impact, but if you’re a larger party it may be best to carry a tent or two.

Because of its size and lightweight nature, the bivy is particularly thin and small. For that reason, it might protect you from a small downpour, or from light wind. Therefore, if you’re expecting more intense weather conditions than very mild ones, a tarp may be necessary.

In this situation, a tarp would be used to ensure you’re slightly more protected from the elements than if a bivy was used alone. It could form a water-resistant barrier or an insulating layer on the outside of the bivy, potentially allowing you to seal yourself off from adverse weather conditions in a pinch.

Why Don’t You Need A Tarp With A Bivy?

There’s only one major reason that you wouldn’t need a tarp when you’re using a bivy: you’re already covered enough that more cover would be pointless.

If you’re a particularly small person or you’ve bought a particularly large bivy, then there’s every chance that a well-constructed bivy could protect you from the vast majority of weather conditions around you. In that case, bringing a tarp along with you would simply mean carrying extra weight that you don’t need. If you’re hiking a long way, the decision to carry extraneous weight could be a poor one indeed.

There is, of course, another, smaller, reason that you wouldn’t need a tarp in conjunction with a bivy: the weather simply won’t be bad. Predicting the weather is nearly impossible to do at all, and is rarely correct. This means that campers are often caught without adequate coverage at nighttime or in a surprise shower.

However, if you’re going to be camping in an area that you know particularly well or that has extremely predictable weather, you may simply not need the extra coverage. For example, when conditions are right, there are campers out there who are content to simply sleep on the ground. Most of the time, these campers are wrapped up in a sleeping bag, but they don’t have much else in the way of protection. If that’s the case, then you may be content with a bivy and nothing more.

If you think that might be the right choice for you, remember that bivies are often open to the air, so you’ll have no control over the insects or weather around you. If you’re comfortable with that, then a bivouac without a tarp may be the right choice for you.

Benefits Of Using A Tarp With A Bivy?

There are two main benefits that spring to mind when considering using a tarp with a bivy: better protection, and increased weight.

The benefit of better protection is a fairly obvious one. When using a bivouac over yourself, all that will be between you and a short nighttime shower is a thin sheet of material. While this may be perfectly adequate, a lot of campers prefer to be safe than sorry in this situation, and would rather use a tarp over the top of the bivy to ensure greater protection.

It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that using a tarp in this way only really ensure better protection from the weather conditions around you. In no way does it ensure better protection from insects or other wildlife. For that, you’d need an altogether more enclosed solution – such as a tent.

Using a tarp on top of a bivy also ensures that the whole structure will have more weight. In many ways, a bivy is simply a piece of material that is draped over a tight cord. Even if it is properly secured and weighted down, you’re in for trouble if the wind can get under in. To avoid that trouble, the weight of a tarp can be a simple and elegant solution.

If you dop decide to take a tarp with you when using a bivy, simply drape the tarp over the top of the bivouac, and the weight will take effect.

Drawbacks Of Using A Tarp With A Bivy?

When using a tarp with a bivy, many more problems are solved than made, though the tarp can present some issues in itself.

For one, when you’re carrying the tarp with you to your campsite, it can add substantial weight to your load. This is an inconvenience, of course, though it could also be dangerous. When carrying heavier loads you’ll need more food and water. If you cant get access to those supplies, then a heavy load can be dangerous indeed.

The other drawback of using a tarp with a bivy is the surface area of tarp that’s needed. Bivvies are no small affair, as they’re designed to easily and efficiently reach the ground wide enough for several people. This large area must be covered as much as possible to achieve the optimum benefits of the tarp.

In a nutshell: a large tarp is needed to cover as much of the bivouac as possible. The larger the tarp you must carry, the more inconvenient carrying it will be.

There are ways to get around the inconvenience that this can bring, however. For example, modern tarps are often extremely lightweight and can fold up to be extremely small indeed. These modern tarps are usually also waterproof, which is a huge benefit in itself.

The true concern of taking a tarp with you comes from using an older tarp. The older tarp was made of a much thicker material and would be heavy when soaked. Therefore, while using an old tarp is potentially a very poor idea, using a new one could be a good idea.

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