Wednesday, 17 June 2009

See, a watched pot does eventually boil...

...and the postman does also eventually bring shiny new handmade toys from far off distant lands!

What you see there in the yellow stuff sac is the Soul Bivy Side Zip from Mountain Laurel Designs. That’s the Exos Tarp from Team IO on the right there and there’s also one of the old carbon pegs you used to get with the Terra Nova Laser Competition in there to give you an idea of size.
According to my wobbly kitchen scales (I see an investment in a cheap digital set soon) the Mountain Laurel Designs Bivy weighs in at slightly more than my Rab Survival Zone, is only waterproof on the bottom and is a hell of a lot more expensive. But, you should get a Bivy that is much more user friendly when used with a Tarp.

The Momentum fabric on top should be a lot more breathable. It has head room in it with a midge net and a wire to help keep the fabric off your face. There are peg points at the corners which I've already added some shock cord to. A zip that run across you chest and down one side that should allow easier access and better venting options. A strap/shock cord arrangement which should keep my mat in place. There’s more stuff but I’ll report back on that when I've used it for real.

Last weekend I was partying at Rockness and this weekend I’m off to London to visit someone special. My last few outdoor trips/adventure have all been great but they haven’t involved sleeping out in the mountains and all the associated fun comes with that. I’m desperate for a wee overnighter and I still haven’t slept out with the Tarp yet. All I've managed so far is a few lunch stops out of the rain in it, so in a couple of weeks I’m thinking about a ‘fast and light’ trip along the Glen Shiel Ridge maybe or take in the Ring of Steal in two days so I can bag the few remaining Mamore’s I've missed or something similar.

Any way’s a fortnight is plenty of time to pore over maps and plan something spectacular.


  1. Oh now I'm jealous. Not only did you get a box but one with MLD stuff in it. I have the MLD alpine bivvy amongst other MLD bits and pieces. Sure you won't be dissapointed.

  2. Aye, it looks really well made i.e. stitching and materials quality. Well thought out too.

    I'm looking at a complete and most importantly useable shelter system of around 600g not counting the trekking pole's that I would normally carry anyway.

    I've been keeping an interested eye upon your Rondane plans and I reckon I can justify being slightly closer to the green eyed monster than you. I look forward to reading the write ups.

  3. Hi bbf!

    Just curious about the Exos tarp. I'm minded to get one myself but am wondering about two things. I got a sample from Team IO and was surprised to find the material pretty easy to poke a hole through (a blunt pencil was enough to go through...) Hope that the tear strength is better than that... Mind you, probably if I tried to poke through my tents' flysheets with a pencil, it'd go through even there...

    Anyway, like you, I'd be using the Exos for some protection over my bivy bag.

    So: the question is: how noisy is it in wind? The spinnaker felt quite papery and so I'm wondering how much of a rustle you get in a breezy situation.

    Have you tried it in the field already??

    Thanks for any input.

    Great blog, btw!

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm pretty impressed with the Exos tarp so far. It's my first spinnaker fabric product like this and it's a wee bit different to the usual silnylon. It is very crisp and noisy but if you get a nice drum tight pitch its ok...Bear in mind I'm well used to the decibels from the Laser Comp fly in a blow.

    I reckon you could stick a pencil through it but then like you say I wouldnt want a pencil near my tent fly either.

    I've had my lunch out from under it a few times and I had it out to sleep under last night which I abandoned due to my shoddy pitch selection rather than anything else.

    I'm making plans for somewhere nice and high with it next weekend as long as the weather is ok..ish. I still expect great things from the tarp. It's well made, very light and I reckon it'll be plenty strong enough.

    What bivy are you using?

  5. Hi bbf,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Good to know you got a good impression of the Exos. I had read this interview with Colin Ibbotson:

    where he hadn't been too impressed with another tarp by team IO, so I was keen on a second opinion.

    At the moment I'm using either an Akto or a LaserComp for summer camping but I'd be experimenting with a new setup which I'm hoping would be marginally lighter but more to the point, it should be quicker to setup and you could do that without worries about being caught in a gale when pitching on a summit.

    So, I'd be getting either the Integral Designs Unishelter EXP (880g) or the TN Jupiter (840g or 950g depending on which website you read!). Then I'd be getting either the GoLite Poncho (280g), the Bob & Rose Micro-Tarp (148g) or the Team IO Exos (170g).

    The idea would be to use the tarp when cooking (with a Bushcooker probably) in case it rains or it's very windy, and that may well happen at lower height. And then pitching the bivi high up on a summit and I wouldn't normally be using the tarp, I'd think, but if it is really pouring down buckets then the tarp could give a little protection over the head.

    I've also got some ultralight bivies (like the ultra Rab and the TN Moonlite) but ticks worries me in the summer, so I'd go for the heavier but enclosed options.

    As I say, it's not so much the weight (I'm already sub the 10lbs mark and everything fits into a 22L pack for an overnighter), but the simplicity of the setup which I'm after.

    And looking out at the sky when dozing off!

    Ta once again and I look forward to the full report!


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