Bivies/Hammock/Tarp: A Lighter Alternative To Tents


Bivies/Hammock/Tarp: A lighter alternative to tents These options are for people who really want to cut down on weight, and some manage to travel quiet well with much less. There are some high quality travel hammocks that will allow you to sleep and be protected from bugs and rain. Hammocks save you the weight of transporting a sleeping pad – but some do take a sleeping pad in case they can’t find ways to hang the hammock in those cases you can use the hammock as a bivy.

Bivies: They pretty much look like a sleeping bag, but they are made of a waterproof and breathable synthetic fabric. They also usually have a structure to support the head so you don’t sleep with the fabric laying on your face. Very minimalist and very lightweight.

Hammocks: People who use hammocks as their only shelter opt for models with a mosquito net. Some of them also have a tarp-like fabric to protect from the rain. Or you can use one of these great multi-functional tarps like the Space Blanket.

Tarp tents: They are popular among those who try to save any ounce they can. These are shelters made of one piece of material the size of a tarp, and one pole (some use a hiking pole or a tree branch). They are very minimalistic, and not appropriate for longer trips or journeys in rough weather conditions.

Simple tarp: Some people (not many) go to the extreme and only take a tarp (and hope for the best). Simple tarps are usually used for emergency only or by people doing “credit-card travel” (carry very few gear, eat in restaurants and sleep in motels).

I have never heard of long distance bicycle travellers using one of these options. You certainly would not have as many restful nights as you would with a real tent.

Some cons to consider with hammocks and bivies :

• You need something to hang your hammock on. Even if you become creative you’ll still need a tree, bench, sign, pylon etc.
• You can’t store your belongings inside
• There is a very limited space

On short trips I do carry a lightweight hammock as an extra luxury since I love the comfort of it. Our friend Biciclown has been travelling for years and won’t leave his hammock behind for any reason. I consider the hammock as the best outdoor invention ever! But it is certainly not a necessity and can be useless in treeless environment.

Hammocks Recommendations

The leader in the industry for travel hammocks are Hammock Bliss .

The most popular hammock among bicycle travellers and backpackers is the Hammock Bliss Mosquito Free. Both offer a good shelter for respectively 20 and 25 oz.

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About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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