Claustrophobic bivy bags

It’s bright orange!

I commented to Craig and a couple of others earlier this afternoon that to me it seems the most embarrassing kind of tramping accident that didn’t necessarily involve idiocy might be to become trapped inside a sleeping bag. It’s just been a pet fear of mine for a while now and something I might one day like to produce a horror movie about. I find something disconcerting about completely zipping oneself up inside a sleeping bag on a cold night without the certainty of being able to locate the zipper in the morning, or having the zipper get stuck on something and refuse to move. For some reason this leads to mental visions of a giant sealed sleeping bag bounding out of the Tararuas.

The reason this topic of conversation arose was because I’ve taken the claustrophobia one layer further and bought myself a nice little bivy bag, primarily for emergencies and as a possible alternative to carrying around my Huntech 2 to 3 person fly as backup shelter when I’m not planning to camp.

I spent two or three weeks scrutinising the options, only to decide there really weren’t very many because New Zealand’s such a small economy, these days nearly everything’s manufactured overseas, and it’s uneconomic for the (usually) one national importer to ever import more than a few models of anything. Eventually I settled on what seems to be the cheapest and lightest bivy bag easily available, which is the Vaude Active Bivy that retails at around $150 before whatever discounts you might be able to get. Apparently it’s not active enough to be listed on the international Vaude website, and mostly seems to be being retailed in New Zealand and the UK from what I can tell. At 500 grams, though, it’s quite nifty for an emergency bivy bag. I’ll see how it goes, and hopefully I won’t get too tangled up inside.

For a while I had my eye on some of the Outdoor Research Bivy Bags. The two most easily available in New Zealand of the current range are their “MicroNight Bivy” (also very light at about 550 grams, and around $250 in NZ — Craig loaned me his to try out) and their “Alpine Bivy” (heavier, slightly more heavy duty with a pole, and about $500 in NZ). The latter seemed overkill for my needs and I wasn’t sure about the former, and after much scrutiny I decided I really wanted their “Aurora Bivy“, which is in the middle. I’m not sure exactly why, possibly that marketing principle of which I forget the name whereby given three options, people will often naturally go for the middle one. I searched around for about a week though, only to discover that it’s not actually being imported into New Zealand, and to do so would be far too complicated and expensive to bother with.

It’s all done now, anyway, and I have a new toy to play with. As with many things, I suppose if it turns out to be not exactly what I want, I won’t have thrown away too much money and I can make a more informed and experienced decision about something else later on.

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