How to stay close to nature without sacrificing comfort or that sense of adventure…? Use a bivi! Read our bivi guide to find out all that you need.
I see many people recoil in horror when I tell them some of things I do. I see them run away at the mention of “bivvying”. Mouths drop open at the suggestion of “wild camping”. My personal favourite, the patronising laugh as a response to the suggestion of spending a night in a handmade shelter.
First step is to make sure your not biting off more than you can chew, start with local areas or places where an easy retreat back to civilisation can be made in case things take a turn for the worst. This will allow you to build up confidence in your own ability.
In this article I will describe my bivi technique, I find this works for me, and can, so long as there are some trees close enough to each other, work pretty much anywhere! No need for a B&B!
First off, a bivi bag is basically a big sleeping bag cover. Instead of only keeping you warm it keeps you dry and is big enough to fit you along with your sleeping bag inside. A Bivi bag should be waterproof, windproof, breathable and be big enough for you to get in.
I take a bivi bag that is hooped (basically it contains a mini tent pole that is inserted at the head end to create a space inside) as this serves two purposes. It keeps the fabric off my face and as it has an inbuilt midge net it keeps the bugs out too. This piece of kit is good for woodland or when you really want to be close to the elements.
I sometimes use a tarp as it compliments a bivi perfectly, it keeps you and all your belongings dry and also adds a social aspect as you and others can sit underneath and be dry. I have used an Australian Camo Hootchie, British Army Basha and a DD 3×3 Tarp, but there are loads on the market too. Lying under a tarp when it’s raining and listening to the dripping canopy above is simply divine. Knowing you will stay perfectly dry is very fulfilling indeed. Make sure you have enough good paracord to take with you to rig your tarp up. I take around 8metres for the ridge line, and 4 x 2 metres for each corner.
My main bivi is made of eVent and has a WaterBloc groundsheet layer. It’s important that your bivi is “breathable”. Look for Gore Tex or eVent. Something like the British Army Bivi bag is a great purchase and can be found for very cheap. I have used a Rab Ridge Raider Bivi, British Army Bivi Bag and an eVent bivi.
A roll mat to insulate you from the cold ground along with an appropriate sleeping bag. It’s important than the sleeping bag can go down in comfort to the lowest temperature you expect. I put the roll mat into the bivi first, then my sleeping bag on top, then myself into the sleeping bag. Keeping your kit all wrapped in the bivi prevents you slipping off the mat and getting cold during sleeping.
This is the easiest way to get out to the countryside and to enjoy a break from all the sounds and rush of city life and instead replace it all with a good book and bird song, food for the soul.