This past weekend I finally got to try the Mountain Laurel Design’s Bug Bivy on a 3-day backpacking trip in Vermont. At 5.7 oz, including a small stuff sack, this is a very nice addition to a tarp setup, but it can also be used standalone inside a shelter.
The bug bivy is made using very fine netting which prevents gnats, ticks, black flies, and mosquitoes from reaching you. It has a full length, sewn-in silnylon floor which can also be used standalone as a ground sheet if the ground is wet. Entry is via a zipper which runs along the top of the bivy, making it easy to get into at night and easy to open and sit up in the morning if you want to stay in your sleeping bag. If you wanted to, you could easily write in your journal, or read a map or a book, in complete comfort in this bivy, making it the ultimate multi-purpose refuge even when you are not asleep.
There are stake loops at each of the four corners of the bivy, but technically there really isn’t a need for them, since your sleeping pad and bag will keep the the bivy aligned and prevent it from moving around, and vice versa.
In addition, there are also loops at the top and bottom of the zipper to hang the bivy from your tarp’s ridgeline. Using the bottom loop is optional, but I’ve found that it reduces the amount of condensation that forms at the foot of your sleeping bag if it’s tied up. It’s not a lot of condensation, but any condensation is always a concern for me, particularly on multi-day trips in cooler weather.
It’s not clear if the condensation I experienced is normal or if it was due to the weather and light winds at night. Time will tell. The condensation occurs at the point where my sleeping bag touches the silnylon at the foot end of the bivy just below where is is attached to the netting. One way to reduce the condensation might be to add a few inches to the bivy length, which is cut at 6’4″, so that the end of a 6′ sleeping bag does not touch the silnylon or the netting. The next person who orders one from MLD might ask for this modification to see if it has any impact.
Except for this minor condensation issue, the MLD big bivy is a high utility, multi-purpose piece of ultralight gear and I prefer it over the other ultralight bug net solutions I already own because it provides whole body coverage and takes seconds to set up. Like all MLD gear, it is a bit on the expensive side at $125, but it’s yet another example of why I keep going to Mountain Laurel Designs for some of my best, ultralight gear.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.