I plan to do some overnight solo camping in the mountains (400-1200m elevation range) in the next few weeks to escape Vancouver for a bit.

My available layers I can bring are polypropylene thermal underwears, wool sweater, an ECWCS fleece jacket, goretex/PVC jacket some good socks and alike, and I've been able to sit around still overnight without miuch trouble in parks at home with food in my stomach and a bit of concentration (200m, ~4C at night here)

I presume it is below freezing up at the 1km+ range, last October I remember a bit of snow around there, but mainly in the open.

Do you think I can just get a bivvy with maybe a metalic inside, or a simple tunnel/tubular emergency tent, put a tarp over it and expect to survive a few nights in the colder mountains?

Are there any other recommended minimal sleeping arrangements I can use for this kind of climate/weather?

3 Answers 3


Among people I've talked to who have tried bivy sacks, none have had anything good to say about them. Tarping is a great way to save weight compared to bringing a tent, but putting up a tarp is time-consuming, requires practice, and is somewhat dependent on your surroundings (e.g., whether there are trees available). Tarps often flap in the wind, which can make it difficult to sleep. I typically bring a tarp for summer in the Sierra, where I don't expect to have to use it. If I really expect cold, windy, or wet weather, I will often bring a tent instead.

  • After doing this hike in December, I learned the tarp was just the best option for me. I could wrap it around to trap some of the heat I lost from breath, and it was noticeably warmer than a larger tent in similar circumstances with 'too much' breathability.
    – Sasha
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 8:47

You'll want insulate yourself from the ground. If you're on mountain there's a good chance you're on rock, and while it keeps heat from the sun well, once it gets cold it stays cold, and you'll feel it. I recommend a foam pad for the best cost/weight ratio.

  • Makes sense, I mean with my layers and a metalised whichever I am sure to keep the heat from radiating - just conduction I have to worry about, and the ground is the main enemy. I'll try some time soon and see how it all works.
    – Sasha
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 16:06

I've tried a few different bivy sacks in all kinds of weather and have always had problems with condensation on the inside, even if they are "breathable". Now I just use a tarp strung to trees and a good foam pad (z-lite) under my sleeping bag, and I add a "bug-bivy" sack in warm weather.

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