Posted by: Brendan | July 6, 2008

Tyvek Bivy

So I burned a little creative energy this weekend.

I was shopping around for a ground cloth. I’ve always used a raggedy old piece of tarp. This faithful ol’ piece of plastic got me through several month-long Spectrum courses, (North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Ontario, and more) as well as a number of off-the-clock adventures.

Trouble is, I want to go lighter. I’ve seen the SilNylon stuff & can’t help a little gear envy.

Tyvek! The idea came to me while I was at a home remodel site.Turns out our local hardware store sells it by the foot. I’m not the first guy to think of it; not by a long shot. They sell it to PCT through-hikers all the time for ground cloths.

Excited about the “find,” I read some data sheets on it and got to thinking… the stuff is really strong, fairly lightweight, somewhat breathable (lets water vapor through but not drops) and relatively cheap. I seem to have lost my poncho/tarp (which is a pain to use anyhow) so I decided to make a bivy!

First, I started with 12′ x 3′ of Tyvek Home Wrap.

I washed it 4 times in the washing machine, cold water, no soap. This softened it up quite a bit & made it much less noisy. Don’t know if it hurts the waterproof-ness of it though?

Next, I laid a very basic floorplan out with a sharpie marker & made the cuts. My mom’s visiting right now & she gave me a few pointers on the sewing machine. (I’d balled it up the other day modifying a Jandd frame bag).

Double stitches…

then the special Tyvek tape… this should seal the seams well.

Then a bit of Velcro. I put it on about 30% of the right side- trouble is, my 40 degree bag is LH zip, but the 20 is RH. This was an oversight, as I’ll probably use it more with the 40… Anyhow, I taped the edges for extra strength before sewing the Velcro in. I flapped the top side over so it can allow water to pass by.

And, voila! I have a lightweight, home made bivy. It cost me about $15 for everything. (velcro was USAF surplus 😉 )

It weighs 250 grams, or just over a half pound. Not too shabby. Combined with my 40 degree bag the total weight will be around 1.75 lbs and pretty darned versatile. If it works fairly well I might even keep it around for a while. I’ll have to report back later on that one.



  1. I dig It!

    When my uncle wraps the new cabin I’m grabing all the scraps….

    Can’r wait to build my tube tent idea

  2. The tube tent sounds pretty slick. I think you ought to make one sooner than later… before somebody else does!

    I had a lot of fun making this bivy. I’m starting to think it would be a fun challenge to see what percentage of overnight gear in my system I can make myself…

    off the top of my head I know you can make at home:
    good food / maltodextrin gels
    tire sealant
    bike frame/areo bars/fred bars

    So Dave, you still thinking about a trip out this way? Give a holler & we’ll figure it out. Maybe we’ll make you some Fred bars or your rack system, in aluminum?

  3. Need to check that out.
    Maybe a lil screenprint on it just for flava

  4. whoops, I didn’t mean to bury the SJC Enduro post.

    screenprint would be good! I even came across an info sheet on the best methods for screening…

  5. b- I’m figguring out a time…

    Check out alcohol stoves they are fun to make…

    Looks like I’m off the bike again for awile..

  6. I made a halfhearted attempt at a Heineken can alcohol stove. Trouble is, drinking the contents made me too lazy to finish it!

    off the bike- dude, did you get any friggin Glutamine?! Give me your address & I’ll send it to you myself. Seriously- email it to me.

  7. hey, that is a great idea. I spent far too much time in a tyvek suit in my younger days helping to clean up contaminated areas, so I’m afraid I might have bad flashbacks in a bivy like that 🙂

  8. what an awsome idea! I was planning to make one using 100 gallon trash bags, but this looks like the way to go.

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