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August 2022 Issue
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Want a lighter pack? Carry a bivvy bag

he search for ever lighter gear and packs to carry it in can be ridiculous. Cutting your toothbrush in half? Spending thousands on lightweight gear to fit into that new lightweight pack that’s incapable of carrying more than 10kg? 

Sometimes, the key to a lighter pack is to get smarter. The heaviest thing most of us carry is our tent. But what if you had a shelter that weighs a third of your tent, but can still keep you dry (if not as comfortable)? 

I’m talking, of course, about a bivvy bag. This lightweight one-person shelter is gaining in popularity as more people recognise the benefits and gear manufacturers make ever more refined options – lighter while being more spacious and comfortable. 

In his feature, ‘The beautiful bivvy’, author Peter Laurenson recounts how his own, admittedly old and basic, bivvy bag has opened up a plethora of lightweight alpine trips, including camping on the summit of Mitre in the Tararua Range, bedding down on Gillespie Pass in Mt Aspiring National Park, even Ball Pass in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. 

For Laurenson, the benefits (lighter weight, the small amount of ground space needed to pitch the bivvy, less pack space used and easy star-gazing) outway the negatives (restrictively small, not as comfortable, fine-weather use preferred). 

Bivvy bags won’t be for everyone, but Laurenson makes a compelling case, especially for those who would otherwise carry a heavier single-person tent. 

I loved reading about the families that have been getting out together as part of the Walk1200km challenge. Of all the benefits the challenge is bringing to participants – better health, mental wellbeing, fitness, energy, adventure – walking more as a family has to be near the top of the list of ‘pros’ for me. 

It was particularly pleasing to hear how some parents are using the challenge to show their children that you don’t need to drive everywhere – you can walk to school and to the supermarket and find adventure on your doorstep. 

Instilling that awareness in the next generation is so important if we’re to ensure they have the same access to the outdoors as we have today. Small steps like reducing the use of private transport can go some way towards reducing the effects of climate change. 

If you haven’t signed up for the challenge already, I’d encourage you to do so – it’s never too late and  we’ll soon be relaunching it again for 2023.