Friday, 7 December 2012

First look - Borah Gear Custom Bivy

Over the last 7-8 months I've been trying to lighten things up a little and have been steadily replacing various items of kit with new items that weigh a little less and which also tend to pack down a little smaller.

One of the last items I wanted to replace was my Goretex Bivy. Whilst this bivy had served me well it was pretty bulky and was getting on for around 850 grams in weight, as such I sold it on a while ago and have been looking for a replacement since then. At one time I decided to go with the Alpkit Hunka XL but these seemed to be out of stock for ages (think they are back in stock now) so I kept on looking. In the end I decided I wanted something lighter than the Hunka as this wasn't going to provide too much of a saving over my old bivy, plus I wanted a side zip to make getting in and out a bit easier. I looked at the Ti Goat and MLD Superlight which looked superb but in the end decided to go with a Borah Gear Bivy. 

Whilst trying to find some reviews of the bivy I came across quite a few threads on the BPL forum and all of them were very positive. The owner of Borah Gear is a chap called John West who is quite active on the BPL forum. I wanted a few thing changing to the standard bivy so sent an email to John, he got back to me straight away and after a few emails I placed my order. 

My bivy arrived last month, I haven't had chance to use it more than a couple of times as yet so this is more of a first look than an actual review but here goes...

Full Bivy

First impressions of the Bivy are very good, it's exactly what I had in mind when I was emailing John, it weighs in at 212g including the stuff sack and packs down nice and small. Lighter options are available such as using Cuben fiber for the floor and M50 for the top but the cuben was more than I wanted to spend and John recommended the M90 for the UK climate due to it's breathability.

I got mine in the standard length which according to the website is comfortable for those up to 6'1" but I reckon it'd probably be ok for those a little bigger too. I wasn't sure which size girth to order as I didn't want there to be any risk of my down bag not being able to loft properly, in the end I asked for the standard girth with a couple of extra inches of material added so it's somewhere between a standard and a large. After putting my thermarest into the bivy and then getting in inside my -7 down bag I've realised I probably would have been fine with just a standard girth size (John did tell me this would be the case!) but the extra gives me a little more room to play with so i'm happy with it.

To make it easier to get in and out of I opted for a side zip, as you can see below the zip runs along the bottom edge of the nano-see-um and then turns and runs down the side of the bag. All of the stitching appears to be spot on and the zipper runs nice and smoothly.

Side zip

One of the reviews I found online showed a reduced Nano-see-um section, I thought this would be useful for when under a tarp or in the Trailstar so asked for something similar and am really happy with how it came out. Just above the centre of the nano-see-um section is a small grosgrain loop to be used to keep the netting away from your face.

Reduced Nano-see-um section

All in all I'm very happy with the bivy and can't wait to get out and use it more. It's exactly what I wanted and looks to be very well made. In addition to this the service I received from John was fantastic, all my emails were replied to very quickly and he offered lots of advice when I wasn't quite sure what size/material to go for, on top of this my bivy arrived approx three weeks after I placed my order, which includes being made to order and shipped from the US. On top of this at the time I ordered my bivy all the mods etc were done for free! I think this was a special he had on at the time but I think it might still be running.

No affiliations etc to Borah Gear, just a very happy customer, I'll update here once I've had chance to use the it some more.


Full spec:

Silnylon floor
M90 top
Side zip (RHS)
Standard length
Standard girth plus - I wasn't sure which size to go for so John suggested adding a few extra inches to the standard size but not quite as much as the larger size
Stake loops (Not sure I'll use these but thought I would add them anyway)
Smaller Nano-see-um section

Full size Thermarest for size comparison

Stitching detail

Uncompressed size


  1. Hi Matt, nice detailed review. Would you change anything if you were ordering again today?

    1. Hiya Paul, sorry missed your comment until now. If I was to order again I'd probably go for a cuben base, the silnylon can be annoyingly slippery at times, even with some added strips/dots of silicone. Just a shame the cuben costs so much