Katabatic Gear may be a relatively new company in the UL world but they already seem to building a loyal following for producing some excellent hand-crafted and innovative gear. Roman recently took a peek at their Palisade quilt and seemed to like it. To find out more about Katabatic Gear and it's owner, Aaron Martray, I suggest you read Hendrik's excellent interview here. In the market for another bivy I ordered a Bristlecone bivy which will be going with me on my trip across the Hardangervidda.
Katabatic Gear offer their bivys in '6 foot' and '6 foot 6 inch' versions, with right or left hand zips. Being on the cusp at a smidge over 6 feet I went for the longer version and being right handed I ordered the left hand zip option. My Bristlecone weighed in at 205g in this configuration. Trying the bivy out in the wilds of my apartment I found that there is easily enough room for my NeoAir, 3-season quilt, BPL dual chamber pillow and me. The bivy has a nicely fitted cut that helps to reduce weight and the flapping, excess material that bugged me about one of my other bivys.
Constructed with a 1.4oz sil-nylon 'bathtub' base for waterproofness and a highly breathable Pertex Quantum top, the Bristlecone will hopefully offer enough water and wind resistance to keep my down quilt protected from any elements sneaking their way in under my tarp.
One of the key design features of the Katabatic Gear sleep system is the patent pending Cord Clip method of securing their quilts to your sleeping pad. Katabatic Gear supply lengths of 2mm cord for this purpose and there are four corresponding triangle-shaped plastic loops stitched into the floor the bivy. Unfortunately my GoLite Ultra quilt isn't fitted with the necessary Cord Clips so I'll be using two lengths of 3mm shock-cord to anchor my NeoAir as I do in my MLD Soul bivy.
Anyone who uses a bivy without a zip knows about the 'Bivy Wiggle', the shuffling contortionist's dance performed when you're trying to get in and out of the bivy. I switched to zipped bivys to make this task a lot easier. Sure there is a slight weight penalty but I'll take it. The Bristlecone's smooth-running YKK zipper runs across the top of the bug netting opening, across and down to the hip area making entering and exiting the bivy a breeze.
The simple bug netting opening protects you from blood sucking insects while you sleep and should offer plenty of ventilation. In the picture above I've pulled my GoLite Ultra quilt up inside the bivy to increase the contrast and allow you to see the size of the netting. Also in the picture you can see the overhead hanging loop, allowing you to attach a cord from the bivy to the clips/loops inside many tarps/shelters, holding the bug netting off your face. I use 3mm shock-cord to reduce any stress on the bivy or the shelter when I'm moving around.
The craftsmanship is very high, easily on a par with my MLD Soul bivy. The stitching is uniform and straight and the materials used are first class. I've got high hopes that this bivy lives up to my expectations on my upcoming Hardanger trip and I will let you know how it performed.