Terra Nova Saturn Bivi (Part 3)

Almost a year ago to the day, I bought the Terra Nova Saturn Bivi and blogged about my first impressions of it. Shortly after that I blogged again with some more impressions, having put it up and been inside. Now I’ve actually used it a few times, I thought I share some more thoughts on it.

So far I’ve only used the Bivi on coast path walking where it gets a lot of exposure to the wind and rain. When you arrive at a pitch and just want to get a tent up and gear under cover, the Saturn is great. It goes up very quickly and it’s easy to push the rucksack inside before heading off in search of the nearest pub and a well-earned meal. When bedtime comes around, it’s a case of pulling the gear back out again, popping a dustbin liner over it and sliding inside the bivi. Getting in is tricky, at least I find it to be but I blogged about that in part2 so I won’t go over it again. Once inside, it’s a home from home. All be it a small one. There is a nice sense of being out in the elements but at the same time, warm and dry. Unlike a normal tent, the single skin of the bivi isn’t tensioned. This makes for a noisy experience when it’s windy as the bag flaps. At first I wasn’t comfortable with the noise or the way the wind made it slap against me. Now I’ve got used to it though, it really enhances the sense of wildness. Despite being made of breathable Gore-Tex, the bivi soon starts to feel stuffy if no ventilation is open. In dry weather, just closing the mesh part of the door works fine. In wet weather, I like to zip up the outer but leave a gap at the top. Thanks to a thoughtful little overhang around the top of the door, this can be done without letting the rain in and it provides sufficient air movement to keep things fresh.

After a good nights sleep, the morning poses a few issues if it’s raining. Doing tasks like dressing and packing a mat and sleeping bag inside the bivi are possible but not without significant difficulties. The rucksack has to live outside so eventually the time comes when you have to crawl out and face the weather in order to find the waterproofs, pack the gear and dismantle the bivi. Getting the bivi down and back into its bag is a breeze but doing the other tasks while exposed to the elements is a lot harder than in a normal tent where they can be done in relative comfort.

Other than the wet weather issues, in all other respects I’m delighted with my Saturn. There are one-man tents available for the same price, quality and weight but they feel lightweight and flimsy. The Saturn feels solid and reliable, like it can take all the treatment the weather and I can throw at it. Yes, it’s small. Tiny in fact and I’m sure it’s not for everyone so it’s important to assess requirements before spending a lot of money. If though, like me, you want something light and reliable and aren’t too concerned about spaciousness, the Saturn is certainly worth checking out.

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