It seems I’ve become something of a convert to the joy of a good bivvy lately. Even with the less than ideal weather lately, my Laser Comp seems to be doing little more than gathering dust in the gear cave that is my spare room.
I got to thinking about why this is the case, and it all ties back to a great point made by Ronald Turnbull in “The Book of The Bivvy”. To paraphrase somewhat:
For the convenience and comfort imparted by each step towards more elaborate shelter – we dilute the rawness of our experience with nature.
This point is basic, obvious even – but it is worth making. Ever since man moved into the first caves to provide safety from predators and the elements, our direct connection to nature withered just a little – as it has withered ever since. This is quite possibly the very reason so many of us seek out organised time in the outdoors in the first place – we want some of that back.
In a bivvy you get it all – good and bad. Rather than laying back and staring at brightly coloured mesh cloth until you drift off, you watch the clouds roll overhead, the stars twinkle. You feel the wind gently roll over your face and catch sight of the occasional bird or fox.
Of course you get increased exposure to the other end of the experience spectrum – you get the rain driving down onto you, howling wind and an immediate, bright end to your sleep when the sun rises. But that’s part of the deal.
The general thinking behind it is – if you’re getting out there to get close to nature, a closer experience is one worth considering. You’ll get the good and the bad, but both are equally likely to make a memorable camp.
I recently went on a quick impromptu bivvy with Oisin and Dave, two good camping buddies. Everything was basic.
Bivvy bags provided basic shelter.
Food and drink was basic.
Our fire was small and unobtrusive
While there was plenty of time for conversation, there was no discomfort in the occasional time to quietly reflect.
A bit of comfort while camping is no bad thing, nor is the occasional camp of sheer overindulgence, but every now and then, a nice, basic camp can help provide a little framing and perspective – and remind us what it’s all about.