Published: 19 September 2017, 18:02 Author: Myrddin Irwin
Rab eVENT Ridge Raider Bivi: Tested by Cairngorm Treks during August 2017 during high multiday trekking in the central Cairngorms.
The Rab eVENT Ridge Raider Bivi is a product that had us a little baffled at first. It weighs in at a little over 1kg and packs to about the size of a 3-season sleeping bag. This makes it quite a sizeable bivi bag with modern solo trekking tents coming in at a similar weight and size. So why would you choose a bivi bag over the comfort of a tent? With all good products the proof is in how it works out in the field, or mountains so to speak.
Having used bivi bags for many years, nothing quite beats the close connection you can attain with the landscape from sleeping in a minimalist shelter. Usually we would opt for a bivi setup either when travelling super light, the weather forecast is to be clear and warm, or as an extra layer of protection on winter and snow holing expeditions. We had never used a hooped bivi or a product that sits in-between being neither a traditional bivi bag, nor a lightweight tent before. That’s very much how the Ridge Raider appears on first impressions.
“The Ridge Raider is a home wherever you sit it and this is the true beauty of the product… if its flat-ish, the Ridge Raider will make it home”
The simplicity of the design (just 6 pegging points) means that erecting the bivi is fast and effective. For a quick shelter, 1-2 minutes really isn’t bad going, especially for the quality of what you’re getting. Alternatively, using without the pegs takes your shelter time down to just mere seconds.
It’s made of a noticeably thick and robust 3 layer, 40 denier eVent fabric that makes up the majority of the bivi. The lower portion of the product, described as a ‘bathtub floor’, comes up quite high from the ground and gives you confidence that it will stand up to a variety of terrain and weather conditions. The earthy green colour blends in well with the environment, which when travelling solo in particular, can be a nice feeling – not to stand out too much and keep a sense of wilderness solitude. The hoop is of a great benefit and gives you the comfort of having a certain element of movement rarely accomplished in other typical bivis. For example, reading a book or planning your route for the next day is easily achieved within the confines of your shelter. Most importantly, for anyone who largely treks in Scotland, the entrance has a built in midge net, meaning open air sleeping is still a comfortable option.
The Ridge Raider is a home wherever you sit it and this is the true beauty of the product. Mountain tops, woodlands, beaches, crags and rock features, if its flat-ish the Ridge Raider will make it home. It handles the weather extremely well, and having spent the night in torrential rain, winds of 50mph, and cold weather to around -3 degrees, the bivi quite simply stood its ground and laughed in the face of it all.
A major problem with bivi bags in general is that after a night’s sleep your sleeping bag can sometimes be quite damp from internal condensation. We were amazed to wake up every morning with virtually no moisture whatsoever. This is testament to the breathability of the eVENT material. However, it’s possible that in more humid conditions condensation could still be an issue. Irrespective of this, anyone with bivi experience will instantly recognise internal dryness to be a great feature and one that saves time in not having to air out a sleeping bag when bivi-ing for lengthier treks.
The Ridge Raider is a lightweight, waterproof single-person bivi, designed for solo mountain use. Perfect for anyone who just wants to pitch up simply wherever they end up. Minimal planning needs to go into where to use this bivi, so it will instantly be a favourite among bike-packers, endurance runners, and long distance back packers. If you’re looking for a shelter that will give you space inside to eat a meal or organise your gear then this isn’t the choice for you.