Summit Bivy

The Summit Bivy

The Summit Bivy



The Background

For years we received emails and DM’s from customers, friends, and fellow outdoorsmen inquiring if Canvas Cutter was ever going to develop and release a lightweight backpackable version of our canvas sleep system. These requests were understandable. Our canvas Dominator bedroll is more comfortable, simple, easy to use, dependable in almost any weather condition and more durable than almost any other sleep system on the market. So we understood that having these characteristics in a lightweight backpackable version would be awesome, and although there were bivy’s out there, none functioned like or offered the simplicity of a bedroll. Initially coming out with a lightweight sleep system seems like a no brainer, however, we had some concerns on our end that held us back from developing and delivering such a sleep system. 

For example, we struggled with the fact that we are Canvas Cutter. We’re known for making high quality, built to last CANVAS gear. Gear where weight is discussed about as often as snow in the Sahara desert. We do car camping and base camps and packing with horses and mules, and maybe even beach camping, but backpacking…lightweight…especially ultra-light was not something Canvas Cutter did or focused on. 

We were also concerned about our ability to make a sleep system that would be durable enough to meet our standards, but still be light enough to reasonably throw on a pack and go several miles. Typically the lighter weight a piece of gear gets the more fragile it becomes, especially with fabrics, and we don’t do fragile at Canvas Cutter. Also, how will people respond to us producing a product that isn’t made from canvas? The fabric won’t be as breathable and durable as canvas, will this negatively impact our canvas sleep systems? 

After a couple years of discussion, and many, many people inquiring and pleading for a lightweight bedroll options, in the Summer of 2019 we launched the Summit Bedroll. A lightweight bedroll that was modeled after our canvas Fortress bedroll. It was made from 40D Ripstop Nylon, with a built in mesh screen and a 210 Oxford nylon bottom. It was designed to be used with two different pole systems or it had paracord D-loops that would allow you to stake it down and tie it off to trekking poles or to trees if you didn’t want to use the pole system. It surprised us at how well it was accepted, and it was a great lightweight sleep system that continued to grow in popularity until it was consistently in the top three of our best selling products. 

Although the Summit Bedroll was a great lightweight sleep system and fulfilled the requested role it was designed to fulfill, we started making a list of things we wanted to improve in order to make it even better. The nylon fabric was good, but we needed better fabric with better coatings for improved weather protection. The mesh screen came with TPU tap to fix tears, but we thought it would be better if you could zip the mesh out if you didn’t want to use it or if you needed to replace it with a new one. It needed vents for better air circulation during stormy weather. The D-loops to tie it off were a cool feature, but most customers didn’t use them, and even avid backcountry customers said they would rather use the pole system for the convenience. Plus the plastic T’s on the inside could rub the coating off the nylon fabric when rolled up. The 210D Oxford nylon fabric on the bottom needed to come up the back and sides of the bedroll more, creating a stronger tub structure. Although the Summit was (and still very much is) indeed a bedroll in every aspect of the word, the large majority of outdoorsmen associate nylon and polyester with a bivy’s, so calling the Summit a bedroll seems to cause some confusion. 

We have made all these changes and more, so now Canvas Cutter’s all new Summit Bivy represents a pinnacle in outdoor shelter design. Engineered for versatility, durability, and performance, the Summit Bivy promises to redefine lightweight comfort and protection in remote environments. Featuring robust materials and thoughtful craftsmanship, this improved shelter offers outdoorsmen a reliable refuge from inclement weather without compromising on improved ventilation or durability. Whether you are trekking through rugged terrain or embarking on extended backcountry excursions, the Canvas Cutter Summit Bivy stands poised to elevate your outdoor experience with its blend of innovative design and practical functionality. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the major upgrades and changes we made to the Summit that we are most excited about, and that we feel will create a better sleeping experience.

From Nylon to Polyester, Why?

Picking the right fabric for the main body of the Summit Bivy was a decision we deliberated over for quite some time. Many factors came into play while trying to decide the best fabric option. Factors like: waterproofing and coating options, use cases and the environments in which it would likely be used, as well as its ability to meet Canvas Cutter’s high standards and brand requirements; one of which is durability, which is an adjective that doesn’t describe very many ultra light-weight products. We spent most of our time deliberating over the pros and cons of Ripstop Nylon, which we were more familiar with, and a newer version of a Ripstop Polyester. Ultimately we at Canvas Cutter decided that Ripstop Polyester was the better option and would allow us to provide a better product and user experience for our customers. Here are five reasons why we felt polyester was a better fit for our Summit Bivy sleep system.

  1. Durability and Strength: Polyester, when compared to nylon of the same denier (40D in this case), offers better resistance to abrasion and tearing, and also performs better in windy conditions. This is a vitally important feature for a sleep system that is designed to be rolled out directly onto the ground and carried on the outside of your backpack while hiking through rough conditions and frequently coming into contact with rough surfaces.
  2. Water Resistance: Polyester on its own tends to be inherently more water-resistant than nylon. This is an obvious benefit when developing an outdoor sleep system that needs to be able to withstand harsh weather conditions in all kinds of environments. The less obvious or known benefit to choosing polyester over nylon is the improved options for waterproof coatings. In a sleep system, especially one as small as a bivy, breathability and air flow are imperative to mitigate and prevent condensation. Using polyester allowed us to use a better, more breathable TPU film (thermoplastic polyurethane film) coating that performs the way we need it to. We also infused the TPU film coating with a thin mesh, increasing its strength, longevity, and overall performance. This TPU film will not bond as well to nylon and will eventually separate from the nylon fabric. The best waterproof coating for nylon is a PU (polyurethane) coating, however, this coating removes the nylon fabrics ability to breath which is already very minimal to start. 
  3. Quick Drying: Polyester fabrics tend to dry faster than nylon when wet. This is a characteristic that is clearly advantageous in situations where gear needs to be quickly dried out after exposure to rain or moisture, reducing the risk of mildew or mold formation, and allowing you to break down and roll up the Summit Bivy to get back on the trail or on your hunt. 
  4. UV Resistance: An important aspect of any Canvas Cutter product is its longevity. Polyester fibers typically have better resistance to UV radiation compared to nylon. This means that over time, polyester fabrics are less likely to degrade or weaken when exposed to prolonged sunlight, making them more suitable for outdoor applications and ideal for the new Summit Bivy.  
  5. Ease of Maintenance: Polyester fabrics are often easier to care for and maintain compared to nylon. They are less prone to wrinkling and stretching and can often be washed cleaner easier making them more convenient for regular use. Although this seems minor, it is actually a very important aspect of a product that will last much longer than its counterparts and end user experience. 

These are just some of the advantages of a 40D/290T Ripstop Polyester over a nylon with the same denier that made our decision on the main fabric for the Summit Bivy easier to make, as it would allow us the ability to offer our customers a higher quality, more durable, more weather resistant, lightweight sleep system that is easier to maintain and fits the Canvas Cutter brand. 

The Vents

The vents in the Canvas Cutter Summit Bivy play a crucial role in enhancing air circulation and mitigating condensation buildup. Strategically placed at the head and foot of the bivy, these vents allow for efficient airflow, facilitating the exchange of stale, humid air with fresh outside air. Promoting increased ventilation, the vents help regulate internal humidity levels, reducing the likelihood of moisture accumulation inside the shelter. This feature is particularly beneficial during colder nights or in humid conditions, where condensation on the inner walls would typically be a concern. The design of the vents ensures that even when the bivy is fully zipped closed for protection against the elements, adequate airflow is maintained, contributing to a more comfortable and dry sleeping environment.

Upgraded Mesh Screen

The Summit Bivy's new Honeycomb B4 Polyester Mesh Screen represents a significant enhancement in comfort and functionality for this new sleep system. Crafted from high-quality polyester, the Honeycomb B4 mesh offers exceptional breathability while effectively keeping out insects and pests that seek to destroy mid-day naps and restful nights sleep. Its innovative honeycomb structure not only maximizes airflow but also ensures durability and resistance to tears, making it ideal for the rugged outdoor conditions it is designed to be used in. This mesh screen allows users to enjoy unobstructed views of the cosmos at night, as well as the surrounding environment while providing crucial ventilation inside the bivy, thereby reducing condensation and maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment. Whether camping in warm desert climates with snakes and scorpions or seeking refuge from the nats, flies, and mosquitos in the alpine, our new Honeycomb B4 Polyester Mesh Screen will deliver optimal comfort and protection.

Improved Full-Length Pole System 

Possibly the most noticeable improvement we made to the Summit Bivy sleep system is the changes we made to its full-length pole system. We made the Summit and its pole system 4” longer in hopes that it will better fit taller customers. Despite the fact that it was as long as our canvas bedrolls, 84” or 7ft, the angle in the footbox of the Summit made it feel shorter. We also made changes to the angles or the poles around the head area to provide more room. However, the best improvement we made was adding a T spreader bar in the middle of the pole system to help spread the polyester and mesh fabrics away from the user. Doing this made the Summit Bivy far more roomy and made it more comfortable to sleep in. It also allowed for better air circulation and improved fabric performance, especially during stormy weather. 

Weight vs Durability

The upgrades to the Summit Bivy were focused on making it perform better for longer, and were less focused on saving as much weight as possible. So although the Summit is not the lightest option on the market (and we never intended it to be so), it will perform better and last longer than any sleep system in its class. When it comes to Canvas Cutter products, we are always going to make durability a priority over the weight of a product. Durability is at the core of who we are and the gear we make. In our opinion durability in outdoor gear, especially a sleep system, holds a paramount advantage over lighter weight considerations, because it offers more reliability and longevity, and can better withstand the rigors of the harsh environments it will be used in. While ultra-lightweight gear is advantageous for reducing pack weight, durable gear ensures prolonged performance and resilience against abrasions, tears, and extreme weather conditions. In other words, because the Summit Bivy is made to be more durable than it was made to be light, it is a more cost-effective investment and will provide you with a better experience over a longer period of time. If the Summit is not light enough for you, you can always lose weight in the other gear you have or yourself to make up the weight difference instead of sacrificing durability.

In conclusion, Canvas Cutter's Summit Bivy represents an improved lightweight solution for outdoorsmen seeking durability and functionality in their lightweight sleep system. From its durable materials to its innovative features like the Honeycomb B4 Polyester Mesh and improved pole system, every aspect of the bivy has been meticulously designed to enhance comfort, protection, and ease of use in remote environments. Whether braving challenging weather conditions or enjoying a serene night under the stars, the Summit Bivy stands as a testament to Canvas Cutter's commitment to quality craftsmanship and innovation. With this shelter, you can embark on all your journeys with confidence, knowing you have reliable gear that supports your every outdoor endeavor.

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