Bivvies – what does twin skin mean?

Tom wrote:

With regard to bivvies what does twin skin mean ?

Gareth Watkins replies: I wrote a blog piece a week or so back on this subject hope this replies to your query:

Ever since carp anglers started night fishing we have been searching for the perfect overnight shelter. These bivvies, as they have been christened need several essential qualities.

Firstly they need to be spacious enough to cover a bedchair and all your tackle in order to protect it from the rain. Secondly they need to be light and quick to erect. Finally they should pack down fairly small so they can easily be transported to the lake.

The early days saw anglers using large brollies, that evolved over the years to provide an excellent shelter, in fact it is still a system I enjoy today. A time went on a whole host of shelters, bivvies and tents were developed.

Brollies: As I said this was really the first system that serious anglers started to use for their night sessions. They are light, easy to put up quickly and afford adequate protection from the elements. These shelters evolved from the original 45 inch upright brolly through the 50 and 60 inch tilting type to the modern oval systems. The main draw back is being a single skinned structure you do get condensation. Overwraps were the answer to this problem, the first “Brolly Camp” being made by Send Marketing for the upright 45inch umbrellas in heavy duty canvas. Kevin Nash did an excellent version for the 50inch brollies.

The latest evolution has seen zip in fronts on most of the oval brolly systems that really do make this a very versatile system.

Dome tents: These first started to be used when companies like Aqua, with their Aquadome and Rod Hutchinson with the Apotheosis brought out tents in olive green. Ok we still referred to these as bivvies, but they were more often than not the same design as your regular camping version. They are light, pack down small and offer a large space in the two man versions for bedchairs and equipment. They are ideal for a week away in France say. They are all double skinned tents which virtually eliminate condensation and the front often has a porch area for bait buckets, stoves etc. The main drawback of these bivvies is that they are all designed on a dome tent format which involves feeding poles though the inner to erect the structure. This can at times, especially if you are alone be very awkward. The poles have a habit of snapping too or bending if you have the aluminium ones. In really rough weather I have seen them get wiped out completely.

Titans: The Titan was one of the first systems designed from the ground up for angers and basically started with a clean sheet. I personally think the design was brilliant. Based vaguely on a brolly idea the frame was moved to the outside and the bivvy opened in a fan. The front then zipped in and it provided an extremely sturdy shelter, that was quick to put up. Being single skinned it needed a Winter Skin to avoid condensation. Unfortunately it had a few basic flaws that bugged it and to my mind spoiled what could have been the top system. The tapes on the inside had a habit of coming off, probably due to the expansion and contraction of the fabric in the sun. The so called breathable ones leaked badly without the second skin. Finally I found them very large and cumbersome when packed down, and the bag provided was hopeless as it was almost impossible to get the full kit back in…

Once up and pegged down they looked good and provided good protection.

Evolution type shelters: Another shelter that only saw moderate success was the Evolution by Fox. Originally developed by Aqua, Fox brought it out as a light weight quick erect shelter. A alternative to the Titan it saw a variety of versions.

Pramhood bivvies: Pioneered again by the very inventive people at Aqua these type of bivvies are the latest innovation and have really taken the carp world by storm. Everyone seems to be making their version. Again a design for the carp angler, they offer a vast amount of space, uncluttered by ribs and poles. They fold down small and with the winter skins are warm and comfortable. I have though found the can be hard to dismantle if the fabric has become taut in the sun, and they do take a while to put up and take down. They are though extremely sturdy and far better for a long session than the domes were.

So there you have the main types of bivvy to choose from. I personally still like the brolly, as it allows you to move quickly and easily if you see fish showing elsewhere on your venue. The main problem with all the other systems is that once you have set up camp, moving is long and slow. Many people can’t be bothered and thus miss out on fish.




One thought on “Bivvies – what does twin skin mean?

  1. James says:

    Cand I recommend the Titan Hide as a great bivvy?

    Its a cross between a brolly and a bivvy – but i like how easy it is too setup 🙂

    Great post btw!

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