Terra Nova Bivi Tarp 2011

Terra Nova has a history in expedition and mountain tents, but as the holder of the Guinness World Record for the world’s lightest tent with the 560g Laser Ultra 1, the brand is no stranger to lightweight shelters. They recently added several tarp models to their range, and the Bivi Tarp is something a little different.

The Terra Nova Bivi Tarp fills the gap between a lightweight tent and a tarp; in essence it’s a slimmed-down two-skin tent as there is a waterproof flysheet, and suspended inside is a mesh sleeping compartment. The inner has a waterproof floor with raised edges like a tent ‘tub’, giving added protection from wet ground. There are two folding colour-coded tent poles, which give foot- and headroom, plus multiple reflective guy lines with Linelok adjusters. The Bivi Tarp also comes with 2g titanium pegs, making it the only complete ready-to-go package in the test. The inner is accessed from one end via a zipped mesh door, and there is good room for one inside. The flysheet overhangs the inner all round, through-airflow is very good with a large gap between the two, and at the front there’s some protection for cooking and gear storage.

On the hill
The Terra Nova Bivi Tarp packs down very small, and the weight of 696g is very good for a complete shelter. The waterproof tub floor also saves some extra weight as you can carry just a regular sleeping bag in most conditions without extra protection from the wet. Pitching is simple as it follows a familiar pattern of pegging out and tensioning guy lines, and even on a windy hilltop it’s manageable. The poles are light and quick to fit, but the ends sink into soft ground when the flysheet is tensioned (a flat stone underneath proved a good fix). One other issue with the poles is at the front door: the pole is positioned right down the middle of the door so you have to move it out of the way to get in and out, which disturbs the tension of the flysheet. The Bivi Tarp has a small footprint and a low height, which lets you tuck it into corners and keep it out of the worst of the wind. The wind will rattle the flysheet, but there are extra guy points if you want to add guy lines for extra security; and shortening the existing guy lines closes down the air gap, lessening the airflow through the mesh inner. The mesh inner means a bug-free camp, but the bivvy-style low profile might be an issue for some as you can’t sit up, and removing wet or dirty clothes and footwear before getting inside can be a faff.

Fabric nylon flysheet/mesh inner
Sleeps 1
Total fabric area 250x170cm
Weight 696g
Packsize 13x30cm
Made in China
Stores in the UK 5
Stockists (01773) 837373; www.terra-nova.co.uk

The Terra Nova Bivi Tarp comes as a complete package; low, compact and midgeproof; has a waterproof tub floor and is easy to pitch. But end-entry bivvy-style sleeping compartment isn’t for everyone; minimal gear storage space; that pole across the door is a niggle. It’s a light, low-profile protective design with a waterproof floor in a hill-ready package; the front pole position is the only minor niggle

Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2011