Normally when I review products it is when I have had them for a short while and I have used them long enough to formulate an opinion on them, this review is different in that I have had the item in question for 2 years now and I have used it heavily hence I feel that it is now long overdue for a comment here.
As mentioned above 2 years ago I decided to move into the modern age and replace my old Nash Titan bivvi with something slightly more modern. That is not to say I didn’t like the Nash bivvi but it was a little long in the tooth and the water proofing had almost completely gone, not bad for a 15 year old tent !
As I liked the Nash design I was in the mood for something similar and as Nash ( in common with lots of other makers) had decided to go the “pram hood” style bivvi* and abandon the evolved umbrella type designs I had to look a little further. One of the shops I frequent had a Trakker catalogue and a brief perusal showed that they has the grandly titled “Trakker Pioneer Ultra Light” which from its name I decided must be pioneering and ultra light. Well one of these statements appeared to be true 🙂 it is pioneering but I am not sure if “ultra light” really fits being that it is 7.6 kg’s plus the storm poles and winter skin. One criticism that you can not lay against it is that it is not built to a high standard, not only is it reassuringly solid but ( unlike other bivvy’s) it does not flap in the wind no matter how strong it is. I have had it up in a force 7 gusting to 8 and it coped quite well which is more than can be said for the trees that surrounded the lake.
Anyway on to the review, what do you get :
1 x bivvy
2 x assembly / erector poles
Good quality pegs in a bag
1 x ground sheet
To put up the bivvy you 1st put the ground sheet on the floor with the Trakker logo facing wherever you want the door to be. The ground sheet is not essential but when you 1st get the bivvy it will help you get the peg positions right and allow you to achieve a drum tight finish to the outer skin. Once the groundsheet is down you can begin to assemble it, this is where the Pioneer is completely different to all other bivvy’s on the market. To assemble you take the bivvy, fan out the poles and orientate it so that the side with 5 poles is in front of you facing away. This will be the top of the bivvy and is longer than the other side. Take the two erector poles and placed them in the holes of the central boss and squeeze them together. As you do this, as if by magic the bivvy will pop open and when the erector poles are together you will be able to slide the locking latch over on the central boss. you can find a better video explanation here. A HUGE WORD OF WARNING, make sure that you have a good grip of the erector poles whilst you are sliding the catch on the central boss across… I didn’t the 2nd time I put it up and ended up with one of the erector poles hitting me on the face, hard. You only do it once and after that you make sure that you have a really good grip on them. Once the bivvy is popped up it is just a matter of putting in the pegs and deciding if you want the front zipped on or off.
Feature wise the bivvy has a zip on front, useful in the summer as you can leave it completely off. It has 2 large mosquito panels ( that roll back) and a mosquito mesh door. The door also features 2 way zips allowing you open it from both the bottom and the top. This is very useful if you want a bit of ventilation but not to let in the rain. There are dual pegging points on all of the major places allowing the bivvy to be put up on uneven ground and all pegging points from the groundsheet are elasticated.
One slight negative point is that the storm poles ( 4 of them) are sold as an “optional” extra. They are not, with out the storm poles ( at least the short pair at the back) the bivvy is extremely unstable and is almost completely unusable in any wind. As soon as they are in it is rock solid, a recommendation to anyone buying it is to get the storm poles from day 1 and never attempt to fish with out them. Please note that you don’t need to buy the manufacturers storm poles, I have Fox quick stiks in mine and it is perfectly happy. A small tip that will really improve the speed at which you can set it up, put quick release connectors on the top of your banksticks and screw the other half to the storm pole attachment on the rib. It will make attaching and detaching the storm poles a doddle.
The above pic shows the bivvy in full winter mode with the mozzy flaps battened down and a winter skin in place. I should state that this point that whilst this bivvy is made by Trakker, Aqua Products make an identical one and indeed the winter skin that I have on this bivvy is the one from Aqua Products. The winter skin is not really essential but will prevent condensation forming on the inside of the bivvy if you cook inside it in the winter. A point to note, however, is that the winter skin will make the bivvy very dark in side which is worth considering as it is primarily used in the winter with the short days.
Over all I really rate this bivvy, a friend has an Aqua Products Mk2 2 man which is absolutely huge and he has to choose swims carefully lest it doesn’t fit. The pioneer has no issues fitting into the tightest of swims and indeed if you look at the opening picture you can see it erected on a canal towpath with room to spare. Now this compactness doesn’t come without a price. The bivvy is not the largest when it comes to interior space but it is quite large enough for 1 person, a bed chair and all the things that they will need for a longish session. If you regularly do week long sessions this might not be the bivvy for you but for the weekend warrior I cant rate it highly enough.
* Looks like Nash has relented and has decided to bring the design back for 2010 see here