You get off of work on a Friday.
The drive is long to the trailhead.
It is dark by the time you arrive at the trailhead area.
You pull off to the side of the Forest Service road and find a place to park.
Your sleeping bag and pad are set up in the bed of your truck.
A camp chair is set up, and a cold drink is consumed. The night sky is lovely above.
The workweek is forgotten. You anticipate a wonderful trip.
You call it a night.
You hit the sack and fall asleep.
The following morning, coffee and oatmeal are made. You hoist your pack, lock the car doors, and head up the trail.
You just did a truck bivy.
A truck bivy is my term for what is typically later night utilitarian camping.
A sub-set of car camping, but with a more utilitarian bent.
A truck bivy is a quick pre-trip camp when you want to be at or near the trailhead the following morning.
It is not for beautiful scenery or enjoying a good meal per se.
It is a way to maximize weekend time and, many times, a necessity.
I call it a truck bivy for a simple reason: Most people who do this type of late-night bivvying sleep in their vehicle or simply cowboy camp. Setting up a shelter in the dark is not fun and requires scoping out a good site.
Something I’d rather not do at 11 PM after working all day and many hours of driving.
A pickup (or the back of an SUV / wagon if you are on the shorter side like myself) is an ideal vehicle for this type of late-night bivy. Crawl in the back. Call it good. Or cowboy camp if the night air is dry.
Obviously, there is no special gear needed for a truck bivy, but here a few things I found that have helped me over the years. Basically, the few extras are gear, so I don’t have to repack in the morning. I want to hit the trail ASAP in AM. We always have these items packed in our ‘permacamping kit.’
- Old sleeping bag: An older sleeping bag, perhaps the bulky synthetic bag you started with, is just fine for this type of late-night bivy. Joan and I have two inexpensive rectangular synthetic bags zipped together along with a poncho liner and a fleece blanket each.
- Sleeping pad: Similar to the above. The ones we use for car camping works well.
- One burner stove and small cookset: Quickly heats the water for oatmeal and hot coffee. Fuel can be found anywhere.
- Camp chair and a small cooler: After a typically long drive after work to get at or near the trailhead, I am too keyed up to go to sleep right away. Sitting down, taking in the night sky, and drinking a beer I find is a good way to unwind after a full work week and the multi-hour, the usually coffee-fueled drive I just did to get to the trailhead area.
Want to maximize your recreation time? Leave Friday, drive, and do a truck bivy.
More efficient than leaving on a Saturday morning. And cheaper than a motel room on the way.
The scenery is often better, too.
(And don’t forget to pack for AFTER the trip as well)