The compact and lightweight nature of this extremely versatile bivvy belies its strength. Despite weighting in at just 8.5 Kg, Cyprinus have managed to cram a large interior capacity, a waterproof and breathable skin, a heavy duty rubberized groundsheet and a very rigid, sturdy frame into a very nifty little package.
A low weight like this, from such a well put together bivvy, simply would not be possible without high-tech materials and the manufacturer’s claim that advanced materials have been used throughout its construction, including aerospace-grade aluminium used to make the stitched-in ribs and also the tension poles.
With the ribs being permanently stitched into the bivvy, rather than separate, there’s no messing around trying to feed poles through impossibly narrow holes when setting the bivvy up! This makes the XLR8 really quick and easy to erect. At each join in the ribs the female part has an oversized, knurled grip, which gives strength to the joint and also provides something to grip when unshipping the ribs to pack the bivvy away.
When the tension strap is clipped between either side of the bivvy, using the small aluminium caribiners supplied, the whole setup is supremely strong and stable. It’s anchored to the floor with the supplied T-handle, spiral-point pegs which come in a handy pierce-proof bag.
Not only is the metalware high-tech, the flysheet material is too. Cyprinus claim that their ‘Hydro-Tec’ material is amongst the most waterproof and breathable of any bivvy canopy material on the market. During my test of the product we had some somewhat ‘damp’ weather… and I found that water ‘beaded’ very well on it and ran off quickly, whilst the inside collected minimal condensation, so I would say their claims are probably true.
To bolster the waterproof properties of this bivvy, all of the seams (which are double-stitched throughout) are taped on the inside. The hydrostatic head rating of the Hydro-Tec fabric is 12,000mm, which is eight-times the European standard for ‘totally waterproof’ fabric!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the XLR8 is an extremely versatile bivvy which can be configured in several ways. The ingenious design of the front of the bivvy – with a full-width waterproof skin and a separate full-width mesh skin – allows it to be set up either as fully waterproof dome, a completely open-fronted shelter or as a mesh-fronted shelter.
A pair of large crash zips hold both removable sections in place, for quick and easy removal if you decide on a change of configuration and this is a superb design and one which will surely find favour with anglers who fish waters with a lot of flying insect life, such as the Scottish Lochs. In the summer the weather may be warm enough to have the front zipped-off but biting insects make this unbearable. The full mesh front allows ample air flow to keep the bivvy cool and dry whilst also keeping out mozzies and midges! Then, should the weather turn for the worst, the waterproof front can be zipped back on in seconds.
The headroom inside the XLR8 is impressive; sat upright on my bedchair I have a good few inches above my head and when moving about inside it’s refreshing for me to not have to stoop too much in a one-man bivvy. In fact for a bivvy known mainly for its compact size and lack of weight, the inside is cavernous!
All of the metal pegging points feature shock cord loops which ensure the canopy is kept under tension even when the temperature changes, whilst also protecting the stitching which holds the pegging points to the canopy. A tight canopy means a dry occupant and not only should these premium features help keep you dry, they will help ensure your investment lasts a long time too.
The removable groundsheet that comes with the XLR8 isn’t a fragile afterthought, as perhaps one might imagine on a lightweight bivvy, it is constructed from a real heavy-duty, rubbery material. This pegs down and flattens out well when in use, but is an entirely optional fit, so for a short session during dry weather, the load can be lightened further by leaving the groundsheet at home.
This bivvy packs down extremely small at the end of the session. The aluminium ‘pram-hood’ ribs are bungee-corded into five pieces, which fold away easily alongside each other, allowing the bivvy to ease inside the carry bag which also holds the groundsheet and all pegs & poles, yet is just 93cm long and 28cm in diameter.
I’m most impressed with the XLR8. Being lightweight and quick to erect makes a quick swim change possible if the fish move or conditions change, besides making it less of a burden to carry to your swim and setup in the first place. Being able to zip-off both front panels is also a major bonus and I think this will appeal to the multi-species specialist as much as it will to the solo carper.
Very versatile indeed and a product that is perfect for both the pleasure angler who puts in the odd night session and the more hardened specimen hunter.
When erected, the dimensions of the XLR8 Super Lightweight Bivvy are as follows:
Width = 260 cm / 102in
Depth = 185 cm / 73in
Height = 122 cm / 48in
Dimensions when packed-away in carry bag:
Length = 93 cm / 37in
Diameter = 28 cm / 11in
Weight = 8.45 kg / 18lb 8oz
The XLR8 Super Lightweight retails at £499.99 but it is available from the Tackle Discounts website HERE for just £149.99.