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When the intrepid bikepacker thinks about getting wet, it’s usually in the form of rain from above. However, while you’re unlikely to get quite as wet from below … you can still get unpleasantly damp. 

Using a bivvy bag obviously negates the issue of wet ground but it’s not without its draw-backs. Firstly, there’s the ever present danger of drowning due to condensation to consider. Then, there’s the issue of your sleeping mat getting wet and muddy if it doesn’t fit inside said bivvy bag. How about sliding? Going to sleep under a tarp and waking up three feet away from it, isn’t as uncommon as you might think. What about a groundsheet then, would that help? A flat groundsheet will certainly help keep your mat in pristine condition but it can make the slip, sliding bivvy bag phenomenon worse and its use doesn’t usually add enough reassurance to convince us to sleep sans bivvy – so, handy but not perfect.

Should be plenty big enough for most … but not too big.


How about a ‘bathtub’ groundsheet? Uhm, potentially, a groundsheet with raised sides that pegs down to the floor, should put an end to nocturnal bivvy bag tobogganing and if you’re of a mind, might just convince you to leave the bivvy bag at home. Sounds good doesn’t it? I think so, which makes the fact that I’ve never really bothered with one long-term, slightly surprising. The reason I’ve never used a bathtub for longer than a single night is simple. I’ve never had one that actually worked as intended … until I got this.

The Trekkertent bathtub actually has sides that stay up. Now, you might think, that in the world of bathtub groundsheets, having sides that stay up would be a prerequisite design feature but my experience says otherwise. ‘Floppy’ is the word that best describes many and even when deployed on a perfectly smooth pitch and allied with precision pegging, it’s only enough to transforms floppy into flaccid. A droopy bathtub groundsheet isn’t a bathtub at all, it’s simply a heavier, more complicated flat groundsheet that offers the unfortunate user no advantage. 

The sides on the Trekkertent bathtub form a 135mm high barrier to water, they also afford some protection from the wind and offer a last line of defence against marauding slugs. You’ll notice that apart from having sides which stand up, it’s also tapered which is a real bonus as it allows it to fit under more shelters – more easily.

Rigid corner struts keep things upright – shock-cord, models own.

As standard, the corners are fitted with lightweight cord and mini line-locs. They work well, keep the sides nicely taught and offer some adjustment. However, for no other reason than ‘just to see’, I replaced them with 2mm shock-cord. The result was a few seconds reduction in set-up time and luckily, sides which still stay up … that’s probably testament to the good design rather than anything I did. Trekkertent offer a choice of material – 30d silnylon for the weight obsessive and 70d silnylon for the more relaxed. However, this particular bathtub is made from ‘Silpoly PU 4000’, although that sounds like some ill fated model produced by British Leyland in the 70’s, it is in fact, highly waterproof, hard wearing and capable of withstanding prolonged use … so very different to any BL model from the 70’s. 

Even when using a 70mm thick air mat, I’ve found the height of the sides is more than adequate to prevent my quilt contacting the ground, which has lead me to start using it beneath a tarp without a bivvy bag. Something else I’m enjoying, is not waking up in the morning wondering where all my belongings have gone. Any clothes I’m not wearing are simply pushed between me and the bathtub when I retire for the evening and as if by magic, they’re still there the following day … it’s the simple things that make me happy.

Before I tell you how much and give you the link to buy one, I feel I should point something out to the ‘hard of thinking’ … just like your bathtub at home, a bathtub groundsheet will hold water, a lot of water. Take care that your shelter overhangs the bathtub by a good couple of inches in all directions – failure to do so, will result in an early bath.

£40 direct from Trekkertent.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting idea, what size does it pack down to and what is the weight?

  2. The one tested weighs 163g inc' stuff-sack. It would easily compress to less than half a litre. Trekkertent list the weights of the silnylon versions as, 135g for 30d and 180g for the thicker 70d version. Pack size should be similar.

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