The Stargazer Bivy has made my bivying experiences much more enjoyable than with my older, basic unhooped bivy. I think a hooped bivy is more than worth the extra weight penalty for the additional room and comfort it gives you by keeping the fabric away from your face.

The intelligent design means that the angle of the hoop gives the bivy a reasonably stable structure. Using the 2 peg in loops obviously gives the bivy an even more stable structure but you can do without this if you're keen to save the weight or if you are on ground too hard to get a peg in.

Another key feature to the Stargazer bivy is the large side opening which makes getting your sleeping mat, bag and yourself into it a breeze. The ingenious position of the head opening is what gives the Stargazer its name. If you're lying on your back looking up, the opening is above your head allowing you to admire the night sky. The opening has 2 layers - the waterproof outer and a mesh inner so you can be completely protected from insects but let the air in and gaze at the sky. If the weather is inclement you can zip this up and protect yourself. The zips have large tags and are easy to locate and use.

Most of the trips I've had in a bivy have been during fair weather so I haven’t needed to close the outer, waterproof opening fully. When I’ve needed to zip it up most of the way I haven’t found condensation to be an issue. I have only noticed a few tiny beads of water at the hoop where the fabric is reinforced and where it's directly over the area I'm breathing. The waterproof fabric used in the Stargazer is OR's own AscentShell, the same as the highly breathable Interstellar jacket. The design of the fabric means that it is much more air permeable and while still being waterproof it is exceptionally good in regards to breathability. As with any single skin shelter in the right conditions I would expect some condensation but the Stargazer has the right design and fabrics to minimise condensation as much as possible.

Being short I have plenty of room at the head end to store spare clothes, food etc. Taller folk would naturally have less room but if space is what you want, then a bivy is probably not for you. There is a small loop on the top of the bag for you to attach some cord so you can raise the bag by attaching it to a walking pole or branch. I haven’t used this feature but can see the value of keeping distance between the fabric of the bivy bag and your sleeping bag.

I haven't found any problems getting the Stargazer back into its small stuff bag after use, a positive for packing up and moving quickly. If you are after a low weight, simple and effective shelter to keep you close to nature but that still protects you from the elements I can heartily recommend the Outdoor Research Stargazer Bivy.