Bivy sacks are an excellent solution if you need a lightweight shelter for backpacking, hiking, and alpine adventures. Thanks to their excellent warmth to weight ratio, the best bivy sacks, and tents reduce pack weight and size and still provide adequate protection from the elements allowing you to enjoy a good night’s sleep under the stars. In the event of an emergency, a survival bivy can be a lifesaver.
Bivy sacks have come a long way since they were invented, and are now much more reliable and comfortable than they used to be. To help you find the perfect bivy sack for your needs, we’ve compiled a list of 10 fantastic bivies below. Additionally, be sure to go through the buying guide for some pointers on what to look for when choosing a bivy sack.
How To Choose A Bivy Bag – Buying Guide
Size and Weight
When considering size, there are two things to think about – how large the sack is when open, and how small it is when packed. Length, width, and height greatly influence how comfortable you will feel inside the bivy bag. Most bivy sacks are 80 and 90 inches in length. When packed, it should take as little space as possible and shouldn’t weigh you down on the trails. Weight usually ranges from as little as 4.1 ounces to just a bit over 3 pounds.
Bivy sacks are usually made of ripstop nylon or polyester. These materials are lightweight, tough, and give you reliable weather protection. On top of this, manufacturers apply PU (polyurethane) or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coatings to boost the waterproof performance. Some innovative bivies use high-performance waterproof breathable materials like Gore-Tex.
Bivy sacks help keep you warm by trapping your body heat inside. The seasonal rating of a bivy sack will tell you what kinds of conditions it’s designed for. For example, a 4 season bivy tent is suitable for even winter camping and alpine conditions. Checking bivy sack reviews will also help you get a clearer picture of what to expect.
The waterproof rating depends on the material choice and the additional waterproof coating. It’s presented as Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating, where a larger value means better protection. At least 1000mm is required for a material to be considered waterproof, and all the top-rated ultralight bivy sacks featured above greatly exceed this. In addition, make sure the bivy you get has taped or welded seams.
Comfort and Breathability
Comfort is essential for a good night’s rest in a tent bivy. First and foremost, make sure the bivy you choose has sufficient length and width for your body frame. Having some space above your head also helps cut down on claustrophobia. Breathability is also a key component of your comfort inside. Well-ventilated bivy sacks with mesh panels or special vents cut down condensation build-up.
Depending on the weather conditions you’re expecting, you can get a 3 or 4 season bivy tent. Some bivy sacks are designed for insect protection. If you need an emergency bivy to keep in your car or emergency kit, you will need an ultralight bivy that packs down super compact. Some survival bivies meant for emergency situations even come equipped with a whistle and paracord.
Extra features that improve your bivy camping experience are a plus. The first feature to pay attention to is the zipper. It should enable you to get in and out of the bivy easily. Features that improve comfort include small mesh pockets inside or straps to keep your sleeping pad in place. Some manufacturers include stakes, which you can use to secure your bivy ultralight shelter.
Q: What Is A Bivy Tent?
A bivy tent is an outdoor shelter, and a more compact and lightweight alternative to a tent. You can easily take it anywhere, so you have something to keep you dry and warm at night.
Q: Why Should I Choose A Bivy Tent Instead Of A Normal Tent?
A bivy tent is a great choice of sleeping system if you want to save space and cut weight when packing. It’s much lighter and packs smaller than any normal tent out there. It’s also a good emergency shelter you can set up quickly, faster than most tents. However, keep in mind that, because of the size, it isn’t very useful for hanging out inside like you would in a tent.
Q: How Do I Prevent Condensation In My Bivy Tent?
You will experience less condensation inside your bivy tent if you choose a well-ventilated bivy sack. Make sure the bivy you choose has a breathable fabric construction, mesh panels or dedicated vents. These openings will allow vapor to escape instead of condensing and making your bivy shelter wet. Of course, you can always unzip the sack a bit and ventilate it manually to reduce condensation.
Q: How Do I Wash My Bivy Tent?
Most bivy sacks are safe to wash in a machine, but you should always check the instructions on yours first. Whether you hand or machine wash it, always rinse it off properly. Some bivys can go in a tumble dryer, while others should be left to air dry.
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Bivy sacks are an excellent solution if you need a minimalist shelter instead of taking a large tent with you. The best bivy tents can also serve as a backup for emergencies. We hope that our guide and reviews of the top-rated ultralight bivy sacks have made your choice easier.
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Have you tried a bivy tent that made it onto our list? Did it give you satisfactory weather protection? Was it comfortable to use and sleep in? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.