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 first 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 movies below. Additionally, be sure to go through the buying guide at the end of this read for some pointers on what to look for when choosing a bivy sack.

A bivy sack is about as lightweight as any overnight shelter can be. If you’re looking for the ultimate ultralight setup for covering many miles on foot then you’re looking in the right place.

A bivy sack can be no more than an emergency hi-viz plastic bag or a foil lined enclosed blanket, right up to a shaped silnylon vented shelter with a hooped head end and 2-layer mesh openings. The one you require all depends on your requirements. If you’re on a day hike, it can be worth taking an emergency bevy shelter in case the weather closes in - particularly in the mountains. If overnighting is your aim, then it’s probably worth spending the extra money on a more advanced shelter.

Bivy sacks are notorious for condensation building up inside. In emergency situations, when the primary concern is staying alive when the conditions turn bad, this seems like a very minor concern. If your bivy sack is to be used more regularly, and in particular on multi night trips, then venting becomes a priority - allowing moist air to exit the shelter and fresh air to enter will help to reduce condensation and make packing away and redeploying the following day much more comfortable.

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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 up 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 a 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. Besides, 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.

Intended Use

Depending on the weather conditions you’re expecting, you can get a 3 or 4 season bivy tent. Some bivy sacks are also 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 emergencies even come equipped with a whistle and paracord.

Additional features

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 ultralight bivy 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 the 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. Make sure the bivy you choose has breathable fabric construction, mesh panels, or dedicated vents. These openings will allow vapor to escape instead of condensing and making your bivy shelter wet inside. 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 by hand, but you should always check the instructions on yours first. However, you wash it, always rinse it off properly. Some bivys can go in a tumble dryer, while others should be left to air dry, the bivy specs will specify this.

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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.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!