A Look At The Two Sides Of The Bivy Vs. Tent Argument


For most people, camping without a tent is unimaginable, but most of those who have some experience know that, although most common and widely used, the tent is not the only option you could use, especially if you’re going on a trip alone.

The alternative comes in the shape of bivy sacks. They are not as popular as tents but are becoming more and more users around the world. The main question is – which one is better? The bivy sack vs tent is one of the most spread discussions, and both backpacking bivy tent and regular tent have their own advantages and cons, and in this article, you’ll read about main arguments for and against these two shelters. Then, after the comparison, you’ll be able to tell which one suits your needs better.

How To Decide?

There are some aspects you should consider before you go and buy either tent or bivy sack, and they are:

  • Weight and backpack space
  • Comfort they provide
  • Price
  • Setting up a process
  • How many participants will be there
  • Protection and safety

Take all of these into the equation and go for the one that sounds better.

Weight And Backpack Space

Speaking of weight, both can be really light, especially those produced in recent years and made by modern design. But, that doesn’t mean it is all the same. On contrary, the difference in weight between these two is way bigger than you think.

The material itself, although bivy has a bit less, is not the problem, as both bivy sacks and tents can be like we’ve already said, lightweight. But, unlike a tent, a bivy sack has simple poles and you won’t need any other stuff for it to work. The structure of a bivy sack is really simple.

Tents need a bit heavier equipment, and the weight difference can be almost double, even if your tent is a lightweight one. Speaking about the size and space you’ll need to pack them, a bivy is way simpler as it won’t take up so much space and you’ll be able to fit it inside of your backpack easier than a tent.

So, if you plan on going for a hiking trip without a permanent campsite, it may be easier to bring a bivy, as it will help you keep the tempo up because of the lack of weight and the fact that it is way easier to carry around compared to a tent.

Comfort They Provide

Being small and easy, bivy sacks are not the most comfortable option and they don’t offer much space for movement when you get inside, but they warm up quickly. Also, it can be unpleasant spending much time in one because the space limitation makes them liable to condensation development, so it can be quite uncomfortable being in one.

You can opt-out to leave your bivy sack open and cover your upper body with the mosquito net. Also, you can specifically ask for the more breathable one, but be ready to spend more money on it, or opt-out for synthetic camping sacks. You could use hydrophobic treatment to reduce the wetness.

Another problem with bivy sacks is the lack of storage space, so you’ll have to leave your backpack and your stuff somewhere outside.

Tents are not so easy to warm up, but they offer way more space, you’re not limited to just lying down, and your stuff and gear will be within a hand reach. And, while we talk about comfort, don’t forget that sometimes you may get caught by the rain or any other form of bad weather, and spending that time in a bivy sack can be quite traumatic, claustrophobic, and terrifying.

And whether if it rains or not, you’ll have to dry your bivy sack every three or four days because of the moisture that gathers in it during the time you’ve spent inside.


Because most campers don’t have an unlimited budget, you’ll probably like to get the best quality for the lowest possible price. This is why a tent may be a better option because there are many different options to choose from and you can find really cheap ones. Although most of the time you’ll have to spend at least $100 for a quality tent, if you’re dedicated enough you may get it a bit cheaper.

The bottom line is – the more you play, the better quality you’ll get. Of course, sometimes you may be satisfied with the cheapest option or disappointed with the most expensive one, but it is not so likely.

The price of both tent and bivy sack could also depend on the brand, with the well-known and respected brands will be more expensive, while the new and not so popular brands may be available at a lower price. Another important factor could be the size of your tent. And last, there could be a bit of a difference in prices at different places. So, if you’re willing to go on a road trip, you may find the tent you’re looking for a bit cheaper at the store located a bit out of your place, compared to the one located in the city center.

Setting Up Process


Without the comparison, setting up a bivy sack is way easier and simpler. First, for sleeping in a bivy sack you don’t need a specific location. Because they don’t need much space, you can set it up anywhere you want, so finding the right location is not required, and you probably won’t need permission to set it up somewhere.

This is why having a bivy sack is useful if you plan on going somewhere unfamiliar and if you’re not sure that the location is a good one for the tent.

Second, the setting up process itself is way easier with the bivy sack. You’ll have to insert two poles, and then place the mattress inside, zip the bug net and you’re done. This is good if you have to set it up during the night time, or if you have to leave in a hurry. Simply roll it out to the ground and you’re good to go.

It comes with a price, because you’ll not be able to place your backpack and your shoes inside, so they can be unprotected in case of rain, storm, snow, or curious animals and could suffer some damage. To lower the chance of this happening, you can place your stuff in a big, plastic bag, to keep them dry.

Number Of Group Members

Bivy sacks are most often a one-person shelter, and if you look for it you can find a two-person bivy, but for bigger groups, every individual should have their own.

On the other hand, tents can be for a single person, but you can also find multi-person tents. It fully depends on your group and who you’re going on a trip with. For example, if you’re going with your close friends, you may want to share the tent, while if you’re going with someone you don’t know well enough to be roommates, you could find a smaller tent that will fit your needs.

Protection And Safety

Besides the comfort, the main purpose of shelters is to provide us protection and safety. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to react quickly, bivy sack is more suitable, because you can pack it up quickly and easily and move away.

But, if you get caught by a storm, rain, or snow, being in a bivy can be quite problematic. First, you’ll have to close it all the way so you’ll lose most of the airflow and it will warm up really quickly. The second problem with bivy sack can come from the fact that it may feel a bit claustrophobic being zipped under the covers.

A third and most important problem is lowered visibility during bad weather and mobility while you’re inside.  As stated above, when it rains bug net won’t keep the rain away, so you’ll have to close yourself inside, this way making it hard to track what is going on around you. And while you’re inside, in case of an emergency, you won’t be able to react instantly because you’ll have to get out of your bivy first.

On the other hand, the tent provides you shelter and protection from bad weather, while it also keeps your mobility high, so you can react if you have to.

Globo Surf Overview

Bivy sack vs tent is an ongoing discussion among the campers. But which one is better? If you plan on going for a hike or going on a single person trip with the idea of keeping up the tempo, bivy will suit you better. But if you plan on going on a multi-day based trip, taking a tent with you is a probably better idea. We’ve shown you the pros and cons, the decision is completely up to you.

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Globo Surf
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!