When I'm in the countryside for an overnight walking trip, taking a full-blown tent is hardly worth it, especially in the summer. It's often Two-kilos of weight that I just don't feel the need to carry. I have looked at buying an Ultra-Light tent in the past, and in all honesty, I had thought about purchasing the Gossamer Gear's The One, but at over £400, it's an expensive purchase.
This is where a Bivvy sack comes into its own. Most weigh around 400-Grams, but it's possible if you buy a top of the range model, to get this weight down to 200-Grams. They're also incredibly small with typically packed dimensions around 4 x 8-inches, totally waterproof and often good value for money. This brings up the question, what's the best bivvy on the market to take into the countryside this year.
If you want protection from the elements and good nights sleep in the wild, but don't want to carry a tent, then you need to consider a bivvy sack (also spelt "bivy" or "bivi"). A Bivvy in its purest form is a waterproof, windproof outer layer, that has been designed as a "slip over your sleeping bag" design and allows you just enough room to slide into for a good nights sleep in the countryside.
Bivvy Sacks are not for everyone. Some people I have spoken with over the years feel they are too constrictive, and especially those with claustrophobia, cannot get a good nights sleep. I'm not great with claustrophobia at the best of times, but by choosing the right design, I've found it a useful product for the countryside.
Types of Bivvy Sacks
Typically there are three main types of Bivvy Sacks that you need to be aware of before you choose the best bivvy sack for your needs. The three-sacks are traditional sacks, all-rounders, and bug nets. While they are similar in their design, they differ in weight, comfort and purpose.
- Bivvy Sacks (The Minimalist Design) – Are the purest form of this type of protection. The best way to describe a Bivvy sack is a plastic bag that you slide into, it's closed at one end, and has a zip at the other. If the weather is nice, you can leave the top open, if not, close it to be completely sealed from the elements.
- The All-Rounder (Four Seasons) – The key difference between a true bivvy sack and an all-rounder design, is the all-rounder offers weather protection, comfort, ventilation, and breathability all in a relatively lightweight package. The design also includes a metal hoop built into the design that helps to lift the tent away from your head, thus reducing that coffin feel.
- Bug Nets – In the summer months, often if you don't need much in the way of protection from the elements, and simply need protection from the creepy-crawly's that roam around at night. This is where a bug-net bivvy comes into its own. It offers all the protection against creepy-crawly's while keeping you cool at night.
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
This one-person bivy is great for campers and trekkers due to its lightweight nylon material that helps keep heat inside to keep you warm and toasty but does not feel suffocating, thanks to its breathable material.
The dimensions when opened are approximately 82 inches long, with a shoulder-width of 26 inches, but collapses down to a manageable, packable size of 4 by 15 inches. It is easy to set up and easy to travel with, since it weighs just over one pound. This bivy has a removable no-see-um mesh netting to keep incests out, but allow air in.
The rip-stop fabric has fully taped seams that ensure a windproof, waterproof barrier that is still highly breathable for your comfort. This bivy has one guyline loop, five-stake loops, straps for sleeping pads, and a small mesh storage pouch inside for convenient access to essential belongings.
The bivy also features spacious toe room and height, and an anti-fungal coating on the fabric of the floor to prevent mould, mildew, and fungi from making their homes in yours. This bivy is recommended for especially for backpackers, because of its multipurpose and multi-seasonal flexibility. The bivy is a three-season bivy, so you can start at the bottom of a mountain in the summertime, and trek into closer climates without worry.
Outdoor Research Molecule Bivy Regular Bag
This bivy bag from Outdoor Research is a simple, yet classic bivy that can suit the needs of anyone looking for something easy to carry, light, and functional.
The Molecule Bivy comes in regular and long, for those who need some more length. This regular-sized bivy fits one person and has a length of 84.6 inches and a shoulder width of 25.4 inches.
When packed, it measures five by 14 inches and weighs about 700grams, so it is easy to pack away and forget about. The Ventia fabric is breathable, and waterproof, with fully taped seams that ensure your safety from the rain and elements. This bivy also comes with a small internal mesh pouch for quick access to important belongings, and a removable mesh covering to keep insects out.
The floor panel is waterproof as well and has an anti-fungal coating to prevent mould, mildew, and fungi from growing. The high foot box promotes air-circulation, which helps to avoid condensation from building as you sleep. This bivy bag has multiple guyline loops and stake loops for security. This bag is perfect for backpackers and is a 3-to-4 season bivy, making climate transitions smooth, and give trekkers the freedom to adventure in any season.
Sungpak Stratosphere Bivvi Shelter
The Snugpak Bivvi Shelter is a 100% waterproof bag that really means it. It is made out of 50D nylon rip-stop fabric that has been coated in a 5000mm polyurethane coating to keep its camper dry, even in heavy rain.
The floor panel is coated in 8000mm polyurethane to ensure that no moisture seeps into your bivy from the ground. The dimensions are 91 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 20 inches tall, and fits one person comfortably. When compacted, it measures 12 inches long by 5 inches wide and weighs just 2.5 pounds.
This bivy features a full-length side zipper for ease of access in and out, as well as a roll away no-see-um net on top of the roomy head canopy. There is an additional back mesh panel that provides more ventilation as a means of preventing condensation and inviting airflow.
This bag also comes with a basic repair kit that includes a repair sleeve for metal poles, spare cord, tent guide rope tensioner, an elastic loop, and patch materials, as well as a storage bag. It comes with tent stakes for your convenience, which also makes it incredibly sturdy in harsher weather. It is a 4-season bivy so that you can adventure through multiple climates with one shelter.
MSR Pro Bivy
The MSR Pro-Bivvy Sack is one of my favorite ultra-compactable bivvy's on the market today. It's a simple design, made of light-weight fabric, but has all the important qualities that define a great bivvy. If you can get past the claustrophobia, its a great Bivvy sack.
It measures 88 inches long, with a shoulder-width of 36 inches, but when packed into its compact form, it measures 8 inches in length, four inches in width, and four inches high. Its small size makes it great for setting up camp in spots that bulky tents could not fit.
The MPS Pro weighs 340Grams, making it a super lightweight and backpacker-friendly bivvy. The breathable fabric ensures that you do not feel suffocated while sleeping, and helps to reduce the forming of condensation during the night. This bivvy is made with fabric that is made highly waterproof thanks to the Xtreme Shield waterproof coating on the bag.
This waterproof coating lasts three times longer than the typical, standard waterproof coating! This bivvy is a one-person bag and has a manufacturer's limited 3-year warranty. This bivvy is great for alpinists and fast trekkers who need light gear that does not take up much room in their pack. This bivvy is quick and easy to pitch, saving you time and energy, and gives you more time on the trail or to enjoy the adventures provided by the great outdoors.
OZtrail Swift Pitch Bivy Tent
This innovative bivy tent has a unique feature that most can't say they have: this bivy has an instant set up hub system which essentially makes set up complete in the blink on an eye! This gives you more time to explore and enjoy the great outdoors or just hang around by the fire.
Packing it down is also super fast and straightforward, which makes picking up camp a breeze. This one-person bivy is 220 cm long, has a shoulder width of 80 cm and a foot volume of 60 cm. The UVtex Sun Tough fabric is treated to be water repellent, while the fabric floor panel is highly durable and has a puncture resistance that is perfect for rougher environments.
The seams have been fully taped by the Dryseam factory to keep moisture from the air and ground out of your bivy. The easy-access top entrance makes entry and exits seamless and simple. The head cavity has ultra-fine mesh panels that keep out insects as well as nasty, annoying and promote cross-ventilation to prevent condensation and keep valuable airflow all night. This bivy tent is perfect for fast-paced and quick adventurers who like to easy and quick to use products that get the job done without any frills, bells, or whistles.
Aqua Quest Hooped Bivy Tent
This waterproof bivy sack is made by one the best bivvy sack manufacturers, Aqua Quest, so you can be assured that this bivy tent will be able to handle wet climates and rainy nights, keeping you dry and safe.
It is made with 70D rip-stop that has been coated with polyurethane, and features heat-sealed seams to prevent any moisture from the air and weather from entering your bivvy tent. This bivvy tent boasts a waterproof rating of 10,000 mm that still has a high breath-ability rate of 3,000 gr/m2/day!
It has one lightweight and collapsible shock cord pole, and five lightweight pegs made out of light aluminium, so the kit weighs in at 1.1 kg. When packed up, it measures 38 cm by 13 cm, and when compressed measures 38 cm by 8 cm, making it perfect for backpackers or campers who prefer not to haul tons of heavy gear. Setting up this bivvy is fairly quick, at approximately two minutes to get it ready for use.
The front panel unzips and has a mesh no-see-um screen. If you want to keep the heady canopy closed, you can still see the night sky through the small, clear, TPU window! This bivvy tent is also more spacious than most bivies, allowing you to read, eat, or change clothes inside!
DEFCON 5 Bivi Tent Bivy Shelter
This one-person bivy tent is built for extreme weather and features a high-quality Bivouac material to keep moisture, rain, flooding, and fog or mist out of your sleeping space.
The upper section is made out of 3 layers of 100% polyamide with a waterproof coating for added protection, and a breathable coating to keep fresh air coming in while preventing water entering the bivvy sack. The bottom fabric for the floor panel is made of 75 Denier nylon, and all seams are waterproofed via taped seals.
The dimensions of this bivvy tent are 230 cm in length, 50 cm wide, and an 80 cm high head cavity. The poles are made out of lightweight aluminium and are 8.5 mm long. When the bag is packed, its dimensions shrink to 35 cm by 15 cm by 13 cm, and the bivvy weighs in at only 1.55 kg, which makes it perfect for light packing backpackers or even for easy-going campers who dislike bulky tents.
This bivvy also has an abrasion-resistant coating to help prevent rips, tears, and accidental damage to your shelter. The fabric and material of the bivvy are also classified wind stop materials, so you do not need to worry about windy, rainy nights, causing you discomfort or disturbance while you sleep.
Outhaus Rockhampton Canvas Swag
The Outhaus Rockhampton Canvas Swag is not really camping bivvy, but more of a one man tent for a luxury holiday. Firstly it weighs over 5-Kg, or 7.6kg (including mattress, pegs, ropes & poles), secondly its almost bullet-proof and total over engineered for camping.
This bivvy is a luxury type of outdoor living! It is perfect for people who prioritize comfort and comfortable living over other factors. It comes with a 50 mm mattress type pad for the bed, so it makes this bivvy more of shelter and bed all in one, which makes it super convenient and comfortable.
The mattress has a washable cover, too. It can work with the mattress pad it comes with, a mattress pad that you purchased on its own, or even an inflatable mattress! This shelter is the king of comfort! All that is need is a duvet, sheets, or a sleeping bag and it is ready for you to go to sleep! It is super easy to get set up and pack down, making it perfect for people who do not like lots of added work while setting up their camp.
There are two entrances/exits: one on the top, and one front tunnel for when the weather is rough or rainy, and you do not want the water to come in as it would from the top entrance/exit. This bivvy is made out of 400g waterproof, rip-stop, and rot-proof canvas/poly-cotton material, making it snug and dry, and stays fresh. There is a no-see-um mesh net on the side, foot window, and front window, that increase airflow and prevent bugs.
Generp Bivy Bag Tent
The Generp Bivvy sack has been designed as a lightweight bivvy for the countryside. This lightweight bivy bag weighs just over one and a half pounds, making it great for backpack hikers to attach to their packs without adding too much bothersome extra weight!
When packed, it is only 37 cm by 10 cm. The lightweight aluminium poles are shock resistant, and simple to use, making set up and pack down about 2 minutes! The quick and easy setup and pack down saves you time, and allows you more hiking and relaxing time.
The mesh door panel is designed for air circulation, providing you with the utmost comfort. Mesh covered windows allow for air circulation without the mosquitoes. The braided seams are waterproof, and the bivvy tent as a whole is coated in polyurethane 3,000 mm, so the tent can withstand moderate rain, and keep you dry. The fabric of the floor panelling has a waterproof rating of PU3,000.
The mesh windows on the top of the bivvy tent provide maximum air circulation. The bivvy tent is 220 cm in length, and 50 cm in width, giving you space to wiggle. This tent is great for late spring, summer, and early autumn, and perfect for fishing trips, hiking, car camping, mountain climbing, and many more outdoor activities!
Terra Nova Moonlight Bivy Tent
The Terra Nova Moonlight Bivvy Tent is a slightly different take on the traditional bivvy tent. Rather than being an external structure, the Terra Nova is effectively a sleeping-bag cover that make sure your sleeping experience is wild, but at least it's totally waterproof.
This award-winning sleeping bag cover can double as a bivvy! This is a super lightweight product, as it weighs the same packed and unpacked. It weighs in at just 7 ounces, making it perfect for people who need a little something extra for their sleeping bags or an emergency bivvy.
The fabric is a light material that is waterproof and breathable, giving it flexibility for the options of use. It features a hood with a zipper for added coverage and security. The head-space is mesh, allowing the user plenty of fresh air, without the pesky disturbances and bites that bugs and mosquitoes bring with them. To clarify, this is a sleeping bag cover, made for an extra layer in addition to your sleeping bag, and is not a bivvy tent made for use as a shelter.
This is only an emergency bivvy and should be used as such. This bag should be used with an additional tarp to keep the elements out if using it as a bivvy on its own. The hood has a drawstring closure and half-moon foot, making the design simple and the fit, very snug. Its most praised feature is how light this product is, how simple the design is, and the ease of use.
Bivvy sacks might not be for everyone due to their design, but for the right person, they are a fantastic bit of equipment. For 2020, I've bought myself an Outdoor Research Helium Bivy. Of all the bivvy's that I've tried it was the best considering a range of criteria's, most importantly that it often rains in the UK and therefore I would need an enclosed tent.
Given that 2020 is the year of the virus and sadly we've spend as much time in the countryside as usual, I've really on used a couple of times, but I've been impressed. It's about 2.20-meters long, which allows for plenty of room inside. The 55-cm of width allows for a comfortable nights sleep and the possibility to role over when needed.
I do suffer from claustrophobia and therefore a enclosed bivvy sack, for me, is not possible. That said, the outdoor research helium bivvy has enough room for me not to feel claustrophobic, and get a goods nights sleep,