Best Bivy Bags
So what exactly are these mysterious bivy sacks? Simply put, it's a shelter made for you to use for sleeping outdoors (much like a tent). But unlike a tent, these sacks are made to be big enough for you, your sleeping bag, and a small number of things. Bivy sacks are useful if you’re gearing up to enjoy some outdoor adventures during the colder months, and you want something that’s easier to pack and carry than a tent and still offers plenty of warmth and weather protection. If you are planning an outdoor adventure soon and think that a tent will be too heavy to carry and want to consider purchasing one of the best bivy bags for a lighter option, then you have come to the right place.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
Good weather protection
Top 10 Picks
1. Rab Alpine
Good weather protection
Rab’s Alpine Bivy Bag brings you a lot of waterproof technology and a great fit that will offer you a bonus to your comfort level each time you sleep outside. You’ll get both great protection and excellent comfort each time you use this bag.Read more
Rab’s Alpine Bivy Bag is designed with Event Waterproof Technology manufactured into the bag’s exterior, which is also comprised of a storm fabric that helps keep water out of the bag’s interior. Plus, the bag also has a protective external storm flap to assist you any time the weather outside gets nasty.
Designed to fit you with a warm, cozy, mummy effect, you’ll be wrapped up in comfort because of the padding used in this bag. Plus, the interior materials also feel soft to the touch, so you’ll get a great night’s rest each time you use this bag.
The materials used in the Rab Alpine Bivy Bag are designed to be breathable, although the bag could offer more ventilation with zipper vents and breathable mesh inserts. Still, the bag does perform decently and can vent out moisture as you sweat.
Designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, this bag also packs down well and is easy to set up as well. The compression on this bag performs well, so it won’t take up too much space in your pack.
2. Sierra Designs Backcountry
Good weather protection
2.5" inflatable mattress pad
No poles included to keep the material off of your face
Comfort and portability in one small package. That is what the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy brings you. It features a 2.5" inflatable bivy and breathable mesh bug window. It weighs in at less than one pound and only 10" by 4" when compacted.Read more
This backcountry bivy is fully waterproof. The top of the sack is made from 30D nylon ripstop with 10,400mm DWR. The bottom is made from 20D nylon ripstop with 1,200mm DWR. The seams are fully taped and the excess fabric around the zippers acts as a storm flap. However, it should be noted that the zippers themselves are not waterproof and in high winds and sideways rain, water can enter.
One of our favorite features of this bivy is the 2.5” inflatable sleeping pad. The pad is comfortable and just as equally compressed as the rest of the sack. This bivy is compatible with almost all sleeping bags, though it is recommended with the Backcountry Bed. It is available in two different sizes, regular and long. The regular bivy is 80” long and the long bivy is 86” long.
This sack offers decent breathability, but just like others, can form condensation in some situations. There is a mesh bug window at the face. This provides excellent breathability, as long as the weather isn’t too cold or rainy. One user noted that this mesh window can only be opened and closed from the outside, which can be a pain if the rain begins mid-sleep. There is also a large U-shaped zipper that spans about ⅓ of the sack. If having the material rest on your face isn’t ideal, there is a tab on the outside that you can use to lift the material up using a tree branch or cord.
Shockingly enough, even with the built-in mattress pad, this bivy weighs only about 13-ounces. Reviewers say that it is easy to store and even if you do it carelessly, it is easy to fit into its stuff sack. In its storage bag, the dimensions are 10” by 4”.
3. Snugpak Stratosphere
Good weather protection
Easy to set up
Could be more compact
Heavier than other options
Contrary to its name, this bivy is actually quite spacious. It features an aluminum pole at the head and shoulder area to provide more comforts and breathability. It is slightly heavier than some of our other options, but for the spaciousness, that is the trade-off.Read more
As with most bivy sacks, the Stratosphere is waterproof. The top of the tent is made from 50D nylon ripstop materials with a 5,000mm waterproof polyurethane coating. The bathtub style groundsheet is made from 210T ripstop nylon with an 8,000mm waterproof polyurethane coating. To keep your tent in place during high winds, there are also seven alloy stakes included.
The comfort of this bivy really depends on you. It depends on where you set it up and which sleeping bag or pad you will use. The material of the bivy has a nice and durable feel. There is a full ¾ length side zipper that is double stitched. It is easy to get in and out of the sack.
It could be the fact that the material of this bivy doesn’t sit on your face or shoulders that make it feel roomier and more breathable. There is also a roll-away mosquito net that allows for great ventilation. The head area canopy is erected by a lightweight aluminum pole.
Slightly heavier than some of our other options, this bivy (and it's aluminum poles) weighs in at 2.5-pounds. When it is compacted, it measures 12” by 6” and has two small compression straps. There is also a useful buckle on the outside that allows you to easily hang the bivy from your pack.
4. Woodland Camouflage Waterproof
Easy to use
Will keep you dry
Fabric may come with blemishes according to some
This Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy Cover is made of Gore-Tex, so it is waterproof. And while it's not entirely a bivy unto itself, it will certainly keep you dry in most rainfalls, and this is not to be underestimated in the middle of the night and near the peak of your destination. Waking up feeling dry is worth every single penny that this protective layer offers.Read more
This Gore-Tex Bivy cover has been made in the USA and boasts excellent water protection, so you can enjoy a peaceful night's sleep, even in the rainfall.
And as part of a Military Design, it's structured to easily fit cold weather sleeping bags that are usually a bit heftier. The combination of a super warm sleeping bag and complete coverage from the rain make this a very logical choice for any serious outdoor's person.
For optimal ventilation, you can leave the bivy unzipped. There are strategically placed snaps to keep the sack from flying open in high wind. If the weather is particularly harsh, you will want to fully zip the bivy.
It also compresses down into a compression pack that can easily be packed and readied for the next adventure. However, the weight of this bivy is slightly higher than the rest. It weighs 2.2-pounds. The weight is accumulated by the heavy-duty materials, strong zipper, and metal snaps.
5. S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer Escape
Reflects body heat
Some find it too hot
The S.O.L Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivy is the original way to stay warm and dry on a night in the wild. Find out more about why we love this durable bivy sack below.Read more
While you fall deeply asleep after a long day of trekking, this bivy sack will keep you warm and dry without a fault. The fabric is highly water-resistant and combats even the wettest and soggiest of weather, so you don't need to worry about waking up to a tiny flood in your shelter.
The fabric is made to be durable, so don't worry about needing to pamper this bivy sack. It will stay put together and abrasion-free for time to come. Along with this, the fabric reflects your body heat, so that you will stay warm with minimal body output. So that you blend into the background and are less visible to whatever animal you may try to be avoiding, this bivy sack is in a neutral and natural color of olive green. To get in and out of this bivy sack is no challenge, there is a full side zip. Overall, if you are looking for a bivy sack that is super warm, reliable and as tough as you are, this is the way to go.
Made from Escape Material, this sack is very breathable. The breathability of the fabric actually changes based on the climate. However, even with its great breathability, reviewers have said that there was still some condensation build-up inside.
Portability is the name of the game with this bivy. It weighs less than half of a pound and compresses down to the size of a can of soda. There is really no reason not to throw this in your pack, even if it is as a backup.
6. Winterial Single Person
Full mesh walls
Easy to use
Good weather protection
Heavy (for a bivy bag)
Not as comfortable for people over 6 feet
The Winterial Single Person is right on the borderline of being a one-person tent. It features two-hoops, meaning that none of the material lays on your body and giving you a more spacious area. It is super breathable and also comes with a durable full-coverage rainfly.Read more
This three-season bivy is great for almost every environment. Without the rainfly, the bivy walls are all mesh. The heavy-duty rainfly fully covers the bivy and keeps you dry and comfortable. Included with the bivy are three bundles of rope and fourteen heavy-duty stakes.
This spacious bivy leaves plenty of room for one person but is slightly small for two. There is a large zippered access window that makes getting in and out easy. Inside the bivy is a small storage pocket, perfect for a cell phone, keys, or a flashlight. The entire bivy has a two hoop design that uses a simple clip assembly.
Definitely on the best features of this bivy is the breathability. Without the rainfly attached, the windows and sides are all mesh. Thankfully this bivy is structured, otherwise, you may feel like a fish caught in a net. The rainfly can easily be rolled up and pinned to let a breeze in.
When fully packed up, this bivy weighs 3.3-pounds. The carrying sack measures 18” by 4.5” by 4”. It is slightly heavier than others on our list, but it also provides a great amount of space width-wise and height-wise.
7. Outdoor Research Bug
Strong and durable
Great bug protection
Outdoor Research’s Bug Bivy Bag brings you great weather protection while still keeping you safe from nasty bug bites as you sleep outside. You’ll also get plenty of comfort and packability in this easy-to-carry bivy bag.Read more
While you get ample amounts of bug protection with this bivy bag, there as much weather protection designed into this bag when compared to some of the other options on our list. However, this bag does feature a waterproof bottom area to help keep you dry and safe from ground moisture as you sleep.
Designed with plenty of comfort features in mind, the Outdoor Research Bug Bivy Bag is made to be both roomy and warm. You’ll have plenty of space to sleep well and a decent amount of flexibility each time you use the bag.
Outdoor Research’s Bug Bivy Bag features an excellent ventilation system designed in the exterior shell which will help you regulate your body temperature. You’ll stay warm and cozy without having to worry about moisture from your own perspiration as you rest.
This bivy bag is designed to be very lightweight and easy-to-pack, so you won’t have to worry about heaviness or extra pack space whenever you use it. You’ll be easy to carry it along with you easily.
8. Outdoor Research Alpine
Strong and durable
Totally waterproof, and offers great weather protection
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag is designed to offer several great all-around features that give you ample protection as well as plenty of comforts. Designed with great weather-resistant features, you’ll get the warmth and protection you need while you stay warm and cozy at night.Read more
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag offers some of the best weather protection features designed into this bivy bag since it’s designed with an exterior Gore-Tex layer on the outside of its shell. Gore-Tex is both waterproof and wind-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about the weather outside as you sleep.
This bivy bag also brings you excellent comfort, since it’s roomy enough to make it feel more like you are sleeping in the comfort of a tent than a small, enclosed bivy bag. You get plenty of flexibility to move as you sleep and a lot of interior warmth.
Although Gore-Tex fabric isn’t traditionally breathable, the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Bag brings you a high-quality built-in ventilation system, like allowing you to open the bivy to keep out moisture build-up. Also, there are zipper features built into this bivy bag that will allow you to experience excellent breathability.
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag is heavier than some of the other options present on our list, mostly because it is designed for durability and warmth. It is packable, and its extra features do still provide plenty of benefits that balance out its weight.
9. Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped
Strong and durable
Great weather protection
If you want a durable bag that can handle all types of weather conditions, then you’ll love the features and options that the Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag offer. Black Diamond’s Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag is made to deal with extreme weather conditions and provides plenty of reinforcement and weather protection to handle freezing temperatures.Read more
Black Diamond’s Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag is designed to handle the most extreme of weather conditions and comes with water, wind, and bug resistant features designed into a strong and durable fabric. With this bivy bag, you get a mosquito net, a DWR coating and taped seams, and a full zip feature that will give you ample weather protection from one of the best weather-protecting bivy bags on the market today.
Black Diamond’s Hooped Bivy Bag is designed to offer ample comfort and has a ToddTex fabric designed into the interior area that gives you a soft, cozy feeling. The exterior weather protection on the bag will keep you dry, while the interior offers plenty of warmth and comfort.
While this bivy bag is designed with a ventilation system in it, its focus on creating warmth in extreme temperatures sometimes means moisture can build-up from sweat on the interior of the bag. So, if you won’t be out when the weather is extremely cold, you might sweat a big when you sleep in it, but if you use it when it’s very cold, you’ll feel great.
Because Black Diamond designed this bivy bag to be very durable, it isn’t as lightweight as some of the other options on our list. However, although it is a bit heavier, it does make up for its weight by providing great comfort and weather protection.
10. MSR AC
Good weather protection
Easy to pack
No zipper closure on hood
If you want to get some versatility out of your bivy bag, then consider purchasing the MSR AC Bivy Bag, which offers a host of features you’ll enjoy if you are looking for a bag that’s both easy-to-carry and still offers plenty of all-around protection. This lightweight, compressible bag is efficient to carry along in your pack, and also offers some excellent weather protection.Read more
The MSR AC Bivy Bag is designed to handle all types of weather and features excellent water-resistance on the exterior shell of the bag, designed from a laminate that offers a layer of coated protection. While the hood on this bag could use a zipper for better overall weather protection, it still provides plenty of functionality and can keep you warm and dry when the temperature drops.
The MSR AC Bivy Bag gives you enough room so that you can move and have flexibility as you sleep, but is still light enough and small enough so that it is easy to pack and carry. This bivy bag is designed with a large opening area, so it is easy to get in and out of and gives you the room you’ll want.
The outer laminate on the MSR AC Bivy Bag that makes the bag water-resistant is also very breathable, so the bag can effectively regulate temperature. You’ll feel cozy and warm each time you use this bivy bag, and you won’t have to worry about overheating.
The MSR AC Bivy Bag is one of the lightest products listed on our review and weighs in at only 16 ounces. It is compressible, lightweight, and easy-to-pack and carry.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Since this type of bags is designed to be shelters that help protect you from the weather outdoors, and should also assist you with keeping bugs away from you, you’ll want to make sure you select the one that’s right for you so you experience plenty of fun each time you camp. You don’t want a bag that won’t meet your needs since you’ll be miserable each time you venture outdoors to camp. To help you make sure you get the weather protection you need, you’ll need to consider a few things about where you’ll be going and what the weather will be like before you select your bivy bag.
If you know you’re likely to experience cold weather conditions that can also include snow and rain, then you certainly need a bivy bag that has enough warmth and weather protection to keep you sleeping happily through cold winter nights. When we’re analyzing weather protection with bivvy sacks, you’ll need to take a look at the fabric that’s designed into the bivy, because that will tell you a lot about the amount of warmth and weather protection you are likely to experience whenever you use your bivy bag.
Bivy bag manufacturers use a wide variety of fabrics on the exterior shell of their bags to help create levels of weather protection that work well in a variety of climates. Some bivy bag brands offer fully waterproof bivvy sacks that feature Gore-Tex materials designed into them. Gore-Tex brings you the best level of waterproof protection to handle all elements but isn’t always as breathable as some other fabric choices. However, many bivy brand manufacturers that use Gore-Tex on the exterior shells of their bags also design good ventilation systems into the bags to help balance out the breathability of the fabric.
Some other bivy sacks are designed with other water-resistant fabrics that are more breathable, although not fully waterproof. However, these water-resistant bags still offer ample amounts of protection and are usually made out of ripstop nylon and a DWR (durable water repellant) coating sprayed over the exterior of the shell. You’ll still get some protection from the rain from these bags, but they aren’t fully waterproof, although they do breathe better. Plus, most bivy sacks on the market today also feature some type of protection from bugs, like a screen that you can roll up and pull down.
So, depending on where you’ll be going and the weather conditions you are likely to encounter, you can decide if you need a fully waterproof bivy bag or one that offers a decent level of weather protection.
Since you’re going to sleeping outside, possibly for many nights, in the bivy bag you purchase, you want to make sure you buy one that gives you enough comfort to help you sleep soundly through the night each time you use it. You don’t want to wind up with a small, non-flexible, uncomfortable bag you can’t sleep well in, or you’ll feel miserable each time you want to take an outdoor camping trip.
So, when you’re analyzing how comfortable your bivy bag will be, you want to look at how well you are protected from bugs, how much room you have to move in the bag, how easy the bag is to use, and the quality of the interior fabrics that are used to create comfort in the bivy bag.
Since most people like some range of movement to find comfort as they sleep, you need a bivy bag that provides you with enough space to be able to achieve this while it’s still lightweight and easy for you to carry. Bivy bags won’t give you as much space to sleep as a tent, since they are made to compress and pack down, but do need to be roomy and flexible enough so you can find your favorite way to sleep.
More lightweight bivy sacks tend to offer less freedom of movement inside the bag since they typically aren’t as roomy to sleep in. Heavier models designed to hold up for all four seasons won’t be as light to carry but will create more comfort each time you sleep.
Depending on the waterproofing technology used on the bivy bag, and the fabrics made to create the product, ventilation can really vary from bivy bag to bivy bag. Typically, the more waterproof your bivy bag is, the less ventilation you’ll get, and how much breathability you need from your bivy bag will depend on where you plan to take your outdoor adventures.
Some of the higher-quality, fully waterproof bivvy sacks don’t offer as much breathability as their water-resistant counterparts, but still, several manufacturers design other features in their bivvy sacks to try and counterbalance this problem. If your bivy bag comes with zippers, you’ll still be able to allow moisture and water to escape from your sweat easily as long as you can easily access them, allowing you to control the ventilation on your bag. Other bivy bag manufacturers make their bags with mesh vents and more breathable fabrics that are still water-resistant but not fully waterproof.
Since you don’t want to experience any uncomfortable condensation build-up from perspiration on the interior area of your bag, you’ll want to make sure that even if you purchase a highly waterproof bivy bag, you can still ventilate the bag well. Also, if your bivy bag comes with poles that help give you room around your head, you’ll be able to benefit from the extra air ventilation provided by this, so consider looking for a bivy bag that gives you this option.
Since you’ll be packing and carrying your bivy bag along with you on your camping adventures, you’ll want to make sure you get a bivy bag that’s easy for you to carry and still brings you all the features you need to stay protected while you are outside. Some of the more lightweight models won’t offer you as much space and comfort, or as many features since their design is far more streamlined.
More lightweight bivy sacks are usually designed with bug nets, which help protect from insects, but bug nets can still allow rain and snow in if the weather conditions get very cold and moist. However, other bivy bags feature an additional choice of poles so that you can use the extra netting as you need it.
When you’re trying to decide how lightweight you need your bivy bag to be, just make sure you don’t sacrifice other elements of comfort and protection, since most bivy bags, even the heavier ones, are still made to be easy-to-pack and easy-to-use.
Packed size of your bivy bag selection is also an important factor to consider when you’re trying to figure out the weight of the bivy bag you need. Depending on how much bulk you can handle, you’ll want to make sure you get a bivy bag that easily fits your pack and doesn’t create a lot of discomforts as you carry it. Since the amount of weight that can be carried by outdoor enthusiasts can vary from person to person, this is really a matter of personal preference. However, you want to make sure you select a bivy bag that’s got everything you need while it is still light enough for you to compress and carry.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Depending on where you plan to spend the night while you’re camping outside, you’ll find that a bivy bag will give you greater versatility and functionality in where and how you can actually sleep. A bivy bag, unlike a tent, can handle being set up on rocks, inside caves, or on harsher terrain, where most tent set-ups don’t handle rocky terrain well. Also, you’ll find that bivy bags are typically more affordable than tents, and still provide you with a great range of warmth, comfort, and weather protection, giving you a lot of bonuses for your budget.
Similar to a tent, you should set up your bivy sack in a safe and flat area. Make sure that is not in an area that is in danger of a flood or an avalanche. Clear the area before setting up the sack, you want to make sure there's no sharp objects or uncomfortable roots. One of the best features of a bivy sack is the ability to set it up wherever you want- maybe even a great spot with a 360-mountain view!
While some people say that it is safe to keep snacks in your bivy tent with you, we advise against it. You really never know what's going to happen out there in the wilderness and it's better not to leave anything to chance. You could hang your food from a tree limb, or if available, store it in a bear box. If you insist on keeping it in your bivy with you, odor concealing bags are lightweight, small, and easy to carry.
Other Factors to Consider
Minimalist Bivy Bags offer you the lightest, and also usually the smallest and simplest, designs on the market. You won’t get a lot of features with these bags, since they are made to be easy to carry, and most offer water-resistant features but aren’t fully waterproof. Bivy bags that are designed to handle all seasons and all types of weather conditions usually come fully waterproof and also have a lot of strong, high-quality, durable materials designed into them. You can typically use these bivy bags anywhere, but not all of them will be as breathable as some of the other styles you can select.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are some bivy bags that offer extreme weather protection?
If you’re looking for a heavier duty, extremely water-resistant bivy bag, then you might want to go with a bivy bag that is designed for year-round use, like the Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag. Black Alpine’s bivy bag is fully waterproof and also allows a full closure system to keep the weather elements out of the interior of your bag. Black Diamond made their bivy bag to handle the worst weather conditions imaginable. MSR’s AC Bivy Bag is also made to be totally waterproof and comes with a durable design.
q: What are the lightest bivy bag choices?
On the list we provided, the lightest bivy bag we’ve covered is the MSR AC Bivy Bag, which weighs in at 16 ounces and also gives you a lot of packability. In comparison, the Alpine is the heaviest and weighs in at two pounds, which shows you the variety of weights you can get with a bivy bag—even the heaviest bivi bags are far lighter than tents.
q: Why would I want to use a bivy bag instead of a tent?
Most outdoor enthusiasts that use bivy bags instead of tents because they prefer the lightweight and compressibility of bivy bags since they give you far less to carry and don’t take up as much room in your pack. Bivy bags are made to be smaller, easy-to-use and easy-to-carry sleeping shelters that are made to keep you warm and protected from the weather.
Although bivy bags are very popular among outdoor enthusiasts, some backpackers do prefer light tents to bivy bags. However, when comparing bivy bags to tents, you’ll find that they are much easier to set-up and far more compressible and lightweight than a standard tent. So, if you’re simply looking for a one-person shelter to protect you from the outdoor elements, then there is a good chance you’ll prefer a bivy bag over a tent.
q: What bivy bags offer the most comfort in their design?
Some bivy bags provided on our list here that are designed with comfort in mind include the MSR AC Bivy, which is very wide and spacious. Some other, smaller bivy bags, however, come with other features that still help to boost comfort, like the Alpine Bivy, which is smaller in space but its overall design brings you a comfort boost. Also, if you’re going somewhere where insects will be an overwhelming problem for your comfort, you might want to consider a bivy with mesh siding.
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