Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
The Outdoor Research Helium Bivy is the lightest bivy that the company makes that is entirely waterproof and windproof. Great for the three best seasons of the year, it is highly compressible, breathable, durable, and economical.
Best used for backpacking, this bivy is also great for camping and hiking purposes. It is constructed of nylon ripstop Pertex, No-See-Um mesh, and 70-denier nylon in a clamshell design. This Outdoor Research Helium Bivy is easy to pack and set up, plus the seams are fully taped. This bivy model has some major issues that compromised its customer rating resulting in an overall current score of just 3.8. out of 5 and here we discuss these concerns in the full review below for you.
- Lightest bivy that the company makes
- Highly compressible, durable, and breathable
- Seams are fully taped for sturdiness
- Easy and quick to pack and set up
- Best used for backpacking and hiking
- Ideal for the three best seasons
- Windproof, economical, and waterproof
- Needs a different design and vents added for aeration
- Not good for rainy areas; condensation is a problem
- Could use a zipper closure for easier managing
This terrific manufacturer builds technical award-winning accessories and apparel since 1981. The products are versatile with a purpose and created of innovative materials.
This Helium Bivy is an economical solution for hikers and backpackers that want to travel light with a compressible sleep covering that is easier and quicker to handle that a single-person tent.
The netting is great to keep out the bugs and still enjoy the night air and sky. We found feedback from customers that said to not zip the bivy up all the way when you are inside as it will cut off all circulation and air inside. When it is raining hard or snowing, you will want to close it completely, but this is not the best idea.
It will make condensation form quicker, plus you will run out of oxygen. Some think because of the mesh material, it is alright to close the bivy all the way.
Vents need to be added to this product in the bottom area and near the zippers to give a source of fresh air without having to leave the zippers open. Leave some space open for breathing to be safe.
Some people felt claustrophobic in this design and were not comfortable at all, while others were fine with the conforming structure. Depending on your particular body frame and size, you may or may not be able to roll over or store gear items in the bottom near your feet. Several users felt this product was too tight and uncomfortable for sleeping.
We will get into the protection and waterproofness of this bivy further in this review, but these aspects also affect the comfort of the bivy. Just know for the comfort level that the customers are very divided with some saying that it was great for their sleeping arrangements, but others thought it was a nightmare of being wet and damp with the rainfly flap in their face the whole time.
Everyone agrees that this bivy model is easy to pack and set up. Many think that there are more comfortable and durable options available from this company and others that would be better for overnight sleeping trips. The material is flimsy and thin, so you will need a ground cloth to protect it on the ground.
You cannot really fault the material for being thin since this is what also makes it lightweight and desirable in the first place. In our research, we did not find any problems of this product tearing, ripping, or coming apart in the field. It is sturdy and will last for many years of rugged use outdoors if cared for properly.
Plenty of customers had no trouble with rain at all and said they remained dry inside. Condensation seems to be the more likely culprit for these occurrences than the actual rainwater coming through the material. As people have said online, condensation in a full coverage bivy is just a problem they all have. If you vent the inside, this will not be a big issue.
This is just like how a regular tent without a rainfly will get condensation on the ceiling and drip some. The condensation buildup can be heavy making the bedding material and the person wet during the night. If the bedding is touching the ceiling of the bivy, then it will be damp in that spot.
Pushing it down makes an unwanted curtain between the body and the head thus trapping moisture and heat in the lower section of the bivy. One solution would be to not use the included pole that holds the fabric erect, but then the netting would be down on the face in that instance. Buyers feel that this product needs an improved and different design to be effective and comfortable to use.
It is anti-fungal to avoid bacterial problems from moist or damp clothing and gear. Included with the bivy are five loops for staking, straps for the sleeping pad, a loop for the guy line, and an internal pocket of mesh.
This is a more economical choice than some other bivy items of similar build, and it has a rating from customers online of only 3.8. The negative comments from buyers concern the design, fit, closure, and waterproofness of the Helium Bivy. We address each issue in this full review for you.
It fits just one person and can be difficult to get into because of the light material and the clamshell design. Getting in would be much easier with a full zipper closure along the side of the bivy. Some people suggested that it be used just for emergency situations or backup when a lot of gear cannot be taken on a trip. Since it does weigh just a bit more than one pound, it can be a mainstay in the pack for such occurrences.
On clear nights, you can leave the bivy wide open and the pole out to enjoy the view and the fresh air. When you do close the rainfly, you must manage the moisture that can build up inside by leaving the entry open and unzipped part of the way. several people said that this product would be best for dry climate areas rather than ones that get a lot of rain. Chances are that you will not get wet from the rain inside the bivy but the condensation that forms.
Plenty of customers stated that even if it is snowing or raining, you will remain mostly dry in this bivy. The final conclusion on waterproofness is that the material is waterproof for light to medium rain showers but not downpours, and that condensation will more than likely be an issue if you keep the bivy too enclosed.
Ease of Use
Another suggestion is that this item could benefit from a zipper down the side to be easier to use. The bottom of the product can be cold on the feet if it gets wet as it touches the sleeping bag or bare feet in the night, according to customers. The mechanics of this Helium Bivy are great for everyone that has bought it, it is the comfort issues that are the problems.
Even though the item is stated to be waterproof, many unhappy buyers would highly disagree with this assessment. They used this bivy in heavy rains and were wet the whole night. Whether it was the rain or the buildup of condensation remains to be known, as this type of full-closure bivy will form condensation on the inside ceiling. Expect this of any bivy of this kind. For the price of this product, it can provide adequate shelter and bug protection for those in dry arid areas.
It is a lightweight alternative to the bulk of one-person tents for camping, backpacking, and hiking. If you do buy the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy, follow the customer suggestions above to stay dry and comfortable inside.