Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

7.3 score
[Editors rating (7.3)] = (GearWeAre.com) score (7.3)/10

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Editor rating: 7.3 / 10
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Outdoor Research Helium Bivy Review Facts
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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.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • 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


The Helium Bivy from Outdoor Research is the lightest bivy that the company makes that is completely waterproof. All of its products are tested by core sports specialists such as local adventurers, mountain guides, and athlete ambassadors. It makes gear and equipment for the sports and activities of backcountry skiing, trail running, snowboarding, paddling, hiking, backpacking, ice, and rock climbing, and alpinism.

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.


Ultra-lightweight and breathable, this product is comprised of a more breathable mesh than Gore-Tex products, according to some buyers. They prefer this lighter material to some of the other models that they are familiar with and have used in the past.

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.


Lighter than other advanced bivy products, the Helium Bivy compresses to a size that is just ½ of the other popular brands. This is one of the best features of this item since it is to be used instead of a one-person tent when carrying your gear for hiking and backpacking.

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.


Designed much like a clamshell and not as a regular sleeping bag with the zipper down the side, the Helium Bivy is durable with seams that are fully taped. Loyal Outdoor Research buyers love the product and the quality, but many others do not.

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.


The one thing a bivy must do is to protect the person inside from the weather elements. The manufacturer claims that this product is waterproof, but many customers do not agree. They say that it is water-resistant at best since it can shield you from a misty or light rain. Downpours of rain and storms are trouble for this bivy, according to them, because the rain will go right through and soak you and your bedding material. You may have to add a protective layer over the bivy to remain completely dry for storms.

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.


Another negative quality of this Outdoor Research bivy is the rainfly material at the head when only the bug net is used. Both of these pieces of fabric are together, so you cannot have one without the other. The rainfly does separate from the netting, but it remains in place to hang or sag in the person’s face that is lying down face up.

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.


Made of 100% nylon ripstop 2.5-layer Pertex fabric that is supple and light and No-See-Um material of mesh, the Helium Bivy has a total weight of 1.13 pounds and is 26 inches at the shoulder. The overall dimensions are 84 x 26 x 19.5 inches to be form-fitting for one-person use. It comes in a pewter color and features a hydro-seal nylon floor of 70-denier.

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.


Best used for backpacking and the three best seasons of the year, this Outdoor Research item is adequate for very hot or cold weather and rainy conditions also. Sizing is a problem for some that find this product too conforming to the body. However, we did see reviews from larger men that were over six feet tall who found the Helium Bivy to be quite comfortable.

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.


We mentioned the aspect of the waterproof qualities of this Helium Bivy previously, but we will address it in more detail here. This bivy, according to the manufacturer, is windproof and waterproof with a breathable barrier against the elements. The overhead pole is Shockcorded Delrin that holds the rainfly and netting away from the user’s face when inside.

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

Ease of Use

Since the Helium Bivy uses the single-pole Delrin system for the framework of this structure, it is simple and quick to remove and set up. There are those that wait until nightfall to put it up because they know it just takes minutes and they can do it in the dark. The fabric of the bivy stays off the face and neck with the hoop structure, but buyers say that the zippers can be hard to operate since the confines are so snug.

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.
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If you are even just a bit claustrophobic, you may want to get a one-man tent instead of any type of one-person bivy. These products, in general, are form-fitting to have as little material possible in the smallest amount of space. The clamshell design of the Helium Bivy aggravated some people who found it hard to maneuver, plus the absence of some vents made it difficult for breathing when closed.

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.