A bivy sack (short for bivouac sack) is a shelter option for campers who want to enhance their outdoor experience by sleeping as directly as possible in the natural environment with no tent between them and the stars. Bivvies are more camper friendly in situations where the length of the trip is short. Likewise, they are most practical in environments where the weather is likely to be good. Given those conditions, the best bivy sack allows you to take off on an overnight adventure with a minimalist pack and a feeling that you’ll be connecting directly with the environment you’ll be adventuring in. A bivy sack can be viewed as a small tent with the same kind of protection but fewer parts and less bulk. A bivy can be used on any flat surface that’s long enough for you stretch out on, including narrow rock ledges. Most bivvys come with stakes to secure them to the ground, but most don’t need them. A bivy is a good backup shelter to have in your pack in you are hiking in a situation where you do not expect to spend the night but may have to. Some bivvys can keep you warmer in cold weather than tents do. Lightweight bivvies compress into a small package. They also provide a good emergency shelter should the need arise.
What’s the Best Sleeping Bag to use with a Bivy Sack?
Condensation can be a problem with bivy sacks. To minimize moisture collecting inside the bivy choose a the lightest weight synthetic sleeping bag compatible with the environment you’ll be camping in.
What about a Sleeping Pad?
All of the components of your sleeping system function together to keep you warm, comfortable and dry. Recommended sleeping pads include the Therm-a-Rest Prolite and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite both featured in a recent Savage Camper article.
Six Top Bivy Sacks that meet different needs for different campers:
Outdoor Research Bug Bivy Sack
The Outdoor Research bivy sack is a good choice when protection against insects takes precedence over protection against cold temperatures. A half-circle brace keeps the mesh netting away from your face. A zipper seals out insects. The waterproof nylon floor keeps you dry. There is a mesh pocket to hold personal items.
- Dimensions: 18” high 25” wide 89″ length
- Bivy Weight: 16 ounces
- Waterproof floor, netting cover
Aqua-Quest Mummy Bivy Sack
The Aqua-Quest Mummy bivy sack will keep you up to 10 degrees warmer than a sleeping bag alone. Includes tie down peg loops for wind security. Made with heat taped seams. The downside of the Aqua-Quest Mummy is that condensation builds up inside.
- Dimensions: Fits campers up 6”6’.
- Weight: 1.26 lbs
Eureka! Solitaire Bivy Tent
This is a combination tent and bivy sack. It comes with an attached full coverage rain fly. It has a shock corded fiberglass frame. At 3 pounds The Eureka Solitaire is heavier than most other bivy sacks
- Floor Size: 2 feet, 8 inches with by 8 feet length
- Weight: 2 pounds 9 ounces
- Large mesh roof; attached full coverage fly
Kelty Trail Bivy
The Kelty Trail Bivy is an oversize rectangle that will fit any sleeping or pad. It has a large mesh roll-back window that makes it easy to breathe and provides bug protection. It’s waterproof but breathable.
- Dimensions: 34” width x 88” length
- 3 Season
- Weighs 1 lb 5 oz
Outdoor Research Helium
Helium Bivy is designed for use in high elevation locations where you expect intense wind, rain, and temperatures. The bivy is waterproof. The downside of that is that it collects condensation.
It has an anti-fungal coating on the floor. The screen allows you to see the night stars. All of the zippers are operated from the inside.
- Dimensions: 19.5” high, 26” wide
- Weighs just 18 ounces including the pole
Aqua Quest Hooped Bivy
Ultra light-weight, Aqua Quest’s bivy is made of durable 70 denier ripstop nylon taffeta. It can stand up to freezing temperature. Comes in color green or orange. No see mesh.
- Dimensions: Will accommodate campers up to 6”6’
- Weight 2.4 lbs