There are many bivy sacks on the market, but only a few of them are the best bivy sack options. For that matter, what is a bivy sack, and why do people use it?
To find an answer to these questions, and also to discover the top bivy sacks, continue sliding until the end!
We’ll begin by taking a look at the best bivy sacks!
There are two fundamental types of bivy sack: either tent-like or emergency-type bags.
A tent-like bivy sack uses more long-lasting, hardy materials, whereas an emergency bivy is less heavy-duty and, as the name implies, for emergencies. This article has been split into two: tent-like, and emergency bivy sacks.
*Also, it is good to know that Bivy Sack is short for Bivouac.*
8. Chinook Bivy Bag
This Bivy Sack from Chinook is probably the most simplistic on this list.
It’s more like a waterproof mummy-style sleeping bag and about as light as one too.
There is no net over the face, which does help with ventilation, but as there’s nothing else.
You don’t get a hood either, so you would need to couple this with a tarp, or a shelter of some sort.
The interior is not incredibly spacious – measuring 88”x36”, it will only really comfortably accommodate an average-sized user.
One thing to note with this Chinook model is that you will definitely be warm in it. Also, if you overheat, there are zips on both sides so you can release some of the heat.
- Hydrostatic rating of 3000mm
- One of the most lightweight bivy sacks at only 1lb.
- No proper hood or bug net
Suggested: Hiking Essentials that Helped me Survive the Remote Northern BC
7. MSR Pro Bivy
Staying dry in a bivy sack is one of its primary functions – thus it helps that they are manufactured with water-resistant materials.
This Bivy sack from MSR uses Ripstop nylon (with a hydrostatic rating of 1200mm) on its underside as you never know how wet the ground will be when you wake up.
The most obvious issue with this model is that the hood has no secure way of closing it. As there’s no zipper to seal it, on a very wet night, the inside will likely get wet.
But if you coupled this with some form of shelter, a tarp for instance, then this should hold up to most showers.
It measures 36”x88”x23” when laid out – so it’s suitable for people of most heights.
It’s packed size is of 8”x4” – so you can easily store and carry it in a backpack.
- Easy to take on the trail
- Very lightweight
- There’s a little tag on the hood – on dry nights, you can tie the hood up and get fresh air
- Not really the best in terms of waterproofing and breathability
- Once the hood is up, there’s no zipper to keep it closed
6. Rhino Valley Bivy Tent
This Rhino Valley Model is closer to a single person tent than to a bivy sack.
However, it certainly is the most ventilated option in this article as it is really just a bug net with a waterproof sheet over the top.
It is a little more complex to set up in comparison to other bivy sacks – it’s quite similar to an actual tent in that way.
There are two poles that have to cross over each other to actually form the shape of the bag.
Rhino Valley advertises that you can sit up inside this bag – at 22” high. While this is a bit unsure, that does still mean there is a lot of room for your head and a lot of room to wriggle around in at night.
Measuring only 75”x30”, it is a lot shorter than everything else on this list. Still, it is a great option to use on its own in dry weather situations.
- Lots of space inside
- Great ventilation
- A little bit more intricate to set up than other bivy sacks
5. Aqua Quest HOOPED Bivy Tent
This is one of the best bivy sack options if you want enough room to wiggle around. It measures 90”x27”x35” (230x70x90cm) so you will get a lot of ventilation space around the head.
This Aqua Quest bag has a hydrostatic rating of 10,000mm – so it should be able to handle light to moderate rainfall.
The only negative thing about this sack is that it gathers moisture – condensation inside the bag is unavoidable.
Still, if you use this along with an overhead shelter, there should be enough space to ventilate the bag.
- Large bug net in comparison with others so you won’t feel trapped
- Includes pegs in the kit so you can keep it secured in the ground
- Simple to set up – just one pole to thread through
- Mild rainy weather protection ensured
- Might be better used with a shelter so you can leave the top open to ventilate
4. Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy Yellow/Blue, Regular
With its strong, bright blue and yellow colors, it may look like a pool inflatable; but this Backcountry Bivy from Sierra Designs is actually a pretty good product.
As the opening is above the head, it’s easy to climb into – it’s pretty much like climbing into a sleeping bag or any other such sleeping system.
This Bivy sack can be sealed with two options, depending on the weather. There’s a bug net for ventilation or you can seal it shut on rainy nights.
There is a lot of room inside the bag as it is designed to fit a mattress pad – anything up to 2.5” will definitely fit.
The only reported downside is, once again, related to moisture.
Its yellow fabric over the foot box isn’t as waterproof or breathable as the blue fabric and can let in a little rain.
If you’re looking for a comfortable night’s sleep, then this will more than surely suffice.
- Over the head zipper
- Measures 80”x36” and weighs only 0.8 lbs so it is easy to carry and offers a comfortable fit
- One window for ventilation with bug net included
- Showerproof rather than fully waterproof – the zippers can leak in torrential rain
- Condensation is a huge problem
3. Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
With a weight of 1 lb. and length of 82”, this Helium Bivy from Outdoor Research is easy to bring on the trail and will comfortably accommodate people of most heights.
There is only one pole to be threaded through the canopy, and this pole provides three different methods to use the sack.
You can either:
- Open it up to the environment;
- Open it but use a bug net;
- Keep it fully closed to protect you from the weather outside.
The sack is made from 100% nylon ripstop fabrics and it’s all waterproof yet breathable.
If you ever find moisture found inside the bag, it will likely be condensation.
It’s advertised as being pretty easy to set up, with only one pole. Still, due to a small number of annoyances (namely the hood) it can take a little longer to get comfortable while inside of it.
- Relatively simple to set up – should only take a couple of minutes
- Has three types of uses: open, bug proof, and completely closed
- Breathable and waterproof fabrics
- Waterproof fabric means condensation will build up inside
- Several small annoyances including the hood falling down
Recommended: If more space is what you want, then take a look at some of the best camping tents!
“Emergency Shelter-Like Bivy Sacks”
2. S.O.L Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Series 70 Percent Heat Reflective
If you’re lost in the middle of nowhere and need to sleep, then your best bet to stay alive is to use an emergency bivy sack.
This one from S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer can be an ideal option.
Made from a reflective material, Sympatex Reflexion, up to 70% of your body heat is reflected back at you to keep you warm overnight.
You can also pick between different models that reflect up to 80% and 90% of your body heat too.
In a similar way to Mummy-style sleeping bags, this bivy has a hood that you pull over and a drawstring to keep it close to your face to preserve as much heat into the sack as possible.
- Hooded with a drawstring – you can pull it tight around the face
- Reflective interior to keep you warm
- Brightly colored to make you easier to spot in case of need
- Designed to add 15° of warmth
- Reasonably quiet
- A bit tight in the shoulders for more massive users
- The size advertised might actually be smaller than that
1. Go Time Gear Life Bivy Emergency Sleeping Bag Thermal Bivvy
Weighing in at only 0.25 lbs., this Emergency Bivy Bag from Go Time is probably one of the lightest bags available.
Due to its size, it’s small and light enough to be included in just about any emergency kit.
It has an interior that can reflect up to 90% of your body heat. It also features a whistle for attracting attention and a paracord for minor repairs.
Due to its shape (it is an 84”x36” rectangle) it can also be used as a makeshift shelter against rain or as a windbreaker.
As it is really only a sack, your head is completely open to the environment.
There is no hood to pull over your head, so really, you would have to have a hat or something on your head to keep warm.
Due to its reflective interior, it holds in a lot of heat and unfortunately, also a lot of moisture. So you will likely wake up slightly damp if you sweat a lot.
The only other negative report is that after a few uses, it can start to split – so it would really be only useful in an emergency.
- Weighs only 0.25 lbs.
- Comes with a whistle and drawstring included
- Can also be used as a temporary shelter against the wind
- Reflects up to 90% of your body heat
- No moisture-wicking – will hold in all the sweat
- The whistle easily comes off the drawstring
Suggested: The Best Backpacking Tents to go Hiking
What is a Bivy Sack?
So, what is a Bivy Sack?
A bivy sack is a type of shelter that is smaller than a one-person tent and which was originally used by mountaineers.
It’s since started being used by anyone who wants to strip down the weight in their bag.
Or by those who prefer to camp discreetly.
Why Do People Use Bivy Sacks?
There are many reasons why people are currently using a bivy sack instead of a tent.
The most popular one is because they’re trying to shave off weight from their backpack.
An average tent can weigh around 5-10 lbs. (2.3 – 4.5 kg) whereas a bivy sack can weigh anything as light as 0.6 lbs. (0.2kg).
You can also compress a bivy right down so it won’t even take up much space.
As it really just consists of you inside, they generally take up a lot less space so you can set up almost anywhere.
Also, as bivy sacks are so unobtrusive, the only footprint you’ll leave in the environment is the one you yourself create (so be sure not to leave waste of any kind behind you).
So this was it, my list of the best bivy sack picks nowadays, split according to their type.
You also got an answer to one of the most frequent questions: what is a bivy sack? As well as reasons why people use them, to begin with.
Though, my advice is: if you really want to stay warm and dry this year, it’s a good idea to combine your bivy sack with a sleeping bag on really cold nights.
Recommended Read: The Ultimate Hiking Items Checklist: What Should Never Miss & Recommendations (+PDF)