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Bivy Sacks buying guide

Whether you want emergency weather protection while climbing or you need to rest after a long wall climb, bivy sacks always have your side.

You can take a rest in the sacks and get all your energy back after a long tiring day in the outdoors. With several options viable in the market, it seems next to impossible to choose the best one for yourself. There are tons of aspects to cover, and you need proper details to understand them.

But don't worry. We have got you covered. We have prepared a buying guide that contains all the useful information regarding the product. In this guide, we have covered all the crucial aspects that are important to deem while selecting a particular model.

With proper knowledge in your hand, you can choose the right product and save yourself from being duped by the greedy salesman in the market. So, are you ready to look into the intricate details of bivy sacks to pick the best one with all the excellent features incorporated in it?

So without any further ado, let us dive into this extensive guide.

What are Bivy Sacks, and why should you opt for them?

We often sleep outside for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes, we want to get out camping, sometimes we want to get away to look at the beautiful stars, and sometimes we just want to disappear into the wilderness and let the civilization away.

These are different ways used by other people to rejuvenate their senses. But this adventurous excursion is incomplete without bivy Sacks.

A bivy sack is actually a personalized waterproof shelter, which is also known as a bivouac sack. It is usually used by professional climbers, mountaineers, hikers, minimalist campers on their multi day excursions as it provides them a small, lightweight alternative to carrying a tent.

A bivy sack adds up a thin waterproof fabric over you to secure you while you sleep. It gives you insulation and protects you from rain and wind chill. The best quality bivy sacks add negligible load to your backpack and keep you cozy and warm.

Selecting the best one is a perfect bivy sack for yourself can be a task for you, so there are certain things you need to consider, so let's have a quick look at it.

Shelters vs. Bivy Sacks

  1. Bivy Sacks

Usually, the Bivy sack is specially designed and mainly meant for professional minimalists or mountaineers. But this doesn't mean that it is not useful for a normal person or hikers once a year.

It is useful for every person who loves to spend their time on mountains or loves to go on track, camping, hiking, or any other outdoor activity where you will spend the night in the open air.

Because whenever it comes to get a sound and comfortable sleep after a rough day of trekking or hiking,

Bivy sacks do a fantastic job. A bivy sack performs two functions:

  1. It offers you a cozy sleeping environment by providing the warmth of about 10°F.
  2. It is entirely waterproof and provides camper's a dry sleeping.

The main drawback of using a bivy sack is its size and weight reduction. It is a lot lighter and smaller than a shelter, and even if you use it with a tarp, you will get a more lightweight and versatile shelter system.

Its upper portion is usually meant to open because it releases moisture and offers you a dry and peaceful night. This inclines you to whirl the head hole into more of a nosehole, restrictive for some individuals.

Some features to consider

  1. Bivy Sacks allows you to secure your sleeping pad in one place.
  2. Usually, Bivy sacks come with multiple zips, which are specially designed to create armholes and let you create armholes. It is a fantastic feature because it enables you to sort and stay protected by bivy sacks.
  3. Bivy sacks come with the factory seal, which provides you the complete waterproof protection.
  4. For ventilation, they offer you full-length zippers, which give you proper ventilation without losing your coziness.
  1. Shelters

If you are missing tent stays, then it can also cover with the Bivy sicks. They are kind of low-rise tents containing mesh panels that are connected with the head opening poles or hoops. All of them are specifically meant to lift the fabric from your face section, which is exceptionally designed to prevent rain and bugs.

If we talk about the shelter, they are the best and help ultralight backpackers and touring cyclists. They come with the fortified wedge of the great headspace, which provides you the comfortable place to make a bivy's limited air space feel acceptable.

When it comes to rainy areas, bivy shelters may become weak to provide you complete protection. And it might become tough for you to wait inside a shelter that cannot offer you enough space to sit-up.

Things to deem about while selecting appropriate Bivy Sacks


There are plenty of reasons which enforce you to buy a durable bivy sack. The best one is that they are very compatible and come in a weightless form, which helps you quickly install a camp. All you need to do is find a suitable place and set the camp.

Professional bikers, hikers, climbers, and mountaineers usually prefer to carry minimum gear. The smaller their bag is, the longer they can go. So in this scenario, smaller and lighter fabric makes this bag useful for traveling far ahead, hiking higher, and bike longer.

The most popular material of Bivy sacks are:

  1. Pertex

Pertex is a kind of innovative fabric and is developed with a thickness of two fabrics. While the internal layer is formed using a thicker fabric, the external one comprises thinner fabric.

The combination of two fibers provides you with extra-softness. It makes your bivy sack breathable and waterproof.

  1. Gore-Tex

This material is used to build the top part of the sacks and has a kind of laminate material from the stretched PTFE(polytetrafluoroethylene) or Teflon. This material is windproof, breathable, and waterproof.

  1. ToddTex

Resembling Gore-tex, Toddtex also is composed of laminate developed from the PTFE and also provides you waterproofing and breathability. It is considered a super fire retardant as well.


When you want protection during your camping, hiking, tracking, or any other outdoor adventure tour where you will spend a night in an open area, you don't want to carry a tent with you; then you should consider this bivy sack.

A perfect bivy sack is the best thing to choose for your outdoor nights, especially in winters. It is the best way to protect yourself from head to toe from wind, bugs, and rain.

But before choosing the bivy bags, you need to check the size if it fits you correctly or not. You should also focus on the compatibility of the sack, how much space it will carry, or how compatible it is for you to carry from one place to another.

Bivy sacks come in different materials and designs. Some are very compatible and provide you excellent protection along with great features.

While some sacks need a bit of ample space to carry as their fabric is not that flexible, so be smart enough to choose the one that provides you protection and is easy for you to take anywhere.

Waterproof and Weatherproof

There is no meaning to purchase a high-quality bivy sack if it is not fully waterproof and weatherproof. The best bivy sack is meant to come with complete water and weatherproof protection.

The weather and waterproof resistance of the shelter are much dependent on the fabric as it is the fabric of the bivy sacks that enables water to come inside.

So, you need to be a bit careful about the fabric of the bivy sacks, what material the manufacturer has used in making a particular sack, what are its specifications, and the ability to resist water and breathability.

The higher the breathability of the bivy sack's fabric, the better the condensation resistance as it let's warm air and moisture escape to the outside.

But there is no such thing in the market as they provide you a kind of breathable fabric that is also water-resistant/waterproof.

Therefore, to provide you both features, manufacturers need to find the right ratio between weather resistance and breathability for the best functionality.

It is a fact that bivy sacks provide you inferior rain protection as compared to double-wall tents. But on the other side, it is also true that they are easy to set up and much lighter than tents. So, it is always recommended not to use bivy sacks in the area where you know heavy rains are persistent.


When you are searching for the best bivy sack, it is essential to take a mindful moment to imagine what you will be using for it.

This means before purchasing; you need to ask yourself the actual requirement of the bivy sack, how much your usage is, and how often you will use them.

Before you look at the packed and weight size, make sure the bivy sack is capable enough to perform at the level you need it to.

If you are heading on a blurry all day rough climb but aren't sure if you have a campground, then a lightweight emergency bivy sack is the best option for you. In a nutshell, you need to select the bivy sack weight as per your needs and usability.


There are several features that you should consider at the time of purchasing. A good bivy sack comes with plenty of features that you need to check before making any purchase. Let's have a look at some of the features.

  1. Bivy sacks should be completely waterproof and keep you dry even at the time of heavy rainfall.
  2. A good bivy sack comes with multiple zipper sliders, which provides you the ability to create armholes.
  3. It should offer you complete insect protection and let you enjoy the breeze on a warm night.
  4. It is good if your bivy sacks come with straps so you can secure sleeping.


Just like the light rain shell jacket, bivy sack traps in few degrees of warmth and hold the heat better than a double-wall tent.

It takes a pleasant and peaceful night on the open ground and lets you gain the rest you need after the rough day of hiking/trekking.

Mountain Safety Research (MSR's) feature a water-resistant and breathable ripstop nylon for the top layer to reduce the bivy sack's condensation and keep you comfortable and dried inside so you can enjoy a peaceful and restful night.

According to the nature of bivvies, they are more enjoyable when the weather is fair and enjoyable, and most of them provide little protection in a nasty Rockies storm blitz or Cascades.

But at the time of high-pressure systems in the summer alpine traverses or shoulder seasons, bivy sacks add an extra layer of warmth to the nights beneath the peaks.


Comfort is always an essential benchmark for outdoor gear, especially for the equipment you believe in for the shelter in a backcountry situation.

Time spent in an uncomfortable bivy with a creepy crawling can give your body stiffness, and you might end up with the whole day's dizziness because of that.

Also, an uncomfortable bivy sack can give a sleepless and restless night. It is evident that you can share your preference in finding the best bivy sacks that provide you complete comfort whether you are in a challenging mountain area or direct forest area.

The things that ought to be considered to the comfort rating and each bivy sack needs to be tested including insect protection, easy to use, roominess (floor plan and volume), and added features, such as straps to hold your sleeping pad or gear pockets.

If you are purchasing a bivy sack because you want a shelter that weighs less and takes less space in your pack, you cannot accept a prominent place.

You must accept less space with this type of bivy sack. But bivvies with less space can be a bit uncomfortable for you in terms of headspace and shoulder width. So it is good to choose the one that provides you all the features in an excellent bivy sack.


Condensation can be the biggest issue for you because the bivy sacks are single-walled tents. And when you are inside the sacks, the body gets heated, and vapors escape; they rise to indulge with the cool air.

When these vapors come in contact with the fabric of bivy sacks, they won't carry all the moisture, which then accumulate inside the laminated material.

The main concern of the users is staying dry in these weightless shelters. Then, Gore-tex fabric is something that puts off a clammy sensation when wet indisputable keeps out the water.

You need to be smart enough while purchasing bivy sacks. One wrong choice can give you a long regret, so it is good to choose the bivy sacks by keeping in mind this condensation thing and making your purchase accordingly.


Apart from all the above features, compressibility is another essential thing that needs your consideration when getting premium-quality bivy sacks.

Alongside the size and weight, you should also need to check how compact the bivy sack compresses.

If you are an adventurer type of professional climber or hiker who hikes with only a backpack, then you should choose the bivy sack that compresses easily and takes less space, and can smoothly fit in your backpack in very little space.

If you know this requirement, it won't be hard for you to choose between getting suitable bivvies for yourself.

The more your bivy sacks will compress, the more easily it can fit in your backpack. But one thing you need to be clear, these types of bivvies won't offer you much space and can be a bit uncomfortable for you to sleep. But it is up to you if you want to buy them.


Expecting a vast space in a bivy sack is relatively meaningless because they are meant to be portable and light in weight. This means they have to be compact in space.

Bivy sacks are meant to offer only one person space, which is quite enough for you to relax. But there are some sacks available in the market that provide you with a bit of space above the head, which reduces the chance of body cramps and increases your comfort level.

There are usually two systems available above the head area, which is different from each other; the flexible wire system and the pole system.

If we talk about the pole system in the bivy sack, you'll find it very reliable but might need some additional work at the installation time because the poles need to be neatly inserted in the ground.

On the other hand, the flexible wire system is unsavory on bivy sacks that offer low head height features. The wire is located near your head and automatically stretches at the unpacking time. And thus, you should string the material above the head area.


When you are exploring which design of the bivy sack you should buy, there are a few design features you need to look out for and should consider.

Mesh panels around the head are a great advantage when the weather is fair. It lets you leave the Gore Tex hood off, which helps condensation and quite helpful for protecting you from the uninvited insects.

Keeping in mind this ventilation option is the key when you purchase the one and can also make the difference with what amount of condensation you will get inside.

Duration of Trip

Your trip's duration is also a kind of important fact that needs to be kept in mind while making a perfect purchase for a bivy sack. It mainly depends on the average duration of all your outings.

For how much time you are going out for camping, hiking, or tracking. This part is essential because knowing your trip's duration will help you quickly analyze how you want to put a bivy sack to use or how often you will use them.

There are different bivvies for your various requirements, so if you have an exact requirement in your mind, it will be easy for you to make up your mind about purchasing the perfect bivy sack.


Read the given questions to resolve any type of query that you may have!

  1. Are bivy sacks better than tents?

Bivy sacks comprise of less weight and are more functional than the tents. They can trap more warmth and are fully packageable for longer treks. Being more efficient, they are known for imparting the best freedom ever.

  1. How to prevent bugs from entering your bivy sack camp?

You should always pick a safe place to place your bivy sack with ultra-bug protection. For further safety, try wearing a hat, and you can even tie-up your bivy sack with the tent pole to avoid any bugs presence.

  1. Does a bivy sack keep your sleeping pad entirely dry?

Well, yes! Bivy sacks are made of Gore-Tex material that is efficient in soaking all the water properly. Thus, when it gets wet, it feels like a clammy experience and not water drenched.

Final Verdict

Here is everything to know about the bivy sacks. These sacks come in handy whenever you have to face harsh weather when you are climbing your dream mountain. You can use them anywhere you want in the outdoor environment.

They will provide full comfort and safety. All you need is to pick the right product. With this guide at your disposal, you will never get a need to check any other source. Also, try to understand the difference between the shelter and bivy sack.

We have pointed that out in the guide. Go through the pointers and purchase an elite product for your upcoming trips. / - © Copyright 2020