Last Updated on 27/08/2023
What are the Best Bivvy Bags for Camping?
In this guide to the best bivvy bags, you will learn the benefits of different types of bivvy bags and why they are the lightest shelters on the market. Most of the more durable options weigh around 1 kg, whereas the more lightweight bivvies can weigh as little as 370 grams. In this list of professional recommendations, we share our thoughts on finding the right balance between weight, comfort, and protection.
Whether you are on a long-distance hike or just heading out into the wilderness for a weekend of camping, a shelter is essential to stay protected from the elements. Tents are the first thing most people think of, or maybe even a hammock with mosquito netting, but bivvies are another option you might not have considered.
Bivvy bags are essentially waterproof sleeping bag covers. You can get inside and sleep directly on the ground. They are super compact and are one of the most lightweight camping shelters for one person you can buy. The best bivvy bags can have a hooped design to lift the material off your face turning them into tiny tents you can pitch anywhere.
Which are the Top 10 Best Bivvy Bags For Camping?
Here are our recommendations for the best bivvy sacks you can through in your backpack with your sleeping bag and head out for a night in the wild.
Rab Ridge Raider
- Materials: 3 Layer 40d eVent fabric, 8mm DAC Pressfit Pole, No-see-um mesh
- Weight: 1,033 g / 37 oz
- Size: 100″ x 31.5″ x 23.6″
The Rab Ridge Raider is a premium bivvy bag designed to be robust, completely waterproof, compact, and reliable no matter what the weather throws at it. The free-standing design is held up by a single external pole and is entered like a tunnel from the top.
You can sleep with the door open on clear nights using only the bug netting to keep insects at bay. The bathtub floor keeps you dry from below while rain and wind just bounce off the rigid waterproof structure. It packs down to just 12 x 6 inches, and while it weighs just over 1 kg, you get 4-season weather protection and one of the comfiest nights of sleep you will get in a bivvy bag.
Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy
- Materials: GORE-TEX® Respiration Positive™ 3 Layer, 100% nylon, 30D ripstop upper – 2 Layer, 100% nylon, plain weave taffeta floor, Delrin® Single-Pole System
- Weight: 907 g / 32 oz
- Size: 221 x 66 x 50 cm
The Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy is one of the more higher-end shelters which uses all the best materials and a minimal design to provide maximum weather protection and performance. Sized to fit thicker sleeping pads that you need in freezing temperatures, there are also sleeping pad straps on the bottom to hold you in place and prevent you from rolling the shelter onto its side at night.
The toe box has plenty of space and also features a zipper with a storm flap for extra ventilation. The special Gore-Tex Respiration Positive fabric allows moisture and condensation to escape without letting any water in and reduces the chances of waking up with a damp sleeping bag. This is one of the best bivvy bags for rainy conditions, with a tough and durable 3-layer outer fabric that keeps you dry through stormy weather.
Black Diamond Bipod Bivy
- Materials: ToddTex single-wall fabric, mesh bug screen, shock-corded Easton pole
- Weight: 830 g / 29.2 oz
- Size: 92″ x 30″ x 20″ / 234 x 76 x 51 cm
The Black Diamond Bipod Bivy is an extremely breathable and waterproof bivvy bag that has a peaked hood and a large bug net screen for those nights sleeping under the stars. The bag not only performs well and has a tiny pack size of 15 x 33 cm, but it also looks really cool.
Fully taped seams and water-repellent finish give this bag a 4-season rating which should hopefully encourage you to do some more winter camping this year. You can store your backpack and gear at either end with plenty of space for you to stretch out. Overall this would be an excellent choice for anyone who wants a compact and lightweight shelter to keep in their backpack with a sleeping bag.
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
- Materials: 30D Pertex Shield+ 2.5L Nylon Fabric, 70D TPU Floor
- Weight: 505 g / 17.8 oz (with pole)
- Size: 214 x 66 x 50 cm
The Outdoor Research Helium Bivy is a fantastic piece of kit to take on backcountry adventures with a highly weatherproof design that also includes a screen of insect netting. It is super lightweight and totally versatile for different terrains, with five-stake loops and one guy line to make sure it stays where you pitch it.
The fabric is lifted up off your face and has a peak height of 50 cm which gives you just enough space to read a book/map or use your phone without pushing the fabric up with your head. I really like the sleek design of this lightweight bivvy bag and would highly recommend it to people who like to move fast and light.
Black Diamond Big Wall Bivy
- Materials: ToddTex single-wall fabric, sewn-in flexible wire, dual sided zipper
- Weight: 840 g / 29.6 oz
- Size: 99 x 35″ / 251 x 89 cm
The Black Diamond Big Wall Bivy is as rugged as they come, specifically designed for Alpine climbers to deal with extreme exposure on some of the toughest mountains to climb in the world.
A unique and clever feature that makes this one of the best bivvy sacks for camping is the sewn-in flexible wire which creates loft and air space for ventilation. The reinforced clip-in loops may not get used by casual campers, but everyone can benefit from the super durable and waterproof fabric. The high level of protection does come at a cost, though, and you pay for this with the bulky pack size and unremarkable weight.
Tennier Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy
- Materials: Gore-Tex
- Weight: 1,080 g / 38.1 oz
- Size: 82” x 35” x 28”
The Tennier Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy is one of the most popular bivy bags available today, and for a good reason. Gore-Tex is a highly waterproof and breathable material that is moisture-vapor-permeable and highly durable, which is why armed forces around the world still use it to this day.
All the seams are heat-sealed, so you don’t have to worry about taping issues, and there is ample space inside for even the tallest outdoorsmen. Designed to be used in temperatures ranging from 50°F to -50°F in conjunction with insulating layers, you comfortably use this anywhere in the world. The camouflage can come in handy if you are wild camping and need to keep a low profile which is why hunters and veterans love this shelter.
Rab Alpine Bivi
- Materials: 70D coated nylon bathtub floor, Lightweight 3L 15d eVent fabric, Top zip entrance
- Weight: 492 grams / 18 oz
- Size: 92.5″ x 31.5″ x 11.8″
The Rab Alpine Bivi uses eVent® Waterproof Technology DVStorm 3-layer fabric on the top to protect you from the rain and a 70 D coated Nylon bathtub floor to give you total protection on Alpine expeditions. The tapered mummy-shaped is designed to fit technical sleeping bags and reduce weight and heat loss.
It packs down to a tiny 30 x 12 cm and is lightweight for portability which makes this a great choice for backpackers as well as Alpine mountaineers. If you aren’t bothered about having a hooped hood design, then this is possibly the best bivvy bag you can get for camping around the world.
Snugpak Stratosphere Bivvi
- Materials: 190t Nylon with Polyester Mesh Fabric Outer, 50D Nylon Ripstop (5000mm HH) inner, 70D Nylon Taffeta with PU coating (8000mm HH) bottom, 8.5 mm Aluminium poles
- Weight: 1,105 g / 39 oz
- Size: 230 x 106 x 50 cm
The Snugpak Stratosphere Bivvi is not the most lightweight bivvy bag, but it is one of the more reliable and compact bivvy bags that can withstand some serious weather. This one-man bivvy shelter is basically a tiny tent with six stake loops and two poles to keep the fabric off your face.
The hood design on this sack is really cool for star gazing as it can be unzipped to use with just mosquito netting. Snugpak have been around for a while now and are trusted by the British Armed Forces for much of their gear. You won’t be disappointed with this waterproof bivvy bag no matter where you pitch it.
Chinook Summit Bivy Bag
- Materials: Waterproof/breathable fabric top and waterproof ripstop nylon bottom fabric, DAC Featherlite aluminum poles
- Weight: 920 g / 32.4 oz
- Size: 91″ x 32″ x 17″ / 230 x 80 x 42 cm
The Chinook Summit Bivy Bag has a self-supporting canopy held up by two Featherlite aluminum poles that cross over in an x-shaped dome. It has a waterproof rating of 5,000 mm thanks to the durable PU coating and is factory-taped along the seams.
The contoured hood lifts the fabric away from your face and has vents under the lip for breathability. The three-quarter length opening makes getting in and out easy enough, and it packs away neatly inside its stuff sack. Some great reviews and lots of happy customers make this a safe choice that is good value for money.
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy
- Materials: 20D Nylon Ripstop WPB with DWR 10,400 mm top, 30D Nylon Ripstop with DWR 1200 mm bottom
- Weight: 370 g / 13 oz
- Size: 80″ x 36″ / 203 x 91 cm
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy 2017 model has been updated with new colors and styling. Designed to fit a lofty sleeping bag and a 2.5″ inflatable mat inside the bivvy. the sleek design is just the right size for a comfortable night’s sleep anywhere you like. Packing down to a tiny 25 x 10 cm, you can fit this inside your backpack or even keep your sleeping bag inside and pack it into one stuff sack.
The large U-shaped opening also has a mesh window panel, and all the seams are fully taped and PVC-free. This is one of the cheaper bivvy bags that looks good and performs well, taking up very little space and weighing hardly anything. Tuck this in your backpack along with your sleeping bag before you go traveling. You’ll thank me later.
Why Use a Bivvy Bag?
The best bivvy bags are more lightweight and portable than almost any other shelter out there apart from camping tarps. Bivvy bags actually work very well alongside camping tarps by providing additional protection and cover from all directions. As well as being compact to carry in your backpack, they are also very low profile and discreet when in use. If you want to camp under the stars with a down sleeping bag, then a bivvy bag is the ideal protection you need against morning dew and unforecast rain.
Bivvy Bags Vs Tents
Bivvy bags and tents are two different things, and it is hard to compare features, but they both have their pros and cons. Solo tents are obviously favorable once they are up because of the extra space and structure, but they often weigh far more than a bivi bag and have to be strapped to the outside of your bag. Depending on the country you are in, the time of year, and the weather forecast, you should pack accordingly. If you do choose to take a tent on your next camping trip, then take a bivvy as a backup and use it on a clear night.
Bivvy Bags Vs Hammocks
Again, comparing these two items would be pointless, but they can actually work together very well. Those of you who haven’t slept in a hammock with a tarp overhead will know that morning dew can soak your sleeping bag while you snooze. So yes, you could use a rainfly to prevent this, but then you block out the stars at night and clouds during the day. It will keep you dry inside a hammock and also block out the wind. It does make getting in and out somewhat of a challenge, though!
Hooped Bivvies Vs Bivvy Sacks
When deciding which bivvy bag is best for you personally, you will likely see two different styles. The traditional bivvy is just a large waterproof sack that covers your sleeping bag in isn’t propped up by anything. The hooped bivvy is more like a bivy tent hybrid and is designed to keep the waterproof sleeping sack off and away from your face for better comfort and air movement. The hooped bivvy also handles rain better and doesn’t pool water above your head.
What to Look for in a Bivvy Bag
Here are some of the basic features you can look for when buying a bivvy sack:
The material your bivvy sack is made from can make or break it as a functional waterproof shelter. Gore-Tex is my personal favorite and is trusted by hikers, mountaineers, rescue services, and armed forces around the world, but there are other materials you can trust too. When looking at the waterproofing and breathability of a bivvy bag, Amazon reviews are a goldmine of user experiences but you can also look for the waterproof rating displayed as a hydrostatic head measurement.
Bivvy bags are small in comparison to almost every other kind of shelter, but when it boils down to it, they are pretty much a waterproof cover for sleeping bags. Don’t get me wrong, I love my bivvy bags, but my point is that if you haven’t used them before, then don’t expect to use your bivvy bag for anything other than sleeping in. Always check the size before buying and make sure it is big enough for your needs.
You can get standard bivvy bags that are made of waterproof fabric and nothing else, or you can get hooped bivvy bags that use a short pole to create a domed shelter and lift the material away from your face. I personally don’t mind either, but I can understand why most people prefer the hooped design, which admittedly does have better breathability.
Weight and pack size are normally the most popular features on a bivvy sack because they are so compact and lightweight compared to tents. Hooped designs obviously include a pole which does add some weight, as does a zip, but not so much to deter you from buying one. Bivvy bags are small enough to fit inside any backpack and typically weigh just a few hundred grams, so you hardly notice you have one with you.
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