Best Bivy Sacks: Stay Protected While in the Wild

Travel light but stay protected while you sleep with a bivy sack

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Whether you’re roughing it overnight or for several days, a bivy sack is a must-have item that can help protect you from the elements and keep your gear in one place. This impromptu shelter for one is a great way to stay light while on the trail. But how do you know which bivy sack is right and what key features are essential when buying one? We’ve done the research and created this roundup of the best bivy sacks, so you’re in the know when you hit the outdoor gear store.

  • Best Overall
    Snugpak Stratosphere 1 Person Bivvi Tent
    Summary
    Summary
    A spacious bivy pack that’s perfect for one, including tall people. Superior waterproofing is ideal for use in bad weather, and sturdy construction ensures it’ll stand up to the elements.
    Pros
    Pros
    It has a no-see-um netting that can be rolled away, which is ideal if you’re concerned about bugs. It comes with a repair kit to patch or fix holes on the go. The spacious head canopy ensures that you won’t get hot or uncomfortable from the bivy sack material rubbing against your face.
    Cons
    Cons
    Some campers may struggle with the breathability of this bivy pack. When fully enclosed, moisture generated from your own breathing or body can cause dampness to transfer to your sleeping bag or face. In some cases, the stakes to secure the sack aren’t solid and can come loose if you’re an active sleeper.
  • Best Value
    S.O.L 70% Reflective Escape Bivvy
    Summary
    Summary
    A budget-friendly bivy pack that stows into a small handheld pouch. The pack is 70-percent reflective, meaning that you’ll stay warmer for longer.
    Pros
    Pros
    Waterproof construction focuses on water-resistant seams and a drawstring hood to keep bad weather out. When completely folded down, this pack weighs less than one pound. The bright orange color is perfect for safety.
    Cons
    Cons
    Tall campers may have issues with this bivy pack as the advertised 84 by 36-inch  measurements aren’t accurate. Some people may need to perform modifications to get the heat reflective properties to work properly.
  • Honorable Mention
    Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy
    Summary
    Summary
    A Gore-tex designed bivy sack that’s waterproof and breathable. A hydro seal floor ensures that you won’t experience leaks or a wet sleeping bag.
    Pros
    Pros
    The floor features an anti-fungal coating, making it ideal for use in wet conditions and for extended use. You’ll appreciate the no-see-um mesh netting that allows you to keep your bivy pack open and keep bugs out.
    Cons
    Cons
    Quality control is a bit of an issue as you may receive a bivy sack without the carry pouch or critical poles. While the packaging states this sack is less than two pounds, once you add the included poles, it can end up weighing significantly more.

Tips

  • Opt for a mesh opening if you’re concerned about bugs. Some bivy sacks are designed with built-in openings, while others close completely to protect you from the elements. If mosquitoes or other biting bugs are an issue, consider a completely enclosed bivy sack model. 
  • Always keep ventilation in mind. Typically, the more weatherproof a bivy sack is, the less breathable it will be. This can be an issue if you’re camping on a warm night with a fully enclosed bivy sack. 
  • Bivy sacks are ideal if you’re camping or traveling through areas with uneven terrain. Areas such as rock ledges, rocky ground, or impossible tight spaces are typically not ideal for tents. However, a bivy sack is perfect as all you need is a sleeping bag to get comfortable. 

FAQs

Q: Should I opt for a structured or unstructured bivy sack?

A: This is a personal preference. An unstructured bivy sack is ideal for higher elevations or if you plan to go camping in colder weather where you need to huddle to preserve the warmth. An unstructured bivy sack is usually easier to fold down and stow without occupying too much space in your pack. A structured bivy sack is ideal if you don’t like having fabric on your face, and want a bit of breathing room.

Q: I go camping often, so what kind of bivy sack should I buy?

A: If you’re a frequent year-round camper, an all-season bivy sack is a smart investment. While it is heavier, its solid construction and denser materials will ensure that you’re comfortable year-round.

Q: Why should I pick a bivy sack over a tent?

A: Bivy sacks are ideal for people who want to travel light. While tents can provide a comfortable amount of space, the necessary arches and poles can add to the overall weight of your pack or require additional gear for setup. If the thought of fighting to set up a tent is unappealing, then a bivy sack is going to be your go-to option. 

Final Thoughts

Avid campers who want to travel light, but still be protected while they sleep, should look for our best overall choice, the Snugpak Stratosphere 1 Person Bivvi Tent.

Occasional campers, or those new to bivy sacks, can make a solid purchase with our best value option, the S.O.L 70% Reflective Escape Bivvy.