Best Bivy Sacks

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Sierra Designs Backcountry
Test Winner: Sierra Designs Backcountry
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So what exactly are these mysterious bivy sacks? Simply put, it's a shelter made for you to use for sleeping outdoors (much like a sleeping bag). But unlike a tent, these sacks are made to be big enough for you, your sleeping bag, and a small number of things. Bivy sacks are useful if you’re gearing up to enjoy some outdoor adventures during the colder months, and you want something that’s easier to pack and carry than a tent and still offers plenty of warmth and weather protection. If you are planning an outdoor adventure soon and think that a tent will be too heavy to carry and want to consider purchasing one of the best bivy bags for a lighter option, then you have come to the right place.

Standout Picks

Rab Alpine
Rab’s Alpine Bivy Sack brings you a lot of waterproof technology and a great fit that will offer you a bonus to your comfort level each time you sleep outside. You’ll get both great protection and excellent comfort each time you use this bag.
Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$250.00
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Sierra Designs Backcountry
Comfort and portability in one small package. That is what the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy brings you. It features a 2.5" inflatable bivy and breathable mesh bug window. It weighs in at less than one pound and only 10" by 4" when compacted.
Amazon Link
$139.95
Snugpak Stratosphere
Contrary to its name, this bivy is actually quite spacious. It features an aluminum pole at the head and shoulder area to provide more comforts and breathability. It is slightly heavier than some of our other options, but for the spaciousness, that is the trade-off.
Amazon Link
$169.99
Woodland Camouflage Waterproof
This Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy Cover is made of Gore-Tex, so it is waterproof. And while it's not entirely a bivy unto itself, it will certainly keep you dry in most rainfalls, and this is not to be underestimated in the middle of the night and near the peak of your destination. Waking up feeling dry is worth every single penny that this protective layer offers.
Amazon Link
$199.00
S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer Escape
The S.O.L Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivy is the original way to stay warm and dry on a night in the wild. Find out more about why we love this durable bivy sack below.
Amazon Link
$55.99
Winterial Single Person
The Winterial Single Person is right on the borderline of being a one-person tent. It features two-hoops, meaning that none of the material lays on your body and giving you a more spacious area. It is super breathable and also comes with a durable full-coverage rainfly.
Amazon Link
$89.99
Outdoor Research Bug
Outdoor Research’s Bug Bivy Bag brings you great weather protection while still keeping you safe from nasty bug bites as you sleep outside. You’ll also get plenty of comfort and packability in this easy-to-carry bivy bag.
Amazon Link
$88.95
Outdoor Research Alpine
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag is designed to offer several great all-around features that give you ample protection as well as plenty of comforts. Designed with great weather-resistant features, you’ll get the warmth and protection you need while you stay warm and cozy at night.
Amazon Link
Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped
If you want a durable bag that can handle all types of weather conditions, then you’ll love the features and options that the Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag offer. Black Diamond’s Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag is made to deal with extreme weather conditions and provides plenty of reinforcement and weather protection to handle freezing temperatures.
Amazon Link
$299.95
Backcountry Link
$299.95
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MSR AC
If you want to get some versatility out of your bivy bag, then consider purchasing the MSR AC Bivy sack, which offers a host of features you’ll enjoy if you are looking for a bag that’s both easy-to-carry and still offers plenty of all-around protection. This lightweight, compressible bag is efficient to carry along in your pack, and also offers some excellent weather protection.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Weather Resistance

Since this type of bags is designed to be shelters that help protect you from the weather outdoors, and should also assist you with keeping bugs away from you like mosquito repellents, you’ll want to make sure you select the one that’s right for you so you experience plenty of fun each time you camp. You don’t want a bag that won’t meet your needs since you’ll be miserable each time you venture outdoors to camp. To help you make sure you get the weather protection you need, you’ll need to consider a few things about where you’ll be going and what the weather will be like before you select your bivy bag.

If you know you’re likely to experience cold weather conditions that can also include snow and rain, then you certainly need a bivy bag that has enough warmth and weather protection to keep you sleeping happily through cold winter nights. When we’re analyzing weather protection with bivvy sacks, you’ll need to take a look at the fabric that’s designed into the bivy, because that will tell you a lot about the amount of warmth and weather protection you are likely to experience whenever you use your bivy bag.

Bivy bag manufacturers use a wide variety of fabrics on the exterior shell of their bags to help create levels of weather protection that work well in a variety of climates. Some bivy bag brands offer fully waterproof bivvy sacks that feature Gore-Tex materials designed into them. Gore-Tex brings you the best level of waterproof protection to handle all elements but isn’t always as breathable as some other fabric choices. However, many bivy brand manufacturers that use Gore-Tex on the exterior shells of their bags also design good ventilation systems into the bags to help balance out the breathability of the fabric.

Some other bivy sacks are designed with other water-resistant fabrics that are more breathable, although not fully waterproof. However, these water-resistant bags still offer ample amounts of protection and are usually made out of ripstop nylon and a DWR (durable water repellant) coating sprayed over the exterior of the shell. You’ll still get some protection from the rain from these bags, but they aren’t fully waterproof, although they do breathe better. Plus, most bivy sacks on the market today also feature some type of protection from bugs, like a screen that you can roll up and pull down.

So, depending on where you’ll be going and the weather conditions you are likely to encounter, you can decide if you need a fully waterproof bivy bag or one that offers a decent level of weather protection.

Comfort

Since you’re going to sleeping outside, possibly for many nights, in the bivy bag you purchase, you want to make sure you buy one that gives you enough comfort to help you sleep soundly through the night each time you use it. You don’t want to wind up with a small, non-flexible, uncomfortable bag you can’t sleep well in, or you’ll feel miserable each time you want to take an outdoor camping trip.

So, when you’re analyzing how comfortable your bivy bag will be, you want to look at how well you are protected from bugs, how much room you have to move in the bag, how easy the bag is to use, and the quality of the interior fabrics that are used to create comfort in the bivy bag.

Since most people like some range of movement to find comfort as they sleep, you need a bivy bag that provides you with enough space to be able to achieve this while it’s still lightweight and easy for you to carry. Bivy sacks won’t give you as much space to sleep as a tent, since they are made to compress and pack down, but do need to be roomy and flexible enough so you can find your favorite way to sleep.

More lightweight bivy sacks tend to offer less freedom of movement inside the bag since they typically aren’t as roomy to sleep in. Heavier models designed to hold up for all four seasons won’t be as light to carry but will create more comfort each time you sleep.

Breathability

Depending on the waterproofing technology used on the bivy bag, and the fabrics made to create the product, ventilation can really vary from bivy bag to bivy bag. Typically, the more waterproof your bivy bag is, the less ventilation you’ll get, and how much breathability you need from your bivy bag will depend on where you plan to take your outdoor adventures.

Some of the higher-quality, fully waterproof bivvy sacks don’t offer as much breathability as their water-resistant counterparts, but still, several manufacturers design other features in their bivvy sacks to try and counterbalance this problem. If your bivy bag comes with zippers, you’ll still be able to allow moisture and water to escape from your sweat easily as long as you can easily access them, allowing you to control the ventilation on your bag. Other bivy bag manufacturers make their bags with mesh vents and more breathable fabrics that are still water-resistant but not fully waterproof.

Since you don’t want to experience any uncomfortable condensation build-up from perspiration on the interior area of your bag, you’ll want to make sure that even if you purchase a highly waterproof bivy bag, you can still ventilate the bag well. Also, if your bivy bag comes with poles that help give you room around your head, you’ll be able to benefit from the extra air ventilation provided by this, so consider looking for a bivy bag that gives you this option.

Weight

Since you’ll be packing and carrying your bivy bag along with you on your camping adventures, you’ll want to make sure you get a bivy bag that’s easy for you to carry and still brings you all the features you need to stay protected while you are outside. Some of the more lightweight models won’t offer you as much space and comfort, or as many features since their design is far more streamlined.

More lightweight bivy sacks are usually designed with bug nets, which help protects from bugs, but bug nets can still allow rain and snow in if the weather conditions get very cold and moist. However, other bivy bags feature an additional choice of poles so that you can use the extra netting as you need it.

When you’re trying to decide how lightweight you need your bivy bag to be, just make sure you don’t sacrifice other elements of comfort and protection, since most bivy sacks, even the heavier ones, are still made to be easy-to-pack and easy-to-use.

Packed size of your bivy bag selection is also an important factor to consider when you’re trying to figure out the weight of the bivy bag you need. Depending on how much bulk you can handle, you’ll want to make sure you get a bivy bag that easily fits your pack and doesn’t create a lot of discomforts as you carry it. Since the amount of weight that can be carried by outdoor enthusiasts can vary from person to person, this is really a matter of personal preference. However, you want to make sure you select a bivy bag that’s got everything you need while it is still light enough for you to compress and carry.

Top 10 Picks

1. Rab Alpine

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$250.00
See Deal
Rab Alpine
Amazon Link

Rab’s Alpine Bivy Sack brings you a lot of waterproof technology and a great fit that will offer you a bonus to your comfort level each time you sleep outside. You’ll get both great protection and excellent comfort each time you use this bag.

Read more

Weather Resistance
Rab’s Alpine Bivy Bag is designed with Event Waterproof Technology manufactured into the bag’s exterior, which is also comprised of a storm fabric that helps keep water out of the bag’s interior. Plus, the bag also has a protective external storm flap to assist you any time the weather outside gets nasty.

Comfort
Designed to fit you with a warm, cozy, mummy effect, you’ll be wrapped up in comfort because of the padding used in this bag. Plus, the interior materials also feel soft to the touch, so you’ll get a great night’s rest each time you use this bag.

Breathability
The materials used in the Rab Alpine Bivy Bag are designed to be breathable, although the bag could offer more ventilation with zipper vents and breathable mesh inserts. Still, the bag does perform decently and can vent out moisture as you sweat.

Weight
Designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, this bag also packs down well and is easy to set up as well. The compression on this bag performs well, so it won’t take up too much space in your pack.

Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$250.00
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2. Sierra Designs Backcountry

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$139.95
Sierra Designs Backcountry
Amazon Link

Comfort and portability in one small package. That is what the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy brings you. It features a 2.5" inflatable bivy and breathable mesh bug window. It weighs in at less than one pound and only 10" by 4" when compacted.

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Weather Resistance
This backcountry bivy is fully waterproof. The top of the sack is made from 30D nylon ripstop with 10,400mm DWR. The bottom is made from 20D nylon ripstop with 1,200mm DWR. The seams are fully taped and the excess fabric around the zippers acts as a storm flap. However, it should be noted that the zippers themselves are not waterproof and in high winds and sideways rain, water can enter.

Comfort
One of our favorite features of this bivy is the 2.5” inflatable sleeping pad. The pad is comfortable and just as equally compressed as the rest of the sack. This bivy is compatible with almost all sleeping bags, though it is recommended with the Backcountry Bed. It is available in two different sizes, regular and long. The regular bivy is 80” long and the long bivy is 86” long.

Breathability
This sack offers decent breathability, but just like others, can form condensation in some situations. There is a mesh bug window at the face. This provides excellent breathability, as long as the weather isn’t too cold or rainy. One user noted that this mesh window can only be opened and closed from the outside, which can be a pain if the rain begins mid-sleep. There is also a large U-shaped zipper that spans about ⅓ of the sack. If having the material rest on your face isn’t ideal, there is a tab on the outside that you can use to lift the material up using a tree branch or cord.

Weight
Shockingly enough, even with the built-in mattress pad, this bivy weighs only about 13-ounces. Reviewers say that it is easy to store and even if you do it carelessly, it is easy to fit into its stuff sack. In its storage bag, the dimensions are 10” by 4”.

Amazon Link
$139.95

3. Snugpak Stratosphere

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$169.99
Snugpak Stratosphere
Amazon Link

Contrary to its name, this bivy is actually quite spacious. It features an aluminum pole at the head and shoulder area to provide more comforts and breathability. It is slightly heavier than some of our other options, but for the spaciousness, that is the trade-off.

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Weather Resistance
As with most bivy sacks, the Stratosphere is waterproof. The top of the tent is made from 50D nylon ripstop materials with a 5,000mm waterproof polyurethane coating. The bathtub style groundsheet is made from 210T ripstop nylon with an 8,000mm waterproof polyurethane coating. To keep your tent in place during high winds, there are also seven alloy stakes included.

Comfort
The comfort of this bivy really depends on you. It depends on where you set it up and which sleeping bag or pad you will use. The material of the bivy has a nice and durable feel. There is a full ¾ length side zipper that is double stitched. It is easy to get in and out of the sack.

Breathability
It could be the fact that the material of this bivy doesn’t sit on your face or shoulders that make it feel roomier and more breathable. There is also a roll-away mosquito net that allows for great ventilation. The head area canopy is erected by a lightweight aluminum pole.

Weight
Slightly heavier than some of our other options, this bivy (and it's aluminum poles) weighs in at 2.5-pounds. When it is compacted, it measures 12” by 6” and has two small compression straps. There is also a useful buckle on the outside that allows you to easily hang the bivy from your pack.

Amazon Link
$169.99

4. Woodland Camouflage Waterproof

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$199.00
Woodland Camouflage Waterproof
Amazon Link

This Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy Cover is made of Gore-Tex, so it is waterproof. And while it's not entirely a bivy unto itself, it will certainly keep you dry in most rainfalls, and this is not to be underestimated in the middle of the night and near the peak of your destination. Waking up feeling dry is worth every single penny that this protective layer offers.

Read more

Weather Resistance
This Gore-Tex Bivy cover has been made in the USA and boasts excellent water protection, so you can enjoy a peaceful night's sleep, even in the rainfall.

Comfort
And as part of a Military Design, it's structured to easily fit cold weather sleeping bags that are usually a bit heftier. The combination of a super warm sleeping bag and complete coverage from the rain make this a very logical choice for any serious outdoor's person.

Breathability
For optimal ventilation, you can leave the bivy unzipped. There are strategically placed snaps to keep the sack from flying open in high wind. If the weather is particularly harsh, you will want to fully zip the bivy.

Weight
It also compresses down into a compression pack that can easily be packed and readied for the next adventure. However, the weight of this bivy is slightly higher than the rest. It weighs 2.2-pounds. The weight is accumulated by the heavy-duty materials, strong zipper, and metal snaps.

Amazon Link
$199.00

5. S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer Escape

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$55.99
S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer Escape
Amazon Link

The S.O.L Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivy is the original way to stay warm and dry on a night in the wild. Find out more about why we love this durable bivy sack below.

Read more

Weather Resistance
While you fall deeply asleep after a long day of trekking, this bivy sack will keep you warm and dry without a fault. The fabric is highly water-resistant and combats even the wettest and soggiest of weather, so you don't need to worry about waking up to a tiny flood in your shelter.

Comfort
The fabric is made to be durable, so don't worry about needing to pamper this bivy sack. It will stay put together and abrasion-free for time to come. Along with this, the fabric reflects your body heat, so that you will stay warm with minimal body output. So that you blend into the background and are less visible to whatever animal you may try to be avoiding, this bivy sack is in a neutral and natural color of olive green. To get in and out of this bivy sack is no challenge, there is a full side zip. Overall, if you are looking for a bivy sack that is super warm, reliable and as tough as you are, this is the way to go.

Breathability
Made from Escape Material, this sack is very breathable. The breathability of the fabric actually changes based on the climate. However, even with its great breathability, reviewers have said that there was still some condensation build-up inside.

Weight
Portability is the name of the game with this bivy. It weighs less than half of a pound and compresses down to the size of a can of soda. There is really no reason not to throw this in your pack, even if it is as a backup.

Amazon Link
$55.99

6. Winterial Single Person

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$89.99
Winterial Single Person
Amazon Link

The Winterial Single Person is right on the borderline of being a one-person tent. It features two-hoops, meaning that none of the material lays on your body and giving you a more spacious area. It is super breathable and also comes with a durable full-coverage rainfly.

Read more

Weather Resistance
This three-season bivy is great for almost every environment. Without the rainfly, the bivy walls are all mesh. The heavy-duty rainfly fully covers the bivy and keeps you dry and comfortable. Included with the bivy are three bundles of rope and fourteen heavy-duty stakes.

Comfort
This spacious bivy leaves plenty of room for one person but is slightly small for two. There is a large zippered access window that makes getting in and out easy. Inside the bivy is a small storage pocket, perfect for a cell phone, keys, or a flashlight. The entire bivy has a two hoop design that uses a simple clip assembly.

Breathability
Definitely on the best features of this bivy is the breathability. Without the rainfly attached, the windows and sides are all mesh. Thankfully this bivy is structured, otherwise, you may feel like a fish caught in a net. The rainfly can easily be rolled up and pinned to let a breeze in.

Weight
When fully packed up, this bivy weighs 3.3-pounds. The carrying sack measures 18” by 4.5” by 4”. It is slightly heavier than others on our list, but it also provides a great amount of space width-wise and height-wise.

Amazon Link
$89.99

7. Outdoor Research Bug

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$88.95
Outdoor Research Bug
Amazon Link

Outdoor Research’s Bug Bivy Bag brings you great weather protection while still keeping you safe from nasty bug bites as you sleep outside. You’ll also get plenty of comfort and packability in this easy-to-carry bivy bag.

Read more

Weather Protection
While you get ample amounts of bug protection with this bivy bag, there as much weather protection designed into this bag when compared to some of the other options on our list. However, this bag does feature a waterproof bottom area to help keep you dry and safe from ground moisture as you sleep.

Comfort
Designed with plenty of comfort features in mind, the Outdoor Research Bug Bivy Bag is made to be both roomy and warm. You’ll have plenty of space to sleep well and a decent amount of flexibility each time you use the bag.

Ventilation
Outdoor Research’s Bug Bivy Bag features an excellent ventilation system designed in the exterior shell which will help you regulate your body temperature. You’ll stay warm and cozy without having to worry about moisture from your own perspiration as you rest.

Weight
This bivy bag is designed to be very lightweight and easy-to-pack, so you won’t have to worry about heaviness or extra pack space whenever you use it. You’ll be easy to carry it along with you easily.

Amazon Link
$88.95

8. Outdoor Research Alpine

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Outdoor Research Alpine
Amazon Link

Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag is designed to offer several great all-around features that give you ample protection as well as plenty of comforts. Designed with great weather-resistant features, you’ll get the warmth and protection you need while you stay warm and cozy at night.

Read more

Weather Resistance
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag offers some of the best weather protection features designed into this bivy bag since it’s designed with an exterior Gore-Tex layer on the outside of its shell. Gore-Tex is both waterproof and wind-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about the weather outside as you sleep.

Comfort
This bivy bag also brings you excellent comfort, since it’s roomy enough to make it feel more like you are sleeping in the comfort of a tent than a small, enclosed bivy bag. You get plenty of flexibility to move as you sleep and a lot of interior warmth.

Breathability
Although Gore-Tex fabric isn’t traditionally breathable, the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Bag brings you a high-quality built-in ventilation system, like allowing you to open the bivy to keep out moisture build-up. Also, there are zipper features built into this bivy bag that will allow you to experience excellent breathability.

Weight
Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy Bag is heavier than some of the other options present on our list, mostly because it is designed for durability and warmth. It is packable, and its extra features do still provide plenty of benefits that balance out its weight.

Amazon Link

9. Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$299.95
Backcountry Link
$299.95
See Deal
Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped
Amazon Link

If you want a durable bag that can handle all types of weather conditions, then you’ll love the features and options that the Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag offer. Black Diamond’s Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag is made to deal with extreme weather conditions and provides plenty of reinforcement and weather protection to handle freezing temperatures.

Read more

Weather Resistance
Black Diamond’s Big Wall Hooped Bivy Bag is designed to handle the most extreme of weather conditions and comes with water, wind, and bug resistant features designed into a strong and durable fabric. With this bivy bag, you get a mosquito net, a DWR coating and taped seams, and a full zip feature that will give you ample weather protection from one of the best weather-protecting bivy bags on the market today.

Comfort
Black Diamond’s Hooped Bivy Bag is designed to offer ample comfort and has a ToddTex fabric designed into the interior area that gives you a soft, cozy feeling. The exterior weather protection on the bag will keep you dry, while the interior offers plenty of warmth and comfort.

Breathability
While this bivy bag is designed with a ventilation system in it, its focus on creating warmth in extreme temperatures sometimes means moisture can build-up from sweat on the interior of the bag. So, if you won’t be out when the weather is extremely cold, you might sweat a big when you sleep in it, but if you use it when it’s very cold, you’ll feel great.

Weight
Because Black Diamond designed this bivy bag to be very durable, it isn’t as lightweight as some of the other options on our list. However, although it is a bit heavier, it does make up for its weight by providing great comfort and weather protection.

Amazon Link
$299.95
Backcountry Link
$299.95
See Deal

10. MSR AC

Where to buy
MSR AC
Amazon Link

If you want to get some versatility out of your bivy bag, then consider purchasing the MSR AC Bivy sack, which offers a host of features you’ll enjoy if you are looking for a bag that’s both easy-to-carry and still offers plenty of all-around protection. This lightweight, compressible bag is efficient to carry along in your pack, and also offers some excellent weather protection.

Read more

Weather Resistance
The MSR AC Bivy Bag is designed to handle all types of weather and features excellent water-resistance on the exterior shell of the bag, designed from a laminate that offers a layer of coated protection. While the hood on this bag could use a zipper for better overall weather protection, it still provides plenty of functionality and can keep you warm and dry when the temperature drops.

Comfort
The MSR AC Bivy Bag gives you enough room so that you can move and have flexibility as you sleep, but is still light enough and small enough so that it is easy to pack and carry. This bivy bag is designed with a large opening area, so it is easy to get in and out of and gives you the room you’ll want.

Breathability
The outer laminate on the MSR AC Bivy Bag that makes the bag water-resistant is also very breathable, so the bag can effectively regulate temperature. You’ll feel cozy and warm each time you use this bivy bag, and you won’t have to worry about overheating.

Weight
The MSR AC Bivy Bag is one of the lightest products listed on our review and weighs in at only 16 ounces. It is compressible, lightweight, and easy-to-pack and carry.

Sources

  1. Alastair Humprehys, What is a Bivy Bag, and Why do I need One?, Informational Hiking Website