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7 of the Best Bivy Sacks in 2024

Initially used by the military, today’s modern bivy bag (bivouac sack) is a minimalist personal shelter that protects outdoor enthusiasts from the environment. Adding an average of about five degrees of warmth to any bag and sleep pad setup, a bivy bag is a popular alternative to a tent.

In this guide, we have chosen a variety of bivy sacks for light and fast missions, rock climbing, emergency shelter, or as an alpine bivy. Any of these make for a great bivy bag and can be paired with a tarp for additional protection.

Our choice for a great all-around bivy is the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy for how it performs from rainy conditions to dry weather. This lightweight bivy packs down small and adds peace of mind when thrown in a backpack for wherever adventure takes you.

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Our Top Picks for Best Bivy Sacks 2024

Best Overall: Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Outdoor Research

Specs:

  • Weight: 448 g/0.98 lbs
  • Floor Dimensions: 82″ x 26″
  • Pertex Diamond Fuse waterproof fabric
  • Clamshell opening for easy in and out
  • Single pole assembly

An ultralight bivy sack with big weather protection, the OR Helium Bivy is made from Pertex Diamond Fuse technology fabric. This bivy keeps users dry and warm when paired with a good sleeping bag and sleeping pad. This totally waterproof bivy keeps rain and cold weather out, since its fully seam-taped.

The single pole system makes it quick to assemble even when you roll into your camp spot later than expected. The clamshell opening allows for easy in and out access and pad and bag set up.

With one guy line loop and two stake loops, the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy can be staked down to keep it from blowing away. The no-see-um-mesh is the perfect bug screen that also allows for airflow while keeping creepy crawlies out. You won’t experience condensation with two internal fly fasteners.

Best for Winter: Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Big Agnes

Specs:

  • Weight: 623 g/1.4 lbs
  • Floor Area: 16 ft²
  • Head Height: 20 in
  • Three-layer waterproof nylon with taped seams
  • Three stake loops for securing
  • Extra large opening for entry and exit

The only four-season bivy on our list, the Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy is one of the few true heavy-duty models of bivy on the market. Three-layer waterproof fabric and ultralight nylon construction with taped seams make this a true weather-resistant shelter for whatever the elements throw at you.

To combat moisture getting into your bag, the waterproof fabric of this bivy features a micro-porous membrane. The nylon ripstop with 1200-mm polyurethane coating bottom holds in the heat, adds durability, and provides another layer of water-resistant insect protection.

The mesh layer can be opened or closed for full weather coverage or ventilation and to prevent condensation buildup. The single pole design adds more headroom while oversized stake-out loops keep the bivy in place. The extra long side zipper makes it easy to get in and out.

Best Zipper-Free Bivy: Rab Trailhead Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Rab

Specs:

  • Weight: 405 g/0.89 lbs
  • Floor Dimensions: 98.4″ x 33.5″
  • Nylon ripstop construction
  • DWR and PU-coated
  • Snap closure with rain guard
  • Taped seams

Sometimes simplicity is best, and the Rab Trailhead Bivy offers great bang for your buck. For those who find zipper bivy sacks too constrictive or those looking for ease of use, this bivy has all you need for a night of recovering rest. This bivy packs down to the size of a smartphone in its stuff sack, making it a must have.

Made for quick overnighters in the mountains or for backpackers and bikepackers, this bivy is fully seamed and constructed from ripstop nylon with a DWR and PU coating for wind resistance and moisture permeability. The integrated rain gutter at the snap openings adds more weather resistance.

The open-face construction and zippered mesh vent help reduce condensation while allowing for increased ventilation. Use this bivy with your favorite bag and pad as a standalone, or add a tarp over the bivy for additional warmth and weather protection.

Best for Short Missions: MSR Pro Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by MSR

Specs:

  • Weight: 257 g/0.5 lbs
  • Floor Dimensions: 88″ x 36″
  • Durable ripstop nylon floor
  • Rainfly for breathability and to minimize condensation

The MSR Pro Bivy is perfectly made for short missions (think weekend warrior or quick overnights) or as an emergency bivy. Weighing less and packing down smaller than a water bottle, this bivy takes up minimal space when packed. The ripstop nylon shell is durable and can take some wear and tear.

Waterproof Xtreme Shield Protectioncoating and taped seams help adventurers stay dry in the rain. A breathable rainfly adds better protection and helps to reduce condensation buildup on any sleeping bag.

The no-zipper closure makes this a most-conditions bivy, but many users pair it with a tarp for more warmth. With no poles, this bivy sets up quickly. Pair it with your favorite sleeping bag and pad to rest up when adventure takes you to small spaces.

Best Minimalist Bivy: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Sierra Designs

Specs:

  • Weight: 368 g/0.8 lbs (R) or 425 g/0.93 lbs (L)
  • Floor Dimensions: 80″ x 36″ (R) or 86″ x 40″ (L)
  • Waterproof top fabric
  • Mesh window for preventing moisture and night sky viewing
  • PVC-free seams
  • Large interior space

Looking for an ultralight bivy with maximum comfort? The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy is the ultralight bivy you have been searching for. PVC-free fully taped seams and coating add water repellency for heavy rain.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy’s large mesh window helps deter condensation and adds some breathability. This lightweight bivy features large interior space to fit SD’s Backcountry Quilt (or other generously sized quilt/bag) and a sleeping mat, so you won’t feel as scrunched or claustrophobic.

With the large U-shaped opening, it is easy to get that just-right setup. The guy line design adds extra space and ample headroom for a cozy night’s sleep.

Best Budget Bivy: Katabatic Gear Bristlecone Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Katabatic Gear

Specs:

  • Weight: 206 g/0.45 lbs for the 6′ size
  • Floor Dimensions: 83″ x 17″
  • Pertex Quantum Air for water resistance
  • UTS coating for durability
  • Bathtub floor to keep nature out
  • Generously sized for comfort and gear storage

Camp in the simplest form with the Katabatic Gear Bristlecone Bivy. This bivy bag packs a punch with features for the price. The upper shell is made from Pertex Quantum Air for air permeability and a DWR coating for moisture protection. A UTS coating provides abrasion resistance and coverage from wear and tear.

The bathtub floor keeps crawlies out and promotes weather resistance. A no-see-um mesh window provides airflow. Get in and out easily with the long YKK zipper. The sleep pad attachment points and stake loops allow you to keep your sleep quarters in place.

Tie loops at the feet and head give more breathing space. We appreciate the various lengths and widths for extended comfort no matter the size of the user. It can fit a pad up to 25″ wide and provides room to store some gear, too.

Best Bug Net Bivy Sack: Outdoor Research Bug Bivy

best-bivy-sacks
Image by Outdoor Research

Specs:

  • Weight: 440 g/0.97 lbs
  • Floor Dimensions: 89″ x 25″
  • No-see-um mesh bug protection
  • Single pole assembly
  • Internal mesh pocket

For those warm-weather nights without the threat of rain, this bug bivy acts just like a bug net for your sleeping bag and pad. Perfect for backyard camping under the stars and fieldwork, the no-see-um mesh will help with airflow on warm summer nights.

The Outdoor Research Bug Bivy offers extra protection from creepy crawlies but lacks the durability of a Gore-tex or ripstop fabric bivy. The single pole design keeps the mesh off your face while sleeping pad straps keep your setup in place. A mesh pocket is great for storing a headlamp and other essentials.

Stake loops and guy line loops help open the bivy up and keep it secure. This bug net is best for a dry climate. The impermeable floor doesn’t do much to keep water out. Without a bathtub bottom, a tarp will still not help with keeping the bag dry.

Things to Consider When Buying a Bivy Sack

Selecting a great bivy sack for your outdoor adventure doesn’t have to be difficult. These are a few things to consider when choosing the right bivy bag for your outdoor adventure.

Water Resistance

Most bivys are made from nylon fabric and will be water resistant or waterproof for weather resistance. Decide if the bivy being water resistant or fully waterproof is important and if the cost fits your budget.

Size

While bivy sacks are designed to be one-person shelters, models will vary in length, foot dimensions, and head height. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that the model you choose is long enough for your sleeping bag and pad setup.

Weight

Most bivy sacks weigh a pound or less. That is why a bivy sack is often chosen as a shelter by backpackers, mountaineers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking for lightweight weather protection with weight savings and packability.

Ventilation

With mesh openings and guy lines, a bivy bag offers more ventilation than most tents with enough space for a sleeping bag and pad. The mesh also helps to keep condensation from building up on a sleeping bag from body vapor for a dry shelter for the night.

Breathability

The bivy sacks listed are all made from breathable fabrics. Breathability ensures users stay comfortable while resting. Body heat produces vapor, so breathable fabrics are essential to dissipate the vapor without creating condensation.

Extra Features

Additional features for a bivy bag may include a small pocket for storage, stake loops to keep the bivy in place, and rain guards. You may also look for extra large openings for easy entry and exit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a bivy sack and a tent?

A bivy sack is designed as a single-person shelter used in particular for alpine climbing, mountaineering and backpacking. It takes very little time to set up, while a tent features multiple poles and offers much more leg room and headroom.

How much warmer do bivy sacks make a setup?

Typically, a bivy sack will add five degrees to your sleep bag setup, so the temperature rating of your sleeping bag is the most important thing to consider for keeping warm.

Are bivy sacks easy to set up, take down, and pack away?

Most bivy designs come with a one-pole setup or pole-free setup, making them easy to set up in a small amount of time. Taking down a bivy sack is just as simple. Bivy sacks come with a stuff sack for easy packability and storage when not in use.

How do I care for my bivy sack?

The right care means you can get years of use from your bivy sack. Be sure it is free from dirt and debris after each use, washing it with a mild detergent created for outdoor gear. Store it in a cool, dry place.

Maintain waterproofness by reapplying the coating occasionally. Repair any tears or holes as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts: Best Bivy Sacks for 2024

From the comfort of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy to the short mission MSR Pro Bivy, this list of bivy bags has you covered from the elements. Our overall choice for the best bivy sack is the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy to keep you snug as a bug in a rug from dry weather to cold weather.

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