So Many Camping Options Out There…Bivvy Bagging?

Intervention time. This thing has to stop. The RVs, tents, hammocks, sleeping bags, one for each season, and/or location. There’s just too much stuff. One of the best things about camping is getting away from modern life and reconnecting with nature for one glorious moment.

Okay, I’m not telling you to plummet yourself back into the stone age and make do with what nature provides. So, how about a spot of bivvy bagging?

What is a Bivvy Bag?

Bivvy bags are single-person shelter units and most of them resemble a sleeping bag with a roof.

These guys are related to bivouac shelters – temporary structures that are usually used by backpackers, mountain climbers, etc. The bivouac sacks (or as its friends call it bivy, bivi, or bivvi bag) starts with the same concept but then makes it more portable and user friendly.

Right now, they are very popular with anyone and everyone who is looking to reduce their gear to absolute necessities.

Alpine Camping with a Bivouac


Why is minimalist camping gaining popularity?

The major point that hooks people in is the effort to bring as little as possible with you. A smaller and lighter load means that you can go wherever you want without worrying if you’re dooming yourself to a lot of muscle ache or is your 8-person tent going to fit in that spot.

It might have a new trendy name, but in essence, it’s going back to the basics. The adventure takes center stage, while the gear plays a supporting role.

And let’s be honest – camping has fallen prey to capitalism. If you don’t believe me, just check out one of the websites like Uncrate or The Green Head and see for yourself how many gadgets or gimmicky products are released all the time.

The whole point of minimalism is to tune out the noise and get rid of the clutter and focus on life and the world. And in case of outdoor activities, to focus on your surroundings and company.

But also, on the more shallow level, keeping up with the Jones’ can be exhausting. Proclaiming yourself a minimalist frees you from having to compete with your neighbor over who has a better RV or trailer.

Stealth Camping With a Bivvy Bag


How the bivvy bag factors into minimalist camping?

We established that quite a few of the currently available models function as a sleeping bag and a tent at once. That in itself is a huge space saver. But some go a few steps beyond – like the Utool Ultralight Emergency Sleeping Bag which weighs only 6 ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.

It’s not an ideal solution since you will need to slip in another sleeping bag or a mat for some comfort, but in an emergency, it can perform six different functions – ie send a visual distress signal or collect rainwater.

And every extra feature or function just piles on the bonus points. For example, BivyPack is a backpack that transforms into a single-user tent. And there’s still some room left over for your essentials.


How can I use a bivvy bag when camping?

You can use it as your primary sleeping solution or a shelter. Or you can pick up an ultra-light model and add it to your emergency/survival kit.

Is it a practical way to camp?

In terms of how light and easy it is to carry around, yes. In terms of how comfortable, or warm, or dry you will be, it depends on the model of the bag.

Will I be warm enough in a bivvy bag?

See above. Depends on the model. Some will provide you with as much warmth as a good sleeping bag and some might only have a space blanket as a lining.

If your outing includes a lot of snow, you’ll find bivis that are specially designed for such conditions, like the Hilleberg Windsack or the Hibernator by Mont Adventure Equipment.

Do I need to have a tarp with a bivvy tent?

With most, no. But if you pick a model with a mesh roof, then the answer is yes.

Bivvy tents are made out of the same materials tarps and regular tents are made from, so that’s that.

Are bivvy tents warmer than regular sleeping bags?

It depends on which apples are you comparing to which oranges. But in some cases, the bivi side loses on this point. The lighter the bivvy bag gets, the less padding and insulation will be there as well.

On the other hand, there not that many regular sleeping bags that can go head to head with the Hibernator.


Are there two-person bivvy bags?

Yes, quite a few actually.

The above mentioned Hilleberg Windsack comes in 2 and 3-person sizes, but if that’s not your style, there are also models like the Saguaro Bivy Shelter 2 Person Tent.

Can a bivvy bag replace a tent?

In a lot of cases, yes. If you get a bivi with a water-resistant roof, you may as well retire your old tent and leave it to collect dust.

Is there a difference between a bivvy bag and a bivvy tent?

Yes. Bivvy bags resemble classic sleeping bags, while bivvy tents have all that framing and a roof. Both can provide you 360-degree protection from the elements, but one of them will give you a bit more freedom of movement. Guess which one.

Is a fishing bivvy the same as a regular bivvy tent?

No. Let’s just say that if you appeared with one in front of your survivalist friend, they would smack your head with it.

Fishing bivvies are a lot roomier and don’t pack small and light. However, they can be used for regular camping since some of the models are just super fancy tents.

To see what I’m talking about, check out the Spyder Expose Bivvy.

2 Person Bivvy Tent


What are the top 3 bivvy tents?

SOL Emergency Bivvy

As the name of the brand says – Survive Outdoors Longer.

The emergency style bivies are a must-have for hikers and everyone else who likes to explore the wilderness. This model weighs just 3 ounces, and it can fit into the palm when packed up.

It rolls out into a 36 by 84-inch bag with taped seams. The lining can reflect up 90% of your body heat back to you. You can also turn it inside out, and use it as an emergency blanket.

These types of bivvies are usually made out of polyester, but SOL has come up with a special tear-resistant fabric that keeps the condensation at bay. And unlike quite a few similar products, this one is completely waterproof and windproof. The bivvy is also very quiet and doesn’t crinkle about – perfect of you don’t want to wake up your companions or tip off the pursuers.

The bright orange shade will be useful in flagging down the rescue team.

Though it is not an absolute and perfect solution, this bag can protect you from the elements long enough for you to have some rest before you collect yourself and continue with your journey.

And all that under $20. And considering that it would not hurt to have one or two outside of the camping kit, the price is more than acceptable.

Outdoor Research Interstellar AccentShell Bivy

Outdoor Research won themselves a few awards with their Interstellar jacket. Then, they took everything good about it and turned it into a camping shelter.

The AccetShell in the name stands for the manufacturer’s proprietary technology that creates a lighter, stretching, and more breathable waterproof membrane. They even break down the science behind it, so you don’t have to think that it’s all mumbo jumbo and no more than a marketing gimmick.

Everything is seam taped and there’s no stitch in sight. The setup opens to the side with the zip – this allows you to move your upper body while your legs stay snug and warm. And there are two covers – solid and mesh.

The bivi is rated for all seasons, though you might nerd a bit of extra help in winter. The help you will need is mostly for generating extra heat since there’s no escaping one the zipper goes up.

All this comes to weigh only 20 ounces. When the bivi is packed it can fit into a 12 by 3.25-inch bag. But when laid out, this guy can accommodate a six and a half foot individual.


Tennier Industries RFI Modular Sleep System

Military-grade stands for something – in camping, that something translated to heavy-duty, reliable, and ready to go the distance. We expect that the bivi made to keep a soldier safe in extreme situations be able to do the same for us.

The bivvy is designed to work in temperatures from 50℉ to -50℉. It’s composed of several layers of linings and covers, so it can easily adjust to your needs. The cover has heat-sealed seams and is completely waterproof.

This model delivers 100% promise, and at a fairly reasonable price. Tennier also offers several other models that are equally well made and durable.

Another unique point is camo. Bivvy bags and tents tend to come in fairly bright colors. That’s a testament to their emergent shelter nature.

But camo is the pattern of choice for anyone who is engaging in stealth camping. I hope we all agree that it’s not very practical to sleep in a bright yellow sack when you’re trying to stay undetected.

Add to it that stealth campers need to pack light, this bivi becomes a holy grail for anyone who wants to play ninjas in the woods.


What are the pros and cons of camping with a bivvy bag?

There is a bit of a theme going on here and that’s how small and easy to carry these guys are. Even if you’re not into minimalism, you might be into lessening your burden when you’re out and about.

And since they have such a small footprint even when they are set up, that means that you can park yourself almost anywhere. It might also help you dodge the rules about the number of tents per spot at some campgrounds.

But if we were to remove our rose-tinted glasses, we’ll see a few cons in there as well.

The first one can be a huge design flaw – condensation. Some of the bags will have this issue which is a huge no-no in a cold environment. There has been a huge improvement and manufacturers are using better materials, but this is still something you have to keep an eye on.

Bivvy bags and tents are yet to match some of the other better quality gear that can handle all seasons and any kind of weather. If you get a bivi that is designed for one particular season, you are very much locket into it.

And if you’re a bit claustrophobic, yeah…

Final Thoughts

Bivvy bags are a fantastic shelter solution for almost all styles of camping, but as you can see, they are not for everyone. Even if all the above sounds to your ears like they are the best thing since the automatic bread slicer, make sure that you will use one before you open the wallet. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself Konmaring it out of your life with all the other junk that still has a price label on.

Essential Bivvy Bag for Survival