In this guide, we are going to go through the pros and cons of using a bivvy bag, and then help you choose the best one for you.
What is a bivvy bag?
A bivvy bag is a waterproof bag that you put your sleeping bag in. It is designed to keep you dry and warm without the use of a tent.
The Pro’s of a bivvy bag
- They are a lot cheaper than a tent, typically costing anywhere between £5 and £80, depending on quality.
- They are small and light. Packing down to about the same size as a warm jacket they are easy to put in your rucksack, saving weight and space.
- They don’t require any setting up. Unlike a tent, you just get it out the bag, put your sleeping bag in and you’re done!
- It is discreet, you can sleep on any small patch of ground you find.
- You are outside still, there is a sense of adventure when sleeping in a bivvy bag. Without a tent around you, you can look up at the stars and taste the fresh air all night long.
The Cons of a bivvy bag
- They are not so fun in the rain. Because of the need to breathe, there will always be a small hole for you to get air in, this means in heavy rain you either need to lie on your front or think of another solution for a comfortable night sleep.
- They get damp. You would be surprised how much moisture your body gives off during the night. Even the best bivvy bags will still allow a bit of moisture to condensate inside the bivvy bag. This means you sometimes have to dry your sleeping bag out to stay dry.
- There is no space for you to go and escape bugs and the rain, or get changed and keep your bag, so you need to be more thoughtful about your kit
Should I use a Bivvy bag?
I am a big advocate for using a bivvy bag over a tent for the reasons above. If you are just going on a one-night mini-adventure then why not take a smaller bag, save weight and sleep under the stars. If you have never tried it, it is worth a go. There are times, however, that I would recommend a tent, for
There are times, however, that I would recommend a tent, for instance, if there is a forecast for bad weather then you may wish to have a tent to be able to wait out a storm in comfort. Also if there is 2 or more of you then a tent may actually be a smaller and lighter option between your group.
So it really is up to you and what you are doing, but if you can, I would say go for it!
What types of bivvy bag can I buy?
There are many different bivvy bags on the market to suit a range of situations and budgets, we are going to go through the best options for your budget.
The Cheap option
The cheapest option is to not use one at all! Whilst it may sound silly, if you have a forecast of dry weather then there is no need to keep yourself dry with one. I have spent countless nights without a bivvy bag and they have been great.
The next cheapest option, and a good option if there is a small chance of rain is a survival bag like this one:
This costs less than £5 and is a viable option for anyone. The main disadvantage of these is that they are pretty much a glorified bin liner. They will keep you dry and they are very lightweight but there will most likely be a large condensation build up by the morning.
I would choose this if you are on
You can buy one from here for £4.49
Or from here
Mid-range bivvy bags
The next step on from that is a breathable bivvy bag, this will give you a much more comfortable nights sleep and be better for continued use.
I would recommend something like this Mountain Warehouse bivvy bag. It’s light, breathable and packs down small. And it only costs £20!
Top of the range
This is the luxury end of the bivvy bags for people who will use them time after time and want maximum performance.
The Rab Storm is my personal favourite and the one I choose to use on my adventures, it has kept me warm and dry on countless occasions. It is quite pricey at around £80 but its worth it for continued use. The e-vent material gets rid of most of the condensation and keeps you dry.
Plus, the added feature of sidewalls helps keep you warm and there is a mosquito net to keep the bugs out. It’s even got glow in the dark zips so you can find your way out of it in the middle if the night.
Another option is the Snugpak Special forces bivvy. Comes in slightly cheaper at £70 but still a great product.
Making bivvying more comfortable
Bivvying out doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, If done well it can be just as comfy as a tent. Here are my top tips for bivvying:
- Don’t get in the bivvy bag till you need to, this will prevent unnecessary condensation that will make you damp.
- If you think it will be dry then sleep with the bivvy bag within arms reach so you can quickly get in it if it rains.
- Use a good Thermarest to keep you warm from the ground, just like yo would a tent.
- Put your sleeping bag and bivvy together before you plan on getting in it, much easier to get into one bag than two separately.
- Make sure you have done everything you need to before getting in, getting in and out is a lot of effort sometimes.
- If it is going to rain you can still use a bivvy, just get a lightweight tarpaulin and a couple of walking poles to keep most of the weather off. Something like this would be perfect.
I hope you have found this guide useful in finding a bivvy bag and tempting you to use one.
Get out there and under the stars, let us know how you get on!
If you have any questions then please ask below.