If you’re headed into the outdoors for an extended stay, you should definitely be considering your sleeping arrangements. That also means taking into account the weight and spacial impact of any gear you might be bringing along with you. Unfortunately, most camping tents can take up a lot of both. And, unless you’re carrying a tent for multiple people, it’s probably not worth the trouble to haul one around with you. But, sleeping out in the open isn’t the best idea, either, as the weather and environment might call for a bit of warmth and protection.
Luckily, there’s a compromise between tenting and sleeping on the cold and filthy ground: bivy sacks (short for bivouac and alternatively spelled ‘bivi’). Though they come in many forms, the basic principal for all of them is the same; they’re lightweight, compact, one-person sleeping covers that – when paired with a sleeping bag and/or pad – will keep you protected at night while not bogging down your pack unnecessarily. So, whether you’re doing a solo run of the Pacific Crest Trail, scaling a mountain range, or you just want an alternative to a cumbersome tent, these are the 12 best bivy sacks for outdoor adventure.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH BUG BIVY
Ideal for the warmer months of the year, this offering from Outdoor Research has a built-in bug mesh to keep pesky insects away from you while you sleep. It also features a durable Hydroseal-coated waterproof nylon floor to keep you dry, should any moisture accumulate in your sleeping area in the night.
MAMMUT SPHERE BIVI
If you’re looking for the absolute lightest option when it comes to your backcountry sleep system, you might want to consider this one from Mammut. Made from a combination of shelterTX main fabric, enduranceTX bottom fabric, and featuring a polyurethane waterproof membrane, this cocoon-style bivy sack weighs just 10.9 ounces overall. That means you can carry it along with you, even if your hiking backpack is nearly full.
RAB SURVIVAL ZONE LITE BIVI
Designed to wrap around your sleeping bag of choice, the Rab Survival Zone Lite Bivi is the ultimate in ultralight outdoor protection options for the long-haul solo camper – especially for emergency survival situations. It weighs in at just over 8 ounces total, is made from super durable Pertex Endurance fabric, features overlapped welded seams to keep you dry and warm, and has a drawstring entrance. And, when packed down, it measures only 10 inches by 4 inches total.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH HELIUM BIVY
If you like your bivy sacks a little less like a claustrophobia-inducing coffin and with a little more headroom, then Outdoor Research’s Helium Bivy might be just the ticket for you. This domed one-person bivy sack opens up to a height of 19.5 inches, is built from waterproof fabric, and even features an anti-fungal coating on its floor – so you don’t have to worry about anything weird growing on it. And, although it offers a bit of extra room, it still weighs just 18 ounces total.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH ALPINE BIVY
For those whose travels take them to some of the colder corners of the globe, there’s the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy. The largest bivy sack offered by the brand, even the fluffiest sleeping bags and pads can fit in this bad boy. And since it features a GORE-TEX fabric body, a Hydroseal-coated floor, and an anti-fungal coating, you can be sure it’ll stay dry and sanitary in any conditions.
MSR AC BIVY
Though it weighs only 15 ounces, the MSR AC Bivy is still an all-conditions one-person sleeper. That’s thanks in part to its 30D ripstop nylon construction, DuraShield-coated waterproof floor, and ventilation-friendly zippered mesh panel. And it collapses down to just 4 by 7 inches total.
BLACK DIAMOND SPOTLIGHT BIVY
With a spacious interior (thanks to a single-pole design), Black Diamond’s Spotlight Bivi might just be the ultimate minimalist one-man sleeping sack that’s more than just a nylon bag with a drawstring. It’s built from weather-resistant NanoShield material and weighs in at a grand total of just under 18 ounces. And it comes with a mesh panel for ventilation, as well as a large zippered entry.
BLACK DIAMOND BIG WALL BIVY
An excellent meshing of lightweight materials, elemental protection, and interior room, the Big Wall Bivy from Black Diamond is one of the best all-around one-person sleeper sacks. It also features a sewn-in wire to create internal space when unfolded and an RF welded tie-in point for secure anchoring.
U.S. MILITARY SURPLUS BIVY
The only bivy on our list that comes with a full sleep system, these are the same sacks used by the U.S. military. Each comes with 4 pieces – which include an OD green patrol sleeping bag, a black intermediate sleeping bag, a GORE-TEX bivy cover, and a black compression sack. If you’re looking for an excellent bivy with an incorporated sleep system, this surplus item is for you. Just remember, you might not be getting your hands on one brand-new in packaging.
RAB ASCENT BIVI
Designed with a wide sleep profile, Rab’s Ascent Bivi is a superb option for minimalist hikers who still want a little bit of wiggle room inside of their sack or have a very large sleeping bag. It also comes with removable mesh zip door webbing and is built from durable 40D eVent fabric – offering a good deal of protection from the elements.
BLACK DIAMOND BIPOD BIVY
When getting wet is not an option, the Black Diamond Bipod Bivy is an excellent go-to, thanks to its construction from waterproof seam-taped ToddTex material. It also features a single pole design to give you some headroom while you sleep, as well as a bug-free mesh ventilation panel and a large zippered entry.
RAB RIDGE RAIDER BIVI
For those who wont compromise for anything less, Rab’s Ridge Raider is the ultimate bivi sack. It’s crafted from 3L 40D eVent fabric – making it waterproof while still lightweight. And it comes with a large single-pole design for maximum headroom and a big entry point. If you’re going to be hitting the trails for a while, you might as well get a little bit of comfort out of your sleeping situation. The Ridge Raider offers that, as well as plenty of elemental protection.