Best Bivvy Bags For 2019 | Top 6 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Bivvy Bags For 2019 | Top 6

Simple and lightweight, bivvy bags are a popular alternative to tents for a night of wild camping under the stars. Here are six of the best options for 2019.

Bivi bag, bivvi bag or bivvy bag? Why there are so many accepted spellings for the same thing we’ll never know. We could just stick to their Sunday name – the bivouac sack – but that seems overly formal for such a down-to-earth product (literally), so simply for the sake of consistency, we’re going to use bivvy.

Anyway, let’s first look at what a bivvy bag is. It’s quite simply really; it’s a thin, lightweight, weatherproof sack that slides over your sleeping bag, making a dry night’s sleep possible without a tent.

And why on earth would you use one when tents exist? Well, such an approach – with your head open to the elements – offers an even more intimate interaction with the wild. The sounds of night creatures are unmuffled, the stars dazzle above you, and your senses are highly attuned to every raindrop and every gust of wind.

Fancy it? If you do, then you’re in the right place. We’ve done the hard work for you, putting several products – ranging in design, style, size and price – through their paces on wild camping trips to Scotland, the Brecon Beacons and the Lake District. So, whether you’re looking to venture into bivvying for the first time or if you’re a seasoned pro at sleeping under the stars, there’s something for everyone here.

Below are our recommendations for six of 2019’s best bivvys. Or should that be bivis?


Outdoor Research Interstellar

Packed Size: 30cm x 12cm approx
Weight: 596g
Price: Circa £315
outdoorresearch.com

Outdoor Research offer a fresh take on the traditional hooped bivvy with the Interstellar. The most versatile bivvy on test, it’s a 4-season shelter using AscentShell technology – ‘a higher-performing blend of air permeability, breathability and superior stretch in a waterproof package’, according to Outdoor Research. A super-lightweight, basic pole, which creates the hoop around your head, slides into a reinforced sleeve and is secured in place with a Velcro tab. When sleeping, the hoop helps keep the fabric away from your face and provides added comfort.

The most notable feature of the bivvy, however, is that you can wear it. Yes, you heard right… you can have the bug net closed around you, but sit up and perform camp chores with just your hands on the outside of the bivvy. Cooking, reading and organising your gear are all easily performed, whilst your head and body are protected from bugs and inclement weather. Remarkably, the pole that creates the headspace when you’re laid down, turns into a sombrero hat rim when you sit up. In light rain, this enables you to stay dry for as long as possible before leaving camp.

In dry conditions, you can sleep in the bivvy with the mosquito net only, whilst the outer is toggled down. Or in poor weather the outer zip can be fully closed. There are two points where the bivvy can be pegged down or guyed out, but no pegs or guy lines are provided as standard and in most circumstances they won’t be needed. As with many of the bivvys on test, the Interstellar tapers to the foot end; a side zip ensures it’s easy to get in and out of; and no fewer than 12 zip toggles enable versatile, fine tuning of your set-up.

At 596g, the Interstellar is pretty heavy, while at £315 it is very expensive. But it doesn’t really matter. This is a very, very cool bivvy, with a raft-full of features and the ability to wear it. Buy this bivvy bag and you’ll be the envy of the wild camping scene.

Pros: Wearable; versatile; hooped top is comfortable
Cons: Relatively heavy; expensive

Full Specifications

AscentShell 3L 20D ripstop upper / 100% nylon 40D Ripstop floor / 82″ x 26″ x 17″ – length x top width x top height


Alpkit Hunka

Packed Size: 15cm x 13cm
Weight: 330g
Price: £47.00
alpkit.com

The first thing to say about the Hunka is its price-tag. No, we didn’t accidentally leave a one off the front of the price in error. At £47 it is the cheapest bivvy under test by a long way – an absolute bargain, by anyone’s standards. The second thing to note is that, unlike any of the other bivvy bags on test, the Hunka has an internal stuff sack pocket. The sack is integrated into the body of the bivvy, so that’s one less thing to worry about blowing away in the wind. We admit it – we’ve been there, chasing a fly-away stuff sack around a blustery mountainside on more than one occasion. But it’s never a concern when you’re using this Alpkit bivvy.

The Hunka comes in three different colours: green, red and blue. It isn’t the lightest, but at 330g it’s still a big weight saving on any tent. It has a hood that goes nicely around the outside of your sleeping bag hood, with a simple drawstring at either side so it can be tightened around you and your bag. It has no additional venting or faffy zips and the bag tapers towards your feet. You can pair it with a tarp for added protection from the elements, if you like, but many choose not to. And that’s it. There’s not much else to say. The Hunka is a simple product with no-frills. But, on a clear summer’s night, where your aim is to feel at one with nature with your face exposed to the fresh air, then it’s absolutely the best value product on the market.

Pros: Cheap; internal stuff sack
Cons: Low on features

Full Specifications

2.5 layer Ripstop nylon upper / 10,000 mm hydrostatic head / 10,000/m2 breathability / width: Shoulders – 80 cm; Foot – 50 cm


Terra Nova Moonlite

Packed Size: 21cm x 6cm
Weight: 210g
Price: £170
terra-nova.co.uk

Here comes the lightest bivvy bag on test. The Terra Nova Moonlite weighs in at only 210g, including the lightweight stuff sack. As with most ultralight adventure products, it also boasts one of the highest price tags. So is it worth the extra cash? In short, yes. The Moonlite is a high-end, top quality product. The fabric is waterproof and breathable, with taped seams; the absence of a hood, with the ground sheet ending flat beneath your head, saves space and weight; a draw cord enables you to cinch the bivvy tighter around your body; and the black colour is excellent at absorbing the morning heat.

Marketed as a sleeping bag cover – nothing more, nothing less – the Moonlite, like Alpkit’s Hunka, is another no-frills product. There are no extra hoops or pegs and tapering towards the foot end ensures there’s no wasted fabric. You’ll struggle to fit anything else in with you, neither your pack nor your boots – but that won’t matter if using it on a clear, dry night. Sadly, there is no way to fully waterproof the bivvy around your head, but there is a fully-zipped mosquito net mesh at the head end, although there is no way of stopping the net from flopping onto your head.

But these minor gripes are a small price to pay for an excellent, ultralight product with amazing packability. We certainly wouldn’t recommend using the Moonlite in very bad weather, but if weight and size are key factors for you, then this bivvy is in a league of its own.

Pros: Ultra lightweight; superb packability
Cons: Expensive; low on features

Full Specifications

Waterproof fabric with taped seams / zipped hood / 200cm x 76cm


Snugpak Stratosphere

Packed Size: 31cm x 14cm
Weight: 1130g (includes pegs and poles)
Price: £160
snugpak.com

If you’re progressing from traditional camping to bivvying, but you’re concerned about being too exposed or too claustrophobic, then the Stratosphere is the perfect transition option. Snugpak have designed a solid, tent-like structure to one half of the bivvy, enabling a night of guaranteed comfort with no flapping mesh nets or fabric collapsing onto your face. How does the Stratosphere achieve this? Two poles criss-cross to create a free-standing, sturdy, spacious hood. Once inside, there is a surprising amount of head room, far more than any other bivvy on test, and the zipped stretch pocket above your head is really handy for a torch (or midnight snack). On wet nights, the bivvy can be fully zipped around your head, thus providing waterproof shelter – and there’s no worry about condensation, as a rear fixed mesh with its own waterproof cover provides adequate ventilation. On warm nights, you can leave the bivvy completely open, or zip up a mesh to keep out the midges.

The Stratosphere has a series of other useful features. The poles are colour-coded to their corresponding sleeves and snap reassuringly into loops on the ground sheet; six alloy pegs enable you to fine tune the position and structure of the bivvy, creating maximum space and comfort for your night under the stars; and the military shade of green is ideal for stealthy wild camping. The generous three quarter length side zipper makes the Stratosphere easy to get in and out of; the thick, hard-wearing materials used provide a waterproof cover; and the low-profile performs well in the wind.

But all of this comes at a price. With two poles, six pegs and a top-loading stuff sack with multiple compression straps, the 1.1kg Stratosphere is the heaviest bivvy on test – and it weighs in heavier than many one-person tents. But Snugpak aren’t looking to break any ultralight weight records with this product. And, if you’re after a comfortable, hooped bivvy, rather than just a glorified sleeping bag cover, then the Snugpak Stratosphere might be the bivvy for you.

Pros: Excellent head room; tent-like structure; well-ventilated
Cons: Heavy

Full Specifications

50D Ripstop outer with 5000mm hydrostatic head / 5000g/m2 breathability / 70D Ripstop floor / 8.5mm aluminium poles / supplied with ultralight alloy pegs


The North Face Assault Bivy

Packed Size: 25cm x 14cm approx
Weight: 420g
Price: £140
thenorthface.co.uk

In comparison to the other bivvys on test, the Assault Bivy is very long and very wide. Customers towering above 6ft will find they have ample room to stretch out in this bivvy. Others may find they can comfortably sleep with both pack and boots inside. A 48L pack, for example, fits sideways into the hood and can be used as a pillow. Just like its cousin from the Summit Series, The North Face Assault 2 Tent, the Assault Bivy comes in the trademark colours of summit gold and asphalt grey. It looks cooler than most of its competitors, that’s for sure.

There are two options for sealing the bivvy: you can either zip up the mesh panel or you can pin the mesh panel up with a toggle and zip the whole thing closed. Unlike many other bivvy bags, it doesn’t taper at the foot end, so it’s good for those who don’t like the feeling of being in a mummy bag. It also has a reinforced brow, to help keep the bivvy off your face, which makes things so much more comfortable on a wet night. According to North Face, the DryWall single skin also ‘provides unparalled single-wall breathability’. At 420g, the Assault Bivy is not the lightest, and for some it might seem just too big. But, if you’re after a top quality, waterproof bivvy bag with extra space for your boots and bag, then look no further.

Pros: Very roomy; space for boots and bag
Cons: Too big for some people

Full Specifications

50D DryWall Ripstop upper / 70D Nylon Taffeta floor / 20D Lightweight Nylon Mesh


Rab Storm Bivi

Packed Size: 25cm x 13cm
Weight: 664g
Price: £125
rab.equipment

Rab’s Storm Bivi is a lightweight, single-person bivvy with a host of excellent features. The breathable 70D Hyperlite Storm fabric is waterproof and breathable; a small mesh panel improves ventilation and helps to minimise condensation; and the Velcro-sealed waterproof cover, which can be fully zipped over your head, ensures optimum waterproofing. The bivvy bag is also longer and wider than average, and doesn’t taper at the foot end, thus enabling you to store and waterproof your equipment such as a backpack or pair of hiking boots.

At 664g it is the second heaviest bivvy bag on test, but at £140 it is very competitively priced. One gripe is that the Velcro straps around the waterproof cover are fiddly to close when you’re in the bivvy – but that’s nit-picking. The Rab Storm Bivi is another top-notch offering from a well-respected brand and a solid choice for all of your bivvying needs.

Pros: Competitively priced
Cons: Relatively heavy

Full Specifications

70D Hyperlite Storm fabric / end zip entrance / small mesh panel vent zip rand / wide sleeping bag profile design


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