Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy 3000 | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy 3000 | Review

Looking to try bivying for the first time? We’d recommend this lightweight option from Sierra Designs

You won’t find many lighter and packable bivy bags than this one from Sierra Designs. It weighs just 450g – I’ve owned camping pillows that are heavier than that. I’d say it’s no bigger than a 24 oz Hydro Flask too.

Weight and packed size isn’t everything though, because you also want a bivy bag to keep you well protected from the elements and from any cold and wet ground. Well, good news. This ranks pretty well there too

Materials and Details

This is actually based on an original design that’s been available in the States for some time now, it’s just had a few tweaks to make it more suitable for a northern European crowd. Sierra Designs have upped its waterproofing to make it better suited to the damp conditions we’re so lucky to get here in the UK and they’ve also given it a more muted colour scheme to appeal to the general British preference for shelters that create a degree of stealthiness. 

Pros: Very light and packable
Cons: Basic in terms of features, fabric is on the thin side

On the base, there’s a 30D nylon ripstop fabric while on the top a slightly thinner 20D nylon ripstop is used. These fabrics both feel very light. To give you an idea of what it feels like, I’d say it’s comparable to the fabrics that 2.5-layer waterproof running jackets are made from.

OM editor Will using the Backcountry Bivy in the Scottish Highlands. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

The main opening is a zipped U-shaped flap that comes down to just short of halfway down the bivy making access in and out relatively easy to get in and out of. The zip is a basic one with no water resistant laminated or treatment but it does have a storm flap to cover it. 

There’s also one little zipped flap that opens up to reveal a mesh window. This is designed to serve as an air vent when you need to hunker down inside the bag when there are insects about. The mesh is fixed so you can’t open this up. 

There aren’t any pegging points for the bivy, which is a bit of a shame. It does have a guyline loop on the top, however. This gives you the ability to string up the fabric via a branch or a firmly planted trekking pole to make the space inside a little less enclosed. There’s also a little loop at the foot of the bivy.

The bivy is stowed inside a storage bag that, like Sierra Design’s tent bags, has a wide mouth that runs lengthways making it easy to stash away. A drawcord then allows you to cinch it in to make a nice compact bundle.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

This is one of the lightest and most packable bivy bags I’ve used. The only lighter one I’ve tried is one of the previous editions of The North Face’s Assault Bivy, but that was like sleeping in a bin bag. The Backcountry Bivy, on the other hand, is made from a much more technical fabric.

I wouldn’t want to use this on any nights where heavy rain is expected, but that’s not to discredit Sierra Designs. There aren’t really many bivy bags – if any – that will give you a comfortable night’s sleep in miserably wet conditions as you’re either going to get wet from rain getting in or from condensation building up on the inside. I’d say this bivy is made for nights where you want a minimalist sleep – whether that’s for the experience or for the sake of a low pack weight – but aren’t expecting heavy or prolonged rainfall. If heavy rain was on the forecast, I’d want to combine this with a tap so that I can sleep with the bivy unzipped for ventilation.

Sierra Designs make this bivy bag with their backcountry sleep system in mind and this involves a tapered sleeping mat. Fortunately, while the bivy’s profile is also tapered, I have found that it does still fit a rectangular sleeping mat. I used a relatively thick 7cm sleeping mat and winter sleeping bag inside it and I didn’t find this created any issues in regards to space.

I’m 5 foot 10 and found that it was easily long enough for me to sleep comfortably inside it, even with my backpack stowed inside down at my feet. It’s 209 cm / 6 foot 8 in length so it should be long enough for most people.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy 3000

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Winter 23/24
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