What is a bivy sack?

Setting up and putting down your tent can be a hassle when you’re a backpacker on the go. What if there was an easier solution for this?

Enter the bivy sack.

Bivy sacks are lightweight, easy to pack into a backpack, and are ridiculously easy to set up. Read on to find out what a bivy sack is, its advantages, and its drawbacks.

What is a bivy sack?

A bivy sack is a small waterproof tent that is designed to cover a person in a sleeping bag in order to protect them from the elements while they sleep. It is sometimes called a “bivy tent” or a “bivy shelter”.

How do bivy sacks work?

Bivy sacks work by covering a person in a sleeping bag so that nothing can get to them, but also allowing air to flow in and out of the opening at the person’s head. This way, a person can be protected from rain and other things while still being able to breathe.

Bivy sacks also help protect against the wind by holding the sides of a sleeping bag close to a person’s body so that they don’t catch as much wind.

What are the benefits of using a bivy sack?

Bivy sacks are good for people who are camping or backpacking because they help protect against things like wind, rain, and insects. They are small enough to be carried around easily while still providing adequate protection.

Bivy sacks also don’t need any additional equipment like poles or stakes because their structure is provided by the walls of a sleeping bag. This makes them very easy to set up and take down.

Who uses bivy sacks?

Bivy sacks were originally designed for people who go camping in the wilderness for an extended amount of time because it allows them to survive without having to carry large tents with them on long treks through the woods. Today, however, these sacks can be used by anyone who wants to sleep outside in comfort while not having to worry about weather damage.

What are some different types of bivy sacks?

There are three main types of bivy sacks, each one designed with a specific function in mind. These include traditional bivy sacks, face-lifter bivy sacks, and bug nets.

Traditional bivy sacks are lightweight, waterproof sacks with a hood designed to fit over your sleeping bag. There is no opening at the end of the bivy though, so you’ll have to leave a gap to ensure that fresh air can get in and you won’t end up with condensation issues.

Face-lifter bivy sacks are like traditional bivy sacks but they have a mesh hood, meaning you can keep your face near the opening. This mesh hood can then be covered using a rainfly-like sheet to make it waterproof and a built-in vent for ventilation.

Bug net bivy sacks are similar to the other bivy sacks except they are fully mesh with no waterproof covering. These types of bivies are good for preventing bugs from biting you through the mesh while you’re trying to sleep. Typically these are used to avoid mosquitoes but are also good for keeping no-see-ums at bay.

When would you use a bivy sack?

Bivy sacks are used for outdoor activities when you’re in an area with bugs, such as in the woods or in a field. They can also be used when camping near running water, where there are likely to be mosquitoes present.

Because bivy sacks are so small and lightweight it’s usually easier to carry one around than to worry about setting up your tent every time you go backpacking.

Their main benefits come from their:

  • Low weight
  • Excellent packability
  • Ease of use

When are tents better than bivy sacks?

A tent is better than a bivy sack when you’re expecting to spend a lot of time in one location, such as when you want to go camping for several days in the same spot. Tents are also better if there’s rain in the forecast because bivy sacks don’t offer as much protection from elements like wind and rain.

Because tents can be used in all sorts of environments they’re often more versatile than bivy sacks; however, it really depends on what your needs are and how long you plan on spending outdoors. If you only need something that will protect you overnight then a bivy sack is probably ideal, but if you need something that’s going to be around for a while then a tent might be an easier choice.

Bivy sacks can also have condensation issues. If you’re spending the night in a bivy sack, make sure there’s enough room left for air to circulate.

The main drawbacks of bivy tents are their breathability, lack of space for gear, and lower protection from heavy rain.


Bivy sacks are a great option for backpackers who like to be on the go and find it tiresome to constantly set up and take down their tent. They’re lightweight and easy to pack too – who doesn’t love that?

Traditional bivies, face-lifter bivies, and bug nets come with their own benefits that allow you to choose the best one for your needs. Although, generally, we recommend face-lifter bivy sacks.

Just be wary if there’s heavy rain or snow forecast. The condensation issues mean that it might be better to go with a tent.

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Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.