The best bivvy bags reviewed (2022)

Try a lighter, more adaptable approach to wild camping by ditching the tent and packing a bivvy. Not sure what you need? Let us take you through the best options.

Hiker using a bivvy in Harter Fell Summit Lake District

by Ben Weeks |

There are some impressively light and compact one-person tents around today, weighing in at around one kilogram and packing down to the size of a computer keyboard. But you can do even better with a bivvy bag. Spacious they are not, but a well-designed bivvy bag provides an excellent little sleeping pod to use during your overnight outdoor excursions.

What to look for in a bivvy

Type: The most basic bivvy is a waterproof sack that goes over your sleeping bag and sometimes your sleeping mat. Some people find this set-up cramped, claustrophobic, and a little like a body bag, so prefer poled bivvies. These use short poles to lift the canopy – usually over your head – and make the interior feel a bit more spacious.

Weight: The weight of a bivvy can vary dramatically depending on the material it’s made from and whether it requires poles. You’ll need to consider which is most important: light weight and packability, or comfort and protection.

Waterproofing and breathability: A bivvy should prevent you and your kit being soaked by rain or the ingress of moisture from the ground, so the fabric must be waterproof. However, the single skin construction of bivvies makes it difficult to prevent condensation on the inside, so the fabric should be breathable too. If provided, check out both the Hydrostatic Head (waterproof) and Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (breathability) figures of the fabrics – the higher the HH and MVTR numbers the more waterproof and breathable the fabric.

Face opening: While most bivvies can be sealed completely with a zipper, and some have a mesh panel that allows ventilation without letting in bugs, some cheaper bivvy sacks cannot be completely closed, leaving an opening around the face.

The best bivvy bags

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi 

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi

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Weight 890g | Length 240cm | Width 80cm (shoulder) | Height 60cm | Packed size 15 x 32cm

The Ridge Raider uses a hooped pole to create head space and another short, upright pole at the foot end, so it’s spacious. With an HH of 15k and an MVTR of 20k the Pertex Shield Air fabric offers impressive waterproofing and breathability. The zipped entry provides easy access and has a mosquito mesh door.

Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

Outdoor Research Helium Bivy 

Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

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Weight 448g/400g with/without pole | Length 208cm | Width 66cm (shoulder) | Height 50cm | Packed size 9 x 32cm

This lightweight shelter can be used with or without the pole, for space/weight saving. The Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse fabric is highly waterproof and breathable (although specific figures aren’t given), while the clamshell opening (with mesh panel) makes it easy to access.

Alpkit Elan

Alpkit Elan

Alpkit Elan 

Alpkit Elan

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Weight 900g | Length 225cm | Width 77cm (shoulder) | Height 45cm | Packed size 11 x 39cm

The Elan has two criss-crossing poles to lift the canopy over the face. There’s no pole at the foot end, but a webbing loop allows it to be tied to a tree or trekking pole, lifting the footbox off your feet. There are mesh ventilation panels, storage pockets, and the 10,000mm HH and 6,500 MVTR figures are good enough for all but the most challenging conditions.

Highlander Hawk Bivvy Bag

Highlander Hawk Bivvy Bag

Highlander Hawk Bivvy Bag 

Highlander Hawk Bivvy Bag

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Weight 810g | Length 230cm | Width 90cm (shoulder) | Height 50cm | Packed size 12 x 29cm

A standard-looking bivvy bag, the Hawk has some useful features. The panel over the face is supported by a wire frame to keep it in shape and both a solid waterproof panel and a mesh ventilation panel are provided – simply zip one out and attach the other in its place. The fabric has a HH rating of 5,000mm and feels reassuringly tough.

Decathlon Forclaz Waterproof Trekking Bag Cover

Decathlon Forclaz Waterproof Trekking Bag Cover

Decathlon Forclaz Waterproof Trekking Bag Cover 

Decathlon Forclaz Waterproof Trekking Bag Cover

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Weight 400g | Length 225cm | Width 70cm (shoulder) | Height Not given | Packed size 18 x 25cm

More of a protective shell for your sleeping bag than a bivvy, Decathlon’s offering is nonetheless waterproof, breathable and tough. The face opening can be cinched with a cord, but not closed entirely, so this bag is best suited to use with a tarp or as a protective cover when sleeping in a bothy or cave.

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