Last updated: August 12, 2021

Our method

4Products analysed

45Hours spent

13Evaluated articles

215User reviews

Bivouac tents are a lightweight alternative to normal tents for overnight stays outdoors. Bivouac tents come in different sizes and shapes. Some are more minimalist, others more comfortable. In the following article you will find an overview of bivouac tents, important points for a purchase decision and in our guidebook the most frequently asked questions on the subject.

With our bivy tent test 2021 we want you to be able to get a complete picture of the available bivy tents and find the right one for you. In the following, we present all the products that we have examined in detail. To support your decision, you will also find videos and tables where we have summarised the relevant information for you.




Summary

  • Bivouac tents allow you to spend the night protected from wind and rain in a minimum of space. Bivouac tents are usually used for longer hikes or mountain tours.
  • There are many different types of bivouac tents that you should be aware of. For example, there are single-person bivouac tents and multi-person bivouac tents, which differ mainly in size and weight.
  • Before buying, you should think carefully about what you want and what you need. Do you need more space to sleep or rather an outer tent? Should the bivouac tent be used in spring and summer or rather in autumn and winter? If you ask yourself these questions, you will have a basis for deciding on the material and construction of the ideal bivouac tent.

The Best Bivouac Tent: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for bivouac tents

There is no one bivouac tent that is best for all people and all purposes. Without a guide to what you should look for when buying a bivouac tent, a decision is not much more than pure chance.

With the following criteria, you can compare the different bivouac tents with each other to find the right bivouac tent for you. In summary, these are:

In the following section you will learn more about the listed criteria and we will explain what you should look for in a bivy tent.

Size / Depth / Weight

As with all things you can buy online, bivouac tents also have height, length and width specifications. When buying a bivy tent, however, you should pay particular attention to these details.

It is also important to note that there are different dimensions:

  1. Packing dimensions: These specifications do not refer to the available space in the assembled tent, but to the size of the packed bivouac tent. These are often in the range of 35 x 15 x 13 cm, whereby these specifications refer to the length x width x height.
  2. Dimensions: The dimensions, on the other hand, refer either to the effectively available space in the pitched inner tent or the total size of the pitched bivouac tent. Caution is advised, however, as this term is not used uniformly everywhere. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear relatively quickly which specifications are involved.

The larger your bivouac tent, the more weight you usually have to carry in your luggage. Although bivouac tents are characterised by their light weight and simple construction, more space in the tent also goes hand in hand with an increase in the weight of the bivouac tent. The differences in weight range from around 1.5 to 3 kilograms for minimalist bivouac tents to comfortable ones.

Single / multi-person bivy tent

A bivouac tent is built to give you the most comfortable sleeping space possible in the great outdoors, but with only as much space as you need. Accordingly, bivouac tents - in contrast to normal tents - are often only large enough for you to lie comfortably in.

The transition from bivouac to "normal" tent is fluid.

So before you decide on a particular model, you should be clear whether you will be travelling alone, with two or even three people. Keep in mind that bivouac tents with more people offer more space, but you will also have more luggage in the group.

The classic bivouac is designed for one person. However, there is no clear, universal definition here. However, you will usually find bivouac tents that offer space for one or two people.

Weatherproof

Not every bivouac tent is suitable for every season and every weather. There are tents that can be used in all seasons, but certain models are designed for the warmer seasons and others for the winter months.

Property Impact
Water column Indicates how much water pressure a fabric can repel
Seams Should be sealed waterproof, otherwise the water column figure is unreliable
Pegs Secure the bivouac tent in high winds
Tent height Should be tailored to the person, because water can enter more quickly when in contact with the outer shell

Depending on the material and workmanship, the various bivouac tents provide very different protection against rain. The figure to look out for is the water column, which is given in millimetres. The higher this value, the denser the material. However, don't just look at the water column, but also make sure that the seams are waterproof.

Another point is whether and how many anchoring points a bivouac tent has in the ground.

There are models that can be pitched without pegs. This is usually quicker and more flexible in terms of ground conditions, but it is also less windproof.

When choosing the height of the bivouac tent, you should bear in mind that the cover is only really waterproof if you don't touch it. If you are rather tall, you should buy a bivouac tent with a corresponding height or at least a waterproof sleeping bag so that it does not get wet when it comes into contact with the cover of the bivouac tent.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a bivouac tent

In the following guide, we want to answer the most important questions about bivouac tents. We have selected the most frequently asked questions for you and try to give you the most important information as concisely as possible. After reading the guide, you should know what you want and what you need, and you will be able to find the best product for you.

What is special about a bivouac tent and what advantages does it offer?

The bivy tent is an extension of the bivy sack. A bivy sack is a weatherproof cover, similar to an extra large sleeping bag. The tent, on the other hand, offers a lot of space, but is heavier and has to be set up first.

Biwakzelt-1

When setting up the bivouac tent, always make sure that you keep the entrance away from the wind and weather.
(Image source: soloway/ 123rf.com)

The bivouac tent combines the features of a tent with those of a bivouac bag. It takes little time to set up, does not offer quite as much space, but offers more than the bivy sack.

What types of bivy tents are there?

As already indicated above, when you use the term "bivouac tent" you are not talking about a specific model, but about an overarching term. In the following section, the largest subcategories will be briefly described with advantages and disadvantages.

Bivouac tent with awning

Bivouac tents with an awning are models that have an inner tent and an outer shell (or also called an outer tent). The awning provides space for the equipment, luggage or shoes that you do not want to take inside or leave outside exposed to the weather.

Advantages
  • More space with weather protection
  • Usually more water-repellent
  • Offers the possibility of fresh air regulation
Disadvantages
  • Heavier due to additional material
  • More effort when setting up
  • Less flexible when choosing a place for the bivouac tent

An awning offers additional sheltered space, but this goes hand in hand with more weight that you have to carry. In addition, you may be less flexible in your choice of place to pitch the bivouac tent, as bivouac tents with an awning always need to be pegged down. A bivouac tent without an awning therefore offers less space, but makes you more flexible and easier to load.

Multi-person bivouac tent

Bivouac tents are often designed for a single person, but there are models that offer space for two people. Since a multi-person bivouac is still lighter than a normal tent, you can save weight overall if you are prepared to have only a minimum of space available.

Advantages
  • A lighter alternative to a normal tent
  • takes up less space than if two bivouac tents have to be pitched
Disadvantages
  • Offer only a minimum of space
  • Some things may need to be stored outside the bivouac tent

The disadvantage of bivouac tents for several people also stands out strongly in the customer reviews: they usually really only offer just enough space to lie down. If you are travelling with a lot of luggage, you have to expect that some things will have to be deposited outside the bivouac tent.

Who are bivouac tents suitable for?

Bivouac tents are good for people who are travelling light and need a minimalist place to sleep in the backcountry. Bivouac tents are lightweight, robustly built and can be set up within a few minutes.

A bivouac tent is light, compact and simply constructed

In addition, they are suitable for people who only have a minimum of space available to set up a sleeping place. In most cases, bivouac tents need hardly any space to stretch cords with pegs.

So if you can't do without a little luxury in nature, a bivouac tent might not be right for you. In a bivouac tent there is usually hardly any space to sit comfortably, especially if it is meant for a single person.

What are the alternatives to a bivouac tent?

The alternatives to a bivouac tent are the bivouac sack and the normal tent. If you want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages, read the section above in the guidebook "What is special about a bivouac tent and what advantages does it offer?"

How much does a bivouac tent cost?

Bivouac tents not only come in different shapes and sizes, but also in different price segments. The price range is from around 40 to 600 euros, depending on the brand, material and quality. However, before you look too hard for cheap offers, remember that good quality may be more expensive, but it's about your health and your safety.

High quality pays off in any case

If you're out in the mountains and get caught in a storm, you'll be glad you have a good quality bivouac tent

A bivy sack costs between 13 and 70 euros compared to a bivy tent, and the prices of "normal" tents range from 40 to over 6,000 euros in luxury versions.

Where is bivouacking allowed and where not?

Bivouacking in Germany is regulated differently by law from federal state to federal state. If you want to be on the safe side, you can never go wrong with a campsite.

Biwakzelt-2

Before using a new bivouac tent, it should always be tested in a safe environment. Your own garden is a good place to study the setup and handling of the bivouac tent.
(Image source: Simon Berger/ unsplash)

Bivouacking is prohibited in nature reserves and national parks. Otherwise, you must always check the legal situation on site. For example, it is not allowed to bivouac in most forests if you have a tent with you, unless you have permission from the landowner.

Image source: Naumov/ 123rf.com

Reviews