Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big bivy sack test 2021. Here we present all the bivy sacks that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best bivy sack for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a bivy sack.




Summary

  • The bivy sack is a sleeping bag cover that protects you and your sleeping bag from external influences (wetness, dirt, cooling) and is an alternative to a tent or tarp.
  • You should have this sleeping bag cover with you on every hike, because it can offer you protection and warmth in an emergency and draw attention to you with its eye-catching colour.
  • The cost of a bivy sack depends on the manufacturer, the size and the material used

Bivy sack: Our Selection

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a bivy sack

What can I use a bivy sack for?

Normally, a bivy sack is used in conjunction with a sleeping bag. The bivy sack serves as your outer shell and is wind and waterproof. It is a bag that is used to protect you from moisture, dirt and cold when you spend the night outdoors - bivouacking.

Camping

When camping, a bivy sack keeps you dry and warm in your sleeping bag. (Image source: pexels.com / Pete Johnson)

It makes a tent superfluous. A bivy sack is most commonly used for mountaineering, climbing or trekking, as it saves space and is a lightweight and easy alternative to a tent.

How much does a bivy sack cost?

The cost of a bivy sack is very variable. They depend on the size and the material used to make the sleeping bag cover. The manufacturer you choose also plays a role.
Type Price
Emergency bivy sack (1 person) from approx. 10 €
Emergency bivy sack (2 persons) from approx. 12 €
Bivy sack (1 person) from approx. 15 €
Bivy sack (2 persons) from approx. 33 €
Bivy sack with poles from approx. 65 €
Bivy sack with mosquito net from approx. 110 €

You can buy a simple emergency bivouac sack designed for one person from around €15. However, if you opt for a higher-quality sleeping bag cover that is also designed for two people, you can expect costs of up to €300. Some products are also equipped with a frame or a mosquito net. These products also cost more than the simple versions, up to 500€ depending on the size/number of people.

What accessories do I need for my bivy sack?

A bivy sack is a cover that protects your sleeping bag. If you don't have a sleeping bag yet, it is advisable to get one as well. Other accessories such as poles or mosquito nets are a matter of taste. We present these accessories below so that you can get a better overview of the possibilities.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is used as a place to sleep during outdoor overnight stays or when travelling. Especially in backpacking or at festivals, it is used in combination with sleeping mats or air mattresses. When used outdoors, the most important features of a sleeping bag are that it keeps you warm, is lightweight and has a small pack size. Most sleeping bags are made of linen, cotton, fleece or silk/artificial silk. It is often lined with synthetic fibres or down for insulation. You can buy it in different shapes and with different openings.
The disadvantage of a sleeping bag is often that it is not waterproof or dirt-repellent and very wind-permeable. For this reason we recommend a combination of bivy sack and sleeping bag.

Frame

There are bivy sacks with and without poles. When buying a bivy sack, you should find out beforehand what type of sack it is and whether the frame is included in the purchase price or supplied with the sack. You have to decide for yourself whether you want a sleeping bag with a pole or not. The following video shows you the advantages of a bivy sack with poles in a nice summary: Even if you decide to buy a sleeping bag without poles, you can use branches to turn your bivy sack into a kind of tent to create more space.

Mosquito net

Spending the night in the great outdoors sounds tempting to you, but you don't want to be bitten by insects? The solution is a bivy sack with a mosquito net. You can either buy a bivy sack with a mosquito net or add a mosquito net to the sleeping bag cover you have already bought. You can buy these for as little as €10. The mosquito net protects you from normal-sized mosquitoes. If you are looking for protection against small insects, you should expect that an additional mosquito net with smaller meshes can be relatively expensive.

Which well-known manufacturers of bivouac sacks are there?

  • Wäfo
  • LACD
  • Ortovox
  • Vaude
  • Mammutn
  • Exped
  • Salewa
  • Outdoor Research
  • Pieps
  • Fjällräven
  • The North Face
  • Mountain Equipment
  • Carinthia
  • Change
  • Aqua Quest

There are many more suppliers. However, it would go beyond the scope of this article to list them all. Some of them are smaller or less well-known.

What alternatives are there to a bivouac sack?

Tent

A tent usually consists of an inner tent and a flysheet. The frame, which is usually poles, is threaded into the inner tent. Because of these necessary parts, the tent is not as light and space-saving as the bivouac sack. One advantage of tents, however, is that there is more space inside. It is easy to dismantle, move and transport. The following categories can be found in the camping/outdoor sector:

  • Mini tents
  • Travel tents
  • Pitched wall tents
  • Car roof tents
  • Awnings
  • Tent trailers
  • Canvas tents

To give you an overview, we have compared the bivouac sack and the tent in a table:

Bivy sack tent
lighter heavier
condensation ventilation
no protection for equipment comfortable weathering
unevenness does not matter depends on ground and location
flexible, can be spread out everywhere cannot be used everywhere (tent ban)
easy and quick to set up and take down long set-up times, fastening if necessary
no visual protection (camping site) suitable for camping sites

Tarp

Another word for"tarp" is also "tarpaulin". You can use it as a shelter from the sun, wind/storm, rain or snow. There are many different ways to set up a tarp. The advantages are quick assembly, low weight and (usually) waterproofness. You can use trees, branches or similar things to tie down the tarp. A disadvantage of a tarp in colder times is that it does not give off heat or accumulate heat properly. You can also combine a tarp and a bivy sack to get the best protection.

Decision: What types of bivy sacks are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, we distinguish between these types of bivy sacks:

  • Cotton bivy sack
  • Nylon bivy sack
  • Bivy sack made of ripstop nylon
  • Bivy sack with aluminised foil

In the following, we explain the different types and their respective advantages and disadvantages. In this way, we want to help you find the bivy sack that is best suited to you.

What are the characteristics of a cotton bivy sack?

A sleeping bag made of cotton needs a water-repellent coating (e.g. wax), as this material dries very slowly without a coating. The advantage of cotton is that it is a breathable material and therefore has a pleasant climate.

Advantages
  • no unnecessary build-up of heat in summer
  • enough warmth in winter
  • breathable
  • pleasant climate
Disadvantages
  • weight
  • dries slowly

A bivy sack made of this material is relatively heavy. However, if weight is not an issue for you, cotton is a good material for you. In summer the heat does not accumulate too much and in winter this sleeping bag cover keeps you warm.

What are the characteristics of a nylon bivy sack?

"Polyamide" is a synonym for "nylon" and often replaces this term. This material has good wear and sliding properties. It is quite elastic and expands when wet. However, it immediately contracts again during drying. Unlike cotton, nylon is not breathable. You should be aware of this if you don't want to get wet due to condensation on the inside. In this case, you should ensure good and constant ventilation.

Advantages
  • dries quickly
  • tensile strength
  • good gliding and wear properties
  • easy to care for
Disadvantages
  • non-breathable (condensation)
  • elastic

Caring for a nylon bivy sack is very easy. If the sleeping bag cover gets dirty, you can clean it with lukewarm water and a cloth.

What distinguishes a bivy sack made of ripstop nylon?

Ripstop nylon is used to make higher-quality products because the flexible fabric guarantees strong and high tear resistance.

Advantages
  • Weight
  • tear-resistant
  • flexible fabric
  • air-permeable
Disadvantages
  • Higher initial costs
  • fabric becomes stiffer and noisier in cold conditions
  • not waterproof (reimpregnate)

However, ripstop is not waterproof without an additional coating. For this reason, we recommend that you impregnate the bivy sack several times (re-impregnation). A plus point for this fabric is its air permeability. In addition, this material is softer than nylon and particularly quiet. In cold weather, however, this fabric becomes noisier because the fabric hardens and thus becomes stiffer.

What distinguishes a bivy sack with an aluminised film?

Aluminised film is mostly used for emergency bivy sacks. This film is light-, water-, grease- and gas-proof. It also reflects light, heat and UV rays. The aluminised film offers you good protection against humidity and temperature (both heat and cold).

Advantages
  • protective function
  • reflection of light
  • waterproof
Disadvantages
  • the thinner the less protection

However, you should pay attention to the thickness of the material when buying. The thinner the film, the less protective it is.

Buying criteria: Use these criteria to compare and rate bivy sacks

In the following we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate bivy sacks. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective model. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Size
  • Colour
  • Weight
  • Weather resistance

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a model based on the criteria or not.

Size

A bivy sack is available for both one and two people. Accordingly, the size depends on the number of people who will use the sleeping bag cover. As a rule, it is not planned to take a rucksack or your luggage into the bivy sack. However, this is often possible by using the backpack as a pillow. Usually the sellers give the size of the sleeping bag cover in length x width in cm. Rarely is the size given as S for "small", M for "medium", L for "small" or L for "medium" M for "medium", L for "large" or XL for "extra large". We found the following common sizes within our research:

Length:

  • 210 cm
  • 220 cm
  • 225 cm
  • 235 cm
  • 243 cm

Width:

The width depends on whether the bivy sack is to be used for 1 or 2 people.

  • 80 cm (1 person)
  • 85 cm (1 person)
  • 98 cm (1 person)
  • 140 cm (2 persons)
  • 152 cm (2 persons)

Colour

The choice of colour for a bivy sack is purely a matter of taste. In the case of the sleeping bag cover, this can be divided into two areas: Natural colours and signal colours. Only you can decide which colour best suits you and your intended use.

Natural colours

If you want to blend in with nature and camouflage yourself well, we recommend buying a bivy sack in a natural colour such as camouflage, olive green or camouflage (also called flecktarn).

Signal colours

If you want to contrast with nature and be found quickly in an emergency, we recommend using signal colours. Manufacturers often use orange or yellow, sometimes red.

Weight

A bivy sack can be used in addition to a normal sleeping bag. Like any other piece of luggage, this means extra weight. The weight of a sleeping bag cover can be very variable and depends on the size, the material used and how many people it is designed for. The common weights are as follows:

  • 120g (emergency bivouac)
  • 275 g (polyester 1 person)
  • 435g (510g incl. poles)
  • 455 g (polyester 2 persons)
  • 470 g (breathable Powertex coating)
  • 793 g (cotton)
  • 980 g (including accessories such as poles)

Weather resistance

A bivy sack is designed for different weather conditions. The most important weather conditions to consider are wind/storm, rain and snow.

Camping

A bivy sack can replace your tent and should therefore be weatherproof. (Image source: pexels.com / Baptiste Valthier)

In the following points we will go into more detail about these weather conditions and tell you what you should look out for when buying and using a bivy sack.

Wind/Storm

A bivy sack is a great way to protect yourself against the wind, as you are lying directly on the ground and therefore have little surface to attack. If you build the sleeping bag with poles, it will have a larger wind contact surface, but it will still be flat enough not to get too much wind. It's best to set up your sleeping bag in the direction of the wind. You should not lie with your head into the wind, but the other way round. This avoids draughts and unnecessary freezing.

Rain

Whether and to what extent a bivy sack can keep out the wet depends on its coating and the material used. You may have to re-impregnate your sleeping bag cover (several times). We recommend that you pay attention to how quickly the respective bivy sack dries again, as it can quickly become cold in damp or even wet sleeping bag covers.

Snow

A sleeping bag cover also offers good protection in the snow. If you use a bivy sack with aluminised foil, it offers more warmth than the others. As soon as a bivy sack is waterproof (usually due to the coating), it naturally repels snow and you are protected against it.

Tip: In the snow, you should make sure that you choose a suitable colour for your sleeping bag cover so that you can still be found in heavy snowfall.

source: pexels.com / Pixabay

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