A Bivy Sack Is The Best Way To Cut Your Pack Weight
When it comes time to survive the elements in an emergency, you need a light shelter you can trust.
Sure, there are tons of great camping tents on the market.
And there are even some lightweight survival tents.
But it’s hard to find a 4-season tent designed for one person that doesn’t weigh 3-4 lbs.
While that sounds light compared to other shelter options, 4 lbs. is a big addition to your pack or vehicle, both in weight and volume.
But there’s another option – a bivy sack!
So today, let’s cover the following topics:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Best Bivy Sacks For Sale
What’s A Bivouac Sack?
Best Bivy Sack Features
Dispelling A Few Myths
Who Should Own A Bivy Sack
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Best Bivy Sacks On The Market Today
There are dozens of sleep systems and shelter options on the market today. However, there are 2 main categories:
The high-end offerings are largely from mountaineering companies.
These tactical bivy sacks use high-tech fabrics and lighter weights, with prices to match.
These are designed for heavy use in the worst conditions and repeat usage.
They are essential if gear failure could be the difference between life and death.
I’ve slept in my 0deg sleeping bag and a mountaineering bivy during rescue missions.
We’re talking in heavy wind and snow down to -15deg.
I won’t say it was my life’s “best” night of sleep.
But I stayed dry and reasonably warm.
It allowed me to catch some much-needed sleep before continuing the search and rescue mission.
RAB is a British company that makes some great mountaineering gear.
They’re finally becoming more well-known in the US. But you can still find their high-quality gear reasonably priced as they try to earn a following here.
The Storm Spartan bivy provides what the name implies - a minimalist shelter from the elements.
There are no poles or fancy options, just a simple, breathable fabric cover with a mesh vent panel.
They claim a wider sleeping bag profile than other manufacturers. This should give you more space to move around in your sleep.
If you’re looking for a durable option with fewer elements to break down, this bivy sack is hard to beat!
↓ FREEZING Solo Winter Wild Camp – Rab Storm Bivi ↓
Tennier has supplied integrated sleeping bags and bivy sacks to the US military for years.
These bivy sleep systems combine a waterproof Gore-Tex outer bivy sack with two different weights of liner bags.
The specs claim it can provide insulation down to -40deg.
It’s not lightweight, but you know this gear has been tested.
I’m not sure I’d want to test sleeping in -40deg. But you know some poor recruit had to do it after carrying an 80lb pack and his rifle for 12 miles.
↓ A Full Review Of The U.S. Army Modular Sleep System ↓
Finally, there are the “emergency sacks”.
These are mainly reinforced mylar tarps and space blankets.
A tiny, lightweight bivy focused on portability and retaining body heat than keeping the elements out.
An emergency bivy can be a super minimalist camping option if you expect cool temps, but the chances of snow or rain are low.
However, I wouldn’t advise using one if a blizzard is in the forecast.
Advertised as “one of the most advanced survival tools on the planet,” the Tact Bivvy is an incredible piece of survival gear.
Small enough to fit in your hand, this survival blanket utilizes Mylar. Mylar provides the highest quality, most effective survival blanket around.
And because it's taped together, it traps your body heat inside more like a sleeping bag than a blanket.
The Tact Bivvy is the best bang for your buck when you compare weight to warmth. It provides maximum heat with minimal weight.
Making it the perfect survival blanket for bug-out bags, get-home bags, survival packs, or glove boxes.
Not only that, but it is windproof, waterproof, easy to use, and includes a small stuff sack.
This helps keep it stored neatly when you are not using it.
And the best part? It's affordable. At this price, it's an accessible survival tool for everyone.
We even tested the Tact Bivvy on a chilly 40-degree overcast day. "Just In Case," Jack (our managing editor) recorded temperatures inside the Tact Bivvy, and after only 10 minutes, it was a warm 82 degrees.
It was so warm inside the Tact Bivvy that he got out shortly after 10 minutes to keep from overheating.
If it works this well on a cool 40-degree day, it's a legitimate lifesaver in below-zero survival situations.
The bottom line is - The Tact Bivvy works and is excellent for cold-weather survival.
I recommend you get one for your bug-out bag, one for your medical first aid kit, one for your car, and your home.
Bug Out Bag Shelter – Survival Frog TACT Bivvy Review
This is a bivy sack with no extra bells or whistles.
It falls more into the emergency shelter than the adventure sack. So it's perfect for saving your life in a pinch.
Its water-resistant, durable fabric will keep you warm and dry because it will reflect 70% of radiated body heat and resists punctures and tears.
It also features:
- a full-side zipper system
- a draw-cord hood closure
- and a foot box for comfort
↓ SOL Escape Bivvy – Review / Test ↓
The last "bivy" option is little more than metallic foil meant to reflect your body heat.
I’ve found they’re difficult to manage in the wind. But wrapping them around me inside my sleeping bag adds some added insulation.
At an ounce or so each, they fold into a tiny flat package that slips into any corner pocket.
I keep one inside my first aid kit, where it’s been useful for treating shock for rescue operations.
As a side note: You can use these to reflect the direct sun and heat AWAY in hot sunny conditions.
So they make an excellent sunshade tarp in the desert!
What’s A Bivouac Sack Anyway?
First of all, the term bivy is short for bivouac.
The official definition of the bivouac is:
“a temporary camp without tents or cover used especially by soldiers or mountaineers.”
Otherwise known as – sleeping under the stars…
↓ Truth About Using A Bivy – When, Where, Why, and Why Not ↓
And a sack is:
“a single-person tent distilled down to only the essential components.”
Putting the two together and a bivy sack is a lightweight temporary portable waterproof sleeping bag cover.
A cover lets you skip the heavy tent and stay protected from rain and snow.
Some models even include some nice features.
I’ve seen Bivouac sacks that include a bug net.
Others include a small pole system (to keep the fabric off your face while you sleep). Helping from feeling too claustrophobic if you zip everything shut in bad weather.
All while keeping you warm and dry by blocking the wind and adding 10deg of insulation to your sleep system.
Soldiers, scouts, and mountaineers have used them for decades.
Because they’re lightweight, easy to set up, and low profile, this helps soldiers move fast, stay alive in harsh elements, and evade the enemy.
Modern materials (such as Gore-Tex) have made these sacks far more breathable and less clammy.
This results in a much more comfortable option for individual travelers.
Plus, their small footprint allows you to use one in places without a traditional tent.
The bottom line is this:
Ultralight bivy bags are the ideal cold-weather protection for survivalists and ultralight backpackers.
And if you pair this sleep system with a quality sleeping pad – you’re not sacrificing much comfort.
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Best Bivy Sack Features
So, before we get into the different types, it’s worth a quick comparison of tents vs. bivy sacks.
This depends on the quality of the build.
There are both highly durable camping tents as well as emergency bags. So there’s no clear winner here.
But look for a bivy with ripstop nylon to ensure it can handle the snags you’ll find in the great outdoors.
A bivy sack is a hands-down winner here.
Even the heaviest ones come in at less than 2 pounds.
You won’t find many tents that light – and even fewer designed for extreme weather.
Again, the bivy has the edge.
While I’ve seen some pretty compact tents, mine is smaller than a water bottle.
It’s even smaller than my down jacket!
This one is a draw based on designs for similar conditions.
A four-season Gore-Tex bivy sack may cost several hundred dollars.
But so will a tent designed with the same specs.
Conversely, some are very inexpensive, even under $50.
These aren’t the shelters you want for heavy repeat use in seriously extreme weather. However, they provide a great option when you might not take shelter otherwise.
These more affordable options are best for emergencies or more temperate climates.
We can’t sugar-coat this one.
A tent is a more comfortable option in nearly every case.
At best, an emergency bag lets you lean on an elbow and read a book.
You won’t have the space to sort through your gear or spread out in one.
So it may be too small if a mummy-style sleeping bag makes you claustrophobic.
On the other hand, in cold weather, a tent is a lot of cold, dead air space to warm up while a bivy sack keeps your body heat close.
Dispelling A Few Myths
Myth 1. Only For High-Altitude Mountaineering
First and foremost, some folks think that bivy sacks are only for extreme, high-altitude mountaineering expeditions.
But that isn’t the case, friends!
Bivy sacks can be a great option for anyone who wants to travel light and fast in the backcountry, whether you’re going for a weekend hike or a multi-day trek.
Myth 2. They’re Uncomfortable
Another myth is that they’re claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
I won’t lie to you; some bivy sacks can be a bit snug.
But that doesn’t mean they’re uncomfortable!
In fact, many folks find they provide a cozy, secure sleeping space that can enhance their overall camping experience.
Myth 3. They’re Terrible In The Rain
Some people also think that bivy sacks are only good for dry weather conditions.
But that’s simply not true!
While it’s true that some bivy sacks aren’t 100% waterproof, many are made with materials that can withstand rain and other wet conditions.
And if you’re worried about getting wet, you can always pack an additional tarp or rainfly to throw over your bivy bag.
Myth 4. They’re Difficult To Set Up
Finally, some folks believe that bivy sacks are difficult to set up and use.
But they’re actually one of the easiest camping shelters to use!
Find a flat spot to lie down, unroll it, and crawl inside. That’s it!
No poles to set up and no complicated rainfly attachments to fuss with. It’s simplicity at its finest.
So there you have it – some of the biggest myths debunked.
Who Should Own A Bivy Sack
Well, that depends on your outdoor activities and preparedness needs.
But you should pack an emergency bag if you spend time outdoors, hiking, hunting, fishing, etc.
They’re a versatile and valuable tool for various outdoor enthusiasts.
If you enjoy backpacking or camping in the wilderness, a bivy sack can be a lightweight and compact alternative to a backpacking tent.
It offers shelter and protection from the elements while occupying minimal space in your pack.
Plus, it’s easy to set up and take down, making it a convenient option for on-the-go adventurers.
If you’re a hunter, they can provide a safe and secure shelter during extended hunts.
It can protect you from the elements while you wait for your prey, and its small size means it won’t take up much space in your hunting gear.
For those who prioritize preparedness, a bivy bag is an excellent addition to your emergency kit.
It can be used as a temporary shelter during a disaster, protecting you from the elements while waiting for rescue or help.
Finally, for survivalists, these emergency shelters are a must-have item.
t can be used in various survival situations, from providing emergency shelter to trapping heat to staying dry in wet conditions.
Its compact size makes it easy to carry in a bug-out bag.
In summary, whether you’re a camper, hunter, prepper, or survivalist, owning a bivy sack can be a valuable investment for outdoor activities and preparedness needs.
For a solo traveler, efficiency is critical, and a bivy sack is a great way to cut down on the bulk and weight of a tent in your pack.
They provide quick, lightweight shelter in a wide range of conditions.
Plus, they’ve been proven as a core piece of survival gear for our military.
With the wide range of options on the market, there’s one for nearly any budget.
If you haven’t checked them out yet, do it now!
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