bivy sack

Bivy vs Hammock – Which One Should You Choose?

For survivalists, determining what type of shelter to rely on can affect more than just one aspect of a trip or emergency situation. The shelter a survivalist chooses will determine the types of environments in which they are able to sleep for the night, their comfort while sleeping, how much protection from inclement weather they will have access to, and how heavy or cumbersome their gear might be.

Two common outdoor shelter options are bivy sacks and hammocks. While both have their strengths in different situations, they come with a few drawbacks, too. Below, we will discuss the pros and cons of both options and determine which makes the best survival shelter when it comes to bivy sacks vs hammocks.

Bivy Sacks

Bivy sacks are extremely small shelters which were invented as an alternative solution to heavier tents. They fit only one person and are a more minimalist option than most outdoor survival shelters. Here are the pros and cons of relying on a bivy sack.

Pros of Bivy Sacks

Lightweight and compact

bivy sack

Bivy sacks are extremely lightweight and don’t include any hard structural components. Because of this, they are easy to travel with and require very minimal packing room in a backpack.

Built-in protection from rain, wind, and snow

As opposed to hammocks which are open to the elements, bivy sacks have built-in protection from inclement weather. If it begins to rain or snow, survivalists can simply zip their sack up. Alternatively, if the weather is nice, then survivalists have the option to keep their bivy sack open and sleep beneath the stars, remaining well ventilated.

Quick setup in case of emergency

Bivy sacks require very little effort to be setup. If survivalists are caught off guard by extreme weather conditions, they can be safe in the protection of their bivy sack in a matter of minutes.


Unlike hammocks which require trees in order to be used, bivy sacks can be set up basically anywhere. They conveniently work on mountain cliffs, in barren deserts, and just about anywhere a survivalist might end up during their travels.

Cons of Bivy Sack

Directly on the ground

Since bivy sacks get set up directly on the ground, they can be uncomfortable depending on the quality of sleeping bag a survivalist is using with them. Sleeping on rough terrain might be uncomfortable in this thin-walled shelter.

Additionally, heavy rains that collect on the ground may soak through the bottom of a bivy sack, leaving the occupant and their sleeping bag uncomfortably wet.

Condensation issues

In certain environments, especially humid ones, bivy sacks have been known to collect condensation along the inside walls and require being dried out.


These small shelters can be extremely claustrophobic when they are zipped up. Survivalists using a bivy sack cannot move around or even sit up once zipped inside.


Survival hammocks are a fun and comfortable way to enjoy the outdoors, and many survivalists choose them as their preferred form of shelter. Here are the pros and cons of relying on a survival hammock.

hammock with flyRob Beattie

Pros of Hammocks

Off the Ground

Hammocks are set up usually between two trees and can be extremely comfortable as they are lifted off of the hard ground. If it rains, survivalists won’t have to worry about water collecting on the ground and soaking through to them and their sleeping bag, like it might in a bivy sack.


Hammocks, like bivy sacks, are extremely lightweight and easy to fold and store in a backpack without taking up much space. This makes them easy to transport and allows survivalists to use more space for other gear they might need.

Open Air

Unlike bivy sacks which can feel claustrophobic, hammocks are open to the air and environment. This can allow for more comfort to sit up and a better view of the night sky or surroundings.


Since hammocks¬†get hung up above ground, survivalists don’t have to worry about finding level ground to set up on. Hammocks can be hung above rocky terrain or even above water.

Cons of Hammocks

Limited to Areas with Trees

Since hammocks need to be anchored on trees, survivalists are limited to certain areas if they want to use one. Desert environments would not be a good place for the use of a hammock.

Safety Concerns

Dead or dying tree branches can be a safety concern for hammock users. If the trees aren’t checked before setup, survivalists run the risk of having a branch fall on them and their hammock as they sleep.

A Tarp is Needed

Unlike bivy sacks which have built-in protection from the elements, hammocks are open and leave survivalists at the mercy of inclement weather. Because of this, a tarp needs to be used in conjunction with a hammock to keep dry. This may be inconvenient to minimalist travelers who only want to pack one shelter.

Bivy Sack vs Hammock?

Both of these shelter options offer great advantages depending on what environment a survivalist will be using them in.

However, bivy sacks are more versatile than hammocks and can be used in more places, leaving survivalists unlimited to and able to explore a wider variety of terrains, not just tree-dense areas. They offer protection from inclement weather and also allow occupants to choose to sleep with the zipper open, while hammocks need to be accompanied by a tarp in the rain.

There are instances in which a hammock might be a better option, such as for use in warmer climates that don’t receive much rain or for survivalists who prefer to stay off the ground. For more versatility, however, bivy sacks are often the better of these two options.

Leave a Comment