During outdoor activity, many opt for a tent to enjoy a relaxing time in the evening. However, many skiers, hikers, or climbers are now opting for a bivy sacks, since they are prioritizing their sport over relaxing. Below we’ll analyze the pros and cons of using a these small shelters for your next adventure.
Light and Portable
The biggest advantage to using a bivy sack over a tent is that they are extremely lightweight and portable. This is especially helpful for hikers and climbers who are looking to reduce weight in their pack. They typically weigh less than tents, hammocks, or any other types of shelter other than maybe a tarp (which cover you from rain, but leave you exposed to the wind and the wilderness from the sides).
Waterproof and Bug Proof
Modern technology has created some amazing fabrics. In addition to being lightweight, their fabrics are waterproof. There are typically two different materials used in bivy sack construction, the top being a lightweight silnylon and the base level that touches the ground is a heavier material that can withstand a bit of abuse.
Lastly, since you are fully enclosed in a shelter, you be free of mosquitoes and bugs. Some models come with a bug net at your face that allows you to breathe outside of the shelter while reducing condensation (more on this below).
Easy to Find a Campsite
Another pro is that it’s easy to find and set up your campsite. Since you only need to find an area the size of a sleeping bag, you don’t need to find a site large enough with the proper ground to pitch a tent.
This will help you spend more time enjoying your trip instead of working in camp.
The last benefit is the insulation they provide. You can expect five to ten degrees of additional insulation from your while you sleep.
Small and Tight Inside
One pitfall is the confining amount of space they provide. If you feel any claustrophobia, you will not like these shelters.
Also, there will only be enough room for yourself and a few very small items. This means your backpack and whatever else you bring will be fully exposed throughout the night.
While the bivy sack is fully waterproof, rain still poses an issue. The issue is you can’t do anything in your bivy other than sleep (or lay there). There isn’t enough room to get changed, play cards, etc.
Also since you won’t have room to keep your gear inside, its likely some rain will get inside when you move in and out.
Even though bivy sacks are designed to be breathable and waterproof, they still trap more condensation inside than the traditional tent. There are some tricks to reducing condensation in your shelter, but it’s not something that can be completely eliminated.
It is worth mentioning because using a these minimalist shelters in very humid or tropical conditions will be very uncomfortable due to this challenge.
If you take the time to compare these replacements for tents, you’ll see that they each have unique advantages. The bivy sack is a good option because it is lightweight and waterproof. It can also be set up virtually anywhere. However, because it is so small, and not as strong in rain or tropical conditions, it is best to research the details of your adventure to make the right choice.