If you really want to lessen the weight on your backpack, then one of the best ideas is to eliminate a tent and think of an alternative which can provide you with better comfort during night hours.
Here is the role of a portable shelter comes into action. This will help you during your multi-day hikes and permit you to set up a camp for the night anytime and anywhere instead of searching for some mountain huts.
Bivy sacks are an excellent solution for this. The best and a good quality bivy sack can very well compete the most lightweight tents which are available on the market. Bivy sacks are lighter and smaller than tents and worth considering if you are planning an overnight hiking trip.
Quick Comparison: Top Bivy Sacks for Hiking
- Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy
- Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy Sack
- Snugpak 92860 Stratosphere Bivy
- Chinook Summit Bivy Bag
- Winterial Single Person Tent
**Below, you'll find our expert's reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
How to Choose the Best Bivy Sacks?
Rather than utilizing less space on your backpack, bivy sacks are easy to set up even if the weather is against you. On the other hand, keep in mind that these are not good options if you are planning for longer hikes since they offer only limited space or comfort and also you need to leave your backpack outside during night hours since there is no room for it.
In this write-up, we have picked a few best and top-rated bivy sacks which are good for backpacking, mountaineering, and hiking.
The bivy sacks listed here are made up of waterproof and breathable materials and also, they offer you with better versatility in all weather conditions. Listed below are some of the most important considerations which you should look for while choosing a bivy sack for your hiking trip.
Carrying lightweight gears will let you reach your destination easier as well as faster. Since shelters are one of the heaviest gears in your backpack list, getting one which is light in weight will make a big difference in the overall weight which you are carrying on your back.
For instance, even a low quality and a single person tent will weigh around 6 pounds while a high-quality bivy sack will weigh not more than 2 pounds.
Bivy space normally offers space for a single person. On the other hand, there are certain bivy sacks which will permit you to hang the material right above your head and this, in turn, will lower the claustrophobic effect of small shelters.
It also increases the level of comfort too. There are two different kinds of systems which are used to hang up the material right above your head area and they are flexible wire system as well as pole system.
The pole system is really reliable and needs extra work while setting it up since it needs to be inserted into the sleeve and fasten it. On the other hand, the flexible system is very common, and it features low head height.
The wire in the head area will automatically stretch when it is unpacked and hence it suspends slightly the material above your head area.
Different Types of Bivy Sacks
There are basically four different styles of bivy sacks. All these are weatherproof and are having a reliable construction as well.
The bug nets are really easy to pack and they are light in weight as well. These models are weather resistant and are specially designed for areas where the wet climate is comparatively of less concern than the insects. The lightweight bug nets can be used along with a tarp if bugs are of a concern.
The minimalist is simple and lightweight in construction and it does not have poles or any kind of extra features which will increase bulk and weight. These models are best suited for applications where the weather is expected and you are planning to hike fast as well as far.
Keep in mind that these kinds of bivy sacks won’t be providing complete protection from the climatic conditions but will be a good option to pack and keep it inside your backpack and take it out if you need to end up in spending a night.
The four season models are having some form of poles or wires in order to maintain the fabric off from the face of the camper. It is made up of strong materials which can really withstand even the worst weather conditions. These are the models which you should carry with you if you are planning to deal with winter or snow camping.
Both the Mountaineers and the hikers struggle to have gears which will pack as small as possible since they can pack their backpack efficiently. Hence checking for the packed size is always important.
Majority of the bivy sacks are coming with breathable as well as waterproof fabrics like Pertex, Gore-Tex as well as eVent. These are the fabrics which are used for the construction of rain jackets as well. However, the breathable and waterproof fabrics will vary in its durability, weather resistance, and breathability features.
Buying 3 layer fabrics are good options since they are durable and provide better rain resistance and breathability. On the other hand, the 2.5 layer fabrics are found to be light in weight and provide decent rain resistance and breathability.
The ventilation panels or the holes are used for minimizing the condensation issues. Apart from considering the number of layers, those fabrics which are used for the portable shelters will be often treated with durable water repellant and hence they will repel water instead of absorbing it.
The floor surface of the bivy sacks are constructed using polyurethane-coated nylon and this, in turn, will offer good water resistance and durability.
Weather and Condensation Resistance
The weather, as well as condensation resistance of any shelter, will be determined based on the fabric used for its manufacturing. The higher the condensation resistance, higher will be the breathability factor since it permits warm air and moisture to go outside.
Nevertheless, there is nothing much more than being a fabric completely waterproof. In general, the bivy sacks are providing condensation resistance and inferior rain in contrast to the double-wall tents. However, they are light in weight and are easy and quick to set up.
There are many things which you should look into to ensure that they don’t happen. If you are planning to trek in a wet weather, then if your bivy sack is made up of eVent or Goretex, you don’t have to worry anymore. If it is not, then check for the hydrostatic head rating. If the rating is around 10,000 or beyond, then it means that you can stay dry even under the worst climatic conditions. Lower than those rating will seep during puddles and heavy weather.
The bivy sacks are found to be somewhat claustrophobic for certain class of people. In order to solve this issue, you need to ensure that you are picking the right products and the right brand for your hiking requirements. Branded fabrics such as Pertex, Goretex and eVent will be good enough. However cheap and non-branded products will create an issue and leave you uncomfortable and with pools of water during night hours.
How to Clean and Care Bivy Sacks?
Keep your bivy sacks with proper care and handling while you store, wash or dry them. Wash the bivy sack whenever it is dirty, stinky or dirty, but make sure that you don’t do it very often.
Also, don’t ever dry clean your bivy sack as it may involve cleaning with harsh chemicals and this, in turn, will spoil the overall performance of the materials.
For safer cleaning of the bivy sack, you can move on to any local laundry and make use of a frontloading, jumbo washer. This is due to the fact that the agitators which churn the garments in the home washing machine will twist and cause damage to the baffle materials and insulation fibers.
Prior to washing the bivy sack, make sure that you have unzipped all the zippers and bring down the sliders half the way on both sides of the zipper. This will guarantee that the sliders will not be coming down during the time of wash. Make use of warm water for one gentle cycle along with ¼ cup of some mild detergent powder.
Keep in mind that you should not wash the product more than once in a year unless and until you are an extreme camper. This, in turn, will help to keep hold of the weatherproof coating as well.
Review of some of the Best Bivy Sacks for Hiking
The Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Sacks is an ideal option if you really want to travel light. This poled bivy sack will provide rugged protection from all the elements in every season.
It is made up of a 3 layer Gore-Tex® Respiration Positive fabric which offers better windproof protection and waterproof. All the seams are taped well to make sure about the waterproofness.
In addition to this, it is coated with Waterproof Hydroseal nylon floor for providing additional durability and the end-opening zippers are protected using a wide storm flap. The no-see-um-mesh present at the opening will help to keep the bugs away from the face and provides enough ventilation. The height is around 20 in.
The footprint of the bivy sack is sized for accommodating thicker sleeping pads. The high-volume foot area will permit a natural position to keep your feet and is around 14.5 in high.
The Outdoor Research Advanced bivy sack will provide you with utmost protection and features generous footprint for those hikers who prefer a wiggle room. 2 shock-corded Delrin® poles will permit the opening of the bivy sack in different positions right from the wide open position to the awning style.
The floor is durable as well as waterproof Hydroseal® coated nylon which includes completely taped seams for ensuring waterproof protection feature. This lightweight, removable and tightly woven no-see-um mesh offers chemical-free bug protection which will not interfere with the visibility during night hours.
The height is around 20 in. it comes with small mesh pockets for holding nighttime essentials.
Keep in mind that you should not ever settle down for products which are really inexpensive. In bivy sacks, the cheap models will create problems for you and end up in an uncomfortable hiking experience.
Choose those models which are condensation resistant and with good breathability and enjoy your hiking.
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