Hopefully, we don’t need to spend too much time convincing you of all the joys of travelling ultra-light and free. Every ounce off your back adds an extra spring to your step, which becomes especially important the higher you go. 

Alpine adventures and ultralight hikers on all terrains have turned to the bivvy bag to reach staggering levels of lightweight travelling. Manufacturers have responded by transforming this quirky camping gear from an emergency shelter to a borderline everyday camping option. Finally, we have reached the golden age of bivvy bags. 

You can have a wind and waterproof structure in your back pocket at all times, which will help your adventures reach new heights for less than a pound. These bags can take you to some pretty epic places, so you’ve got to make sure your sack is up to the occasion. 

The best bivvy bags in the business will get you further from base camp then you’ve ever explored before and set up in a hurry. When the entire bag weighs so little, the margin for error is closer than ever. 

A great bivvy shelter will have you sleeping closer to nature than ever before while keeping you protected, but a faulty bivvy sack will go too far and have rain dripping on your face while you struggle for sleep in the middle of nowhere. 

Bivvy, Bivvy, Bivvy a Bag After Midnight

The good news is, we’ve put the hours in and found the best bivvies 2022 has to offer. Start your search with this buying guide which will walk through the different types of bivvy bags before showing you a few examples of modern ultralight camping at its finest. 

Bivvy bags aren’t for everyone. By definition, they seek to fulfil a very specific niche; staying dry and sleeping well in multi-night missions. Climbers, through-hikers, bikepackers, and anyone looking to try out the highest level of minimalism on the market can find their next weather protection that’s lighter than their granola bars. 

Quick Answer – These Are The Best Bivvy Bags

#1 Best Ultralight Bivvy – Outdoor Research Helium Bivvy

#2 Best 4 Season Bivvy – Black Diamond Twilight Bivvy

#3 Best 3 Season Bivvy – REI Co-op Shell Bivvy

#4 Best Bug Bivvy – Outdoor Research Bug Bivvy

#5 Best Minimalist Bivvy – Black Diamond Spotlight Bivvy

#6 Best Budget Bivvy – TETON Sports Trailhead

#7 Best Emergency Bivvy – Tact Bivvy 2.00

How To Choose The Best Bivvy Sack

All Bivvy Sacks exist for two reasons and two reasons only; keeping your sleeping bag dry and slightly warming up your sleeping space. 

Don’t expect to host any parties inside the small spaces of even the finest Bivvies on the market. 

It’s also important to understand that while Bivvy sacks can keep you dry enough, they will not be pleasant for very rainy nights. Some sacks’ ventilation sits very close to your face, which means you may feel a bit of moisture, and other bivvies may not be large enough to keep your gear bag dry alongside you.  They are great for ultralight camping and travel, but not for comfort.

Bivvy sacks originated as high tech, low comfort shelters that protect overnight ascents. In addition to blocking the rain, they have to be light enough to fit into a climber’s gear bag, where every extra ounce adds on to the climb. 

The heaviest Bivvy Shelter out there weigh less than 2 pounds, which doesn’t leave much space to stretch out. One cheeky way to work around limited size is to use your backpack as a pillow or shopping for a Bivvy with extended length.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the differences between Bivvies. There are two main categories modern bivvy boys have used to break down the industry.

Bivvy Shelters

While some hardcore traditionalists might argue it’s too much luxury, I wouldn’t mind having space to read a book on a rainy afternoon. Bivvy shelters are a modern take on minimalism and generally add on one Featherlite head pole to put things into shape. There’s still not enough room to sit up inside, but you’ll be able to scratch your nose in peace. 

The best bivvy Shelter’s also add on a no-see-um mesh bug liner and multiple openings to improve ventilation. All this extra luxury forces these full-on shelters to weigh about a pound more than original style bivvy sacks.

What to Look for in a Bivvy Shelter

  • Space for your gear
  • Raised headspace with suspension systems that keep fabric out of your face
  • Mesh ventilation
  • Weight of less than 2 pounds

Bivvy Sacs

Dreamt up for emergencies only, these bags are nothing short of hardcore. They delicately walk the line between sleeping bag and shelter by bringing solid wind and rain resistance to a cover the size of a coffin. 

High-quality bivvy sacs usually include one opening near your head with a full-length zipper to give you a bit of ventilation freedom, but you can’t expect the world. They are the lightest possible forms of shelter commonly employed by adventurers who know precisely how many ounces they carry. 

What to look for in a Bivvy Sack

  • Full-Length Zippers with some form of mesh ventilation
  • Factory-sealed seams for further rain protection
  • Weight of less than 1 pound
Product
Description
Best Ultralight Bivvy
Best Ultralight Bivvy

Outdoor Research Helium Bivvy

  • > $$
  • > Comes with rain resistance as well as solid ventilation and bug protection
  • > A few extra precious inches of headroom
Best 4 Season Bivvy
Best 4 Season Bivvy

Black Diamond Twilight Bivvy

  • > $$
  • > Designed to excel in alpine missions
  • > Compact enough to serve as an emergency bivvy
Best 3 Season Bivvy
Best 3 Season Bivvy

REI Co-op Shell Bivvy

  • > $
  • > No-see-um mesh bug panel allows ventilation and sleeping under the stars
  • > All materials used in this bivvy are bluesign certified
Best Bug Bivvy
Best Bug Bivvy

Outdoor Research Bug Bivvy

  • > $
  • > Comes with one overhead pole to extend your interior space just enough
  • > Quality support underneath locks your sleeping pad into place
Best Minimalist Bivvy
Best Minimalist Bivvy

Black Diamond Spotlight Bivvy

  • > $$$
  • > Comes with one Featherlite pole to open up the interior space
  • > Zippered headspace opens up to a no-see-um mesh skylight
Best Budget Bivvy
Best Budget Bivvy

TETON Sports Trailhead

  • > $
  • > Rated for weather as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit
  • > 75-D outer shell offers up a little bit of rain protection
Best Emergency Bivvy
Best Emergency Bivvy

Tact Bivvy 2.00

  • > $
  • > Condenses to a tiny weight and size
  • > Drawstring cord works as a fire-starter

The VERY Best Bivvy Bags

Now that you know what you’re looking for let’s meet the best bivvy for your style. We’ll highlight the best of both categories so you can meet crowd favourites of every shape and size. These bivvies cover the entire range of available options, from high-tech features to high-value affordability. 

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    #1 Best Ultralight Bivvy – Outdoor Research Helium Bivvy

    Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

    Outdoor Research Helium Bivvy is our top pick for the best ultralight bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 178
    • Weight (lbs/kg): 1/.47

    In a category that’s all about ultralight, Outdoor research has done the studying and come up with a slick bivvy option that does it all while holding on to an affordable price. It’s the complete package stuffed down to a meagre trail weight and ready to be slipped into your bag before any adventure.

    Some bivvies don’t even think about protecting against foul play on their way to weights this small, but the Helium is ready to keep you dry regardless of the weather. That’s because this bivvy has the same shape and design as high-performance alpine bags built out of lighter materials. 

    No one bivvy can do it all, but this is the closest thing to a sure thing on the market. 

    +Pros
    • Comes with rain resistance as well as solid ventilation and bug protection
    • Certified all-rounder taking care of all the details
    • A few extra precious inches of headroom
    -Cons
    • Sacrificed some durability in favour of lighter weight
    • The stuff sack that ships with this bivvy is unnecessarily large

    #2 Best 4 Season Bivvy – Black Diamond Twilight Bivvy

    Black Diamond Twilight Bivvy

    Our pick for best 4 season bivvy is Black Diamond Twilight Bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 169
    • Weight (lbs/kg): .5/.28

    While The Helium is the king of the bivvies, Black Diamond’s signature ultralight tent option offers serious competition for the throne, as long as you’re not looking for much breathing room. 

    We thought it couldn’t get much lighter than Helium, but twilight brought clarity in the form of a shockingly low trail weight. 

    If you’ve got space for an apple, you’ve got space for this 3 x 5 malleable container, and the quality nano-shield fabric design is suitable for alpine peaks and cold desert nights. This bivvy is perfect for quick missions and extreme situations, but it may come with a splash of claustrophobia. With the zipper open, you could argue it’s a rainproof sleeping bag. 

    This bivvy sack excels at a particular niche: those who want something extremely light for extreme weather conditions.

    +Pros
    • There’s a real chance it will be the lightest thing in your entire pack
    • Designed to excel in alpine missions
    • Compact enough to serve as an emergency bivvy
    -Cons
    • Not enough space to read a book with the zipper shut
    • With only one zipper, it’s tough to get any ventilation without attracting bugs

    #3 Best 3 Season Bivvy – REI Co-op Shell Bivvy

    REI Coop Shell Bivvy

    REI Co-op Shell Bivvy is one of the best 3 season bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 99
    • Weight (lbs/kg): 1.2/.54

    As REI is wont to do, this Shell Bivvy brings some high-tech features and decent durability into everyone’s price range. Conscious corporations last great hope, this shell bivvy doesn’t lead in any categories but does score highly across the board, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from anything carrying the Recreational Equipment Co-op’s name.

    Trust in the nylon shell that gives this sack its signature name to keep you dry through rainy nights and warm through chilly mornings. You won’t find many bivvies with quality comfort features, but this sack adds just enough space to keep your clothes, and possibly your bag, dry at your feet. 

    We wish this midweight bivvy bag could have met us halfway with a splash of extra headroom, but that’s not what this style is known for, and REI did add in plenty of see-through mesh to keep the air fresh and the stars in sight. 

    +Pros
    • No-see-um mesh bug panel allows ventilation and sleeping under the stars
    • 70D nylon shell is strong against weather as well as bumps and bruises along the way
    • All materials used in this bivvy are bluesign certified
    -Cons
    • Only one zipper makes it difficult to ventilate on nights where the mesh isn’t an option
    • Not enough headspace to read a book
    • Slightly heavy for a bivvy sack with no headspace

    #4 Best Bug Bivvy – Outdoor Research Bug Bivvy

    Outdoor Research Bug Bivvy

    For best bug bivvy, checkout Outdoor Research Bug Bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 89
    • Weight (lbs/kg): 1/.47

    While you can’t expect this bug bivvy to keep you much warmer than the air around you, this incredibly unique design has loads of value in the proper adventure. 

    Check the weather report before you rely entirely on this option, as there is no water resistance at all underneath the hood. Instead, the bug bivvy works as a mosquito net for a sleeping bag with nothing else to weigh it down. 

    Most of the weight of this bivvy is in the one overhead pole that gives you an extra splash of breathing room. The rest of this sack’s top parts are all no-see-um mesh providing unparalleled ventilation without letting in the pests. 

    +Pros
    • Best ventilation and breathability in the game
    • Comes with one overhead pole to extend your interior space just enough
    • Quality support underneath locks your sleeping pad into place
    -Cons
    • Useless in a rainstorm or if it gets too cold
    • Not much more than a custom-shaped bug net
    The best present of all… is CONVENIENCE!

    Now, you could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

    So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card! REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

    Buy on REI!

    #5 Best Minimalist Bivvy – Black Diamond Spotlight Bivvy

    Black Diamond Spotlight Bivvy

    Meet the best minimalist bivvy: Black Diamond Spotlight Bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 229
    • Weight (lbs/kg): 1.45/.65

    Suppose you’re willing to shell out a splash of extra cash. In that case, you’ll have the same protection and high-quality weather-resistant nylon made in Black Diamond’s Twilight sack with precious inches of additional headroom. 

    It turns out, one pole and a ventilated headspace completely changes the ability of this high-performance sack. Not only is this bad boy roomy vertically, but it also packs in 7 and a half feet of overall length, which is more than enough space for you and your bag to stay dry through the night. 

    Packing in just enough high tech value to work for four seasons and plenty of weight-saving gimmicks, Black Diamond’s spotlight bivvy is a high-end choice that is more than worth the extra price. 

    +Pros
    • Comes with one Featherlite pole to open up the interior space
    • Zippered headspace opens up to a no-see-um mesh skylight
    • Long enough to store you and your gear
    -Cons
    • Most expensive bivvy sack on our list
    • Sells out fast

    #6 Best Budget Bivvy – TETON Sports Trailhead

    TETON Sports Trailhead

    Our top pick for best budget bivvy is TETON Sports Trailhead

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 59
    • Weight (lbs/kg): 2.4/1.1

    Slightly more sack than a bivvy, this budget option is perfect for anyone looking for a sleeping bag they can use without a tent every now and again. As long as you don’t need much more than a trailhead bivvy that supplies a comfortable shelter on cool, clear nights, Teton provides the sauce. 

    There’s not a whole lot to say about this sack’s prowess. It is what it is, a budget option that uses cheap materials and cuts corners to provide an affordable way to go explore. Teton may not be suited for alpine environments, but it’s a great first sack for someone thinking about cutting out tents.  

    +Pros
    • 50$ Cheaper than our other full-time bivvy options
    • Rated for weather as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit
    • 75-D outer shell offers up a little bit of rain protection
    -Cons
    • Heaviest bivvy sack on our list by far
    • Not much more than a sleeping bag

    #7 Best Emergency Bivvy – Tact Bivvy 2.00

    Tact Bivvy 2

    Tact Bivvy 2.00 is our top pick for the best emergency bivvy

    Specs
    • Price (USD): 18
    • Weight (lbs/kg): .35/.14

    Before we get any further, please understand that an emergency Bivvy is not made for daily use. This Tact Bivvy does not have many comfort features, even for a bivvy sack’s low standards. I wouldn’t want to spend a weekend inside the weather-resistant barriers of this thermal bag. Still, if I was ever caught in a bad situation, I would be a whole lot better off with this slim protection in my backpack. 

    This bag is your closest thing to a holy shit button while out in the woods. It’s lightweight, waterproof, and thermal enough to get you through a night that turned south. When it’s time to get moving, you can squish this bag down in a jiff and take off, knowing you’ve got an affordable, weather-resistant bag in your back pocket.

    +Pros
    • Condenses to a tiny weight and size
    • 6-month long no questions asked return policy
    • Drawstring cord works as a fire-starter
    -Cons
    • Not suitable for everyday use
    • Not much more than a wearable tarp
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    Final Thoughts on The Best Bivvy Bag

    Bivvy sack owners know as well as anyone that less is more, so I won’t take up any more of your time. Hopefully, you’ve learned a few things about what the best bivvy bags are capable of and are getting closer to finding the ultralight shelter of your dreams. 

    They probably shouldn’t be the only tent you own, but these bags are an essential part of many gear kits. They can turn into quite comfortable nights of sleep in the right weather conditions. They also serve international backpackers well who don’t feel like paying for a hostel every night. 

    Even carry-on only travellers can find space for a bivvy and find great nights of sleep on beaches worldwide. 

    Bivvy shelters are growing stronger every year. At several pounds lighter than even the most minimalist 1 person tents, they provide enough headroom to make the switch worthy of a debate. The next time you’re heading out for a clear weekend of wandering, try out a bivvy sack with a grand mesh opening and genuinely sleep under the stars. 


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