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What is a bivvy bag and should I buy one?

Written by Fiona

April 17 2015

A bivvy bag is a basic form of tent. It is really just a waterproof bag into which your sleeping bag (and you) slot inside. Some bivvy bags have a small pole that creates a tiny tent-like area around your head but, really, a bivvy bag is a waterproof bag for sleeping inside outdoors.

Why buy a bivvy bag?

Cost: A bivvy bag is cheaper than most tents. If you want guaranteed waterproofing, then a bivvy bag compared to a lightweight tent is cheaper because it is far more basic.

Size: If weight and packing size are important because you are planning to go backpacking by foot or on a bike then a bivvy bag takes up minimal space.

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Pitch perfect: You can sleep in bivvy bag almost anywhere. No one will notice you until they are very close up and you can simply stop, find a patch of grass and go to bed.

Feels wild: Sleeping in only a bivvy bag and not a tent can give you the feeling of being much closer to nature – and also much more exposed to the elements. It’s not for everyone but many wild campers love bivvy bags in the right weather.

Why you might not like a bivvy bag

Bad weather: Rain, wind and cold can make sleeping in a bivvy bag far less fun.

A bit of wet: Even the best bivvy bags create some condensation on your sleeping bag because your body heats up at night and there is nowhere for the resulting vapour to go. Some bivvy bags will say they are breathable but it’s tricky to have a fully breathable and fully waterproof bag so it is always a compromise. It may be better to sleep in a synthetic sleeping bag because they stay warmer in the damp.

Rab Ridge Rainder bivvy bag.

Rab Ridge Rainder bivvy bag.

Top tips for sleeping in a bivvy bag

  • Put you sleeping bag inside the bivvy bag before you leave home. Simply roll them up together and pop in your rucksack.
  • When sleeping, leave a small gap for your mouth so you create less condensation.
  • Don’t forget a sleeping mattress because the ground can be hard in just a sleeping bag and bivvy bag.
  • Take a waterproof bag for all your other kit so you can stow it next to you while you sleep.
  • Wear lots of warm layers because it can be chilly sleeping out in a bivvy bag.
  • Take a sense of adventure with you and a friend to sleep next t you for you first bivvy bag adventure.


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