- Weight is where ultralight bivy sacks pay for themselves in GOLD!
- Most Bivy sacks weigh under 2 pounds and pack down to the size of a water bottle.
- Setting up a bivy sack can be done in under a minute and they’re perfect for improvised camp sites.
In this article, we highlight 11 ways a bivy sack is a great ultralight shelter.
Best Bivy Sacks Ranked
What is an Ultralight Bivy Sack?
The ultralight bivy sack provides you with the perfect combination of a reliable overnight shelter that substantially lightens your pack.
For a long time, bivy sacks were only for the military and ultralight backpackers.
But with the improvements in bivy technology, along with ease of use, even beginning backpackers are discovering the thrill of these low maintenance overnight shelters.
Nowadays most experienced backpackers now keep at least one lightweight bivy sack in their repertoire for solo trips.
In this article, we’ve compiled 11 reasons why you should also keep an ultralight bivy sack in your repertoire.
What’s So Great About Bivy Sacks?
When you decide to hit the outdoors for a few nights you’re also asking a lot out of your body.
You’re basically turning yourself into a moving truck.
Even after a few hours, your body will start to respond.
The 20 to 40 pounds on your back teams up with gravity and wears you down over time.
Even if you’re in great shape, use a top of the line hiking backpack and lace up the most comfortable boots, the weight on your back will eventually remind you that you’re human and you can only lug so many pounds for so long.
This conversation comes down to the whole point of camping in the first place.
If your objective is to experience the outdoors and test yourself against the elements without most of the luxuries of modern society, why would you choose to carry a 7-pound tent?
1. Lightweight Cargo
Weight is where ultralight bivy sacks pay for themselves in GOLD!
The beauty of backpacking is being able to enjoy nature, not straining your back and legs due to a heavy pack.
Experiencing discomfort can ruin your adventure.
Overpacking has kept many backpackers over the years from really pushing themselves on the trail.
You do all the work just to get to the outdoors and not enjoying mother nature to her fullest is unfair to you.
Just think about that challenging climb you passed up because you felt too heavy and unstable.
Think about the view you missed.
Think about the INSTAGRAM shot that could’ve gotten you 100 likes that instead turned into a selfie of you by a rock. (IG Pic, or logo)
That’s the difference between a light pack and a heavy pack.
You don’t have to be an ultralight backpacker to enjoy the outdoors, but every backpacker has to do the hard work sometimes and cut weight any place you can.
No matter how focused you are as a packer you’re going to regret bringing something you brought.
At some point on the trail every hiker has the same two realizations:
- Crap! I wish I had (insert very important tool or snack here)
- I didn’t need to bring (insert thing you didn’t need to bring)
Choosing a bivy sack over a heavy tent is the easiest place to start these cuts.
Most Bivy sacks weigh under 2 pounds like the Outdoor Research Molecule Bivy (LINK) and the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy. OR Bivy Pics HERE
They also pack down to the size of a water bottle and take up very little space in your pack.
At the same time, they offer plenty of space inside and can accommodate even the tallest campers.
The least you can ask for from your overnight shelter is protection from the elements.
One of the main purposes of the original bivy’s were to provide soldiers with a warm, waterproof shell for their sleeping bags.
The military is always the lead innovator for some of the world’s best new technology and waterproof bivy sacks are no exception.
Now that ultralight bivy sacks are becoming popular for recreational backpackers, companies are allotting more research and development dollars to figuring out how to bring this waterproof piece of mind to more lightweight campers.
One such company is Gore Fabric , inventors of Gore-Tex, which is a waterproof, highly breathable fabric.
Gore-Tex is found on many bivy sacks on the market today.
It provides you with a reliably dry inner shelter while keeping cooler air in circulation.
That all being said, don’t go out and buy a bivy sack and try to sleep in the middle of a giant puddle.
But if you’re sleeping and rain does accumulate underneath you, most good bivy sacks are equipped with polyurethane coated, heavy-duty nylon or polyester to keep you dry.
Some even fold up when staked down to create a bathtub style bottom.
Having a waterproof outer shell to sleep under is also kind of fun.
Falling asleep to the pitter patter of rain falling against your body is a very soothing way to fall asleep.
Not to mention waking up dry doesn’t hurt either.
3. Easy To Set Up
One of the biggest advantages of ultralight bivy sacks is their ease of setup.
As oppose to a tent which can require some location scouting and extra props, most bivy sacks are ready to go right out of the bag with at most a rod or 2 for extra space at the head.
Setting up a bivy sack can be done in under a minute and they’re perfect for improvised campsites.
Like if you’re hiking and then the weather quickly turns bad, you can unroll the bivy and be fully sheltered before a drop of rain even lands on your head.
Find yourself a flat space, not at the bottom of a ditch or hill, and not underneath anything that could fall your head.
Some ultralight bivy sacks like the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy can be staked.
This isn’t a must and is really more to stretch out the bag for added space more than anything.
Even with all that you still only add a few minutes to your setup time. The bivy will work just fine without staking as well.
4. Easy To Break Down
Breaking down and repacking your tent can be a huge bummer for any backpacker.
You have the tent, the rain fly, the poles to not only fold up and organize and bag up but then you have to refit it all into your pack.
Especially if you have to do this night after night, your camping trip can feel more like your mom making you clean up your room.
A good ultralight bivy sack can simplify this chore. All you have to do is repack one small item and you’re done.
Not to mention the bivy packs very small, so you don’t have to reshuffle much in your pack to refit it inside.
5. Low Maintenance Shelter
The bivy was originally used by the military to shelter sleeping soldiers.
If the US military thinks its good enough for a combat zone, then you know it’s not an item you have to worry about babying like a new iPad.
Along with the Gore-Tex membrane, most bivies are built with durable materials like polyurethane coated polyester and rip-stop nylon for resistance to tearing and are built to last.
Feel free to beat it up, drag it along the ground, or even talk bad about it to its’s face.
Nothing fazes the modern day bivy sack.
For a little extra insurance adding a lightweight footprint or sleeping pad underneath can help the sack’s longevity.
6. Great For Solo Traveler
For many lightweight campers, hitting the outdoors is more about time alone than anything else.
Who hasn’t had that Thoreau moment where you just want time alone in nature, away from everyone driving you crazy!
Solo camping is even more possible with an ultralight bivy sack.
Gone are the days where you have to lug around your family’s old 3 person tent for just a solo trip.
Spend more time basking in your solitude with the ease of a bivy!
7. Fast Setup
Undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of the ultralight bivy sack is how fast they can be setup.
Even inexperienced campers can have a bivy setup in a matter of seconds.
This advantage comes in handy especially if you get caught in a situation where you need shelter immediately.
The weather quickly goes bad, night falls sooner than you think, or you just want to stop and take a nap.
Just pull the bivy out of your pack, roll it out, and you’re ready to go.
8. More Rugged Experience
One of the biggest benefits you get from sleeping in a bivy is the closer connection to nature.
Some tents can make you feel like you’re sleeping in a hotel and leave you feeling disconnected to nature.
When you sleep in a bivy, you’re more exposed to the elements.
One of the coolest features of a good bivy sack is the mesh lining over your face.
The original intention of this netting is to keep bugs from joining you inside.
But on a beautiful clear night, you can star gaze yourself to sleep while staying free of bug bites.
Of course, not all the bivies on the market today have this feature, so on a warmer night especially, many campers choose just to keep their head poked out of the bag.
9. Great For Unpredictable Weather Conditions
As any experienced camper knows, you can plan and plan and plan some more, but sometimes mother nature has a few tricks up her sleeve that no amount of planning or praying or karma can account for.
In the outdoors, the weather can change on a dime and you can be left searching for a safe place to set up an impromptu campsite.
Carrying a bivy sack gives you the advantage of having a quick go-to shelter to wait out a storm.
The downside to this is if the weather stays bad you may end up lying there for a while.
This is why investing a little bit more for a bigger sack is a great choice.
You’ll be thankful for the extra space, especially if you’re forced to wait out a storm.
10. Extreme Athlete Approved
Bivies have gained a lot of popularity in the world of extreme sports.
Mainly long-distance bicyclists and climbers.
These are 2 sports that require lightweight, durable equipment that can last in extreme conditions, while at the same time providing a comfortable enough shelter to get some good rest.
These are athletes who know the importance of sleep and rely on bivy sacks to do exactly that.
If it’s good enough for them it will probably work for your average recreational hiker.
11. Great For Cold Weather
Many cold weather backpackers are turning to ultralight bivy sacks for both their primary and secondary shelter options.
A lot of backpackers use bivy sacks in frigid conditions.
The bivy sack is designed to use the body’s natural heat to trap the warmth inside.
This works even with the lightest, most basic Bivy sack.
The Gore-Tex membrane comes in handy too as it will prevent you from getting too clammy inside.
A good bivy teamed up with the right cold temperature rated sleeping bag can provide enough warmth to keep you nice and cozy while trekking through the cold.
Here at Adventure Sacks, we love our bivy sacks.
They’re one of our favorite ways to experience nature.
The minimalist style is the most effective way to experience nature short of sleeping naked on a pile of leaves. (No harm if that’s your thing!)
Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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