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Best Bivvy Bags: 3 Alternatives for Camping without a Tent

What is a bivvy bag?

A bivvy bag, sometimes known as a bivvy sack, is a personal-sized waterproof cover designed to shelter you and your sleeping bag from the outdoor elements. Essentially, it allows you to go camping without a tent.

Compact and lightweight, using a bivvy bag is the perfect way to minimise your camping kit, and it also allows you to camp on smaller patches of ground.


3 of the best bivvy bags to buy in 2020

  • Plume Bivy II by GeerTop

This ultralight bivvy weighs only 2.8lbs and the pack, which includes a set of compact aluminium poles, can easily fit in a standard-sized backpack.

It is more spacious and weather-resistant than a basic bivvy bag and is a better option if you’re looking for something to use when camping in more wild conditions.

GEERTOP Unisex's Bivy Tent 2, Camouflage, for 1 Person
  • 【Ultralight Backpacking Tent】Weigh about 2.5 lb for entire kit, aluminum poles, pack into a compact size 19 x 5 x 5...
  • 【Waterproof Tent for 1 Person 】Up to PU5000 MM waterproof grade with the outer tent fly and the tent floor is PU8000...
  • 【Easy to Set up】Three-pole frame system with shock-corded aluminum poles allows the tent to be setup and taken down...

Described as being windproof, waterproof and breathable, the Plume Bivy is designed to offer protection and comfort during 3 seasons of the year. It features PU5000mm waterproof grade material with taped sealed seams which will help to keep you dry.

The tent is also suited to warmer climates and is designed to reduce overheating during warm nights. Featuring two ventilation windows on the front and back of the tent, and an extra breathable mesh door at the top, this bivvy will improve air circulation and cool you down in warmer weather.

The main flaw in this bivvy is that its waterproof protection has been known to degrade over time. In heavy rain, the top of the tent has a tendency to leak, which can lead to your sleeping bag and belongings becoming soaked.

Summary – A sturdy and compact tent which will offer more room and protection than a standard bivvy bag. Although breathable and comfortable for use in warm weather, it can leak if subjected to heavy rainfall.


  • Ionosphere by Snugpack

 The most expensive bivvy on this list, but arguably the most durable, the Ionosphere is a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for a bivvy that is spacious, sturdy and able to withstand the elements.

Snugpak | Ionosphere | Shelter | 1 Person | 5000mm 100%...
  • Small and compact
  • Low profile with a 5000 mm PU coated fly
  • Single entry and all seams are taped

This small and compact shelter has a trail weight of 12.5kg, which includes two compact aluminium poles. Although designed for one person, this tent can fit up to two people if necessary.

This additional space means that there is more than enough room for all your kit to be stored inside. There is also a groundsheet included which will help protect your belongings and sleeping bag from damp conditions.

This bivvy is worth considering if you’re an experienced camper who is looking for a small tent that is suited to wild camping conditions. The Ionosphere has a high-grade PU coated flysheet to protect from heavy rain.

It is robust enough to withstand strong winds. It is also breathable in warm weather and has the added protection of a mosquito net, which will prevent insects from entering your sleeping bag.

Summary – Considerably more expensive than a standard bivvy bag, but worthwhile if you’re camping in more wild conditions and require more space for kit and equipment.


  • Kestrel Bivi Bag by Highlander

This is a great entry-level bivvy bag at a very reasonable price point. At only 370g, it is the smallest and most compact of all the bivvy choices on this list.

Highlander Kestrel Bivi Bag - Olive
  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Elasticated draw cord opening
  • Waterproof and breathable

It does not include tent poles or stakes and neatly packs into a compression sack that can fit in even a standard sized backpack. There is no set-up required – you can simply unfold the bag and open the elasticated drawcord to insert your sleeping bag.

Made from the durable AB-Tex Trimax Polyester Ripstop material, the Kestrel Bivi will help to keep you warm throughout the night. There is extra chest space for added comfort, and the bag is big enough to comfortably fit a sleeping bag and a mat.

However, you won’t find additional room for your kit and other belongings, so this might not be ideal if you’re carrying a lot of camping equipment.

Although this bivvy has PU coating for added waterproof protection, it is not 100% waterproof and has the potential to leak during heavy rain. It also has little ventilation, making it potentially stuffy and uncomfortable to sleep in during warmer nights.

Summary – The Kestrel Bivi Bag is a perfect beginner bivvy bag if you’re looking for something affordable and very compact. However, it has limited space and won’t protect you from more adverse weather conditions.


What To Look for before Buying A Bivvy Bag?

    • Easy Set-up: Bivvy bags are convenient in that they require considerably less set-up compared to a full-sized tent. Some bivvies are lightweight covers that can be simply unrolled and fitted over your sleeping bag.  Other bivvies are more like small tents which require poles and pegs. It is worthwhile considering whether you would simply like a protective cover which can be immediately unpacked or a small tent which could take 10 to 15 minutes to set up.


    • Pack Size and Weight: One of the main advantages of a bivvy bag is that it reduces the size and weight of your kit. You no longer have to lug a full-sized tent along with you but can instead bring a compact cover which will easily fit inside your backpack. However, it is worth noting that some bivvies are considerably lighter than others. If you’re wanting the most lightweight and compact option, it would be wise to consider a bivvy without tent poles, as this will further reduce the weight and size of your kit.


    • Weather Resistance: Bivvys offer extra protection for your sleeping bag and belongings when you’re camping in the outdoors. However, if you plan to use your bivvy in more adverse weather conditions, you should consider purchasing one which can withstand the elements. Look for a bivvy with a high waterproof grade to protect from the rain, one that has secure tent stakes and poles which will prevent tearing in strong winds, and one that offers breathable mesh or material to help ventilate in warmer weather.