As most hikers and backpackers know, a bivvy bag is a lightweight thin waterproof sack that slides over your sleeping bag allowing you to have a dry night sleep without a tent. A bivvy bag works wonders whenever you decide to take an outdoor adventure with as little packed as possible. It allows you to hear the sound of creatures, while still clearly seeing the dazzling stars above you.
It encloses you in a comfortable environment where your senses are highly attuned to every gust of wind and raindrop.
Some of the main advantages of using a bivvy bag is that it is lightweight, easy to carry, waterproof, breathable and requires next to no knowledge of how to set up.
Hooped bivvy bags also come with the additional advantage of having a metal hoop around the head area. Hooped bivvy bags have increased ventilation and breathability when you’re inside your bivvy.
Below is a quick look at the best hooped bivvy bags and an overview of what they do well.
Snugpak Ionosphere One Person 100% Waterproof Bivvy Bag
The Ionosphere from Snugpak is a very strong bivvy bag that can survive strong winds and extreme stormy weather. This product has some pretty decent features that come in handy when outdoors.
- Small and compact
- Low profile with a 5000 mm PU coated fly
- Single entry and all seams are taped
If you have ever been in a situation where you have arrived at your camping site late and you are so tired with no one around to help you set up your tent. Then this hooped bivvy bag will be perfect for you.
It is large enough to be considered a hybrid tent but also small and compact enough to allow an easy setup. Setting up the Snugpak Ionosphere is a breeze once you get the hang of it.
It is simply a case of setting up the inner tent using the bottom pegs and then sorting out the outer flysheet that connects to the top of each peg.
If you anticipate atrocious weather, then ten pegs (included in your purchase) will be enough to withstand strong winds, while eight will stand moderate winds. You do, however, have the choice of using more pegs depending on the weather conditions and the camping ground as well.
The whole set up process from alighting from your vehicle, identifying where you need to sleep and unloading your kit took me about fifteen minutes. Less time if you are at a location you’ve visited before.
It’s spacious enough for one without feeling claustrophobic. It can accommodate one person and provide space for your backpack as well. Height is also less of an issue as the hoop gives a surprising amount of headspace for anyone over five feet tall to fit comfortably. The maximum height of the Snugpack Ionosphere is seventy-one centimetres or twenty-five inches.
The only disadvantage with this kind of a tent is that it is not as insulated as such, which contributes to its lightweight. One person would have to use some additional insulating material such as a sleeping mat for a good night’s rest.
Not bad when outdoors with decent weather but can be uncomfortable when the weather is not so good. Basically, anyone can use a Snugpack Ionosphere can attend an outdoor festival, adventure or camp without worrying about space or somewhere safe to keep their belongings.
- Easy to set up
- Adequate space
- Insulation is not great for sudden weather changes.
Coleman Tent Bedrock 2
What if you are attending a festival, hiking or camping with a group of friends? The Coleman tent bedrock 2 is also an ideal choice to have with you. So while enjoying the time outdoors, being able to sleep comfortably in your own space will be a no brainer.
- Lightweight and easy to pitch two person tunnel tent: Quick to pitch; highly flexible and light fiberglass poles...
- Well-designed camping tent for two person: Several ventilation flaps for optimal air circulation avoid condensation;...
- 100 percent waterproof tent: 2000 mm water column in combination with taped seams and fully sewn-in groundsheet,...
When setting up your bivvy bag, it will be handy to know what directions the wind will be going. That way you can make sure that you set up your bivvy bag facing the wind. The streamlined design of the Coleman Bedrock will help the wind pass over you with little worry.
You also have to consider the fibreglass pole when setting it up. You should not have to apply too much force setting up the centre fibreglass poles for them to withstand lots of rain and wind. You can open the flysheet at the top to improve the air circulation and reduce condensation making it more comfortable during warm weather.
This tent has a WeatherTec+ feature that ensures that it survives constant rain and tough weather conditions while remaining dry on the inside. It also has a flap that helps to prevent rain from seeping in.
Another pretty good feature of the Coleman Bedrockis the fire retardant characteristic of the material. This helps to make sure that in the odd event of a fire, the fabric will not flare dangerously out of control and will self extinguish, allowing the occupant enough time to escape in the event of an emergency.
- Can fit two people easily
- Several ventilation flaps for optimal air circulation avoid condensation
- Two areas are provided allowing quick and easy access for storing your gear, backpack and shoes
- Can sometimes sag on the inside
Aqua Quest Hooped Bivy Tent
Just as the name suggests – Aqua is a short form of the word aquatic. As with most hooped bivvy bags, the Aqua Quest hopped bivy comes with some extra features such as five lightweight aluminium pegs and a single collapsible shock-cord pole. Its compact design allows assembly in low light situations even in small spaces.
- WATERPROOF - Aqua Quest are industry leaders in waterproof gear, so it’s no surprise that their Hooped Bivy is more...
- ULTRALIGHT & COMPACT - Featuring one lightweight collapsible shock cord pole and 5 lightweight aluminum pegs, and...
- FAST & EASY SETUP - Setup in 1 second or less… if you’re a magician! If not, it’ll take you around 2 mins. Unzip...
One key area that is worth mentioning is the ability to repel water as this tent is one of the leaders in the bivvy market when it comes to making waterproof items. Waterproof properties are often measured using a rating called hydrostatic head. If a bivvy bag or tent has a hydrostatic head of 3000mm it means that a 3-metre column of water can be placed on its surface before any drops will show through the underside of the fabric.
The Aqua Quest hooped bivy has a waterproof rating of 10,000 mm hence it one of the best waterproof bivvies you can get when outdoors on a rainy day.
They use a lightweight durable ripstop fabric, to which they apply a dual coating of TPU for silicone impregnation to produce a lightweight strong tent that can hold a 66 ft vertical column of water before leaking. It’s suitable for wet area adventures or camping sites on flood plains.
Aqua quest hooped bivy tent is spacious enough to allow you manoeuvre without worry. For instance, you can change clothes, comfortably stow a modest amount of gear and switch positions. It has a single-pole design that provides a canopy space over the head hence enough headroom space for you to relax, meditate, read a novel, enjoy the view and the natural light via the clear thermoplastic polyurethane window.
One of the disadvantages with the Aqua Quest hooped bivy tent is that when you completely zip it up the ventilation is not as great as you would expect. So if you are in the cold outdoors, it can begin to steam up pretty quickly due to the condensation build-up.
To avoid this, you may need to use a waterproof tarp and leave some of the zip open for better ventilation. The flip side to it is, if it happens to rain while you have the zip partially open, you are risking getting soaked.
- More space than most bivies.
- Increased airflow and comfort due to the additional headroom space.
- The bottom part is not very thick and an extra tarp will come in handy to protect it from sharp objects.
Going Camping? When To Use A Bivy Bag
Most people do not know when to use the bivy bag, some just purchase it and when it is time for camping, they discard it for a tent feeling the tent is better, not knowing that the bivy bag is an equal match for the tent.
Using the bivy bag is easier than a tent, you can easily find a space for it while camping in any environment of your choice.
Most alpine and outdoor rock climbers rely on bivy bag for hunkering down during multi-night activities. But these days, backpackers, hikers, and ultra light sole adventurers choose bivy bag to shed every possible gram while maintaining an element of weather protection.
Using your Bivy Bag
Like a light rain shell jacket, the bivy bag trap in a few degrees of warmth and hold the heat better than the tent, by its nature bivy bag is far more enjoyable when the weather is fair, it offers little protection in a nasty cascade or rocky storm blitz.
During high-pressure systems in the wet seasons or on summer alpine, you will need an extra layer with your bivy bag to keep you warm at night.
Using Your Bivy Bag
Just like camping in a tent, do not cook around your sleeping site. Cinch the hood of your bivy down around your face, but avoid breathing inside the bivy. A buff or balaclava makes a great lightweight face mask.
If possible, during the day, turn the bivvy inside out and air it out. Keep in mind that environmental/weather conditions can control your use of a bivy bag. There are favourable environmental conditions for going camping with a bivvy bag, and for camping with a tent. So crosschecking the weather before leaving home will serve you in good stead.
Base on environmental factors, when should you camping with your bivy bag?
Favourable Environment For Bivy Bag
Research shows that bivy works well in the arid region that is outside the scorching summer months and relatively dry mountain areas e.g., Sierra, Rockies, Wind, River Range, Pyrenees, Alps, Atlas, and the Andes. The bag is suitable in the Appalachians in the shoulder and winter periods when the heat and humidity of summer have abated.
To achieve a certain level of comfort during your camping trip, you can pair the bivy bag with a fully enclosed mid style shelter (outside the bug season) in cold and wet environments such as the united kingdom, New Zealand and Tasmania.
In regards to this particular example, most campers will prefer an inter-net over a bivy due to the likelihood of rain. Nevertheless, a bivy bag is suitable for going camping during these periods.
Non-Fabvourable Environment For Bivy Bag
In hot and humid weather, e.g., the Appalachians in July and August bivy bag can be deceiving like a guilty man’s handshake. In such conditions weather, you are better off using a tent or hammock.
During dry weather conditions, which begins with the spring and ends with the summer, using a bivy bag is very conducive. This is because the nights would not be cold; thus, an extra layer is not needed. You would find more flat areas free from sharp rocks or root that won’t be covered up by the flood.
You stand a better chance of surveying your environment before setting up your bivy bag.
Using Bivy Bag During Wet Season
If you choose to use your bivy bag during wet or windy weather, opt for somewhere as shady as possible to set up your bivy. This would mean finding an overhang or sheltered clump of trees for breezy protection, e.g. seasons in places such as Scotland or the Lake District within late June to September – using a bivy bag won’t be the ideal choice for shelter.
Alaska or Lapland would suffer mosquitoes between mid-June and the end of July, and the west coast of the south island of New Zealand would be swamped with sandflies between December to February. A bivy bag won’t be suitable for such a period.
Bivying On Ridge while Camping
You will have to find a place that is as protected from natural elements as possible. The wind would be your worst enemy during the night, so it is crucial to prepare and protect yourself as much as possible. To do this, keep an eye out for a spot near large rocks that will offer you proper coverage; you can also make a small stone wall if necessary.
Bivying On Snow while Camping
During snowy weather, the best option is to dig a snow cave. Snow caves are warm, safe, and windproof. The area should not be in an avalanche risk zone. Make sure you dig the right size of space/hole, the platform on when you will sleep on the floor should be above the access tunnel. Put your packs on the floor for insulation against snow, or make use of a blanket.
Using your Bivy Bag in the Forest while Camping
A forest is maybe the most comfortable and enjoyable camping experience you can ever imagine. All you need do is find a tree that offers some amount of protection under its branches; if the need arises, you can place more branches against the truck to construct a small tent for protection in case it rains or snow.
And now that you are familiar with the seasons suitable for camping, you can now dive into a camping spree!