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Choosing a bivvy bag should be easy, I mean just how complicated can a waterproof bag be? Oddly, given the vast array of bivvy bags on offer the answer to that question is – possibly, very complicated!

Not all bivvy bags are the same, not all people require the same things and generally speaking you can’t always have everything you want … compromises will be required and if you’re not willing to make any, then the inside of a bivvy bag really isn’t the place for you.

Firstly you need to ask yourself a few simple questions, the answers to which will hopefully set you off down the correct path in search of your perfect body bivvy bag … will you use it in conjunction with a tarp? How much are you willing to spend? Is weight and packsize an important consideration? Will it be your sole shelter? Once you start to understand your own criteria it becomes much simpler to work out what type of bag would best suit your needs and which features you can forgo. 

All seven items in the pictures below are bivvy bags but they aren’t the same. Each will excel under certain conditions but each will also have limitations. If you’re lucky, then your list of criteria and a bags strengths will mate up exactly but there’s every chance your wish list will exceed any bags limitations, so be prepared to compromise.

Some bags allow you to fully enclose yourself, others are big enough to fit a sleeping mat inside. Some have midge netting sewn in and certain ones are amazingly light … like I say, work out what you want it for, where you’re going to use it and what’s most important to you.

Need something for under a tarp in the dead of Winter? … Have a look at number 4, you can fit a mat and big puffy bag inside. It’s fully waterproof and breathable, not the lightest but Winter’s not the time to skimp in the pursuit of saving 100g.

Got a 3 day ITT, not planning to sleep much but this will be your only shelter? … numbers 2 and 5 could be just the ticket, light, fully waterproof and breathable. Neither has netting but both allow you to fully enclose yourself which will help keep the winged teeth at bay. Your mat will have to go on the outside but if you’re ‘racing’ you might not bother to carry one.

Want something to use all year round under a tarp? … Lucky number 7 might suit, highly breathable and midge proof. While not fully waterproof it’ll still keep dew and condensation off your down. It only weighs 160g and packs down to nothing.

This will be my only form of shelter all year round … Come in number 1, big, roomy and tough. With a 3 layer eVent top, bathtub floor and removable netting this should cope with every situation you find yourself in. It’s not light but as a standalone shelter it’s not heavy either. 

1/ Rab Assault. 2/ TN Discovery-lite. 3/ Outdoor Designs 2 Star.

Obviously the above bags aren’t the only bivvy bags available, there’s a massive choice out there covering each and every potential user. Just remember to ask yourself a few questions before you buy something … don’t rush out and buy the lightest or the cheapest or the one you like the colour of. Work out your criteria, do a little research, then decide … it’ll stop you amassing a collection like mine!

4/ AlpKit Hunka XL. 5/ Mountain Equipment Ion. 6/ AlpKit Hunka. 7/ TiGoat Kestrel.


  1. zomarzi says:

    Excellent post Stu the UK version of Outdoor GearLab saves so much time and wonga.

  2. drewwhitley says:

    Greater post…but greater bivvy collection!

  3. Luckily I didn't have to reach the full collection out drew ;o)

  4. NearEfarE says:

    what do you use the Outdoor Designs 2 Star one for

  5. Same as the rest really. It's fully waterproof (rather than resistant) and bug proof if need be.

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