7 Best Bivy Sacks of 2024

We tested the best bivy sacks on the market for 2024 and this is how they performed.

Updated on January 29th, 2024
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© Andrew McCartney

We tested the best bivy sacks on the market today according to price, weight, comfort, space, durability, and weather protection. Read on to see how they performed, which is best for you, and get some valuable buying advice.

Best Bivy Sacks

The best bivy sacks are:

    The product comparison table below is sortable. Click the arrow in the heading cell to sort the models by preferred spec.




    L X H



    1. OUTDOOR RESEARCH Helium Bivy $199 15.8 oz with pole, 14.5 oz without pole 12.25 x 3.5 in 82 x 26 in TPU Lamination and Pertex® Shield Diamond Fuse Nylon 9/10
    2. KATABATIC Bristlecone Bivy $134 7.3 oz 7.5 x 3.5 in 83 x 17 in DWR Nylon 9/10
    3. OUTDOOR RESEARCH Bug Bivy $99 16 oz 12.25 x 3.25 in 89 x 16 7/8 in WR Tafetta Nylon and Polyester 8/10
    4. SURVIVE OUTDOORS LONGER Escape Bivvy $68.99 8.5 oz 7.8 x 4.69 in 84 x 31 in WR fabric Polyester 8/10
    5. MSR Pro Bivy $259.95 12 oz 8 x 4 in 88 x 36 in DWR and Xtreme Shield™ polyurethane Nylon 8/10
    6. SIERRA DESIGNS Backcountry Bivy $159.95 14 oz 10 x 4 in 80 x 36 in DWR Nylon 8/10
    7. RAB Alpine Bivy $250 15.4 oz 10 x 5 in 91 x 31 in DWR Nylon 7/10

    Best Overall Bivy Sack

    Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

    outdoor research helium bivy

    ✅ Comfortable

    ✅ Breathability

    ✅ Durable


    ❌ Expensive

    ❌ Heavy


    • Weight: 15.8 oz with pole, 14.5 oz without pole
    • Packed size: 12.25 x 3.5 in
    • L x H: 82 x 26 in
    • Waterproofing: TPU Lamination and Pertex® Shield Diamond Fuse
    • Fabric: Nylon
    • Hooped pole?: Yes

    The Outdoor Research Helium bivy is one of the most popular bivy sacks. The hoop design acts as a bridge between a traditional bivy and an ultralight tent. The hoop pole gives this bivy extra head space making this one of the most spacious and comfortable bivy tents we tested. The hooped front area can be fully opened in good weather for excellent breathability.

    We love that the 40D floor makes this very durable, and with a Pertex® Shield, this is also one of the most waterproof bivys we tested. At $199, this is one of the more expensive bivys on our list. We also don’t like the 15-ounce weight, the second heaviest on our list.

    With a great balance of features, comfort, and weather protection, the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy is our best overall bivy sack.

    Best Budget & Ultralight Bivy Sack

    Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy

    katabatic bristlecone bivy

    ✅ Ultralight

    ✅ Packabile

    ✅ Versatile


    ❌ Mesh doesn’t have rain cover


    • Weight: 7.3 oz
    • Packed size: 7.5 x 3.5 in
    • L x H: 83 x 17 in
    • Waterproofing: DWR
    • Fabric: Nylon
    • Hooped pole?: No

    If you want to go ultralight while keeping your budget in check, the Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy is our top pick for the best budget and ultralight bivy. At 7.3 ounces, this is the lightest bivy on our list, even lighter than the SOL Escape emergency bivy.

    It’s a bivy tent design with the foot and head meant to be held up with a cord either tied to a tree or your trekking poles. This adds space and comfort without adding the weight of a hooped pole.

    We like that the silnylon bathtub floor and the DWR Pertex top shell gave this decent weatherproofing. However, our biggest complaint about this bivy is that the mesh area around the head lacks weather protection. In wet conditions, you’ll want to pitch a fly or have some sort of cover over your head.

    Best Mesh Bivy Sack

    Outdoor Research Bug Bivy

    outdoor research bug bivy

    ✅ Inexpensive

    ✅ Spacious

    ✅ Breathable


    ❌ Heavy

    ❌ Not rainproof


    • Weight: 16 oz
    • Packed size: 12.25 x 3.25 in
    • L x H: 89 x 16 7/8 in
    • Waterproofing: WR Tafetta
    • Fabric: Nylon and Polyester
    • Hooped pole?: Yes

    The Outdoor Research Bug Bivy is a great option when the weather is good, and you need a mesh layer of protection from bugs. Because it is made entirely from mesh, it’s the most breathable bivy we tested.

    You won't have a problem with condensation, but we recommend carrying a tarp to pitch over the top if you expect rain. With a similar hooped design to the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy, we found this to be very spacious and comfortable.

    Despite the mesh design, this is the heaviest bivy on our list. And if you take a tarp for extra protection, it starts to weigh as much as similar ultralight tents. At $99, this is the second cheapest model we tested, making it a great option if you don’t expect bad weather and want bug (and critter) protection.

    Best Emergency Bivy Sack

    SOL Escape Bivvy

    Price: $68.99

    survive outdoors longer escape bivvy

    ✅ Lightweight

    ✅ Inexpensive

    ✅ Packable


    ❌ Not breathable or spacious

    ❌ Less durable and weather resistant


    • Weight: 8.5 oz
    • Packed size: 7.8 x 4.69 in
    • L x H: 84 x 31 in
    • Waterproofing: WR fabric
    • Fabric: Polyester
    • Hooped pole?: No

    A true emergency bivy, the SOL Escape bivy is a remarkably simple and effective bivy sack for an unexpected night outside. We think it’s a smart option, especially in wet, cold conditions where hypothermia can strike. The internal reflective layer is designed to keep you warm without clothes or a sleeping bag down to 50 degrees.

    At $69, this is the least expensive bivy we tested and the second lightest at 8.5 ounces. As you’d expect with a lightweight option, we also found it very packable.

    The Escape needs to be handled gently as the polyester fabric is lightweight and not designed to put up with frequent abuse. It’s basically a more robust space blanket with a zipper. We’ve even heard that because it is so light, some people even use it to add 6 to 8 degrees of extra warmth to a sleeping bag.

    Best Alpine Bivy

    Rab Alpine Bivi

    rab alpine bivi

    ✅ Durable and weather resistant

    ✅ Best alpine option


    ❌ Expensive

    ❌ Heavy

    ❌ Small


    • Weight: 15.4 oz
    • Packed size: 10 x 5 in
    • L x H: 91 x 31 in
    • Waterproofing: DWR
    • Fabric: Nylon
    • Hooped pole?: No

    The Rab Alpine Bivi may not be the most feature-rich bivy on our list, but we found it excels where it matters the most - wind and water protection. When the weather gets rough in the alpine zone, the fully-enclosed design of the Rab Alpine Bivi keeps you shielded from the snow and protected from the wind.

    Because it is designed for alpine pursuits, the Rab Alpine is best suited for cold, windy, and snowy weather. It doesn't perform as well in warm climates because it lacks mesh and a face-lifter for ventilation.

    This makes it one of the least breathable bivy bags we tested. At $250, this is the second most expensive bivy on our list. But if you want a bombproof alpine bivy, the Rab Alpine Bivi is our top choice.

    The Other Noteworthy Models

    MSR Pro Bivy

    msr pro bivy

    ✅ Weather resistant

    ✅ Lightweight


    ❌ Expensive

    ❌ Not breathable


    • Weight: 12 oz
    • Packed size: 8 x 4 in
    • L x H: 88 x 36 in
    • Waterproofing: DWR and Xtreme Shield™ polyurethane
    • Fabric: Nylon
    • Hooped pole?: No

    MSR's Pro bivy is a minimalist bivy that is one step up from an emergency bivy. Designed for fast-pack alpine pursuits, the Pro is lightweight and packable. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of other bivy sacks - there is no zipper or bug netting. The only distinguishing feature is a simple flap that opens and allows you to shimmy into the sack.

    We found it to be durable with average weather protection. Because it’s designed for alpine environments, the MSR Pro is good in colder climates but not as breathable in warmer ones. At $260, it’s the most expensive bivy bag we tested.

    Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy

    Price: $159.95

    sierra designs backcountry bivy

    ✅ Weather resistant

    ✅ Roomy

    ✅ Good budget option


    ❌ Zippers can leak


    • Weight: 14 oz
    • Packed size: 10 x 4 in
    • L x H: 80 x 36 in
    • Waterproofing: DWR
    • Fabric: Nylon
    • Hooped pole?: No

    We like the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy for its balance of features. We found it lightweight while still being roomy. We were impressed that it also squishes down to the size of a Nalgene bottle. While the price is in the middle of the pack, it is the least expensive bivy sack with full weather protection, making it a great budget option.

    We like the mesh panel around the head, which adds breathability when the weather is nice. There's even an attachment point at the head that you can use to lift the mesh off your face and provide extra room if desired. Be careful with the zippers; they can leak if the wind is powerful enough to lift the storm flap.

    Key Factors To Consider When Choosing


    Bivys can be as little as $70 or $260+. Emergency bivys are generally the least expensive since they have few features and are designed for emergency protection only.

    The most expensive bivys are designed to be roomy, comfortable, and waterproof. These are designed to replace your tent when packing fast and light.

    Bivy sacks that provide the greatest value:

    Affordable bivy sacks:

    Premium bivy sacks (most expensive):


    Bivy sacks tend to be lightweight but each additional feature, like a hooped pole or an extra set of zippers, adds to the weight. Keep your bivy sack as close to (if not under) a pound as possible.

    As you start inching above a pound, you should look at an ultralight shelter. Ultralight tents weigh around 2 pounds and offer significantly more comfort than a bivy sack.

    The lightest bivy sacks:

    Space & Comfort

    Bivy sacks are made to be as small as possible by design. Bivy sacks with an added hooped pole give you extra room for reading and are more comfortable. If your bivy lacks a hoop, be prepared to sleep with the fabric resting on your face at night.

    Bivy sacks with larger floor areas will give you more room to stretch out, and features like pockets can help organize your gear. In areas with many bugs, ensure your bivy sack is fully enclosed.

    The most spacious and comfortable bivy sacks:

    Weather Resistance & Durability

    Like a standard tent, a bivy sack’s primary purpose is to protect you from the elements. Look for a bivy sack with a waterproof floor, top, and pre-taped seams to protect you from the rain.

    The material a bivy sack is made of will affect weather resistance. Look for a nylon or polyester fabric with a DWR coating applied to it for the best weather resistance. The material also affects durability. The higher the denier (thickness), the more durable the fabric will be.

    The most durable and weather-resistant bivy sacks:

    Other Things to Consider


    A bivy bag should pack down small, often less than the size of a Nalgene bottle. With less material than even an ultralight tent, bivy sacks are great options when space is minimal. If a bivy has poles, it will take up more space than if it doesn’t.


    Condensation can be a big issue with bivy sacks, even more so than single-walled ultralight tents. The tight interior space means water vapor can accumulate right next to your sleeping bag, potentially soaking it with water as you sleep.

    For the best breathability, we recommend bivy sacks with ample zippers or a hood opening for extra ventilation.

    two types of best ultralight bivy sacks next to each other

    Face-lifters offer considerably more space than sacks.

    Types of Bivys

    There are three main types of bivy sacks.

    The traditional “sack” design fits over your sleeping bag, covering it from head to toe. There is a flap zipper at your head for entry and exit. When you close this flap, you are completely sealed into the bivy sack much like a coffin.

    “Face-lifter” bivy sacks enclose your sleeping bag like a traditional bivy sack but have a hoop at the head to minimize the coffin feel of a bivy sack. The hoop gives you some room to read or check your phone before you crash for the night.

    “Bug net” bivy sacks are large bug nets designed to keep insects away. They often have a hoop or a pole in the head area so you won't get bitten through the fabric.


    All bivys have a zipper that allows you to climb into the sack. Some zippers open along the center of the bivy sack, while others zip on the side. Both are equally useful; just make the zippers long enough that you can get quickly in and out of the sack.

    Avoid bivys that have short zippers that require you to shimmy your way into the sleeping system.


    Bivy sacks are pretty basic, but they do have a few amenities. Some include a bug net so you can leave the outer flap open for breathing, while others have a window that allows you to see outside when the flap is zippered tight.

    Other features include internal pockets for storing a headlamp or glasses, straps for holding a sleeping pad, or antifungal flooring to prevent mold.

    ultralight bivy sacks with mesh to protect from bugsA bug net allows you to leave the flap of the bivy open for better breathability (and star-gazing).

    Justin Sprecher photo

    About Justin Sprecher

    Justin is a thru-hiker and writer with a passion for wild backcountry. He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and clocked up 1,000s of miles on long-distance trails around the world.

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