Tent or Bivy Sack: Weigh Your Options

Tent or Bivy Sack: Weigh Your Options

When it comes to shelter, campers are often torn between purchasing a bivy sack or buying a tent.

A bivy sack is a shelter meant to cover a sleeping bag with minimal room at the head of the shelter prop yourself up and read a book or stretch out a little bit. The head of the bivy sack is propped up by a pole so the shelter provides breathing room. There are different versions of these shelters. The most basic includes a sack that fits around the sleeping bag to block dew and moisture from soaking the sleeping bag as well as adding a little extra insulation but has no face protection. For summer there is the bug bivy that is a mesh unit to keep out insects and bugs. This version does not provide shelter from rain or snow. The more extensive models have a waterproof shelter with a mesh under layer for the head portion giving campers the option of opening it up for fresh air or hiding away if a storm rolls in.

Most people are familiar with a tent; however even here there are a few options to consider. Most people who buy single person tents buy a 3-season tent. When weather gets cold, these tents can hold in a lot of moisture from breathing and soak a sleeping bag. Two person tents are the most common and offer a comfortable amount of room for camper, clothing and other necessities.

Bivy Sack or Tent – Weighing the options:

• A tent generally weighs between 4-6 pounds for a single person. A bivy sack weighs approximately 2 pounds or less depending on model.

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• How far are you going to travel? For longer distances, a few pounds less makes a big difference so a bivy sack would be a good alternative to a tent.

• Are you comfortable being exposed to the elements? A bivy sack lets you feel like there’s no barrier between you and the outdoors.

• Do you like privacy? Bivy sacks do not offer a lot of privacy but tents do.

• Do you like to have room to spread out, sit up, and move around? A tent is for you.

• Are you traveling in an area with a lot of inclement weather? If you might experience a lot of storms and may be hiding out for a while, a tent offers more room for comfort over long periods of time.

For lightweight travelers, a bivy sack is a perfect alternative to a tent while still offering protection from the elements. The choice really depends on whether or not you prefer a sense of indoor space, how much weight you are willing to carry and what types of weather you expect to experience. If you are claustrophobic, a bivy sack is probably not a good option for you. If you travel with only the bare essentials, but don’t enjoy ants crawling on your face, or exposure to mosquitoes squealing in your ear at all hours of the night, then a bivy sack is a great way to remain a minimalist and still get a good night’s sleep.