Bivy vs. Tent: What to Choose for Solo Camping

If you’re going on a solo camping trip, you’ll need the best companion you can get. By companion, we mean the space that you’ll be sleeping in.

Bivy vs. tent; which ones should you get?

It’s somehow confusing to pick between a bivy and a tent. There are so many questions to ask, and a variety of features to consider. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re in the right place.

We’ll help you pick a convenient shelter that’s lightweight and easy to set up.

What is a Single Person Tent?

A single-person tent is a camping shelter for people who prefer to go solo. It usually comes with a manual and some poles for assembly. That way, you can carry it anywhere and sleep for the night. There are several types of tents that you can choose from based on your usage.

What is a Single Person Tent_Trekkerr Blog

For starters, there are the regular tents that take the shape of a pyramid. These are pretty easy to assemble; you just secure the poles at each side, and you get yourself a sleeping place for the night.

Alternatively, there are dome-shaped tents that have flexible poles for assembly. These are more flexible and offer more floor space.

There are many other types of tents, but these are the most common for one person. There are also ultra-lightweight tents available that compare to bivies for their ease of use.

What is a Bivy Sack?

A bivy is a cover for sleeping bags. It’s not something that you can sleep in, but rather a full-body shell. Bivy sacks are mostly waterproof to protect you while you’re sleeping. Additionally, they’re usually made from materials that warm up quickly.

What is a Bivy Sack_Trekkerr Blog

A bivy is useful for protecting against wind, rain, and insects. It’s also much smaller than a tent, which makes it convenient for solo travelers. Furthermore, it’s available in many types, including ultra-simple and full-featured ones.

Ultra-simple bivy sacks are lightweight and pretty easy to use. You just wrap them around your sleeping bag, and you’re good to go. On the other hand, full-featured ones are heavier because they come with a pole. Also, they offer more headspace than regular ones. That’s why they’re considered the closest thing to a tent.

How Do You Camp with a Bivy?

To camp with a bivy sack, you’ll need a sleeping bag. You can’t use a bivy alone as it’s simply a cover for your makeshift bed.

Carrying a bivy is easier than carrying a tent, even if you’re camping at a Bivouac shelter. It’s not as comfortable as having a shelter around you, but it does the job.

Here’s what you’ll do; you’ll fold the sack and carry it in your backpack. Then, when you want to sleep, you’ll prepare your sleeping bag and set the bivy up. It’s that easy.

How does a Bivy Sack work?

A bivy sack works as external protection for your sleeping bag while you’re sleeping in it. It’ll shelter you from wind, precipitation, and heavy rain. Plus, you won’t have to worry about carrying it around. It’s very lightweight.

Setting a bivy sack up is an easy mission. If you have a regular bivy sack, all you have to do is wrap it around your sleeping bag. You can also close it with the zipper if it’s available. On the other hand, bivy sacks that come with a pole will require some steps for setting up.

Do You Need a Tarp with a Bivy?

A tarp is a piece of waterproof canvas that stands over tents and bivy sacks for extra protection. It usually hovers on two or four poles. It provides shade on sunny days and shelter on touch wintery conditions.

A tarp may not be so useful when used over a tent, but it’s surely helpful in the case of a bivy. It’ll give you a sense of security, knowing that there’s an external shelter outside your sleeping bag.

Plus, it’ll allow you to sit upright because it gives headspace. It’ll also protect your gear from exposure to air and sunlight.

When to Use a Bivy Sack?

Whether to use a bivy or not is a matter of goals and priorities. If you’re willing to pass the luxury of a full-featured tent, you’ll find a bivy sack much more convenient.

It’s suitable if you have other goals for the trip rather than lounging and relaxing. It’s easy to set up and reassemble. Besides, it’s light and small, which makes it ideal for carrying around in backpacks. It’ll make it easier for you to focus on your trip’s objective. Furthermore, it can come in handy if you’ll be sleeping in a tight space, where a tent won’t fit.

On the other hand, if you’re going on a camping trip for fun, a bivy sack will act as a burden. Instead of relaxing, you’ll be concerned about what might come at you for the night. A tent is generally safer.

What is the Difference Between a Bivy and a Tent?

Bivy sack vs. solo tent, which one is better? Let’s get into the juicy details of the difference between them.

Weight & Space

It’s essential to consider the weight of the tent or bivy so you can decide your transportation means. You’ll need to know if you’ll be lugging around a heavy tent, or if your lightweight bivy will allow you to add more items to your backpack.

Bivy

Bivy sacks are very lightweight. Their weight starts from ⅓ a pound, and the heaviest bivy won’t exceed 2 pounds. They’re highly convenient to carry in your backpack. Besides, they can fold down to the size of a small bottle. So, you can put them anywhere.

As for space, a bivy doesn’t provide much. It only fits your sleeping bag without extra space for anything else. Some bivy sacks offer headspace if you want to sit upright. Other than that, it’ll only fit your resting body.

Tent

Tents have an extensive range of weights. However, even the lightest tent will weigh heavier than a bivy. Lightweight tents start at 2 pounds. That means that you’ll have to be ready for a heavy carriage and possible back pain!

When it comes to floor space, tents offer a larger area compared to bivy sacks. The average one-person tent will give you about 20 square feet. That way, you’ll have extra space for any luggage you have. Plus, some tents have large built-in pockets for storage. So, you’ll have no problem at all spending a few nights out in the open.

Convenience & Setup

Camping trips require flexibility and convenience. You don’t want to spend your trip worrying about how you’ll set up your tent. So, bivy vs. 1 man tent, who wins this battle?

Bivy

A 1-person bivy is the most convenient item you can take on a trip. They come in compact sizes, and they can be folded to the size of a burrito.

Furthermore, their setup is easier than you think. Once you’ve found a small space of flat ground, prepare your sleeping bag and cover it with the bivy sack. If your bivy sack has straps to hold the sleeping mat in place, you’ll just fasten them before sleeping. And just like that, you have your bivy ready for use.

Tent

A tent is only convenient if you have enough space for it. It folds up to a smaller size, but it’s not as compact as a bivy sack. It’ll require you to take a large camping backpack.

As for the assembly, you might want to practice setting a tent up before you have to do it on the spot. That way, you’ll know the drill.

All tents come with assembly instructions, so you won’t find it hard to do it. However, a bivy sack is much easier to set up. Besides, it takes less time to prepare.

Transportation

Both bivy sacks and tents can be carried in a backpack. It’s the size of the backpack that varies though!

Bivy

A bivy is pretty easy to handle and transport. It may be the only camping gear that has these properties. You just fold it up and throw it into your backpack.

Moreover, it fits in all backpack sizes, even the smallest of them. Additionally, after you finish using it, you fold it back in a few minutes only. It comes in handy if you’re in a rush.

Tent

Although you can carry your tent in your bag, you’ll need to buy a large hiking backpack that has a frame. That’s if you want to fit anything else inside. Tents take up a large space, even when they’re folded. So, they require more effort in transportation than bivy sacks.

Aside from their storage, carrying the heavyweight could also be exhausting after a while. You won’t be able to walk long distances while lugging around a hefty tent on your back. That’s why extreme athletes go for bivy sacks on hiking trips.

Comfort

If you’re going on a long hiking trip, you’ll want the maximum comfort that you can get in your sleeping arrangements. Plus, you’ll need extra comfort if you’re going bike-packing. Let’s see what bivy vs. tent bike-packing has to say for you!

Bivy

Bivy sacks are convenient, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re comfortable. Although they’re enough for you to get a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to return home the next day to sleep in your bed. Especially if you’ve been riding a bike beforehand.

They’re ideal for short trips, or if you’re used to sleeping in these conditions. Other than that, you’ll find it challenging to sleep in such a tight space, especially if you’re over 6 feet tall.

Tent

Tents have been dominating the market for long for a reason. A tent will give you a sense of being at home. You won’t be sleeping out in the open like it’s with sleeping bags. Instead, you’ll have a small room with some extra space for doing whatever you want.

Moreover, you can adjust its interior as you like to get the maximum comfort. You can even add more than one sleeping bag inside.

Weather

Bivy sack vs. tent, which is more suitable for summer? Plus, are bivy sacks warmer than tents?

Bivy

Bivy sacks are the most suitable camping shelter for cold conditions. They offer more warmth than tents do. That’s mainly due to the warming material they’re made of. They trap the warmth inside the sleeping bag and hold it inside.

However, that fact makes them a bit uncomfortable to use in the summer heat. Also, a bivy in snow isn’t very convenient.

Bivy sacks are also enjoyable in fair weather. When no heavy rain or harsh wind is biting your skin, you’ll enjoy the close connection with the surrounding environment.

Tent

Tents usually come with rain flies to keep you dry. If yours doesn’t, you can always get one for it. That makes tents ideal for rainy conditions. You won’t feel a drop of water on your skin. Moreover, if the poles are resistant enough, windy weather won’t cause any issues for you.

However, tents can get cold in winter. They’re covered by a mere plastic material that doesn’t trap the warmth in. So, unless you install some cushioning and take a body cover.

Price

Bivy vs. tent mountaineering; which one costs less? Let’s find out!

Bivy

A single person bivy will start at $15, which is pretty cheap for hiking gear. You can find the most basic bivy sacks in this range.

However, if you want a bivy that has more features, it can get to $50. Furthermore, some expensive brands sell bivy sacks at $200, but they’re mostly for extreme athletes.

Tent

Tents have a higher range of prices, which is understandable, considering they come with more equipment and offer more floor space. A single-person tent will cost you $150 on average. If you’re looking for an upgrade, some models sell at $400.

CriteriaBivy1 Person Tent
Weight & Size 1/3Lb - 2Lb
Very lightweight Weight starts from ⅓ a pound, and the heaviest bivy won’t exceed 2 pounds Highly convenient to carry in your backpack Can fold down to the size of a small bottle
2Lb+
Tents have an extensive range of weights. However, even the lightest tent will weigh heavier than a bivy. Lightweight tents start at 2 pounds. That means that you’ll have to be ready for a heavy carriage and possible back pain!
Space Limited - enough for sleeping 20Sq.ft Average
When it comes to floor space, tents offer a larger area compared to bivy sacks. The average one-person tent will give you about 20 square feet. That way, you’ll have extra space for any luggage you have. Plus, some tents have large built-in pockets for storage. So, you’ll have no problem at all spending a few nights out in the open.
Convenience & Setup Little to no Setup
Convenience
100 %
Assembly required, complexity varies
Convenience
65 %
Ease of Transport Easy to transport
Ease of Transport
100 %
More to consider, both weight and size
Ease of Transport
50 %
Comfort Average
Comfort
60 %
Better than average
Comfort
70 %
Weather Suitability Not ideal for poor weather Dependent on tent, suitable for all-year-round
Price Lowest Cost
Price
100 %
Low Cost
Price
70 %

Pros & Cons

Both Tents and Bivy’s have their pros and cons. Here’re a quick summary of the previously mentioned points, so you can scroll through them quickly.

Bivy Pros & Cons

PROS:
  • Lightweight
  • Convenient
  • Fit for small backpacks
  • Heat-trapping material
  • Waterproof
  • Compatible with tarps
  • Flexible and easy to use

CONS:
  • Not suitable for hot weather
  • Too small for some people
  • Sleeping discomfort
  • Not fit to put anything else inside
  • Low safety
  • No headspace for sitting upright
  • Only suitable for sleeping

Tent Pros & Cons

PROS:
  • Extra protection and safety
  • More floor space
  • Available headspace
  • Fit for multiple persons
  • Ideal for harsh weather conditions
  • Suitable for long trips

CONS:
  • Long setup time
  • May be hard to assemble
  • Heavyweight
  • Not suitable for all backpacks
  • No connection with the surrounding environment

Amazon’s Best Bivy Sack Sellers

If you like how convenient a bivy sack is, and want to try it yourself, take a look at these options. You’ll likely find one in a price range that suits you.

1. Go Time Gear Life Bivy Emergency Sleeping Bag

The bivy sack from Go Time Gear also doubles as an emergency blanket. It’s a three-in-one product; you can also use it as a sleeping bag. Additionally, it comes with survival whistles for tough situations.

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2. ACVCY Emergency Bivvy Bag

The ACVCY bivy sack is made out of a heat-trapping material. It preserves up to 90% of your body heat. Moreover, it comes fully equipped with emergency shelter, emergency kit, and a bug netting.

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3. Zmoon Emergency Bivvy Bag Waterproof

The multipurpose bivy sack from Zmoon serves as a poncho, an emergency shelter, and an emergency bag. It’s shock-resistant and acts as a shelter from cold weather.

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4. Mezonn Emergency Sleeping Bag Survival Bivy Sack

The thermal bivy sack from Mezonn is very lightweight. It also folds to a small size and can be stored anywhere. Moreover, its material is highly durable and has an orange color that’s easily recognized.

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5. Tact Bivvy 2.0 Emergency Sleeping Bag

This Tact bivy sack is made out of HeatEcho polyester film. The material provides heat resistance and accounts for the lightweight of the bag. Additionally, you use it as a sleeping bag or as an emergency blanket.

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6. Delmera Emergency Survival Sleeping Bag

The Delmera bivy sack also serves as a compact sleeping bag. It’s ultra-lightweight and can accommodate tall adults. Also, it folds down to fit in the palm of your hand. It comes with a nylon drawstring bag for storage.

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7. Zmoon Emergency Sleeping Bag

The Zmoon emergency bivy is made out of tear-resistant material. It can withstand tough weather conditions, and it’ll still keep you warm. The material also preserves your body heat and protects you against hypothermia.

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8. SharpSurvival Emergency Survival Bivy Tent

Although it’s not like your typical bivy sacks, the SharpSurvival tent is highly durable and compact. You can use it as a bivy sack and as a ridge tent. Plus, it’s pretty easy to assemble and use.

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9. JYSW Emergency Bivy Sack

The JYSW bivy is ideal for extreme weather conditions. It’s made out of thermal material that also weighs a mere 4.6 ounces. Furthermore, the material is tear-resistant. So, you don’t need to worry about sharp objects.

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10. Q’s INN Bivy Sack Emergency Sleeping Bags

The Q’s INN emergency bivy sack fits a floor space of 6.5×3.5 ft. Despite that, it weighs less than most bivy sacks. Additionally, it comes with a waterproof sack for convenient storage. It also folds down to fit in your palm.

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Closing Thoughts

The choice between a bivy and a tent for hiking is a challenging one. However, as long as you know their pros and cons, you’ll be able to pick the right choice.

The most important thing is that you determine your trip’s objective. That way, you’ll be able to choose the gear that suits your goals.

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