On multi-day hiking trips, a portable hiking shelter comes in handy as it allows you to set camp almost anywhere and whenever you like.
While tents have been the de facto shelter solution for long, their weight and bulkiness can put a damper on your adventure, especially if you’re backpacking.
I agree the traditional tents have gotten lightweight and compact, but they’re still one of the biggest items you’ll find in a hiker’s pack.
Enter camping bivy camping sack blanket.
Also known as a bivouac, a bivy sack is a single-person tent distilled to the bare essentials.
A bivy sack blanket is an ultra-lightweight little shelter system designed to keep you warm and dry from a fraction of the weight of a good tent.
The bivy sacks might not offer the space for sorting through your gear, but they offer a low profile, discreet and lightweight shelter solution. More importantly, they keep you protected from the harsh elements.
With a low profile design, it’s easy to think the bivy sacks aren’t comfortable-far from it.
I’ve seen bivy sacks include a small pole system to keep the fabric off your face while sleeping, eliminating the claustrophobic feeling if you zip everything shut in bad weather.
Also, unlike traditional options, the modern bivy sacks feature more sophisticated materials such as Gore-Tex, helping the sacks remain far more breathable and less clammy.
To help you find the best bivy sack blankets, we’ve compiled a list of the best options in the market.
Table of Contents
The Best Bivy Sack Camping Blankets For The Money
#1 Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy, popularly known as the OR Bivy, sets the bar high by offering more comfort and weather protection.
It scores high on each metric, and more importantly, will shield you against the gnarly weather.
However, if it’s unlikely you’ll encounter massive, torrential downpours or rainstorms, you might find the price tag a bit steep.
Features and Benefits
The OR Alpine is among the few models employing Gore-Tex waterproof material, an industry-standard in the world of waterproof fabrics.
Sporting a 3-layered Gore-Tex body along a burly 70D nylon floor coated in Hydroseal, the OR Alpine is as weatherproof as it gets and will keep you shielded even in the wettest of the conditions.
The OR Alpine offers the ultimate weather protection, keeping your shielded in the darndest of the weather.
OR Alpine performed exceptionally well in the ventilation department.
Though the Gore-Tex fabric isn’t the most breathable option, this bivy sack has plenty of features promoting ventilation, thus eliminating condensation.
In the clear and warm weather, it’s easy to open the bivy fully, allowing for the utmost air circulation.
And during the cold sessions, a small opening on the zipper staves of condensation.
However, as with even the most ventilated bivies, you’ll likely experience an accumulation of moisture. The OR counters that with an anti-fungal treatment to keep the mildew and mold at bay.
After a log storm holed up in a bivy, it’s easy to feel claustrophobic.
Fortunately, OR Alpine users don’t have to experience any of that thanks to the ample floor-to-ceiling room.
With a generous dimension of 20 feet long by 2 feet wide, you don’t have to feel like a mommy in a tube.
Additionally, the presence of poles helps keep the bivy taut and offer more vertical clearance for your head.
Weight and Size
The OR Alpine is still among the larger bivies in the market.
However, the updated 2109 model is by far more compact and less bulky than the original model.
Still, it’s a bulky option, but you can shave off a few pounds by opting to leave the poles in your car. However, we don’t recommend that if you’ll be camping for long.
Ease of Use
Rolling out the OR Alpine Bivy is a cinch.
In particular, deploying the fabric is a doodle even in the dark as it’s marked with a reflective tape and neon green ribbon.
Additionally, the OR Alpine bivy comes complete with a host of accessories to ease the pitching, including a single guy loop and five-stake loops.
Other handy accessories making OR Alpine Bivy a joy to use include a mesh for stashing your watches and cell phone and an interior strap for securing your sleeping pad.
#2 Outdoor Research Helium Bivy Sack - Lightweight Option
The Outdoor Research Helium is yet another well-built bivy, meeting the standards we would expect from premium bivy sacks.
It ticks all the boxes for the best bivy sack and comes complete with superior weather protection, lightweight design, and easy to set up the feature, even when your hands are freezing.
But is the Helium, alongside its features, the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
We love the Helium, but honestly, the weather protection is nowhere comparable to what we saw on its sibling, the OR Alpine.
But make no mistake of thinking the Helium is a flimsy option-far from it.
For its weight, the OR Helium kicked the ball out of the park, and it will easily weather the storms safely.
The bivy utilizes Pertext Fabric, and while it doesn’t match the good “OL” Gore-Tex, it offers comparable weather resistance. On the other hand, the nylon on the bottom offers a particularly good fabric structure preventing seeping water and moisture.
Ventilation and Breathing
We’re suckers of lightweight bivies, but with the Helium, the Pertex fabric offered more than we bargained for.
The fabric isn’t only lightweight but proved to be much more breathable.
With this shelter, you’re guaranteed an un-condensated experience, even when sealed up. Of course, you might experience some moisture, but it’ll hardly detract you from your sleeping experience.
The Helium has plenty of awesome features, but we feel comfortable is the X factor for this model.
Notably, this option is spacious. I mean, the Helium has generous space, and while not necessarily as large as the Alpine, it has a massive space for the ultimate comfort.
Another notable draw for the OR Helium was the lightweight design.
Weighing at 16.3 pounds, you’ll hardly feel its weight while backpacking.
I agree, there’re by far lightweight bivies in the market, but most of them sacrifice on the performance and comfort creatures.
Along with the lightweight design, the Helium is also easy to pack. Deploying the fabric is equally easy as packing the bivy for transport.
The bivy doesn’t consume much of your space, and for those looking to save on space, even more, you could choose to store the poles and bivy separately or leave the pole altogether.
#3 Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy - Best Value Option
Sierra Design Bivy offers the perfect blend of comfort, performance, and versatility.
This option outperformed in every department, and for the price, the Sierra Design Bivy seems like a steal.
But is it right for you?
Features and Benefits
The weather resistance of the Sierra Design Bivy is relatively good.
It’s not the best out there, especially when compared to premium models such as the OR Alpine or Helium.
It will keep you dry, though, but for the extreme weather conditions such as rain and wind, be sure it won’t hold up for long.
We had an issue with the non-waterproof zipper that allowed the water inside, and for prolonged rainy weather, the zippers proved to be the weakest link.
Nevertheless, unless you’re using the bivy for the extremely gnarly weather conditions, the Sierra Design Bivy should offer optimal shelter protection.
A bathtub design bolsters the overall protection, keeping Sierra Design Bivy’s users from the snow underneath. On the other hand, the lighter nylon fabric on the upper enhanced the water resistance, allowing the water to run off rather than collecting in pools.
We appreciate the multitude of different configuration designs, all tailored to promote better ventilation.
For instance, the bivy’s front half easily opens during the warmer days to offer optimum ventilation. And during weather inclement, the bivy offers an option to seal the interior quickly.
Additionally, it’s possible to unzip the screen even during the storm for greater ventilation while remaining dry.
Backcountry Bivy seems like a jack of all trades, and beyond shielding you from the rain, wind, and sleet, it offers a comfortable, relaxing experience.
This contender for the best camping bivy sack blankets is surprisingly large, offering copious amounts of volume to wiggle around.
In addition to the space offering, the bivy offers a tab to elevate the roof using a p-cord, ultimately increasing the headspace.
Backcountry Bivy is the Floyd Mayweather of bivy sacks, hardly weighing anything, yet packing a punch.
The sack tilts the scale at 0.86 pounds, which along with the compact size, makes it a doodle to pack and unpack the bivy.
Storage is a cinch too, with the clever storage sack design making it easier to stow this shelter.
#4 MSR Quick-Pitch Waterproof Pro Bivy - Minimalist Emergency Shelter
Fourth, our list of the best bivy sacks for camping is a minimalist option, suitable for setting up emergency shelters.
I may not recommend the MSR as a go-to option, but it still incorporates some amazing specialists.
Notably, it’s ultra-lightweight, and when combined with a weatherproof shell and ease of setup, it is a practical nifty bivy.
Features and Benefits
The weather resistance for the MSR isn’t anywhere comparable to that of the OR Helium or Alpine.
However, the bivy still has its place outdoors.
The bivy is a waterproof option and will sustain a superb resistance, even the long rain sessions.
Our only issue is that the bivy lacked a zipper or drawstring, meaning if you’ll be using it for the long term, it would be best to combine it with a zipper.
Secondly, the closure system is simply a flap material, which does indeed save a lot on the weight, but it allows water and wind to blow in.
While no bivy can maintain a condensation-free experience, the MSR, despite its low pricing, keeps it to a minimum.
If anything, it’s rare that you’ll be treated to sights of moisture collected on your sleeping bag.
This is in part due to the large open vent on the head and the breathable 20D fabric.
Few emergency bivies are built for comfort, but not the MSR.
The MSR Pro’s spacious footprint and length offer a bearable place to rest for multiple nights without feeling fatigued or restricted.
It’s also fairly breathable, and the bivy will keep the conditions at fairly regular temperatures, just enough for you to enjoy your nap.
The MSR Pro is among the lightest and compact options on our list.
While it’s unfortunate, the MSR lacks creature comforts; the stripped-down shelter is super-lightweight, easy to carry, and pack.
Yet, it offers a reliable shelter against the elements.
Setting up the bivy is also a cinch and will hardly take your time when rushing against an impending storm.
#5 Aqua Quest Hooped Bivy Tent - Best Waterproof Option
Aqua Quest is a world leader in outdoor waterproof gear protection, and they’ve been in the domain for more than two decades.
And today, we’re going to review one of their truly fantastic bivies, the Aqua Quest Hooped Tent.
This hooped bivy bag offers more than comfort, but it comes with a host of amazing features and surprisingly affordable prices.
Features and Benefits
For the backpackers looking for a truly waterproof bivy, you can’t go wrong with this option.
As far as construction is concerned, this option employs a breathable and waterproof laminated 70D Ripstop Nylon Taffeta, a high-quality material to shrug the gnarly outdoors.
Further, the fabric comes with an impressive waterproof rating of 10 000 mm and a breathability rating of 3000 gr/m2.
The heat-taped seams provide complete protection from the outdoor elements and will ensure you stay dry, regardless of how furious Mother Nature is.
Sporting a rear panel mesh, the Aqua Quest is breathable, offering a superb free flow of air and eliminating any form of condensation.
Unfortunately, the foot area lacks any opening, so you’re likely to experience some wetness in your foot. But not so much to detract from your comfort.
Speaking of comfort, the Aqua Quest is compact in dimension, yet it offers enough space to wiggle.
In particular, the shoulder length and the foot area are generously spaced, allowing you to move around with the least effort.
With a total weight of around 2.4 pounds and a compact dimension, the Aqua Quest is easy to pack and store.
It also compacts easily, and you’ll hardly feel its presence when backpacking for your adventure.
Ease of Use
Assembling the Aqua Quest is a cinch, with the lightweight, collapsible shock cord pole and aluminum pegs offering a convenient way to pitch.
The outer layers also roll down to the base quite easily, requiring the least effort, and will provide a fantastic insect protection
Best Bivy Sack Camping Blanket Buying Guide
Choosing a bivy sack with enough space for your sleeping pad while not having too much weight behind it and maintaining structural stability is a hard combination to achieve.
However, it’s an essential part of your bushcraft equipment and a must-have item in your arsenal.
To help you select the best bivy sack for your needs, I compiled a detailed guide, listing all of the factors to consider in your next purchase.
But before I share the tips with you, let’s look at the different types of bivy sacks camping blankets.
Types of Bivy Sacks
Four-Season Bivy Sacks
These bivies, as their name suggests, can be used year-round.
Typically, the year-round bivies feature poles or stakes for more room and are characterized by tough materials for durability.
However, they’re a tad bulkier than the minimalist options.
Ultra-Light Bivy Sacks
Bivy sacks are generally light, but the ultra-light options have taken lightness to a whole new level.
These options are minimalist and feather-light. They don’t feature any poles and are great to have if they need emergency shelter.
The sacks are the most basic option, fitting your sleeping bag from head to toe.
They also feature a flap at your head with a zipper, which you can leave open on warm, dry nights.
The zipper can also close, completely sealing you into the bivy.
Facelifts are a more advanced option, featuring a hoop at the head for more comfort.
The hoop reduces the coffin-like feel of a traditional sack while maintaining the benefits of weight and size.
Sometimes, all you need is protection from the pesky insects.
The bug net encloses your bag in a fine mesh fabric and won’t allow the smallest no-see-um.
Factor to Consider when Selecting the Best Bivy Sack Camping Blankets
Weather resistance for a bivy sack is a must, regardless of the conditions since Mother Nature is notoriously unpredictable.
The ideal option should protect you from the elements, and along with the biting cold or dust, it should also have waterproofing properties.
However, weatherproofing comes at the expense of condensation, and this is a tradeoff you need to put up with.
Because weatherproofing keeps water out, the fabric will have a hard time letting air inside the bag out, resulting in moisture inside the sack.
While bivies with breathability do a better job when it comes to condensation, they won’t effectively protect you from the elements.
Along with protecting you from elements, a notable draw of bivies is their lightness.
However, like any other outdoor gear, camping bivies are available in different weights, so your choice will depend on what you plan to use them for.
For instance, if you choose a four-season bivy, you can expect it’s going to be a tad heavier than the ultra-light bivies.
Additionally, always keep in mind that the bivies with poles will add more weight than those who simply unroll.
Ventilation is necessary for comfort as it eliminates condensation inside the sack.
Choose a sack that can be unzipped with ease when you need air. It would also help if your bivy has a pole or can be staked out to provide more space around your head for increased airflow.
Generally, the bug net bivies tend to have the best ventilation as there’s a mesh panel over your face, whereas the four-season bivies can get a bit stuffy.
The size of a bivy sack can mean two things;
First, the size might imply how big it is to fit a sleeping bag in. Generally, this dimension of size refers to how comfortable it is to use a bivy.
The other size dimension refers to how big the bivy is when packed up. It’s a vital aspect because the packed size determines how much space it takes in your backpack.
Bivies come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
While the minimalist design creates more of a cocoon shelter option, another wrap around your sleeping bag, allowing you to sleep without the fear of rain.
The latter employ pole or hoops, creating a mini tent atmosphere inside the sack. They also give you more storage space and room to move around.
They’re a tad bulkier and expensive.
Ultimately, the choice of a bivy will depend on what you plan to use the sack for. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you may want to go for something with poles. But if you’re in for quick, infrequent trips, a minimalist option with no poles might serve you right.
Finally, you may want to choose a bivy sack that’s as comfortable as possible.
The ideal bivy should feel plush and cozy, even after a long day of adventure.
Comfort means a few things: protection from pesky insects, plenty of wiggle room, proper ventilation, ease of set up, and packability. It may also mean the addition of accessories such as pockets, straps, and compartments.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our selection of the best bivy sack camping blankets has some fantastic options in the market, each with their strengths.
However, we feel the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy takes the crown for the best bivy sack.
First, this bivy utilizes the good old Gore-Tex fabric, a lightweight yet heavy-duty material. The material is the ultimate weather-resistant option, offering unchallenged shielding against the weather elements.
At the same time, the material is lightweight and won’t bulk up your backpack.
Another draw for the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy is the ultimate comfort. The bivy comes with a wide shoulder and long height for a spacious interior. It’s easy to wiggle and move around the bivy without feeling too restricted.
Sure, it might be priced a tad higher than most of the sacks on our list, but if you’re looking for the ultimate gear to weather through any weather condition and ruggedness, Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy is worth every penny.