British Military Bivvy vs Snugpak Special Forces

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arthem

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Jun 14, 2021
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Hi all, first post here so feel free to let me know if i'm doing anything wrong :)

Currently looking to get a bivvy bag as I am looking to do part of the Welsh Costal Path soon and would like to travel without a tent to experience something new and keep the weight down.

My options include:
  • British Army GoreTex Bivvy
  • Snugpack Special Forces Bivvy
  • Alpkit Hunka
  • Dutch M90 Bivvy

If possible would someone be able to advise me how tough the Snugpack is compared to the BA bivvy and which would they choose. Ideally I would like to use it for a long time before having to replace it. My feeling is that the British Army bivvy and the M90 are probably the most durable of the bunch.

Also whats the view on using a bivvy without a ground sheet underneath?

Many thanks in advance!
 
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SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
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In relation to keeping the weight down bear in mind you're likely to quickly find the benefits of a tarp to change under in the rain and store kit etc.
Using a bivvy without a ground sheet risks getting it punctured and so it won't be waterproof. If you have your camping mat outside the bivvy bag it could be damaged, not a problem if it's just a foam one. I use a sheet of Tyvek roofing material. If you do use a tarp ensure any ground sheet you use is fully underneath it or you'll have a bath like experience. Not using a mat...I just always use a mat.
The BA bivvy is really just a waterproof sleeping bag cover. I use a copy of the Carinthia observer which is essentially a small, but weighty, tent. In bad weather, no tarp see earlier comments, I have got dressed in it including my goretex but a tarp just makes it easier.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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I have the BA Goretex Bivvy and I'm pleased with it - I've had it over ten years and it's still going strong but, to be honest, it's not my go-to sleeping method, more my backup.

As for using it straight on the ground - only if the ground is very good. If there's any chance of stones or sticks poking through it goes on top of my undersheet (which is a cheap waterproof picnic blanket from a motorway services - weighs nothing).
 

Madriverrob

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Feb 4, 2008
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  • British Army GoreTex Bivvy - Robust but heavy , plenty of room , can store kit inside if necessary
  • Snugpack Special Forces Bivvy - No direct experience but it has a central entry point ( easy to get in and out , likely lighter and more packable than the army issue one
  • Alpkit Hunka - Lightweight , packable , comes in XL size which will be easier to get in and out of , can store items inside
  • Dutch M90 Bivvy - No experience
As previously stated I would use a groundsheet and consider using with a tarp .

You could also consider the Alpkit Elan or Snugpack Stratosphere for a little more money and a not a significantly detrimental weight .

Sierra designs backcountry 3000 bivvy might also pique your interest ( available from Valley and Peak in UK ) .
 
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Barney Rubble

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Sep 16, 2013
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Rochester, Kent
Both seem to be good bivvy bags. I have the British army goretex bivvy and it's proven to be strong and dependable. Many folk on this forum will also attest to that view. It's very breathable, rugged, spacious and affordable. But being Gore-Tex it's also heavier and bulkier than the Snugpak equivalent.

I've not used the Snugpak bivvy but I have friends that do and they also speak highly of it. It packs down nice and small and is very light, but the fabric is not as breathable nor is it particularly spacious and costs more than twice as much as the British army Gore-Tex bivvy.

The Alpkit Hunka XL is a good option and you rarely see any bad reviews about it.

The Dutch M90 bivvy is probably even better than the British army verson owing to it's central opening, but I'm mindful that it's even heavier and bulkier than the Brit version.

Personally, I'd stick with the Brit army Gore-Tex.
 

Riven

Full Member
Dec 23, 2006
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Would a small liteweight tent fit your needs better for such a walk? Easier to keep out of the rain (lets face it, its Wales) and has a bit of privacy. The weight combined of bivi bag, groundsheet and tarp can easily add up to that of a tent.
Just a thought.
Riven.
 

arthem

Member
Jun 14, 2021
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United Kingdom
@SCOMAN Many thanks for the advice with reguards to using a groundsheet. I'll probably use my blue foam mat under the bivvy.

@Madriverrob Many thanks for the detailed information. I suppose that the Alpkit Hunka not having a central zip probably makes it more waterproof than the Snugpak. If that is the case then the options are narrowed down to the Alpkit Hunka XL and the British Military Bivvy. :)

@Barney Rubble Any chance you could find out if any of your mates who have the Snugpack Specialforces Bivvy have had issues with the zip being too easy to slide down etc?
 

arthem

Member
Jun 14, 2021
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United Kingdom
Would a small liteweight tent fit your needs better for such a walk? Easier to keep out of the rain (lets face it, its Wales) and has a bit of privacy. The weight combined of bivi bag, groundsheet and tarp can easily add up to that of a tent.
Just a thought.
Riven.
I do have the Vango Banshee 200, but being somewhere over 6 foot it tends to be a bit cramped and tbh I want to try out a new way of camping. I normally carry a tarp with my to act as a porch so really all I would be doing is swapping my tent (2.4kg) for a bivvy (<1.0kg) and groundsheet.
 

Barney Rubble

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Sep 16, 2013
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@Barney Rubble Any chance you could find out if any of your mates who have the Snugpack Specialforces Bivvy have had issues with the zip being too easy to slide down etc?
They've certainly never complained about that.

I do have the Vango Banshee 200, but being somewhere over 6 foot it tends to be a bit cramped and tbh I want to try out a new way of camping. I normally carry a tarp with my to act as a porch so really all I would be doing is swapping my tent (2.4kg) for a bivvy (<1.0kg) and groundsheet.

I'm slightly biased because I'm a big fan of bivvying, but two big advantages that they offer over tents is; 1) small footprint, you can find a space big enough for you to lie down in and that'll do nicely for your bivvy. And 2) versatility; if the weather if good then you can do without the tarp/poncho, you can usually pitch the tarp in a variety of ways to suite the weather and location. With a tent you're obviously more limited on what you can do.

Final point to note is weight. A lightweight bivvy such as the alpkit hunka xl (500g) plus poncho (approx. 400g for the Helikon Tex poncho) or DD Superlight Tarp S (260g) combine to make a superlight and affordable shelter system. A sub 1kg tent from a reputable brand is going to cost a lot more (noting that there are some cheap Chinese brands that come close).
 

Madriverrob

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Feb 4, 2008
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They've certainly never complained about that.



I'm slightly biased because I'm a big fan of bivvying, but two big advantages that they offer over tents is; 1) small footprint, you can find a space big enough for you to lie down in and that'll do nicely for your bivvy. And 2) versatility; if the weather if good then you can do without the tarp/poncho, you can usually pitch the tarp in a variety of ways to suite the weather and location. With a tent you're obviously more limited on what you can do.

Final point to note is weight. A lightweight bivvy such as the alpkit hunka xl (500g) plus poncho (approx. 400g for the Helikon Tex poncho) or DD Superlight Tarp S (260g) combine to make a superlight and affordable shelter system. A sub 1kg tent from a reputable brand is going to cost a lot more (noting that there are some cheap Chinese brands that come close).

I agree , I love to Bivvy ......

Lightweight gear does tend to priced with a premium
 

arthem

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Jun 14, 2021
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@Barney Rubble Totally agree 100%. Still deliberating whether to go for the Snugpak Special forces or the BA Bivvy. How robust would you say the Snugpak is compared to the British Army Bivvy. Just cant get over how thin it looks :/
 

Barney Rubble

Settler
Sep 16, 2013
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Rochester, Kent
@Barney Rubble Totally agree 100%. Still deliberating whether to go for the Snugpak Special forces or the BA Bivvy. How robust would you say the Snugpak is compared to the British Army Bivvy. Just cant get over how thin it looks :/
In terms of robustness, the Snugpak really doesn't compare to the gore tex on the BA bivvy. This isn't too much of an issue though with the Snugpak because you'll be putting it on top of your sleeping pad - you can't fit a pad inside the Snugpak bivvy but you can with the BA bivvy.
 
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Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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You don't hop around in your bivvy bag.
It doesn't need to be robust. You just need to use it carefully. The Snugpak SF is robust enough for the intended use.

Goretex three layer material is made to wear it under a heavy rucksack, Dutch M90 and British army bivvy bag are surely longer lasting than the Snugpak SF but I can't tell you how long the Snugpak SF will last although I used it surely during 6 years and all together effective 3 years of continuous use, always on a folding German army mat or other mat and with the Snugpak SF1 inside of it.
Most civil persons don't sleep 1095 nights in their outdoor sleep system. So as a civil user I used it really a lot to test it well.

The GoreTex 3 layer fabric is nevertheless more robust, but although it's the first choice for rain jackets it's a question if you really want such a robust bivvy bag or better a lighter one.
And the Snugpak SF you get new without any holes. It isn't said that you find a nearly new military bivvy bag.
The seam sealing tape is the weak point in army GoreTex clothing and bivvy bags, after a while they simply fall off. But that can be repaired, costs some money too of course. That might already happen at Dutch M90, German Flecktarn bivvy by Feuchter, British army bivvy in OD and perhaps also already in DPM. MTP versions surely are too young.

If you compare a new Goretex bivvy bag with the Snugpak SF, the new Goretex bivvy bag weighs 1000 g instead of 340g, last surely longer, is more robust and costs 400 € instead of 100€. You can get the current German army bivvy bag factory new from Carinthia. Called here sleeping bag cover, if you search it.

But if you buy 4 SF bivvy bags after each other that also will last pretty long!

But OK, the Dutch M90 and especially British army bivvy bags in MTP you can get very very cheap and if you can find one in nearly new conditions that's an outstanding good deal of course.

Younger Dutch ones in DPM made by Carithia are fine but made by Fesca relatively often the zippers break. I am not convinced about the hooped bivvy tents anyway as I doubt that you don't get problems with condensation water in them.
The French one is good but heavy and CCE doesn't blend in so well in Britain.

The OD German army ones, which are younger than the Flecktarn bivvy bags, cost used as much as the Snugpak SF new, looking identical some have the jacket fabric like the others, some already the Gas Permeable Technology membrane, what is what Carinthia currently sells new.
("GoreTex Gas durchlässige Technologie" stands on the white label inside and yes, indeed, they mean that you really can breath through the fabric, but you surely will get condensation moisture problems anyway if you do it. If you would close another bivvy bag from inside and try that you will surely die from suffocation. Attention! Always breath outside your bivvy bag!)

Would I plan a several year long world journey without option to replace my material I would buy a new Carinthia bivvy.

For my own intensive use I decided to get the Snugpak SF and don't regret the decision. Sometimes I combine it with a Defcon 5 poncho of the Italian army which weighs only 350g.
My Snugpak SF1 sleeping bag weighs 1030g.
That's in my opinion the ultimate lightweight trekking option. All is light and compact but all has a NATO stock number! For summer use additional the used German army folding mat (425 g) or new similar Multimat Adventure 4 XL (530g) and you have the lightest set up with NATO stock numbers that I know.

I am no pack horse and go for recreational hiking. This lightweight war equipment is really robust enough for my civil use.


(SF1 in SF bivvy bag fit together easily stuffed and compressed by hand well into the German made civil high quality 7 litres drybag Ortlieb PS10, that's available in black and also was available in OD, if you still can find it, I recommend to buy it.)
 
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MikeLA

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May 17, 2011
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Alpkit XL to tight for me. Go for the British issue slightly heavier but only a little and we’ll worth the extra space for you and kit if necessary.

although a basha is a good idea and convenient. Years ago I camped just with a issue bivvy bag and a foam rollmat under it. The only bad time was heavy rain but I slept in clothes anyway so just up put goretex on, packed up on my way and changed later. It is possible to change tops in the issue bivvy just.

The bivvy book encouraged me to get out there and it was great fun. Ligtweight a little tough sometimes but well worth it.
 
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arthem

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Jun 14, 2021
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Update:
I have decided to go with the Snugpak Bivvy as i due to my timeline I couldnt risk getting a damaged British Military Bivvy and then deal with returns etc. Tested out in the garden and it seems like its pretty decent quality. I will be posting an update after my trip...

Many thanks to all those who replied and provided much needed help and invaluable advice :)
 
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SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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You might of course already be familiar with the Welsh coastal path, but if not and for any one else:
If you're staying on campsites this obviously won't be an issue, but for a lot of the Welsh coastal path it can be tricky to find a useable and safe (from rolling off the cliffs) spot that haven't got gorse, prickly hedgerow plants, bramble, tussocky grass, wet muddy ground or lots and lots of sheep droppings. There is nice wellcropped grassy ground, but mainly in the fields with grazing animals (sheep or cattle). On long stretches there just wouldn't be space for some one to sleep and not obstructing the path. Much of it is also very exposed. So it's well worth really doing your homework before heading out, checking the maps gor where the most promising looking stretches for finding a spot are (prepare to be disappointed when you get there) and know what your backup options are.

I live close to the coast and every time we go for a walk along the coastal path I make a point of trying to spot places that would make for a good bivvying spot. It's amazing how few and far between they are on many stretches.
 
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ONE

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I don't know if things have changed recently, with new issues (not to mention new patterns) but it certainly usd to be the case that the older green goretex issue bivvi was of superior build to the later DPM version.
 
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arthem

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I don't know if things have changed recently, with new issues (not to mention new patterns) but it certainly usd to be the case that the older green goretex issue bivvi was of superior build to the later DPM version.
Do you have any idea what the lifetime of a goretex membrane is? The older one may have better build quality but if the goretex is reaching the end of its life then it's probably a better idea to go with the newer version?
 

Erbswurst

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My green ones are still fine. Also the tapes at the seams.

I think that is such an article that is too young to tell how long it will last.

It's the same with Ortlieb bags and Cordura Nylon equipment. The oldest stuff is perhaps 40 years old and still OK if not used overly heavy or washed or treated wrong.
 
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ONE

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I don't think there's any chemical limit on the life of the membrane, it will be degraded with wear though. If you can find the older green ones in NOS condition, and I've bought acouple in the last year, they should be fine.
 

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