Hooped Bivi Bags....thoughts!

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Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
Hi All,

I thought I'd reach out to you guys and gauge your thoughts on hooped bivi bags. I'm out camping once a month, every month (have been for the last 3 and a bit years) and have been doing a lot of bivi camps. I'm enjoying it and fancy treating myself to a posh new bivi bag. Part of the reason why I'd like to get one is also because I'm planning on doing some more hikes and wild camps. Previous experience has taught me that a bivi is a very convenient option for pitching up beside the trail at the end of a long hike. I like the simplicity of it and the small footprint. I'll obviously accompany this with a small tarp in inclement weather so that I have an admin space and the option to leave some of the bivi unzipped to aid ventilation.

Another reason why I like the idea of a hooped bivi is the mosi net protection. I'm planning on doing some long walks and trips to Dartmoor in the summer and would appreciate the bug protection that I don't currently get from the open bivi.

Currently I use the British army goretex bag and the Miltec clone of the US MSS. Both are ok, the British army is better in my opinion. But I've got a hankering for something a bit more high end and have been looking at the hooped bivi's. I've been doing a ton of research on them; both on here and across t'internet/social media but am not entirely sure which one to buy.

So here are the options that I've been looking at and my thoughts:
  • Snugpak Stratosphere (£120ish): Light and low bulk, good quality - gets mostly positive reviews, like the fact it has mosi net and options for ventilation, fabric doesn't seem to be that breathable, spacious at head end
  • Dutch Army Hooped bivi (£80-150ish): Bulky + heavy, mosi net, breathable Gore-Tex like fabric, spacious but low slung hoop. Common complaint - the Spanish (FECSA) made examples appear to have very fragile zips and this is putting me off. Carinthia made examples are better but much harder to source.
  • Rab Ridge Raider (£250ish): Light and low bulk, good quality, E-vent fabric seems very breathable, mosi net, spacious inside, harder to get into/out of than the snugpak and Dutch army bivi's.
Of the three, I really like the design and dimensions of the Snugpak but am a little nervous about the fabric. With that said, a lot of the complaints that I've heard about the Snugpak have been about the build up of condensation when the user has been fully sealed in - I'm inclined to discount a lot of those concerns as condensation is inevitable in those scenarios. However, I find myself erring towards the Rab due to it's record of being well made and the excellent e-Vent fabric.

I'm expecting one or two people to tell me to get a one man tent. I thought about that, but concluded that it's not an option for me. Yes I'm well aware that they are similarly priced, offer more space and can be a similar weight. But they lack many of the advantages that I see in a bivi bag camping experience - my mind is made!

As always, you're thoughts are welcome. Do you use any of the bivi bags that I've listed - what do you think of them?
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,238
537
Lancashire
I got loaned a Jack Wolfskin two pole tunnel tent/ bivvy. It's between a tent and a bivvy bag in size. I got it loaned for a trip when a retailer sold me a faulty vango tent.

I think I'd rather use a tarp and basic bivvy bag instead. Shelter for your kit and you under the trail. Not sure even hooped bivvies offer kit protection. For the weight tarp and bivvy is better too
 
Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
I got loaned a Jack Wolfskin two pole tunnel tent/ bivvy. It's between a tent and a bivvy bag in size. I got it loaned for a trip when a retailer sold me a faulty vango tent.

I think I'd rather use a tarp and basic bivvy bag instead. Shelter for your kit and you under the trail. Not sure even hooped bivvies offer kit protection. For the weight tarp and bivvy is better too
Cheers Paul, agree that a tarp and bivi should work well. I'm interested in the hooped variety as they also have better bug protection for the summer.

The bivi's that I've listed above should also enable you to store some kit inside as well. I've seen that some people store their packs down the bottom of the hooped bivi as this helps to lift the fabric off the sleeping bag.
 
Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
Have you seen this, some interesting thoughts and tips.
Cheers, I had seen that. Simon makes some good videos and knows a thing or two about bushcraft. To be honest, it was that video which flagged up the issue with the FECSA version of the Dutch hooped bivi. I then looked back at some other videos on youtube and discovered that a lot of people were experiencing similar issues with the zip. I have the two open bivi's that he reviewed as well and concur with his thoughts.
 
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SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
2,079
174
50
Perthshire
I've used Bivi's intermittently over the years. I found a Carinthia Observer on Ebay and I have to say it's second to none, breathability, waterproof, bombproof. The two different openings with midge netting is just excellent is the headroom. I was reminded though after waking up in the lashing rain on the Scottish West Coast a tarp is useful to get dressed under. That being said I did manage to stow all my kit in it's waterproof bags and get dressed, including my goretex whilst still in the bivi! The tarp does then add to the weight of the whole sleep kit.
 
Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
I've used Bivi's intermittently over the years. I found a Carinthia Observer on Ebay and I have to say it's second to none, breathability, waterproof, bombproof. The two different openings with midge netting is just excellent is the headroom. I was reminded though after waking up in the lashing rain on the Scottish West Coast a tarp is useful to get dressed under. That being said I did manage to stow all my kit in it's waterproof bags and get dressed, including my goretex whilst still in the bivi! The tarp does then add to the weight of the whole sleep kit.
Thanks, I'm familiar with those bags and they do look awesome. A quick google search shows them retailing for £472 though and that's a bit rich for me! I'll keep my eyes peeled on ebay though. A small tarp or poncho is a must when bivvy camping in the rain though, makes for a nice admin area.
 

ScottE

Nomad
Mar 22, 2017
346
230
Norfolk
I’ve had two Dutch army hooped bivis, both fecsa ones and both failed on the mozzie net zips....however one of them was an xl version and had sufficient room to stuff a large pack down the foot end and create a tunnel effect head to toe which was brilliant.....if you can find a Carinthia made xl Dutch army hooped bivi I’d go for it.
Currently I use a XT Brit army bag which is great and roomy but the hoop and mozzie net would make it perfect.
 
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Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
I’ve had two Dutch army hooped bivis, both fecsa ones and both failed on the mozzie net zips....however one of them was an xl version and had sufficient room to stuff a large pack down the foot end and create a tunnel effect head to toe which was brilliant.....if you can find a Carinthia made xl Dutch army hooped bivi I’d go for it.
Currently I use a XT Brit army bag which is great and roomy but the hoop and mozzie net would make it perfect.
Cheers, I think I'll definitely avoid the FECSA dutch bivi's. I missed out on an ebay auction of an XL Carinthia version of the Dutch bivi earlier this week, the bidding went a bit mad in the final 20seconds! It ended up going for £146 + £14 delivery from Germany. I know they're good, but that felt like a lot of dosh for a used bivi bag!

I'm still erring towards the Rab/Snugpak stratosphere but will definitely be keeping the Brit army bivvy for autumn/winter use (when mosi's aren't an issue!). I cleaned and re-proofed mine recently and it came up a treat.
 
Last edited:
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ScottE

Nomad
Mar 22, 2017
346
230
Norfolk
Just a thought Barney....how about a sleeping bag with inbuilt mozzie net, like the Carinthia tropen or Brit army lightweight bag?
I can vouch for the Brit army lightweight bag, I’ve used it in summer with just a mat and basha.
 
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Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
Look at Outdoor Research :)

As an aside, their Bugbivvy offers a bunch of options for use w/tarp
Thanks and indeed I have clocked the OR range of bivy's. They look nice and are impressively lightweight. I was initially very keen on the helium bivy as the pertex fabric is normally pretty good. However, I was a little put off with the criticism that their design gets in terms of the way the door flaps down in your face when you sleep with just the mosi net.
 
Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
By way of an update - I ended up getting a brand new Dutch Army Hooped Bivi! It's the FECSA version, which means that the zips are a bit fragile. But at least with a brand new one, I know that it hasn't been abused and I can take extra care with it. Might even look at modifying it with a YKK zipper at some point.

The thing that won me over was the breathable gore-tex fabric and the amount of space that they offer. I really really wanted to get the Snugpak Stratosphere because the design looks spot on and it was reasonably light. The trouble is that I'm a great big bag of hot air, I sleep warm and I had concerns that the sil-nylon fabric would most likely cause me issues. We'll see how things go with the Dutchy!

Thanks all for your advice.
 
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ScottE

Nomad
Mar 22, 2017
346
230
Norfolk
A good buy there Barney, plenty of room and plenty breathable, the material is not a million miles from the Brit army bag so plenty tough too.
I was wondering what you’d go for, looking at the snugpak the zip is on my wrong side and the material looks too “tenty”!! I think....
Looking forward to some outing reports of the hooped variety.
 
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Sep 16, 2013
444
128
Rochester, Kent
A good buy there Barney, plenty of room and plenty breathable, the material is not a million miles from the Brit army bag so plenty tough too.
I was wondering what you’d go for, looking at the snugpak the zip is on my wrong side and the material looks too “tenty”!! I think....
Looking forward to some outing reports of the hooped variety.
Cheers Scott, I'm taking it out on a camp next weekend and will no doubt post up a trip report and video.
 
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Mulloch

Member
Mar 24, 2019
37
5
51
UK
I have a British Army issue hooped bivi, double hoops and no mosi net, the base is not goretex but a nylon DPM outer with a black rubberised backing, some of the issue waterproof jackets were like that before the goretex became standard issue. The short end above the zip is huge and big enough to get a PLCE 100ltr bergen in. What will you sleep on? some bivis are not wide enough to take a mat inside, if you want it inside. Army roll mats are cheap enough to cut one down width size to fit, I found it useful for keeping the bivi at full widt even though I had pegged it down.
Alterations can be made i.e adding a mosi net, either permanently or making it removable, Ive seen velcro used but it can stick to the netting and rip it, if not careful. Most clothing alteration shops/saddlemaker ect could put in a more robust zip.
Some folk find them claustrophobic, others miss tha ability to sit upright, with your tarp you will solve that and be able to cook under it.
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
385
199
Ceredigion
By way of an update - I ended up getting a brand new Dutch Army Hooped Bivi! It's the FECSA version, which means that the zips are a bit fragile. But at least with a brand new one, I know that it hasn't been abused and I can take extra care with it. Might even look at modifying it with a YKK zipper at some point.

The thing that won me over was the breathable gore-tex fabric and the amount of space that they offer. I really really wanted to get the Snugpak Stratosphere because the design looks spot on and it was reasonably light. The trouble is that I'm a great big bag of hot air, I sleep warm and I had concerns that the sil-nylon fabric would most likely cause me issues. We'll see how things go with the Dutchy!

Thanks all for your advice.
I've got a non-hoop bivy bag with mosquito net that doesn't keep the midges out. I've got some midge proof net to attach on top but not got around to it yet.

I was wondering whether it wouldn't be easier to use a normal bivy bag and then a small travel mosquito net to suspend under the tarp over the head end.