Tent or bivvy?

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Full Member
Oct 19, 2006
I like the flexibility and light weight of a tarp + bivvy bag set up but find that it works best in or near the woods. In the hills and mountains, yes, there are trees but quite often there are not. I know full well that I can deploy my trekking poles effectively but it is almost quicker and, arguably, more secure, to pitch the tent. So, I'm of the 'horses for courses' brigade and make my choice according to where I'm going to be and the probability of vile weather.

If I'm thinking purely of my comfort - not feeling locked in, having a good flow of air and plenty of room to spread out my stuff - then it'll always be the tarp + bivvy option.
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Dec 30, 2019
After best part of 35 yeas of tent camping (mainly wild) I am seriously looking at reducing the weight of what I carry and a bivvy bag seems to be the ideal way to do this.

A few things put me off: Dont want to feel claustrophobic, what do you do if it's throwing it down with rain (in a tent you an sit it out with some comfort).

Open to ideas, suggestions, discussion :)

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Way back in the eighties when it was only Survival Aids selling Gore-Tex bivvy bags, myself and a pal got one and went bivvying for a week across the lakeland fell to report yeah, they are a viable alternative particularly when stealth is the name of the game. The only problem I experienced was I took a dog with me, to one night when it had rained unexpectedly experience a soggy collie seeking shelter as it nosed it's way into my bivvy bag.

To note though my bag was a large one of which had the space for back pack at the head I never zipped it up when I was in it, just sort of tented it a bit, to consider a bag with a small hoop would be a good way to go.
Apr 7, 2016
I feel, tarp and bivvy is a little self defeating, and would a hooped bivvy be better if keeping weight down?
I recently replaced a couple of goretex surplus bivvies with an Alpkit Hunka XL, but am also not convinced about the end access....it's such a faff. A pity there's no lightweight waterproof side or ventral zip?
Any thoughts or advice about hooped bivvies, as per "SilverClaws" above?


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
The fabric of the Carinthia bivvy bag folds so much over on both sides that you don't need to have fear that water will come in there.

But if you stay on the left side also the less protected zipper of the Snugpak SF bivvy bag doesn't cause any problems.

(Surplus shops sell this used and also older versions with the non gas permeable usual jacket Goretex fabric.)

If you want to go really light weight, Snugpak SF bivvy bag, 340 g + Defcon 5 poncho 350g is the lightest option in muted colours and with NATO stock number.

But the DD Superlight Tarp 3 x 2,9 m at 460 g is worth a thought as well.

I talked to a specialist from Carinthia. They sell the bivvy bags with the most vapour permeable waterproof fabric that's available. Their newest bivvy bags are gas permeable. You can close them totally and breath through the fabric.
(You can't do that with any other bivvy bag.).
And he told me that if you do that all the night you will get of course a condensation problem. You can do that in special cases, but you don't do that as a standard use. Even here you usually will breathe out of the bivvy bag.

A hooped single layer bivvy bag simply has to cause condensation if it's cold.
They seem to work but not as good as a double wall tent or a usual shaped bivvy bag where you breath out.
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