4 Season Bivy Sack

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing.
User avatar
Posts: 147
Joined: 5/5/2010
14er Checklist (13)
13er Checklist (1)

4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby mts4602 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:56 pm

Can anybody recommend a good winter/4 season bivy sack?

I'm not looking for an emergency bivy (although I would carry it for that purpose as well) , but a legit 4 season one.

2 that seem to be recommended a lot are the OR Aurora, and BD Twilight. The Twilight says it's 4 season but also says it has water resistant fabric, not waterproof. It seems like every bivy I look at there are tons of reviews that say they create a lot of condensation. Are there any that are actually good or is condensation always going to be a problem?

User avatar
Brian C
Posts: 1234
Joined: 2/26/2008
14er Checklist (45)
14ers in Winter (5)
13er Checklist (19)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby Brian C » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:18 pm

Condensation is going to always be a problem in a bivy sack in the winter. Heat meeting cold equals condensation. Check out the Megamid
User avatar
Posts: 157
Joined: 7/29/2004
14er Checklist (20)
13er Checklist (12)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby mrburns » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:50 pm

+1 on the Bibler.

I have a Tripod Bivy that is over ten years old and still looks good as new. The poles help out a bit with the condensation and claustrophobic factor. The nice thing about using the poles is being able to close only the mesh and leave the waterproof "door" open as long as it not pouring or snowing really hard, it really helps with the condensation, and it keeps the fabric off of your face while sleeping. The downside of the poles is that they make it a PITA to get in and out of. Kinda nice to have the option though. I have stayed dry in pouring rain, as well as waking up with 4-5" of snow on it with no complaints. Great product.

"They've got the internet on computers now?" - H. Simpson
User avatar
Posts: 193
Joined: 7/28/2011
14er Checklist Not Entered
13er Checklist (16)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:56 pm

If you are looking for a "bivy" in the traditional sense the BD Tripod is the Bomb! I used to have one but switched to the "http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/shelters/firstlight-tent". Almost the same weight (3 oz heavier), can pull your gear inside, sleep a second person if need be. It's an "intimate" 2 person tent (old school size) but I find it an awesome Bivy alternative.
Posts: 178
Joined: 1/31/2008
14er Checklist (5)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby climbingaggie03 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:29 pm

I'm not sure what a 4 season bivy is, but i have the mountain hardware conduit bivy http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Conduit%E2%84%A2-Bivy/OU9456,default,pd.htmland it's pretty decent, I like being able to zip my sleeping bag to it and then get in and out of my sleeping bag/bivy by only working 1 zipper.

I'm always on the lookout for a non-waterproof bivy, all the waterproof "breathable" bivy's i've used have too much condensation for me (maybe I'm just too sweaty) so that's something to consider. I'm kind of tempted by the BD twilight because it seems more breathable than most bivy's.
User avatar
Posts: 2441
Joined: 11/18/2007
14er Checklist (57)
14ers in Winter (12)
13er Checklist (196)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby d_baker » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:31 am

I have an OR Alpine bivy that I think is suitable for 4 seasons and is quite comfortable to sleep in. I've used it in my backyard once in 0* temps for testing purposes, and at treeline on Pikes on Xmas Eve one year.
I use it often in summer as well when doing one nighters in the backcountry or at trailheads.
It's a durable bivy with a hoop to keep it off my face, and has a mesh window too.

I have a BD Lightsabre too, but I don't think BD makes it anymore. Their Tripod bivy is the same design, but possibly different material is used.
I use the Lightsabre mostly in summer.
It doesn't have enough volume though when you place a pad and bag inside it, so it has a tight cocoon feel to it so the bag is against the walls and tends to get damp in storms. I'm not sure if the Tripod has more volume.

OR Alpine I recommend.
User avatar
CO Native
Posts: 5048
Joined: 7/26/2004
14er Checklist (58)
14ers Skied (2)
14ers in Winter (15)
13er Checklist (28)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby CO Native » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:29 am

I have a Black Diamond Winter Bivy. I don't think it's available any more but the MSR E-bivy is a very similar concept. If your purpose is a waterproof protection around your sleeping bag an little else these are great because they are extremely light, durable, and relatively cheap. I've not had a condensation problem because I leave the opening open over my face and my breath just goes outside. I do get some moisture around the opening in my sleeping bag that I'm breathing through when it's fully cinched down. I've slept in weather into the negative 20s using this bivy. The opening is obviously something you have to account for when it's raining, but I just use my shell jacket propped up on branches or something like that to give me cover.

Once you start getting into the more robust bivys then you start getting to where you need to compare them against a tent. The OR Advanced Bivy which is popular, weighs in at 2lbs 8oz. The tripod Bivy is 2lbs 10 ounces. The Mountain Hardware Direkt 2 is a 2 man four season single wall tent that weighs 2lbs 14oz. An additional 6 ounces gets you a much larger living space and you can keep your pack inside with you. If you're using a bivy then you'll need to carry something to keep your pack dry too. So the weight difference is even smaller. The Direkt 2 is a lot pricier, but you can also consider a 3 season like the MSR Hubba that's a double wall single person tent. It weighs about 3lbs and can accomodate a pack the vestibule. The Hubba can handle most Colorado weather just fine as long as you pick your campsite appropriately.
Remember what your knees are for.
User avatar
Posts: 287
Joined: 4/28/2007
14er Checklist (15)
13er Checklist (11)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby GravityPilot » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:45 am

+1 for Bibler, I've been carrying a Big Wall for awhile now and it's been bomber. I can also vouch for the BD Firstlight tent, it's tiny, but definitely gets the job done.
User avatar
Posts: 1180
Joined: 5/22/2006
14er Checklist Not Entered

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby Derek » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:51 am

I use an Outdoor Research Aurora Bivy. It weighs in at 1 lb and 8 ounces, so its pretty easy to carry around.

Regarding temps: Never really heard a bivy referred to as "4 season", but anything that keeps the water out and has full closure (some just have a screen) would work in winter. Personally, I am ALWAYS much warmer sleeping in my bivy during the winter than sleeping in a tent. If I trench it good, there are times in winter that I leave the bivy most of the way open because I get so warm.

Regarding condensation: EVERY review you read for EVERY bivy will have someone claiming that it gets full of condensation. If you breathe into ANY bivy, you'll get condensation...if you dont, then I'd bet the bivy isn't very water tight. I think general instructions say to leave 8-10 inches unzipped, but I usually leave a little bit more and work to breathe at the opening. Don’t have any wetness issues by doing this. Every once in a while, I’ll wake up and find that my head is turned into the bivy, and I’ll just readjust.

Regarding Setup: My theory is that the set up of the bivy in winter is almost as important as the type of bivy itself. My personal preference is to form a “trench” in the snow to lay the bivy, trying to go perpendicular to the wind. I sleep with my feet at the trench opening. At my head end, I cover the top with a jacket/tarp so that my upper area is covered even when the top of the bivy is open. This allows me to keep my head out more, preventing condensation even further. If its very windy and very snowy, I probably would change options since I wouldn’t want the trench filling in, but normally this setup works great for me.

One thing my bivy lacks is a “hoop” to keep the fabric off my face. Not a huge deal for me, since I’m a side sleeper. I know some people get a bit claustrophobic though.

My normal set up (although I usually cinch the jacket over my head better once I'm in for the night, and I also usually try to be closer to a tree with lower branches):
"I used to think my Dad was Elvis. But I haven't told him that yet. I haven't told my Dad either." -S. Murdoch
Posts: 462
Joined: 11/16/2007
14er Checklist (36)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby Gabriel » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:53 pm

I use the BD spotlight bivy and have been very satisfied. It's comfy for a bivy with one pole to give some headroom. I bivied twice last summer solo and over 19 k. The spotlight performed well and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again in serious conditions.

Posts: 46
Joined: 3/21/2011
14er Checklist (1)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby ironman11 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:24 am

I have had the OR Alpine Bivy. It is great because it has a hoop to keep the bivy sack off of your face. It is also Gore Tex and is extremely waterproof. I have never had condensation issues with it because I leave it unzipped in all conditions. There is a large flap that covers the zipper so that you can leave it unzipped and not worry about water/snow getting in. It also has a cool bug net for those nice summer nights under the stars. Highly recommend this bivy.
User avatar
Posts: 3
Joined: 2/27/2012
14er Checklist (5)

Re: 4 Season Bivy Sack

Postby polarpop » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:23 pm

Has anyone used one of these, or just stick with a BD or OR ?


This military bivy sack was designed to go with the four part Modular Sleeping System (MSS4). This Gore-Tex designed and manufactured bag/liner serves as a ground barrier and a wind breaker. Excellent piece of gear for the serious camper, because it can be used with any sleeping gear of the mummy shape.. Made by Tennier Industries, USA

Unused, never issued genuine military gear. Brand Spankin New or your money back!
100% waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX sealed seams for durability and heat retention.
Zip-down side with snap-over strom flap.
Drawcord cinch at top.
30" X 80", 2.4 lbs.
*Unused item from DoD


Return to “Gear, Climbing Prep, Safety, etc.”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests