Bivy Sack vs. Tent

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Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Rynoref73 »

Looking into next year, I have plans to hit several summits which will 'require' overnights (Capital, Chicago Basin, Snowmass, etc).

I am in the market for purchasing either a bivy sack or backpacking tent.

I would love any opinions on either one, as I am up in the air as to which way I want to go. Any feedback would be helpful.

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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by dstelk »

Rynoref73 wrote:Looking into next year, I have plans to hit several summits which will 'require' overnights (Capital, Chicago Basin, Snowmass, etc).

I am in the market for purchasing either a bivy sack or backpacking tent.

I would love any opinions on either one, as I am up in the air as to which way I want to go. Any feedback would be helpful.

My first choice is always a multi-person tent with shared carry between the group. If you're traveling solo, I'm not a huge bivvy sack fan. Depending on what you're willing to spend, you can get a good single person tent that gives you a lot more flexibility and room to move for not a lot more weight. Another good, light weight option is a hammock / tarp to cover. I'm a fan of being able to get out of the wind and rain with room to sit up and hang out, so typically opt for a tent over bivvy or hammock set ups. I'm sure you'll get a hundred opposing opinions here, so spend some time testing different set ups in the stores and go with what you think gives you the best chance at your level of comfort for good rest.

Also, a few of those are on my list for next summer, so hit me up! My partners have either finished or moved.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Liquid Shadow »

I think it all comes down to personal preference. I personally love comfort/luxury so I don't mind hauling a heavier tent.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Monster5 »

Tent. Sub 2 lb variety. Unless forecast is for zero precip.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by polar »

Fire kit.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Kiefer »

Never thought a question concerning a tent vs. a bivy sack/tent would be applicable but...good question!
My "off the cuff' answer is, go with a sack.
But, I have to defer to Ryan's answer (Monster5).

Until you're use to dealing with going 'without,' (creature comforts) and willing to suffer the elements in lieu of weight,
I'd say DEFINITELY a tent. Not only will it give you the option of having additional space but you have extra room for your pack and misc. in case the weather takes a dive on you.

The goal that (it seems) most people try to achieve is less weight. But you have to remember, if you're goal is less weight, than there IS a sacrifice to be paid. That sacrifice is going to be less fluids, less clothing or less food. And don't bother with electronics.
That all seems fine when reading it on a website, but I ASSURE you, it's a different story when you're in the backcountry and conditions aren't perfect OR expected.

Go with a tent. Find a lightweight 2-person tent and start from there.
I say your personal preference in terms what you're willing to endure can be relative to the dollars you're willing
to spend to ensure comfort during the night...weight and volume being equal.

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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by justiner »

Here's a book to check out, ... 1852845619" onclick=";return false;

I'm a bivy + UL tarp guy through and through - I haven't set up my tent in years. To me, there's simply nothing better than throwing out your bag and passing out after a long day, literally whereever there's a coffin-sized area of flat ground to be had.

I've done all the 14ers via a Bivy, I've biked the CT w/a Bivy and I've crossed the country via bike 2x with a bivy sack. If you're planning to constantly move, a tent setup makes no sense. My UL tent is 2x the weight and size of my entire sleep system that includes a bivy. The weight differences are in pounds. I dislike backpacking with a heavy pack for sure.

If you like hanging out at a campsite, commiserate, play cards, pass around the whisky - and you'll be there for a few days, you'll want a tent. If you want to do the Chicago Basin, but only have 48 hours, bivy it!
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Cool Hand Luke »

Afternoon showers come all the time in the summer and it is pretty miserable being confined to a bivy sack where all you can do is lie down. Reading in a bivy in the rain is so uncomfortable it's not even enjoyable.

I prefer a 1-person tent unless rain is extremely unlikely and I will be ridge camping. Yeah, it's not as fast to set up or pack up, but in a storm the extra space and comfort are worth the extra effort.

Chicago Basin is notorious for afternoon storms. My first trip there I carried a one-person tent and my buddy, who will remain unnamed, only carried a bivy. An hour and a half into the storm I hear "hey , dude, is there room in your tent for both of us to sit?"

Justin's bivy and tarp is a good suggestion, but an Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy + Tarp would be around 2 pounds 8 oz. while a MSR Hubba NX is 2 pounds 14 oz.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by TallGrass »

If you want the option of doing stuff out of the wind and weather, get a tent. If you want to keep flies at bay, get one with netting. If you want to keep bugs at bay, get one with a floor. If you want to keep it under 2 lbs, check out Six Moon Designs which has a 20% off sale going on now. The Lunar Solo and LE set up with one trekking pole, have a vestibule, are a 1.5-person tent, shed wind and weather, and enough room to sort and stash gear away from weather and critters that chew. Bivies are minimalist, don't need stakes/poles/trees required, and have a really small footprint. Hammocks need trees. Tarps need trees or poles. The Lunar Solo isn't free-standing so needs stake-able ground (I've been using the LE version and a Tyvek ground sheet).

Also check out this list of shelters under 3 lbs. Start at the bottom (lightest) and start scrolling up until you see the features you want, the continue until you find your price. Some are over $500, but the Six Moon Designs stuff can be had for $100-200. ... -shelters/

Imagine the worst case scenarios (like tons of mosquitoes; sitting out a loooong weather event) when deciding.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Conor »

I've always bivy ed up in Chicago Basin. My last trip was a little wet, but I myself never got soaked or cold. Just some gear, and it dried out during the day. I've since gone to a UL tarp for 3 season stuff, like the hyperlight mountain gear echo 2 or mountain laurel designs make a nice one as well. I made my own, which isn't that difficult. My tarp weighs in at 7 ozs with stakes. I always hike with poles, so I don't count that in my sleeping system weight. I have polycyro ground cloth, which I buy winter window kits and toss them once they're toast.

I'm also gearing up to make a hmg ultamid 4. It will be setup for 4 season, used mainly for cook tent on longer outings, my main car camping tent and I'll most likely bring it on the arctic circle trail next August. At 9'x9' foot print, that thing is huge, and should be under 2 lbs with carbon fiber pole. I calculated the other night I'd need 14 yds of material and at $30/yd, you can see why they're so expensive. Here's a review from Max Neale, who says he's tested a lot of tents for outdoor gear lab. ... e.html?m=1" onclick=";return false;

That's the long way of saying in Colorado and for summer, a tent is an old thing and not needed. Certainly a preference of most. Like I said in another thread, and I think Justin is saying above, focus more on trail comfort than camp comfort. And you can be pretty comfortable these days without hardly any weight. JMO, GOOD LUCK.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by Marmot96 »

Rynoref73 wrote: either a bivy sack or backpacking tent.!
Why not a tarp? Buy a $10 sheet of tyvek for a groundsheet and this is bombproof. Can withstand killer winds and is easier to use in the winter (ventilation). ... DQodIbEFUg" onclick=";return false;

That said, I also own a bivy and use that the majority of the time, since I love to see the stars when I sleep and don't mind having to close it up when it rains. Its incredible how light your pack will feel without a huge tent! Considering that most peaks that you listed are single overnights at most, you will be very comfortable in a bivy sack in most conditions. I've slept through hailstorms in the Elks (using Helium Bivy) as well as subzero conditions at 14k' and always been toasty and dry.
Last edited by Marmot96 on Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bivy Sack vs. Tent

Post by TomPierce »

I think bivy sacks have a place, but having used both I always vote for a light tent. I don't like getting a wet bag (if you seal a bivy in a storm, your breath has to go somewhere...), don't like hassling with bugs when I sleep, and like a place to get out of a storm or stow gear. Besides, my freestanding, double wall, seam sealed, screened tent with a small vestibule weighs 1lb 11 oz, an accurate measurement of the full package (tent, fly, poles, cords, tensioners, stakes, stuff need for a footprint with a floored tent). It'll take a 40mph blow, sideways rain, doesn't condense, no bugs, etc. Works for me. My philosophy is that gear is just a tool to accomplish a task, I don't want to think too much about it. When I grab my tent, I know it will work great in all conceivable conditions, no gambling required. If you go the BS route (pun intended) at least consider the season. It might make more sense after the monsoon/bug season.

Oh, and my comments above are for my 3 season tent. In the dead of winter I use a Hilleberg. Unbelievably great design, but not ultralight (4lbs 4oz). But it's a bomb shelter and the design gives me 15+ degrees F of free warmth. As a result my winter bag is only 2lbs exactly, so it all evens out weight-wise. Works for me.

Last edited by TomPierce on Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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