If you want to save weight on your upcoming backpacking adventure, you are probably thinking of using a bivy sack instead of a traditional tent.
While it is always a good thing to be able to cut down the weight of your sleep system, there are a few key things to consider before you make a final decision. Among these are how a bivy sack can handle cold and rain and the different weather elements.
So, are bivy sacks warmer than tents?
Yes, bivy sacks are warmer because they have been designed in a way that they can add around 4-8 degrees of warmth to any sleep system. Aside from warmth, a bivy sack can also naturally keep away the drafts as it completely encloses your body. The most fidgety of sleepers who love to toss and turn can stay protected from elements when using a bivy sack.
What is a Bivy Sack?
Those who are new to the world of backpacking are probably wondering what a bivy sack is in the first place. A Bivy sack, or also known as Bivouac sack, is a protective covering that offers a lightweight sleep system for solo backpackers.
During the initial introduction of bivy sacks, these have been designed primarily for climbers and mountaineers. The key idea was for bivy sacks to be lightweight with extremely compressible protection from the bad weather during emergency situations.
Since their launch, bivy sacks have definitely come a very long way. Bivy sacks today are lighter, more durable, and crafted from waterproof fabrics. It makes bivy sacks ideal for those lightweight backpacking adventures.
If you love to brave the great outdoors, you can never predict what Mother Nature is going to throw your way. Your adventure might start with pleasant weather only to end up dealing with continuous wind or rain at one point.
These are those instances when a bivy sack comes in handy since it can keep you protected and safe from the rain and potentially add up warmth to several degrees.
You can also enjoy a comfortable and cozy sleep at night which is important if you need to stay physically active and alert the following day.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Bivy Sacks
Tents and bivy sacks are both ideal to use for camping. However, most people are often left wondering what to use between these two for their outdoor activities.
The truth is there is no such thing as a right or wrong answer for this but bivy sacks have their own set of strengths and weaknesses:
- Bivy sacks are remarkably lightweight.
- Bivy sacks are easy to store and put away.
- Bivy sacks are great for stealth and are also handy for camping almost anywhere.
- Bivy sacks can get wet during nighttime. However, you can treat the sacks with hydrophobic products to lessen this dampness.
- Sleeping in bivy sacks may be a bit uncomfortable. The space is rather small with some people feeling claustrophobic inside them.
- You need to dry bivy sacks frequently.
- You need to leave your stuff outside when sleeping in bivy sacks since they don’t have enough space for storage. Rain and animals can end up damaging your belongings.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Tents
Just like bivy sacks, tents also have their pros and cons:
- Tents are comfortable because they have more room and space.
- Tents are cheaper compared to bivy sacks on per person basis if you are using multi-person tents.
- If you are using a tent good for 2 or 3 persons, the weight can be reduced considerably as compared to bivy sacks on per person basis.
- Tents don’t require drying.
- Tents don’t get damp or wet as a result of condensation.
- Tents have sufficient space for storing stuff.
- Tents require you to look for an ideal camping spot. Set up and pack up also takes time.
- Tents are generally bulkier and heavier compared to bivy sacks.
Comfort and Warmth of Bivy Sacks and Tents
Since bivy sacks are small, you should never expect a lot of space for moving around. Due to this limited space, it is common for condensation to build up inside the sack, making it uncomfortable and wet.
To lessen this dampness, you can opt for a synthetic camping sack or something more expensive that is also more breathable. It also helps to use hydrophobic treatment.
As for tents, you can just sit down inside to do other activities inside. You can even keep your stuff inside the tent, something that can be an inconvenience when using bivy sacks. Even though bivy sacks tend to be warmer compared to tents, they are also less comfortable.
During bad weather, a bivy sack can also get extremely claustrophobic. A tent is more comfortable during such conditions.
You can sleep anywhere when using bivy sacks. There is no need for you to look for a suitable area to sleep in your bivy sack.
This can be an issue for tents since you have to look for a bigger and more spacious area where you can set up the whole structure. If you wish to visit areas not well documented or explored, you might be better off with a bivy sack.
You can also enhance your stealth with bivy sacks. These are easy to set up and relatively easy to pack up. If you are visiting areas that are possibly dangerous, bivy sacks are better alternatives.
Conversely, you cannot bring your stuff inside a bivy sack, leaving them exposed to nature’s elements. Rain and animals can end up damaging your items.
You also need to dry bivy sacks every 2 or 3 days, making them an inconvenient option in camps that last for several days.
Space and Weight
Tents and bivy sacks are both extremely light as made possible by today’s modern designs. However, there remains to be a substantial difference between tents and bivy sacks as far as weight is concerned.
Bivy sacks don’t require poles or other structures, which means that they contain lesser material. Due to their smaller size, bivy sacks are also easier to fit inside your backpack.
A tent, in actual figures, is around twice as heavy as a bivy sack.
Tents come in more affordable price tags compared to bivy sacks. You can choose from different tent varieties but a decent tent for single-use will only cost you a little bit over a hundred dollars. You can also buy multi-person tents to further reduce the cost.