Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
Backpacking Forums
---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#149143 - 04/12/11 09:52 AM Bivy or tent
flyman8xi2 Offline

Registered: 04/12/11
Posts: 2
I will be packing around the midwest and into the backcountry of colorado and I am wondering if a tent will be sufficient or if a bivy might be more appropiate

#149144 - 04/12/11 10:16 AM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Are you going to miss having the ability to sit up in your shelter? Do you not need to store gear inside? Do you mind spending days trapped inside your bag when it's raining cats and dogs? Are you able to get in and out of it in a flash and then dry off before getting back into it if you've gone out to water a bush? Are you a mountaineer who stays on high narrow ledges? A bivy might work for you.

There are two kinds of bivy - the heavy kind for mountaineers that can't use a tarp for cover, where they are expecting to survive a rainstorm in just the bivy. And the lighter kind that provides some protection from bugs and spatter that makes it under the edges of a small tarp. If you go with a mountaineering type bivy and you are not mountaineering, you're probably going to be sacrificing the space and comfort of a tent for no reason, since some of those bivies weigh as much as a double wall solo tent, and in many cases cost more.

Edited by lori (04/12/11 10:18 AM)
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#149146 - 04/12/11 12:15 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
OldScout Offline

Registered: 03/17/03
Posts: 501
Loc: Puget Sound, Washington
On a Boy Scout 50 miler, we got to our destination lake every afternoon somewhere between 3 and 5 pm. Just enough time to clean up and take a quick nap before dinner. I'd set up my tent, crawl in, strip down to shorts, and stretch out. Utterly delightful. It was warm and buggy outside. The bivy boys were all envious because they were just cooking in their bivy sacks, sweating up a storm trying to avoid the mossies and horseflies. Give me my TarpTent ANY day!

#149149 - 04/12/11 01:44 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
flyman8xi2 Offline

Registered: 04/12/11
Posts: 2
Thank you for your replies!!!!!! I now have a lot to consider and think I will go with a tent.

#149187 - 04/13/11 03:41 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
bigwaterbill Offline

Registered: 04/13/11
Posts: 6
I have used both and two years ago met a hammock backpacker. I have never looked back. It is the most comfortable convenient shelter, as long as there are trees! You can sit up in it with feet on the ground, cook under the tarp, and it is by far the most comfortable night sleep I have ever experienced. There are several brands to choose from and I would test it out at home. There are also some hanging tricks and conversions to make to make set up and adjustments much easier. I would suggest looking into one if you are choosing a shelter.

#149362 - 04/18/11 09:53 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: bigwaterbill]
TomD Offline

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I'm with Lori on this one. If the weather is fine (as in clear skies, no wind), you need nothing more than a really lightweight bivy to keep your bag clean. I have a Bibler Winter Bivy (just a bag with a cross-zip) and used it without a tent in winter on snow-worked just fine.

But, once it starts to rain or snow, no way would I want to be in a bivy. Even my SD Flashlight was confining in a storm with two of us in it. Better with one and gear. I considered a bivy, but after thinking about it, I realized, not for me. You could get a Tarptent, a Lightheart (based on the old Wanderlust design), a Six Moon Design or something similar that weighs about the same as a heavy duty bivy, yet has far more room.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

#149365 - 04/18/11 10:58 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
A tent will do everything a bivy can do. But a bivy can't do everything a tent can do. The advantage of the bivy is that it's usually lighter and simpler. But believe me, you won't care about that when it's raining buckets and/or the bugs are swarming.

Go with the tent.
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

#149368 - 04/19/11 12:18 AM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: Trailrunner]
skinewmexico Offline

Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 81
SMD has some great introductory prices on their new Skyscape series right now. Cheaper than a lot of bivys.

#149430 - 04/20/11 12:51 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
OldScout Offline

Registered: 03/17/03
Posts: 501
Loc: Puget Sound, Washington
There is a used TarpTent for $80.00 in the "for sale" section of this website.

#149475 - 04/21/11 04:44 PM Re: Bivy or tent [Re: flyman8xi2]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
A stand-alone bivy is a very specialized piece of equipment and is great when needed. The advantages are 1) can sleep in just about any small spot, after all they were designed for sleeping on a ledge half-way up a cliff, 2) compact so this is my shelter of choice when I want to stuff a week trip into my 2400 capacity pack, 3) high winds above timber - many who climb Mt. Rainier and camp out have had better luck in a bivy than having high winds flapping their tents all night and 4) viewing stars at night. Be warned, that MOST people do not like a bivy. If you use a bivy, then only the basic ones that weigh about 1.5 pounds are worth it. If you get a fancy one with poles, you may as well get a light single tent. A bivy will also cost you about as much as a tent. I would get a tent first, and then maybe add abivy after you get experienced.


Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Boil in a bottle?
by DustinV
07/23/21 06:29 PM
Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs.
by edfardos
04/26/16 05:19 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Grandma Gatewood Revisited
by Bill Kennedy
01:51 AM
Greetings from the (not so) prairie state
by UrbanYeti
09/24/21 12:29 PM
Join me on an Author's night!
by balzaccom
09/21/21 08:09 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Carrying My Dog LOL
by Hey
07/07/21 09:20 PM
Featured Photos
Spiderco Chaparral Pocketknife
David & Goliath
Also Testing
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 34 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
UrbanYeti, Carute, Jacksmith220, snacksalot, Keirv87
13066 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Affiliate Disclaimer: This forum is an affiliate of,, R.E.I. and others. The product links herein are linked to their sites. If you follow these links to make a purchase, we may get a small commission. This is our only source of support for these forums. Thanks.!

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum