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Tent VS Bivy: What’s Better Shelter for Solo Trip?

Bivy sacks and tents both used as a shelter, but which one is better suitable for you. This complete comparison between tent VS bivy is going to help you find the right answer.

By Cody | @Cody

Updated on Dec 27, 2019

If you often go hiking alone, you can choose either a one-person tent or bivouac sack (bivy) as your shelter. But have you decided which one is better for you? In this article, I will clarify your ideas so you know what to choose depending on the situation. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You should know them well to choose the right one based on the type of trip you are going to make.

 Tent VS Bivy

Tent

The technology of the tents has evolved greatly in recent years, from the heavy and bulky Canadian canvas tents to the light and compact igloo tents. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a tent over a bivy.

Tents

Advantage:

Big space. You can have all your things safe from the rain. You can spread out and have a small house in the place you want while a bivy is made for pretty much one person.

Protected from all the weather. If there is some really hardcore weather and I have to be trapped inside of my shelter, you will not feel so claustrophobic. Most tents have a vestibule so you can cook on the outside of the vestibule and never really have to get out of it.

Many choices. There are many sizes, models, prices, colors ... It is easy to find one that suits each person.

Privacy. You have your privacy in a tent, so it is very convenient to change clothes or do other personal stuff.

Protected from insects.

Disadvantages:

It is illegal in some areas. In most parks, you need to go to the designated campsite. If you camp near the farm, you’d better ask permission from the property owner. On some remote area, you can camp anywhere you want.

Heavy and expensive. A regular tent is a lot heavier than a bivy. There's more pieces of gear that you have to mess with, like poles or more stakes Light tents (less than 2kg) are expensive.

Hard to set up. It takes a while to assemble and disassemble it. You need a wide surface to mount it. You cannot see what happens in the outside world when you are inside.

Bivy

A bivy is essentially a sack made of a resistant and waterproof material. It was designed for climbers as an emergency sack to put over their sleeping bag when they were on the side of the mountain to protect them against rain, snow, dirt, moisture and other harsh elements of a mountainside.

Bivy

Over the years the bivy has become much more advanced. It is being made of thicker material. It has mesh breathable tops and some types of bivies even have a rigidity arc that goes over your face so you are better protected. Under the right conditions they are a great alternative to the tent, so here are some reasons that you would choose a bivy over a tent.

Advantages:

A bivy is super light.  A bivy weights a little bit over seven ounces. If you're putting together an ultralight kit, a bivy is obiviously a perfect fit.

Simplistic and convenient. It only takes four stakes to set up and it doesn't require any tent poles or anything. It is legal to make bivouac practically anywhere. You can enjoy the stars and nocturnal animals.

Smaller volume. It packs down small so it doesn't take up a lot of real space in your pack.

If you want a little bit of extra shelter over you, you can also bring a tarp. The overall weight of the tarp and the bivy together was a pound which is obviously much lighter than most backpacking tents on the market.

Disadvantages:

No barrier against insects. Bugs are annoying. If you are camping with a bivy, be sure to bring some camping bug repellent.

Lack of privacy. It is probably not a good choice if you are going to sleep in a campsite or accompanied by more people.

You are more exposed to the inclement weather. If you're trapped in some sort of hardcore weather, you can't really move much because it is a very small enclosure. If you're hiking in some bad whether conditions like a rainstorm or snow, a bivy probably isn't the best option.

How about a Bivy with a Tarp

Using a Bivy with a tarp is the intermediate choice between the tent and the bivy. The truth is that using a tarp not too big, you can take refuge from a storm and have a place to shelter from the wind, to change clothes, cook or sleep. It will not be the same as a three-season tent, but we will be more comfortable than with a simple cover. It also does not give the impression of being a full-fledged camp, so we will avoid problems with the authority. If we do not want to mount it, we can always use it as a bivy cover. In addition, the weight is still quite lighter than a regular tent.

Bivy and Tarp

Wrap up

If you are hiking alone and you know the weather is good, a bivy with a cover works perfectly. It gives you a little bit of shelter that is enough to keep the critters away and keep the bugs off your face.  

If you know the weather is not so good, like it rains a lot, it is more recommended to choose a tent. Therefore, choosing tent VS bivy depends on what trail you're hiking and what conditions you are in.


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