Tough Tuesdays: Bivy

Autumn by Dodo Matush

The Bivy

For the minimalist camper, those hiking from site to site, or as an emergency or adventure kit for long term camping or living in a tent, a bivy is both a (very) temporary home or emergency shelter.

An example:

This particular bivy is what they should be:

  • lightweight – it’s just over 1 lb
  • protective – seamed and zippered
  • waterproof yet breathable – mesh window and awesome flooring

It’s a close fit but does what it should while NOT making you feel like you’re trying to sleep in a coffin.



But that minor limitation should be fine for 98% of the human population. For the rest of us, just be careful. I’m covering this one because the types of bivies meant to keep people warm on the top of mountains are not in a price range most want to contemplate (including little ol’ me). This example is a nice middle ground of functional, comfortable and affordable.


One Person!!

Bivies such as these are not designed for multiple people. Don’t plan to stuff two of you, or even you and your little kid, into a single person bivy. Think of them as a mummy sleeping bag. Close quarters and close fit. As I’ve discussed before (here), counting your party is not as simple as the number of people you’re with.


Common Sense

Now, I know you aren’t stupid. You have a brain and use it when you’re outside. So, look at the bivy. Look at the amount of stuff you’re bringing. Are you a person who should be planning to use a bivy as more than an emergency?

Yes? Great!!

No? Bring a regular tent, too.

Thank you for planning ahead.

Safety goes right along with this: don’t be stupid! Use your head, and don’t do more than you can handle.

If you’ve never done a long trip before: pick a middle-length time, or go with a more experienced friend or group.

If you’ve never camped at all before: start with a neighbor’s backyard, or a state or local park.

If you want to grill out and basically tailgate, don’t try to live out of a bivy. Get an 8-person tent and have a get-together (check the alcohol regulations of where you’re headed!).

Be smart and safe: doing so increases your (and my) chances at enjoyment throughout your entire trip!


Have you used a bivy recently? (It’s okay to admit you thought it was another way of saying biffy, I’ve heard it often enough to not be surprised anymore.)

Do you have emergency tents you prefer?

Share in the comments! 🙂

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Again, just to remind you, the links may be affiliate programs; but you don’t pay extra for it!


I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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