The debate of bivy sack vs tents has been raging on among campers, hikers, and backpackers for quite a while. While these two types of shelter both serve the same general function, they are vastly different in execution and how they accomplish those goals. If you’ve heard about bivy sacks but find yourself asking “what are bivy sacks?”, this guide will walk you through what kinds of bivy sacks are available and why so many people love to use them. If you are trying to decide between a bivy bag and a single tent, we’ll show you what you need to know to make the most informed decision possible.

Bivy Sack vs Tent: How do I Decide Which One to Buy

there are several factors that you’re going to want to consider when deciding between a bivy sack and a tent

There are several factors that you’re going to want to consider when deciding between a bivy sack and a tent.The best way to decide which one to buy is to analyze each of the features that you want one by one and determine which option is going to meet your needs better.It’s also good to look at past user impressions and company reputation to determine if the product and company you are buying from are reliable. Only with these taken into consideration can you get a complete picture of which piece of equipment you should purchase. 

What Do You Need to Know About Bivy Sack vs Tent?

The first thing that you need to know is what each of these things is. You may not have heard of a bivy sack, but it’s a form of shelter that is quite popular with hikers and backpackers because it is so small and mobile. A bivy sack is designed to be a very minimal form of shelter that surrounds your sleeping bag and doesn’t provide a lot of extra space.

A tent, on the other hand, is a more substantial shelter that is designed to cover a little bit larger of an area. You can use a tent to shelter an entire family, but if you are comparing these two things you are probably looking for something that can just house you.

Which Factors Should be Considered When Choosing Between a Bivy Sack or a Tent?

If you are trying to decide between a bivy sack and a tent, there are several factors that you must choose from. These products offer different things, but it’s most important to decide what you’re looking for before you start your search. You need to decide how much space you need, how important mobility and compactness is to you, and what price range you are looking to stay in. Considering these things ahead of time will help you to pick and choose products based on your personal needs.

Consider the Size and Weight

the dimensions of your tent or bivy sack are going to be a huge factor in your decision and you should ensure that you fully understand

The dimensions of your tent or bivy sack are going to be a huge factor in your decision and you should ensure that you fully understand the specifications of the equipment that you buy beforehand.

 Size and weight are going to have an impact on how comfortable it is to sleep in, how easy it is to transport, and how well it will stand up to inclement weather and other outdoor conditions. 

Reflect on the Ease of Setting it Up

Another important factor that you’re going to want to ponder is how easy it is to set up your selected shelter. Generally, it’s far preferable to have a shelter that is very easy to set up. We all know that after a long day of hiking, the last thing that you want to do is have to struggle with a stubborn tent or bivy sack and not get the rest that you need.

Make sure to look at how easy it is to set up when you purchase your shelter so that you can be sure that it isn’t going to bog you down on your hiking or backpacking trip.

Furthermore, an easy assembly usually means an easy disassembly. Nobody goes on a hiking or backpacking trip to spend their whole time setting up and taking down their shelter. To be sure that you get the most out of your trip outdoors, get a shelter that is easy to assemble and take apart.

Weight and Backpack Space

The first consideration is the size and weight of your equipment. This is important for any backpacker or hiker because we all know that pack weight is a crucial factor in your fatigue and energy levels.

It is ideal to pack as light as possible when you’re on the trail, but you can get away with a heavier pack if you are hiking a shorter distance or you are accustomed to hauling larger weight with you.

If you are going to be hiking long distances or you find yourself getting tired with heavy packs, you should make sure that the shelter that you purchase isn’t going to weigh you down unnecessarily.

However, you might not be able to compromise here if you need a higher quality shelter that is going to be durable in a variety of weather conditions. 

The other thing that you need to consider is the shape. It’s best to get a shelter that folds down to a compact size so that it can fit into your pack and take up as little of the valuable storage space as possible.

Comfort Bivy Sacks and Tents Provide

the first consideration is the size and weight of your equipment

Comfort level is perhaps the biggest contrast between tents and bivy sacks and it’s the source of the debate that surrounds these two shelters. First, you should decide how much of a factor comfort is to you when you are staying in a tent or bivy sack.

If you are going on a long-term trip, a tent might be the best option. Tents still come in pretty small sizes for individuals to make travel convenient, but they afford some conveniences that bivy tents just can’t offer.

A single backpacking tent is compact and easy to carry but still allows you to move around as you please. If that won’t work for you, you should check out the best big camping tents.

A bivy tent, on the other hand, limits your comfortability a little bit more. Bivy tents are designed to be minimal and barely be large enough to cover you while sleeping. If you are claustrophobic or require a lot of space to move around while you are sleeping, bivy tents might not be the best option for you.

For either shelter that you select, you should be sure to make sure that the floor is comfortable. Sleeping in a tent isn’t always comfortable and easy, but you can avoid making it harder on yourself by finding a bivy sack or tent that puts a good solid layer between you and the harsh ground.

You also want to make sure that whichever shelter you go with has the right weather protection. You can get a waterproof bivy sack if moisture is a concern or a winter bivy sack if you are going to be camping in a winter environment.

Number of Campers or Backpackers

Knowing how many campers or backpackers are going to be on your trip is a crucial step in the planning process of any trip. One of the main reasons for that is because you have to determine sleeping arrangements according to the number of people that are going.

Bivy sacks and tents can both accommodate either one or two people because two person bivy sacks are available out there. If you are planning to sleep in a traditional sleeping back and tent but are worried about space, you can explore getting a two person bivy sack to save room. However, this does have its downsides. You are going to be limited in motion and it might be more intimate than what is comfortable for you and your traveling companion.

Check on the Frequency of Use

Tents and sunshine through the trees

When you are shopping for a sleeping shelter for your trip, make sure that you determine how often you’ll be using it. This will come into play for two reasons.

 The first is that you need to know if the durability and quality of the material of the shelter that you get are adequate for how frequently you use it and it will hold up to years of frequent use. 

The second reason that the frequency of use is important is comfort.

 If you are using the shelter infrequently, you may be more inclined to ignore comfort problems in favor of affordability because you don’t have to deal with it as often. However, if you are using it often, you want to make sure that it is comfortable and you won’t have problems using it over and over.

Make Comparisons With All Existing Products

Once you know what features you are looking for in your shelter, you should be sure to get a complete picture of what products are available. You will be hard-pressed to find the best shelter out there if you don’t know what the options are.

You should make a list of all the products that meet your needs and compare them closely. In this way, you’ll be able to efficiently and quickly find the right ultra light bivy sack, bivy cover, or small tent for you.


Each traveler has their preference when it comes to bivy sacks vs tents, but the most important thing to remember is that the equipment that’s best for you will hinge upon what your needs are in the areas of comfort, space, weight, size, and convenience. Be sure to examine each of these as you begin the search for your next bivy sack or tent. If you have decided on a bivy sack, be sure to check out our rundown of the best bivy sacks!