What is a Bivvy Bag and Why Might You Want One?

I’m Derek Cullen, an adventurer and lover of everything outdoors. I’ve been taking long distance outdoor adventures for a few years now and all of these trips have included a lot of camping. I really love tents and the freedom they bring. Sleeping in a tent is also my favourite way to recharge and enjoy the solitude that comes with getting outdoors.

But what’s all this got to do with a bivvy bag?

Let me explain…

What is a Bivvy Bag?

“Bivvy” is short for bivouac. It refers to a temporary shelter and this French word comes from the usage of beiwacht – a German watch patrol in the 18th century. The bivouac was mostly used by soldiers back then but then adopted by mountaineers, scouts, and those who enjoy wild camping. It’s basically a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag.

As for how you use a bivvy bag, you simply pull this bag over your sleeping bag. For some bivvy bags, you can place your roll mat inside but it doesn’t really matter if the mat is outside. It’s also advisable to bring warm clothes for extra warmth, a mosquito net for midges and a separate waterproof bag for your backpack and gear.

Why You Might Want to Try Using a Bivvy Bag in Ireland

I was always somewhat afraid of sleeping in a bivvy bag in Ireland. It rains a lot and temperatures can plummet over night. As if that’s not enough, it’s often windy and a tent provides shelter from this wind. 

However, I was also very curious about sleeping outdoors without a tent. I feel cosy in a tent but suspected that using a bivvy bag would feel more immersive. Aside from looking up at stars above or the night sky, I loved the idea of waking up surrounded by blades of grass and engulfed by the smell of fresh air.

Here’s some more things I would like to point out about using a bivvy bag in Ireland:

  • A bivvy bag is extremely easy to set up. You simply roll this bag out and stuff your sleeping bag inside – that’s it.
  • A bivvy bag is extremely light and cat fit in the palm of your hand which will also save you from carrying a tent.
  • A bivvy bag is a very private way to camp. In other words, people might spot a tent but not a bivvy bag.
  • A bivvy bag is much cheaper than a tent. You can even pick one up for less than €50.

What I Really Love About Camping with a Bivvy Bag in Ireland

I still feel nervous when I think about sleeping in a bivvy bag. This is a primal fear that comes about when I’m not sleeping in a room with walls and windows. Unlike a tent, it doesn’t feel like a private space and there’s always the bizarre concern of “What if a fox licks my face or a farmer steps on top of me?”.

Here’s the thing; that concern goes away. You can always camp far from paths or trails and there are no dangerous animals in Ireland. So while that nervous feeling might remain, after a while, this feeling is little more than excitement – which is a very good thing.

And there’s more…

Sleeping in a bivvy bag, you are right out in the open. You are not shielded from the environment. With a bivvy bag, you can look directly up at the stars and feel the morning breeze on your face. When you open your eyes, you can start your morning with an unforgettable view and your sleeping bag/gear should keep you warm in any weather.

In case you might be wondering, you can also bring a tarp for extra protection. A tarp is cheap and light, and easy to set up. It’s something you can bring on a camping trip as backup and only use this item if you really need it.

A Quick Warning About Using a Bivvy Bag in Ireland

If it does rain, a bivvy bag is not a fool-proof option for keeping you dry. Almost every bivvy bag will produce some condensation on the sleeping bag, while the rain itself can make for rather uncomfortable conditions.

The truth is, I have a high tolerance for this kind of thing and try to bivvy-up when the weather is decent.

What Bivvy Bag Should You Buy?

Snugpack Stratosphere

If you don’t quite feel ready for a bivvy bag, the Snugpack Stratosphere might be your answer. It has a tent-like structure in the head area. This design ensures no mosquito net or fabric will be flapping in your face during the night. You can also close this bivvy when it rains and zip up the mesh when midges come calling. Finally, it’s available in green which, as any wild camper will know, is the best colour for stealth camping in Ireland.

Check out the Snugpack Stratosphere

Rab Survival Zone Lite Bivvy Bag

Rab are known for their fantastic tents and camping gear in particular. This bivvy bag is suitable for three seasons and has thin fabric that makes for a comfortable sleep. It might not be the cheapest bivvy bag, but Ran has a reputation for producing some of the best outdoor gear on the market.

Check Out the Snugpack Bivvi Bag

AlpKit Hunka XL (My Bivvy Bag)

Alpkit has created the best budget bivvy bag in Ireland. It’s a solid piece of gear with an internal stuff sack which actually matters when you don’t want this item to blow away! It doesn’t have poles so you might want to pick up a separate head net, but overall, this is the best bivvy bag that I have come across in this price range. It’s also green, and at 330g, it’s extremely light.

Check Out the Aplkit Hunka

Mountain Warehouse Bivvy Bag

It’s the most affordable bivvy bag on the market and one of the lightest, too. I decided to go with the previous bivvy based on reviews but the truth is, I just can’t see how you might go wrong with this option. The only real difference is size, given that the mountain warehouse bivvy is quite narrow compared to other bivvy’s.

Check Out the Mountain Warehouse Bivvy Bag

Final Thoughts

You are probably best to pick and choose when you use a bivvy bag in Ireland. If the forecast is heavy rain, a tent is likely the better option but you might still want to carry a bivvy either way. As for the tent-like design on some bivvy’s, I personally think this detracts from the experience and turns the bivvy into a tent – which defeats the purpose. Either way, I love my new piece of gear and recommend that you try sleeping in a bivvy bag in Ireland.

Disclosure: Please note the trust my audience has for my advice is of utmost importance to me. Hence, I will only recommend equipment I love from brands that I trust. I was not paid to review any of these products and I purchase this equipment myself. I am also without obligation to leave positive reviews for any product, I just know that this gear works for me and it is likely to work for you too. This page contains affiliate links meaning I might receive a small amount from the supplier should you decide to purchase an item through one of my links. Thank you for supporting me.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments