Top 5 Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks of 2023

Backpacking Bivy Sacks: Daytime mountain scene with a backpacking bivy tent

In this post, we'll take a look at:

When choosing an ultralight backpacking bivy sack, you need to think about its weight, durability, how well it handles different weather, and how easy it is to set up.

Our helpful TOP 5 guide is here to make sure you can pick the best bivy for your adventure.

Top Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sack Picks

  1. Most Ultralight: MSR Pro Bivy (11.9oz/340g)
  2. Best Overall: Outdoor Research Alpine AscentShell Bivy (18.6oz/528g)
  3. Best Value: Black Diamond Spotlight Bivy (23.3oz/660g)
  4. Premium Option: Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy (18.9oz/538g)
  5. Budget Option: Outdoor Research Helium Bivy (15.8oz/448g)

1. Most Ultralight
MSR Pro Bivy

Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks: MSR Pro Bivy

Key Specs

Weight: 11.9 ounces (340g)
Material: 20D nylon ripstop
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Spacious


❌ No zipper

The ultralight Pro Bivy from MSR is tailor-made for experienced ultralight backpackers. Ideal for tight spaces where tents can’t fit, it’s super lightweight for quick journeys.

The bivy boasts weatherproof fabric to prevent condensation, and its waterproof coating keeps you dry during alpine challenges.

Just remember, this bivy doesn’t have a zipper closure. It’s a handy tool for those who want minimalistic shelter on their outdoor quests.

2. Best Overall
Outdoor Research Alpine AscentShell Bivy

Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks: Outdoor Research Alpine AscentShell Bivy

Key Specs

Weight: 18.6 ounces (528g)
Material: proprietary nylon fabric
Price: $$$


✅ Side zip for easy entry

✅ Excellent in bad weather


❌ Not for someone over 6 feet

The ultralight Alpine AscentShell Bivy by Outdoor Research offers a blend of lightweight durability and comfort.

Designed for solo adventurers, it’s crafted from Pertex and breathable waterproof AscentShell, promising a cozy shelter for all your journeys.

Although it might not suit those over six feet tall, its innovative features like step-in opening and extra head space make it a convenient choice for alpine exploration and extreme conditions.

3. Best Value
Black Diamond Spotlight Bivy

Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks: Black Diamond Spotlight Bivy

Key Specs

Weight: 23.3 ounces (660 grams)
Material: proprietary fabric (NanoShield)
Price: $$


✅ Spacious

✅ Great headroom


❌ Needs additional seam sealing

The ultralight Black Diamond Spotlight bivy from Diamond Equipment caters to minimalists who appreciate added comfort.

With a single DAC Featherlite pole for more head and shoulder room, it offers convenience with a spacious zippered entry and mesh panel for great airflow.

The proprietary NanoShield fabric ensures year-round performance. Keep in mind that while the bottom is sealed, you’ll need to apply seam sealer for the rest if desired.

4. Premium Option
Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy

Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks: Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy

Key Specs

Weight: 18.9 ounces (538 grams)
Material: nylon ripstop
Price: $$$


✅ Great in bad weather

✅ Small pack size


❌ None

The Three Wire Hooped Bivy from Big Agnes provides protection against extreme weather without adding extra weight.

Crafted with premium materials for year-round usage, it includes a breathable mesh window for enhanced comfort.

Taped seams, breathable fabric, and lightweight poles contribute to its practicality. While it doesn’t offer warmth, it excels at reducing condensation.

5. Budget Option
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

Ultralight Backpacking Bivy Sacks: Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

Key Specs

Weight: 15.8 ounces (448 grams)
Material: 30D nylon ripstop
Price: $$


✅ Small pack size

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Entrance opening can sag

The ultralight Helium Bivy from Outdoor Research stands out with its award-winning design and upgraded durability, thanks to the use of Helium fabric and Diamond Fuse technology.

Crafted for fast and light adventures, this clamshell opening bivy is favored by ultralight backpackers due to its dependable performance.

While the outer shell entrance opening might sag a bit, a simple clip can help keep it elevated.

How to Buy the Right Bivy Sack

Choosing a bivy over a regular tent for camping involves a trade-off between portability and comfort. If you are unsure about the pros and cons of bivys, check out our post here.

Bivys, originally designed for climbers, are now popular among adventurers seeking a minimalist approach.

Before making your decision think of:

  • Weight: Choose the lightest option that still meets your other needs to maximize weight savings.
  • Packed size: Many ultralight bivys pack down smaller than a water bottle. A compressed size under 5×8 inches is ideal for backpackers with limited space.
  • Material and waterproofing: These compact shelters, made with lightweight materials like Gore-Tex, Silnylon, and eVent, prioritize dryness and warmth. Weatherproof zippers also improve protection.
  • Dimensions: Choose a bivy length that matches your height to maximize comfort and warmth. Many ultralight bivys are tapered designs to reduce weight while still accommodating shoulder width.
  • Bug protection: Mesh netting provides ventilation and keeps insects out for better sleep. An integrated no-see-um mesh head panel is optimal.

Carefully balancing these key elements will allow you to select the lightest, most packable bivy shelter with sufficient weather protection, comfort, and bug defenses for your needs.

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