Tent and bivy bag

What is the difference?

To protect yourself from cold and wet, you should always take a bivy bag with you on a trekking tour in the alpine terrain. Because in the mountains, it can quickly lead to a weather change. A bivouac protects against wind, rain and cold, and should therefore be included in each tour, because it may happen that you can’t reach the hut in time. Bivy sacks are ideal for hiking, cabin and climbing trips due to their small packing dimensions, as they do not take up much space in the backpack.

Especially those who go for long trips and have to pay attention to every ounce of luggage, will appreciate the light bivvy bag and do without a much heavier tent. The bivy bag provides ample protection during sleep and during bad weather, is helpful in accidents or if you get lost, it can be life-saving. The bivy bag is versatile. You can sit in it or stand on it and, in extreme weather changes, close it except for a small breathing hole, so you stay safe from bad weather conditions.

Bivy bag (bivy tent) and tent – Where is the difference? Advantages and disadvantages

The bivy bag offers no comfort like the tent, but it is a lot lighter. A tent offers the advantage that once you’re inside the tent and it is closed, you have your own, small, private home in nature. You can unpack your things in the tent, change clothes, study the hiking map, etc. But that is perhaps the disadvantage of the tent. For as long as you sit in the tent, you do not get as much of nature around you as when you lie in the bivouac under the open sky and look at the stars, while you may even be suspiciously eyed by an owl.

The tent definitely offers better protection against insects, especially the annoying mosquitoes and sometimes also against ticks. From a psychological point of view, the tent may also give you the feeling of security due to the enclosed space. In contrast, a bivy bag is much more flexible, because the tent needs more space to build, some tents must also be attached. With a bivy sack you can just lie down everywhere and you do not have to worry about what will happen if, for example, a pole should break, as it can be the case with a tent.

A bivy bag does not offer as much space as a tent and sometimes it is a bit hard to get out of the bivouac, but the bivvy bag gives you the absolute feeling of being in nature and a chance to miss nothing.

Tent vs. Bivy Bag – Comparison Chart

Tent advantages

Comfortable weathering
Suitable for camping

Bivy bag advantages

Flexible, can be spread anywhere
Easy and fast assembly and disassembly
Unevenness and construction area don’t matter
Versatile use (backpack liner, river crossing package, ..)
Use of smallest sinks for a very high storm stability
Small pack size
Heat retention
Usable for tent prohibition
All-round view possible

Tent disadvantages

Depending on the ground and location
Long construction times
Separated from nature
Larger packing dimensions

Bivy bag disadvantages

Immediately exposed
No privacy (at the campsite)
No protection for equipment

Bivvy bag vs Tent

Bivy bag and tarp – flexible tent substitute

If you decide to buy a bivy sack, but want more comfort, you can use a tarp in addition to a bivouac. A tarp is very practical as it can serve as a sunscreen as well as a rain cover. You can cook, sit and watch nature and wildlife, even when it’s raining, without waiting in the tent for the rain to stop. In addition, the tarp provides better and extra protection for the bivy bag if you lie underneath it. The Tarp thus allows even more comfort, while the flexibility remains. It is easy to attach and does not require unnecessarily heavy linkage/poles and long construction. Besides, it is much easier than a tent. If you choose a bivvy bag + tarp combination, here is a table of the cheapest and best-rated tarps.


S.O.L. Escape Bivvy OD Green

Learn More

Outdoor Research Bug Bivy Sack

Learn More

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy

Learn More


Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent

Learn More

Alps Mountaineering Lynx Tent

Learn More

Gazelle Pop Up Portable Camping Tent

Learn More
PictureTarpDimensionsWeightMaterial PropertiesPrice
Terra-Hiker-Camping-TarpTerra Hiker Camping TarpS: 59 x 86 inches
M: 70 x 86 inches
L: 94 x 86 inches
S (0.61 lbs)
M (0.83 lbs)
L (1 lbs)
Preis Check
Bear-Butt-Double-Hammock-Tent-Rain-Fly---CoverBear Butt Double Hammock Tent Cover9 feet 4 inches on the sides1.2 lbsWaterproof
Preis Check
Chill Gorilla Hammock Tent Tarp10 x 10 feet1.4 lbsWaterproof
Preis Check
Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter 108 x 108 inches
144 x 144 inches
192 x 192 inches
1.8 lbs
2 lbs
3.1 lbs
Preis Check
vFree Soldier Portable Tarp118 x 126 inches2.2 lbsWaterproofPreis Check