Ultralight backpacking or bikepacking options seem to usually include bivvy bags or very minimalistic tents to shed water away from the sleeping bag. While on a 5 day backpacking trip in the eastern Sierra Nevadas, we tested two of the lightest and most affordable bivvy sacks available on the market currently.
Below are the manufacturer suggested retail, weights, dimensions, and descriptions.
SOL Escape Bivvy
84 x 36 inches
Proprietary fabric lets moisture escape from the inside, yet resists rain, snow and wind on the outside; waterproof seams ensure complete protection
Bivy reflects heat back to you to keep you warm on a cold night
Pull the drawstring on the hood snug to seal in warmth
Side zipper makes getting in and out of the SOL Escape bivy easy
High-visibility orange will catch the eye of rescuers
Bivy packs down small for easy storage and transportation
SOL Escape Lite Bivvy
Use as a sleeping bag liner to increase the warmth of the bag, as an outer shell to protect your sleeping bag from weather or as an ultralight sleeping bag in warmer climates
Constructed with a breathable, windproof and water-resistant proprietary Escape fabric and with a minimalist design that weighs only 5.5 oz. and packs down incredibly small
Proprietary fabric lets moisture escape at the same time that it keeps rain, snow and wind on the outside, all while reflecting 70% of your body heat back to you
Made in USA.
To summarize, here are the benefits of each bivvy:
SOL Escape Bivvy:
- More durable, thicker material
- Zippered, making it easier to get in and out
- More volume, allowing more movement and possibility of sleeping pad inside bivvy
SOL Escape Lite Bivvy:
- Lighter weight (2.6 oz less than Escape Bivvy)
- Less expensive ($10 less than Escape Bivvy)
- More compact when packed
So, which one would I pick when headed out on a bikepacking or backpacking trip?
If in winter, I would prefer the thicker fabric and hood of the Escape. In summer, or if needing smallest form factor (like when bikepacking with minimal bags) I would choose the Escape Lite. Truthfully, they aren’t much different, and if I could only pick one for year-round use, it would be the Escape Bivvy. It is constructed well, is easier to get in and out of, is more durable, not that much heavier, and packs up bigger, but not too much bigger.
We also tested a tent tarp system using the SOL Sport Utility Blanket stretched above us with trekking poles and paracord. This tarp weighs 15.5oz and measured 7ft x 5ft. It retails for $22.
The tarp used as a ground cloth below is the SOL Heavy-Duty Emergency Blanket which weighs 7.9oz and measures 8ft x 5ft. It retails for $15.
The system held up well during light winds and showers we experienced half way through the trip. Unfortunately, we did not experience a full range of weather conditions for testing.