Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team
Bivvying Top Tips and Kit List
22, Oct, 2019
When it's raining outside, we stash our bivvy bags under our desks and dream of midweek microadventures. There's nothing quite like an Autumn bivvy...
There's nothing quite like sleeping under the stars and waking up to an Autumn sunrise. With nothing between you and nature, sleeping is rarely quite so exciting and wild as when out on a bivvy.
Adventures shouldn't just be for the weekends, we keep certain essentials stashed under our desks so that we can sneak out to the hills when the weather's good. But before we go over all that, let's start with some basics.
A world away from the day job doesn't have to be very far away
What is a Bivvy Bag?
Bivvy bags are a little like a waterproof jacket for your sleeping bag. They enable us to sleep as close to nature as possible whilst still maintaining some sort of protection from the elements.
Though any kind of waterproof cover would theoretically work, like any waterproof jacket they need to have a good level of breathability so you don't get a build up of condensation. No-one wants to wake up to a soggy sleeping bag.
Why should You Try Bivvying?
Heading out for a bivvy may seem a little off the walls to some, but we've found that those who try it once usually end up going back for more!
You have the mountains to yourself, and there's nothing quite like waking up to an autumnal sunrise. The colour of the sun mimicing those of the trees. The reds, the oranges, the yellows. And whipping up a cup of tea from inside your warm and cosy sleeping back whilst listening to the birds wake up around you just sets the mood for the day ahead (another reason we love a mid-week bivvy). What's not to love!?
Where Can You Bivvy?
Though wild camping isn't actually legal in England and Wales, as long as your kind and considerate by setting camp after dark and getting up soon after light then you're unlikely to come into any hassle if you choose the right bivvy spot.
Be mindful of where you decide to stay, head a good few metres away from the trail so you stay out of anyone's way and as always when you're heading outdoors, follow a strict leave no trace policy so no-one can tell you were even there in the first place... Like a bivvying ninja.
What Should You Take on a Bivvy?
Although every bivvy adventure is different and depending on where in the world you are and what time of year it is the exact kit might vary slightly, but we've thrown together a list of essentials that we always keep on hand for those last minute getaways.
1 - Bivvy Bag
Although not necessarily an essential for sleeping out in the open, it's worth having one to keep you dry. Tall folk will usually have no choice but to use a large bivvy bag (like the Hunka XL), whereas less tall folk have a little more choice: You could go for a regular sized Hunka, or buy a larger bivvy bag and put your sleeping mat and kit inside. It's all down to personal preference.
If you want to go ultralight and pack small, you could also try the lightweight Kloke
2 - Cooking system
An essential for midweek and weekend bivvies alike! Bivviers after lighter loads would usually opt for a minimalist system like the Kraku and MytiMug, whereas those who are after a super quick brew would prefer an integrated system like the Brukit. Either way, you need something to eat with: chopsticks might look fancier when you're eating your noodles, but we recommend something a little more versatile when it comes to cutlery, such as the Tifoon.
What better to do, than make tea for two, with a Kraku?
3 - Tarp
When it's not the rain, it's the wind. Tarps aren't strictly necessary for sleeping out in the open, but you won’t regret having one when the weather comes in.
We recommend opt for a tarp with a plethora of attachment points, including risers, for ease of use and a wider range of configurations. The Rig 7 is our favourite, as you can fit a friend under it too!
See our Tarp Top Tips for some inspiration from our resident tarpologists.
When the weather comes in, you won't regret having a tarp handy
4 - Sleeping Mat
The key to a good night's sleep is a comfy bed (or at least that's what all those mattress adverts say, and who are we to argue with them?).
There are a few considerations when it comes to choosing your sleeping mat. Some bivviers prefer to put their mat under their bivvy bag, whilst other prefer to keep it inside for protection from rocks and the elements. It's up to you to decide what you find more comfortable, but bear in mind that your sleeping mat shouldn't be too wide for your bivvy bag. Our staff picks are the Numo, Cloud Base, and Airo 180.
5 - Sleeping Bag
6 - Lighting
Whether you're reading a book, cooking dinner, or adjusting your tarp configuration, it's worth shedding some light on the situation. Lighting is an essential when you're out and about at night, we recommend taking a head torch to keep your hands free.
From camping lanterns to lumen bazookas, make sure you choose the right head torch for the adventure.
Head torches are also pretty handy for impressing your mates
7 - Dry Bag
Your dry bag is a must for keeping your stuff dry, it also doubles up as a pillow once everything is inside - neat!
Ledge 3030 litre lightweight mountain backpack for year-round hiking and scramblingSale: £39.99Was: £54.99
Pipedream 400 HydrophobicUltra lightweight 3-season hydrophobic goose down sleeping bag ideal for moving fast and light or lining your winter bag. Box wall construction with a -6ºC sleep limit and weighing just 865 g£219.99
HunkaA simple bivvy bag weighing less than 400 g, Hunka is breathable, packs down small and a favourite of many weight conscious bikepackers and alpinistsSale: £42.99Was: £49.99
Hunka XLHunka XL is breathable, packs down small and weighing just 500 g is a favourite of many weight conscious bikepackers and alpinistsSale: £54.99Was: £64.99
KlokeUltralight bivvy bag with a zipped opening, breatheable, waterproof and weighing just 265 g£129.99
KrakuAt just 45 g this is possibly the world's lightest camping stove, Kraku's tiny pack size makes it perfect for ultralight adventures and flying solo.Sale: £22.99Was: £26.99
MytiMug 650A perfectly sized titanium cooking mug for the soloist adventurer, can be used on a stove to cook your meal or just supping tea around your camp fireSale: £25.99Was: £29.99
Rig 730d siliconised Cordura ripstop nylon tarp, the ultimate in versatile lightweight shelter for backpackers, bikepackers and alpinists£99.99
NumoThick big chamber 2 - 3 season full length sleeping mat weighing just 350 g, packs down smaller than a self-inflating mat saving space in your sack£44.99
Viper240 lumen rainproof head torch with reactive lighting mode that strikes the balance between brightness and burn time. Compact, light, and handy for all-manner of adventures£23.99
TipplaPolished stainless steel hip flask to carry 170 ml of your favourite tipple£17.99
BruKitHeat it and eat it, a 560 g integrated cooking system for quick cooking on the go. Ideal for fresh brews on the trail, hot soup and nutritious one-pot wondersSale: £38.99Was: £44.99
MiyagiChop the weight. For the skilled aficionado, chopsticks can replace the spoon, fork or knife. Miyagi are made from lightweight titanium. Just because we can.£12.99
Cloud BaseLightweight inflatable camping mat weighing 395 grams and 5 cm thick to soak up uneven groundSale: £34.99Was: £41.99