The term bivi or bivvy comes from the word bivouac shelter, a term that’s used to describe any type of makeshift campsite. It’s common practice that’s often practised by military personal involved in scouting or when operating from the field. In simpler terms, it refers to sleeping outside in the bivouac sack also known as the bivvy bag (lightweight waterproof shelter).
So, Bivvying refers to sleeping out in the open in the waterproof sack. It offers different ways of camping, the lightweight option to taking the cumbersome heavy tent. While there are many lightweight tents on the market, decent ones are usually expensive. On the other hand, a good bivvy bag costs about £50. Essentially, Bivvying is a perfect option for trying out mini micro-adventure or lightweight camping. Even if you’re planning for a longer outing, a lightweight bag allows you to cover more distance much quickly.
Why You Should Try Out Bivvying
I remember the first time I experienced how incredible the night sky looks like. We have tried hundreds of miles with my friends and got in the middle of nowhere, far from our homes. As we lay down on the night air, I was very mesmerized by sights that towered in the sky above me. Looking up and watching the night sky, with millions of twinkling stars, is an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience; it’s a great sight to behold.
It’s one of the experiences that many people in the UK, are unlikely to experience. With the densely populated cities that are very close to each other, a glow from houses and streetlights obstructs the night sky. Moreover, you need the incredible fortune of the cloudless sky.
Nevertheless, lights and weather aside, Bivvying up for a night is a great experience that offers numerous benefits. It’s a chance that provides a different type of adventure that’s different from the cramped tent.
Using the bivvy, you can sleep anywhere and in very small spaces than you could ever need to pitch your tent. Also, it allows you to be more discrete.
However, the biggest benefit is that there is something great about waking to the sunrise and being surrounded by nature’s beauty. This offers a deep connection with nature. I can honestly say that I’ve always felt more alert, refreshed, and recharged from my escapades Bivvying outdoors.
The Right Bivvying Gear
Unlike the tent with a groundsheet and walls to offer some kind of protection, the simplest form of Bivvying is a simple basha alongside a bivvy bag and a sleeping bag; here, you’re truly well exposed to all natural elements.
You want to make the Bivvying experience as pleasurable and comfortable as possible, so you need to ensure you have the right Bivvying gear. Basically, this depends on the length of your Bivvying trip. A Bivvying kit comprises of:
Bivvy Bag + Sleeping Bag
Considering that England usually lives up to its great reputation, you’ll most likely end up Bivvying out in the rain. So, you’ll need both a bivvy bag and a sleeping bag for a comfortable night. In the tent, after you’ve fumbled around erecting your mini canvas house, you can get inside and feel more protected. On the other hand, the bivvy bag is typically a waterproof liner for the sleeping bag, that’s it!
The sleeping mat usually come in different forms, sizes, and shapes – from the traditional roll-up mat to the inflatable mats. In case you don’t want to get up shivering with a fever from the cold hard ground; it might be wise to use one.
The headtorch is a common item, especially if you’re considering going out at night. Torches come in different forms; I strongly recommend a head torch over the handheld torch because the hands will be free to do other things.
Food + Cooking kit
The cooking system is pretty essential for any weekend or midweek trip. Moreover, the Bivvying adventure would not be complete without having to sit back and relax and enjoy a warm meal.
It’s important to ensure you keep your kit dry. Considering the size of many bivvy bags. It’s not likely you can fit all your cooking systems, pack, boots, and kit inside your bag. Since you want to ensure you’re comfortable, it’s best if you use a dry bag to keep your kit dry.
Top Bivvying Tips
Check The Weather
Before you go out, you need to take a closer look at the weather to give you an idea of what you might experience and the type of gear you need to have. You might have to think twice incase the weather forecasts predict torrential rains. However, if you’re planning to go to places such as the mountains or the Dartmoor, the weather might be great, but it’s better if you prepare as much as possible.
Choose A Place With Picturesque Views
Based on where you reside, bivvy somewhere that provides a great view. There’s nothing better than waking up to a panoramic landscape whilst listening to the bird’s sing.
Find A Flat Place With Natural Shelter
The fantasy of Bivvying means that you can sleep anywhere. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping downwards on a hilly area because you could end up sliding off the sleeping mat downhill at night.
It’s best if you look for sceneries with a natural shelter. For example, you’ll find many rocky outcrops up and within Dartmoor National Park because of the many tors. These offer great locations for perfect protection from wind. Other locations might include natural hollows, caves, or stone walls in the ground.
Enjoy It – Never Leave A Trace
Bivvying is all about having fun and enjoying the experience. You just have to switch off all your digital devices and enjoy nature. It’s then that you’ll realize nature runs at a slower pace as compared to the busy lives you’ve been leading.
At New Zealand trail huts, shelter, conversation and community (Published 2018). (2018, February 14). The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/travel/new-zealand-trail-huts.html
‘stretcher-bearers’: (28) living in a ‘bivvy’. (n.d.). BBC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/42/a8926842.shtml
What is bivvying? How to have a night of adventure – without a tent. (2021, June 16). the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jun/16/bivvying-night-adventure-close-to-home-camping-without-tent