Tuesday, September 4, 2012

US Military Surplus Bivy

A while back I went on a s24o with my friend John and he loaned me a REI Minimalist Bivy to use for the night. It was my first time using one and after that I quickly decided that I needed a bivy sack of my own. I began researching all the options and soon became aware of a US Military Surplus Bivy option. At only $40 or so it seemed like quite a steal.

The surplus bivy was originally designed to be the outer layer of the modular sleeping bag system. The system allowed the soldier to use multiple combinations of the two sleeping bags and bivy sack to be comfortable over a very large range of temperatures and conditions. I was only concerned with the bivy as I already own a few sleeping bags that I am very happy with.

Empty bivy sack.
 Because it was so difficult to find any information about the weight of the bivy online, first thing I did when I received the bivy was weigh it. It came out to just over 2 lbs. You can look at that as very heavy for a bivy or very light for a tent. I dont really care either way because this thing is super bomber.

The material is probably the heaviest GORE-TEX I have ever come across. The huge dual YKK zippers can be used from the inside or out and can be opened to allow for venting. There are also some really heavy duty brass snaps that the sleeping bags from the modular sleep system snap into. This was so a soldier could get out of the bivy real fast should a combat situation arise while they were sleeping. For my purposes, they fasten the storm flap over the zipper.

The zipper stops just above the shoulder when you are inside and the hood fastens down with a square of Velcro. I read many reviews that complained about the hood not fastening properly and allowing rain to get in but in the field I have not found that to be the case. I have used this bivy in rains that would soak my Kelty tent and it has completely surpassed my expectations.

Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 15* bag and a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core both fit inside.
One of the things that I like most about this bivy is its size. Being made for soldiers means that this thing has room to spare. I appreciate that I can bring my pad inside with me and still not feel cramped. When I leave the pad on the outside I sometimes forget that I am even inside of a bivy.  As a side sleeper who often sleeps in the fetal position, it is pretty rad to be able to do that inside of the bivy and not feel constrained in any way.

The bivy is made by Tennier Industries and is 100% GORE-TEX.
 I store it in a cheap silnylon stuff sack. The packed dimensions are about 11 inches long and about 7 inches wide.

If you are looking to dip your toe in bivy sack camping and don't want to spend to much to see if you'll like it or not, I highly suggest getting a US Military Surplus Bivy. If you are like me you'll find that there is no need to upgrade to something lighter and you will take comfort in the fact that you have purchased what is probably the most rugged bivy sack on the market. Your tax dollars were already spent creating this product so you should take advantage of it.


  1. It's really amazing post , and helpful too. Thanks to share this
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  2. Hey!

    Very beneficial and crucial points on military bivvy bags!

    It feels more exciting and more wild to have a bivy bag rather a tent.A bivvy bag is cheaper and smaller than a tent.It is like a waterproof jacket for your sleeping bag.

    It’s a thin, waterproof bag. You use it over the top of your sleeping bag.I tend to leave my sleeping mat outside.One can easily find it in a military surplus store. If the weather is foul or if you have a large bivvy bag you can experiment with putting it inside the bivvy bag.

    Fred Carter