A double bivvy underneath a tarp

Mastering ultralight bivvy setups for camping at its lightest

By Kenny Stocker

Our guide to ultralight bivvy setups. Learn how to select the best gear and understand the principles of using it to undertake the lightest camping adventures.

Ultralight bivvying is a minimalist approach to camping, emphasising carrying the lightest and simplest gear possible. This method is especially beneficial for long-distance trekkers, cyclists or paddlers who aim to cover more ground with less effort. The key is to maintain minimal weight without compromising on safety. Yes you will be making compromises on comfort, but by carefully selecting your gear, you can enjoy the freedom of moving faster and further, making your lightweight camping adventure even more rewarding.

Essential ultralight bivvy equipment

An ultralight bivvy camping setup focuses only on the essentials to keep your pack light. Here is how you can get your shelter, sleeping kit and cooking kit comfortably under 2 kg:

  • Bivvy Bag: A lightweight, waterproof, and breathable bivvy bag to protect against the elements. Options like the Kloke ultralight bivvy bag, weighing just 285g, are ideal for ultralight bivvying.
  • Sleeping Bag: A lightweight down or synthetic sleeping bag rated for 3-season use offers the best balance between warmth and weight. Ensure it's compact and lightweight for easy carrying. Our Primaloft Ultra 120 offers just such high performance at just 590 g in your bag.
  • Sleeping Pad: A lightweight, inflatable sleeping pad provides necessary insulation from the ground, enhancing sleep comfort without adding significant weight. Numo weighs just 350 g and provides 8 cm of sleeping comfort.
  • Shelter: A lightweight tarp can serve as a makeshift shelter or ground cover. Our Rig 3.5 tarp has become the benchmark for single person tarps weighing 300 g with 17 rigging points. It can be set up in multiple configurations and accommodate several people. Don't blow your savings on heavy pegs or bulky cord. For the lightest and strongest choose dymena cord and titanium tent pegs.
  • Cooking equipment: Items that serve more than one function reduce the need to carry extra gear. For example a titanium cooking mug can be used for cooking and eating for just 145 g. Of course you will be needing a stove, at 45 grams you could carry the Kraku titanium camping stove in your pocket if you really wanted to.

Weight-saving tips

To minimise your pack weight:

  • Pack only necessities: The easiest, and cheapest, way to save weight is to not carry it. Carefully consider each item's necessity. If it doesn't have a crucial function, leave it behind. If you really can't survive without it, now is the time to decide how much you are prepared to spend to bring the weight down.
  • Seek out the lightest materials: Opt for gear made from ultra-light materials like titanium or ripstop nylon. It is easy to get carried away so remember your budget. As you start counting the grams, you will quickly come up against the law of diminishing returns.
  • Weather and commitment forecasting: Check the weather forecast and choose your bivvy kit appropriately. Weight is always going to be relative to weather and commitment of your undertaking. Alex Hibberts lightweight kit for arctic camping is going to be heavier than your lightweight kit for a DofE camping expedition. Both lightweight, but at different ends of a spectrum.

Safety considerations

While minimising weight is crucial, camping safety should be carefully considered. Know your limits and stick within them. Going lightweight can be a double edged sword. Yes you can move faster with less effort, potentially avoiding scenarios that may befall a slower party, but when things go awry you have less margin for error:

  • Emergency items: Ultra-lightweight camping kit tends to be less durable, so carrying a repair kit is essential, especially if you are camping for several days back-to-back. Practice fixing punctures in your inflatable sleeping mat, make sure you have your emergency pole sleeve and pack spare batteries.
  • Bring your campcraft A-game: Lightweight bivvying will raise your campcraft to the highest levels. Doing more with less, understanding nature and moving in tune with its rhythms will bring a new dimension to your camping adventures. Learn the art of tarpology, practice layering strategies and apply the 5 principles of sleep systems learned from the harsh environment of winter camping to the milder conditions of spring and summer.

Embrace simplicity

Ultralight bivvying opens up a world of adventure if you are willing to embrace simplicity. By focusing on essential gear, employing weight-saving strategies, and being conscious of safety, you will enjoy a liberating and enjoyable camping experience. The freedom of moving lightly and efficiently through the wilderness allows for a deeper connection with nature. Start planning your ultralight bivvy adventure today, and discover the joy of exploring with minimal weight on your back, on your bike or in your kayak.

Bivvy Bags

Waterproof and breathable bivvy bag weighing less than 400g
£46.99 £54.99
Lightweight, waterproof hooped bivvy bag weighing less than 1kg
£84.99 £99.99
Ultralight, waterproof bivvy bag with a zipped opening weighing just 285g
£129.99 £149.99
Extra large, breathable and waterproof bivvy bag weighing under 500g
£58.99 £69.99
Solo camping bivvy bag, headtorch and rucksack bundle
£79.99 £112.97

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