Sleep in a bivvy bag


A lightweight option and perfect for those who enjoy soggy misery.

If you are considering using a bivvy bag as an alternative to a tent when hill walking, I would heartily recommend you read The Book of the Bivvy by Ronald Turnbull. In fact I would recommend you read any of his books, or articles, which are always both inspiring and witty.

The Book of the Bivvy manages to combine a wealth of useful information, interesting mountaineering history, humourous anecdotes, and some suggested hiking routes, particularly in Scotland. It discribes how goretex was discovered and its optimum conditions of use. Turnbull is provocative in his outdoor philosophy and the sections on food, what to pack and how to choose a good site for your bivy, can be indiosyncratic. Nevertheless, he is practical and logical and can back up what he says with examples from his own experiences.

There is a great section on food including a recipe for haggis and mash and this advice:

A stove is a luxury. You'd get more heat into you by eating the fuel blocks. As water is abundant on British hills it need not be carried in the form of lunch. Sugar should not be the basic food: large chunks of chocolate lead to sudden energy surges followed by famished reaction. Healthy food with vitamins is heavy and doesn't travel well: I do a lot of healthy eating on shop doorsteps. Suitable food for carrying will be starchy carbohydrate in a fairly dry form at four calories per gram, with some sugar and fat to improve the ratios. Which means almost anything, really.

There is a kind of non-intuitive logic to his musings. Take this advice on how many clothes to pack.

Suppose all of your clothes were wet and all of them on. If that's enough to let you survive the storm, then that's the clothes you can't do without - three wet layers and a waterproof.
No dry clothes for next day? Well, if it's raining next day then those dry clothes would very soon be wet ones. And if it isn't raining, then these wet clothes will very soon be dry.

The very best chapter is called Time, Things and Miguel but you should really just buy the book and read it!

Ronald's website is
The Book of the Bivvy can be purchased in a book shop or

Other posts in my CHEAP SLEEP series so far include:-
Bothy ~ Scottish shelters that welcome weary walkers.
Tent ~ The ultimate tool for sleeping free.
Car ~ For those too lazy to put their tent up.

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  1. This has just been added to my Christmas wish list. I do hope it's not too heavy as this will be no doubt be my next 'wild camp' read.


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