A waterproof and breathable bikepacking bivy, they say: here's our test
If we imagine cycling trips, the first image that comes to mind is most likely us spending the night in a tent. It is no coincidence that it symbolises bikepacking and, after the bike itself, perhaps the element on which we spend the most time weighing up its characteristics.
Space and weight are the two fundamental axes for our bikepacking choices, and the tent, even if ultra-mega-giga-light, will always be the thing that will always occupy and weigh the most in our kit.
For this reason, on weekend rides, or always for the more adventurous, the bivy can be an option to save space and weight.
What is a bivy
Bivies are designed to offer minimal shelter when camping in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or wind. Usually, a bivy is a bag-like structure that wraps around the camper’s body, keeping the inside dry and warm.
The fabric from which the bivy is made is weather resistant, with more modern products offering waterproof and breathable protection. In addition, most bivies are equipped with a **head opening**, allowing the user to observe the outside environment, and optionally with a transparent ventilation window enabling you to regulate the temperature and humidity inside.
Some bivies also come with straps that you can use to secure them to the ground or sleeping bag, ensuring they don’t shift during the night. These additional elements offer greater safety and comfort to the camper during their rest. The term “bivy” derives from the contraction of “bivouac sack”.
Alpkit's Kloke: features
The Kloke, manufactured by Alpkit, is a lightweight, waterproof 3-layer bivy. Weighing just 285g, it’s one of the lightest options on the market, suitable for alpine bivouacs and bikepacking. It uses a 10-denier ultrafine nylon fabric bonded to the PU membrane, offering excellent breathability (30k MVTR) and preventing condensation.
An external flap protects the zip closure, but leaving an air gap of approximately 15 cm is necessary. The Kloke folds down to a minimum size of 20 x 12cm and can be used as an emergency shelter should the need arise. It has a larger volume than similar products, allowing it to be used with a 4-season or alpine sleeping bag.
We tested the Kloke in several situations, including a night out in spring, a winter weekend in Slovenia and Croatia, and once in France at the foot of the Izoard.
On the first occasion, we were caught in light spring rain and could test the waterproof factor of the Kloke, which worked well: it was strange to feel the rain pattering on our heads, as the bivy has no bows to create “space” between us and the hood.
In the second case, temperatures were freezing, reaching -5°C at night. We found shelter from the wind in a fountain enclosed by a stone wall structure; we inflated the mattress, put on the sleeping bag, and got ready for the night. The sleeping bag used reaches up to -6°C.
In both cases, we closed the bivy overnight, leaving room for air exchange. We spent about two hours in the bag, and when we woke up, we found condensation inside, but nothing excessive. The sleeping bag and our faces stayed dry. The breathability of the Kloke is there, but it’s not magical: we had to accept that our breathing created a layer of light condensation will be created during the night.
In terms of weight and dimensions, the Kloke excels: if, when open, it has the same width and length as a sleeping bag, when it is closed in its bag, it becomes tiny and practical in any bikepacking bag or backpack. At less than 300 grams, the Kloke allowed us a very minimal set-up during these rides.
The Alpkit’s Kloke passes the test with almost full marks thanks to the weight, space saved, and use (apart from the condensation), and being under €300, it is an excellent addition to take the weight off our minimal kit.
However, the bivy as an experience is definitely not for everyone: the fact remains that you sleep inside a closed sack, and those who are more prone to claustrophobia should stay inside the tent. Another element to consider is that when you are closed in the bivy, you are essentially a sack lying on the ground: excellent for stealth camping, a little less so for bikepackers in “crowded” areas such as campsites.