Review: Alpkit Elan Hooped Bivvy Bag

Rugged, functional and affordable – bridging the gap between a tent and a bivvy bag

Feature type Review

Read time 4 mins

Published Dec 18, 2023

Author Alex Smith

Alex Smith BASE’s investment and growth guy Alex loves pushing his limits with Ironman and Ultra events. When he’s not testing his endurance, he’ll be seeking out the best ski-touring spots in the Alps.

OUR VERDICT

The Elan Hooped bivvy bag is an outstanding hybrid, bridging the gap between a tent and a bivvy. 

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Weight 900g (not including pegs)
Dimensions Pitched: 225cm x 77cm* x 45cm / Packed: 39cm x 11cm
Features 70D ripstop nylon, two-way main zip and mesh zip for venting, Pre-bent alloy poles, reinforced pole webbing and anodised metal eyelets for increased durability, self-supporting canopy structure

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight, small and compact – perfect for lightweight hiking
  • Quick and easy to erect and pack away, meaning you’ve got a shelter in a matter of seconds
  • Hooped design holds the bivvy off your face making for a much more comfortable night
  • Ventilation at both the front and back of the head area provides airflow, minimises condensation and functions well even when raining

Cons

  • Despite being a generous size, the bivvy is still slightly restrictive when lying on your side, if using a roll matt and camping pillow
  • There is a small learning curve on working out how the zip functions best without catching on the storm-protect zip covering

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

Alpkit describes the use case of the Elan bivvy perfectly; ‘when you want more protection than a standard bivvy bag but don’t want to pack a tent, Elan provides lightweight and packable shelter’. This is exactly what I’m after for multi-day summer hiking trips. Lightweight, compact and functional are the key criteria.  

 I’m looking to pack everything into a 42L Osprey rucksack so want to minimise on bulky items, saving space on shelter, my sleeping set-up and cooking kit. Having grown up hiking over Dartmoor, I know that the weather can change in an instant, so I also want to have a shelter that gives your adequate protection in a spontaneous storm.  

The Elan hooped bivvy does exactly this. It’s small and lightweight enough, but the additional space and stability inside the bivvy gives a welcomed level of comfort when the rain comes in. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Alpkit is a UK-based outdoor equipment and clothing company that was founded in 2004 by four friends who were passionate about outdoor adventures. The company is known for its mission to provide high-quality, affordable outdoor gear and clothing to outdoor enthusiasts, ranging from hikers and climbers to cyclists and campers. Alpkit’s products are designed to be functional, durable, and well-suited for a variety of outdoor activities. 

it takes about 2-3 minutes to set up, maintaining the simplicity that’s so wonderful about bivvying

Upon first pulling it out of the box, I was relieved to see that despite there being poles and pegs, it’s a really compact size. The fully packed bivvy weighs in at around 1kg and is about the size of a wine bottle. There’s also a hand-written note from Alpkit which is a nice personal touch. 

Putting the bivvy up for the first time was equally as satisfying. The very simple design means you just have to slide two short poles through the hoops and secure into the eyelets at either side. Once you’ve done it a few times, it takes about 2-3 minutes to set up, maintaining the simplicity that’s so wonderful about bivvying.

THE TEST

The Elan was taken on a four day hike over one of the most remote parts of the Pyrenees. Having travelled from Toulouse, the trip started around Pont de Espana, ending in Gavarnie. This was in early August, so it was expected that temperatures would be high, especially with the weather that Europe has been having this year. However, from experience, the Pyrenees can produce some wild storms, often during the night.  

Biovauc sites varied from pitching up next to refuges at 3000m to a stunning campsite on the outskirts of Gavarnie with a view of the natural ampitheatre created by the Cirque de Gavarnie 

Whilst temperatures were in the early 30’s during the day, they plummeted to nearly single digits at night, especially at altitude. There were three dry nights and one night of heavy showers, so the bivvy was put to the test needing to perform in all conditions. 

WHO IS THIS BIVVY FOR?

Alpkit is a brand that has gained popularity for its approachable pricing, quality outdoor gear, and dedication to making outdoor experiences more accessible to people from all walks of life.

This bivvy will cater for a wide range of uses and activities – from the weekend warrior wanting a quick, lightweight shelter, to a thru-hiker needing solid protection from the elements. It bridges the gap between a tent and a bivvy, and if taken alongside a tarp, provides a very reliable, adaptable set up. Most importantly, it’s small enough and lightweight enough to be carried as part of a lightweight, summer speed hiking pack if you want to keep things minimal. There’s something about the simplicity of throwing down a bivvy that just can’t be beaten. 

WHAT STANDS OUT?

DESIGN

Alpkit have clearly taken a great deal of consideration over the design of the bivy. It functions perfectly, with very few negatives.  

SIZE

Being the size of a wine bottle, it fits well into a small pack alongside a summer sleeping bag and thin inflatable roll mat. 

WEIGHT

Small and lightweight, this is the perfect upgrade to a bivy that for a fraction more weight, provides significantly more comfort.  

PERSONAL TOUCH

You get the feel the Alpkit really care about their customers and their products. The package arrived before the expected delivery date and with a personal, hand written note attached.  

VALUE FOR MONEY

The Elan Bivy is brilliant value for money. As with a lot of Alpkit’s products, you feel like you’ve got a very high-quality product, for a competitive price. Here they’ve hit the sweet spot – at just shy of a hundred quid, it is a considered purchase, but you’re paying for quality that will reward you time and time again when you’re out in the mountains living your best life.  

BASE BOTTOM LINE

I’m a big fan of the Elan Bivy. It’s the perfect hybrid between tent and bivvy bag, and if taken alongside a tarp, you’ve got a great shelter, suitable for nearly all conditions. It’s compact, lightweight, functional and affordable, which pretty much ticks all of my boxes when I’m looking for hiking kit. Most importantly, it maintains the beautiful simplicity of being able to throw down your bivvy and sleep wherever you land.  

Whether you’re a seasoned ‘bivvier’ or transitioning over from a traditional tent, the Elan Bivvy won’t disappoint. This piece of kit is going to be one of the first items on my kit list for summer outdoor adventures.

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