MSR Pro Bivy Review
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MSR Pro Bivy
$194.89 at Amazon
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$109.95 at Amazon
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$24.97 at Amazon
|Pros||Extremely lightweight, packable||Lightweight, weatherproof, roomy, ease of use, bug screen||Lightweight, versatile, stows easily, price is right||Light, durable, warm, affordable||Weight, packed size|
|Cons||Expensive, no zipper||Stuff sack too large||Leaky zippers||Not waterproof, tight fit for taller individuals||Durability, no zipper/cinch|
|Bottom Line||An effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist shelters||This very well may be the new standard in what we expect from a top-notch bivy sack||This model boasts an enticing weight, comfort, and versatility ratio||The Escape is an excellent lightweight choice for cold dry climates or emergency situations||An ultra lightweight, reusable emergency bivy best suited for very occasional use|
|Rating Categories||MSR Pro Bivy||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||SOL Escape Bivvy||Survival Frog Tact...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||MSR Pro Bivy||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||SOL Escape Bivvy||Survival Frog Tact...|
|Measured Weight (oz.)||8.9 oz||16.3 oz||13.6 oz||8.4 oz||4.6 oz|
|Packed Size (in.)||8" x 3.5"||4" x 12.5"||3" x 9.5"||4" x 7.5"||2" x 4.5"|
|Waterproof?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Water-resistant fabric with waterproof seams||Yes|
|Open Length (in.)||88"||82"||80"||84"||84"|
|Shoulder Width (in.)||36"||26"||36"||31"||36"|
|Material (top/bottom)||20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm||Top: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5L 100% Nylon, 30D Ripstop
Bottom: 100% 40D Nylon w/ TPU lamination
|Top: 20D Nylon Ripstop
Bottom: 30D Nylon Ripstop
|Metalized Spun-bonded Olefin||Polyester Film|
|Sleeping Bag or Pad Attachments?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Poles?||No||Yes, one overhead shockcorded Delrin pole||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pro Bivy is in the top position for emergency bivies in this review. It offers warmth with added wind and weather protection. In addition, the MSR Pro actually stuffs down small, making it very packable which we find increases the chances that one will actually take the emergency piece of equipment along.
While the MSR Pro isn't an ultra-protective bivy, it does have its place in our gear closet. We found its material to be waterproof even after about an hour of constant rain. There were some weak points in the MSR's armor, however. The closure system is simply a flap of material, which does indeed save a lot of weight but also allows wind and water to blow right in. We found that we had to be extremely careful, especially when water would pool on the surface of the bivy. Coaxing these pools off the bivy without draining them into the bivy was, at times, a challenge. Yes, you could keep yourself warm and dry in a downpour, but it would take some effort on your part.
The Pro Bivy has many benefits. We were able to stay drier longer and it is roomy both lengthwise and widthwise, which lets you get comfortable and help the bivy shed water in a way that keeps you dry. The bottom line is if we were told it was going to rain all day and we had to choose using an emergency bivy, we would take the MSR every time.
Saving weight is what this bivy is all about. MSR took away all of the creature comforts and slimmed this bivy down to the essentials. What is left is a bivy that offers decent wind, weather, and cold protection without being noticeable in your bag. At 8.9 ounces, it is barely heavier than our previous top pick for emergency bivys and offers a larger footprint which equates to more space to move around and adjust inside.
Typically, emergency bivies are far from comfortable. They are more comfortable than being left out in the elements, but that's a pretty low bar to hurdle. The MSR Pro's ample footprint and length made it pretty bearable for multiple nights while out bikepacking in the cold. It is big enough to fit a regular-length inflatable sleeping pad, 30-degree Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, and a 175-pound person with room to spare.
There is also an important factor regarding comfort that must be mentioned. If you're into fast and light ascents, ultralight backpacking, or bikepacking, this bivy can offer a significant comfort factor at a minimal weight penalty. If you're pinned down in an unexpected storm or get benighted on a remote ridge, the added warmth, wind resistance, and weather protection offered by the MSR Pro will significantly boost your comfort level. Yes, the same could be said of all bivys we tested, but keep in mind the MSR is minimalist and light.
As it is with every bivy we have tested over the years, it was common to have some condensation form inside the bag, especially on colder nights. This was kept to an extreme minimum in the MSR Pro and was actually pretty rare that you could even see the moisture collected or deposited on our sleeping bag. This is in part to the large open vent at the head of the bivy and also in part to the breathable 20d fabric which comprises the shell.
The MSR Pro has the smallest packed size of all re-usable bivys tested. Bivies with a smaller packed footprint will only last for a few uses as they aren't designed for extended, everyday use. Despite weighing slightly more than other emergency bivies the MSR was able to pack down into a small container, and we found we could still pack it even tighter.
Is this ultralight bivy worth the price tag? Maybe. With such strong competition at reasonable prices, shelling out those two crisp Franklins would be difficult. As with most niche products, this ultralight product has great value if it fits your needs specifically. Otherwise, your money is likely spent elsewhere.
The MSR Pro Bivy is a fantastic product. It is extremely lightweight and the most packable bivy we have tested. It is a bit on the pricy side, but in our experience, these highly technical pieces are worth the investment. While there are other options for those on a budget, the MSR Pro fills a gap between basic emergency bivys and heavier-duty bivies.
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