Best fishing bivvies

Best fishing bivvies

by Aidan Bordiuk |
Updated on

For anglers who may be heading out carp fishing for long periods of time, a bivvy or shelter is an essential item of kit. Whilst we all might like the idea of roughing it under the stars when night fishing for carp, there's something also quite nice about setting up your own bankside home.

When it comes to shelters, the bivvy is by far the most popular choice for many anglers. They are solid, comfortable and offer maximum protection against the elements when set up correctly. If you are on limited time, however, a more traditional fishing umbrella-style shelter may be preferable.

When it comes to finding a bivvy for your angling, it can be a daunting prospect, with so many available from so many different manufacturers, it's difficult to know where to start. Is it just you fishing, or will family members/friends be joining you in the shelter? How much gear do you take, and how long do your sessions last on average? Do you fish in the colder months? All these things can dictate which shelter will be the best for you.

Best fishing bivvy at a glance

Best In Class Bivvy: Aqua Pioneer 100 Aquatexx EV Bivvy - View offer on eBay

Best Beginner Bivvy: Sonik Xtractor Bivvy - View offer on Go Outdoors

Best Newcomer Bivvy: Trakker Tempest RS 100 - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Hybrid Bivvy: Nash Titan Hide Camo Pro Bivvy - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

You will spend a lot of time in your shelter during its lifetime, so getting it right can be crucial to how much enjoyment you get on the bank. The last thing you want is a heavy, complicated design which still fails to keep you dry and warm in the worst conditions. Here then, are our top picks of the best bivvies on the market currently...

Best newcomer bivvy

Trakker are renowned for their easy-to-erect shelters, and they have changed the game with their new Tempest RS 100 bivvy; it is simply unbelievable how quickly it can be put up.

Incorporating a newly designed hinge block and rapid knuckle system, the RS shelter can almost put itself up, and with practice, it can be erected in less than 10 seconds, superb for the mobile angler and those who really despise a shelter that is complicated to use.

Other features have been improved too, a flatter back enables you to utilise more space, allowing you to get away with a lighter, smaller bivvy than you might normally use. The Adaptive Ventilation Panels will help air to flow through the shelter to keep you cool, all of which are protected with mesh to prevent biting insects entering the bivvy. A 25,000 HH material enhances the durability and will make sure you stay dry, whatever the weather.

Four internal storage pockets have been included to allow the easy storage of items like valuables as well as a hanging loop for your receiver should you want to use it. The Rs 100, 150 or 200 versions are truly superb and well worth looking at if you're in the market for a new bivvy.

Pros

  • Erect in less than 10 seconds.
  • Superb design and quality build.

Cons

  • Availability can be an issue, although it is improving.

Best fishing shelter (National Angling Awards 2023 Winner)

The Fox Frontier Lite bivvy is basically a stripped-back ‘brolly-style’ version of the best-selling Fox Frontier bivvy. Designed with the mobile angler looking for a lightweight yet durable shelter very much in mind, It offers maximum protection and maximum space in a very compact footprint.

Weighing in at just 8kg, it is a lot lighter than the standard edition Frontier, yet still boasts a 10,000mm hydrostatic head. With many of the same features that made the original Fox Frontier shelters so popular, this bivvy is ideal for anglers looking for a high-quality option that doesn’t weigh a ton.

Also available is a solid front infill panel with a letter box-style removable door as well as a lightweight groundsheet which features clips to secure it in place.

Pros

  • Lightweight at just 8kg.
  • Perfect for short stay and overnighters.

Cons

  • Groundsheet and door infill are sold separately.

Best In Class Bivvy

Aqua have a long-standing reputation for the quality of their products, with their shelters considered the best by many. The "budget" Aqua Pioneer 100 Aquatexx EV Bivvy offers all the quality we have come to expect and more. 

Its market-leading Aquatexx EV skin features a 25,000mm hydrostatic head, which will keep you dry whatever the weather whilst also remaining breathable to prevent too much condensation building up. 

The block mechanism has been updated and made lighter thanks to a change of material. This has made for a much more efficient erection time. Simply insert the two poles into the block, push the poles towards each other, and the brolly hood design will almost construct itself! With practice, it can be set up in less than two minutes, so you have more time to focus on finding and catching the fish.

The front of the bivvy can be removed, as can the back panels, to allow for improved views of the lake and better airflow in the warmer months. The shelter also comes with a 12-month warranty.

Pros

  • Fantastic material and a solid construction.
  • Long 12-month warranty.

Cons

  • Heavier than others on the market.

Best Bivvy to Erect

The original, fast-erecting bivvy with some new and exciting features. The Trakker Tempest 100 EV still holds the title for the quickest shelter to set up on the market.

The development of Trakker's Aquatexx EV 25,000mm fabric has upgraded the durability of the shelter and made it even more waterproof with its hydrophobic Teflon coating, meaning it literally repels water and oils. The material is also breathable, so water vapour can leave the bivvy to prevent condensation forming on the inside.

Alongside this, Trakker have included their 360 adaptive ventilation technology, which allows the flaps to be extended out via tension straps so air can still penetrate the bivvy, but rain can't get in. It's perfect on those muggy, wet sessions. The block is now stronger too, leading to a much sturdier, freestanding structure when locked into place.

Pros

  • 25000mm fabric, the most waterproof on the market.
  • Still the fastest shelter to erect.

Cons

  • No peak to divert driving rain away from the entrance.

Best Beginner Bivvy

Sonik have designed the Sonik Xtractor bivvy for anglers doing shorter sessions and overnighters by incorporating some interesting features. The bivvy sets up quickly, meaning you'll be fishing in no time. 

The Xtractor's aluminium centre block streamlines the erection process completely. With all poles exiting the block, once the anti-twist ribs have been connected, the bivvy simply fans out and is locked in place under the peak at the front of the bivvy. This creates a very sturdy, freestanding structure that can be erected in as little as two minutes, perfect for those new to setting up a bivvy. The flat back, steep-sided design also helps maximise space, allowing the bedchair to be placed as far back as possible.

All the poles are made from strong aluminium, which helps to reduce the weight. Whilst the fabric incorporates a 5000mm hydrostatic polyester to ensure you stay dry. The bivvy also includes a Vapour cap to reduce condensation in the colder months, a big plus from us!

Pros

  • Block system allows for easy and quick setup
  • Flat back design gives plenty of internal space

Cons

  • 5000mm fabric isn't as waterproof as others

Best Short Session Bivvy

The Daiwa Mission Overnighter Plus is an ideal shelter for specimen anglers who fish a range of different venues, as its compact size and lightweight construction make it equally at home on lakes, rivers or canals. Upgrades from the popular Mission shelter have improved the quality and the ability to use the system for longer sessions too. 

The front is now removable via the use of a zip, offering a more versatile shelter. If you're looking to fish for the day, but the weather looks miserable, you can just take the brolly section, helping to reduce the weight for those longer walks.

The tough 5000mm fabric will keep you dry and is durable enough to withstand the pressure the modern, roving approach can put it under. Storm poles and double-pegging points keep the shelter safe and secure on the most uneven banks.

Pros

  • Lightweight package.
  • Easy to erect.

Cons

  • Fairly basic in terms of extras.

Best mid-range bivvy

The Solar Tackle SP Uni Spider Bivvy is truly one of the best specification bivvies currently on the market, it has been designed to overcome every eventuality you are likely to face on the bank. The Spider Bivvy can be taken anywhere, for any duration in any season, thanks to its various features that make it as comfortable in 40-degree heat as they do in driving rain and minus temperatures.

The "Quick Up" frame allows the user to erect the bivvy in less than a minute, with the Spider arms fanning out and locking into place leaving a free standing shelter which doesn't need pegging down right away, great if it rains or you like to stay mobile. The square footprint achieves maximum internal space, allowing you to use the bivvy on longer sessions with no issues at all.

Internally there is a vapour shield to eliminate condensation and mesh pockets to the rear for storage of valuables or receivers. The back panels have a solid infill that covers a mozzy mesh infill, both of which are completely removable, depending on your preference. The Solar-Tex Material itself is durable and fully waterproof as well as having a blackout coating, if you like the inside to be really dark regardless of conditions outside, this is the bivvy for you.

Pros

  • Can be erected in seconds.
  • Packed with features.

Cons

  • Zip in groundsheet sold separately.

Best Budget 2-Man Bivvy

If value for money is what you are considering when looking to buy your next shelter, the Fox EOS 2-Man Bivvy will take some beating, as you get a lot for your money. With enough space for two bedchairs, this is the perfect shelter for those who take family members fishing, those looking for longer session shelters on a budget or simply those who require more space when out fishing. 

Braced and designed with two central ribs, the shelter is quick to set up and offers sufficient protection in all conditions, especially important if you have younger family members fishing alongside you. The clear or solid front panels can be set letterbox style to still allow for visuals of the lake whilst keeping the elements out. A groundsheet is also included to ensure maximum comfort can be achieved.

Pros

  • Large shelter, perfect for families.
  • Great entry-level shelter.

Cons

  • Can take a while to put together.

Best Hybrid Bivvy

Regarded as one of the strongest shelters on the market, the Nash Titan Hide Camo Pro is a great product for those looking for a fast erect, brolly/bivvy hybrid. With a whole host of extras that can be added, the Titan Hide Pro is as suited to overnight angling as it is to those fishing longer sessions. The flat back design allows a bedchair to be positioned against the rear of the shelter, ensuring the maximum space-to-footprint ratio is utilised. 

The Hide uses a locking system, which gives the shelter its rigidity, eliminating the need for storm poles whilst also allowing the shelter to be freestanding. In swims that are difficult to get, pegs in this shelter will be invaluable. The anti-twist poles simply fit together, and the ribs are then fanned out and locked into place. We would say there aren't many faster bivvies to set up on the market.

An interesting and unique feature is the mesh capsule that simply clips to the Titan internally whilst being fused to a groundsheet, it eliminates insects and rodents from entering the bivvy. The 20,000mm fabric externally will keep you dry in any conditions.

Mesh organiser pockets are a welcome addition for storing items such as phones or receivers, this keeps everything neat, organised and to hand when needed, which can only promote more efficient angling.

Pros

  • Strong, easy to erect.
  • Very versatile bivvy.

Cons

  • More suited to anglers that don't take loads of tackle due to its smaller footprint.

Best 2-Man Bivvy

If you need a quality shelter with acres of room, then the Fox Retreat+ 2 Man Bivvy has you covered. Dimensions of 335cm x 230cm x 185cm (6ft high) means that the average angler can stand upright in this bivvy with ease, and it is possible to fit three standard bedchairs in if required, perfect for a social or for taking your family fishing.

Structurally, the Fox Retreat+ Two Man is impeccable. It can be used in any condition thanks to its 20,000mm Ven-Tec rip-stop material and frame support bars. When combined with the tensioning strap, it makes for a very solid structure that will keep you dry and comfortable in the most horrendous of conditions.

An overwrap is available to provide further protection during the colder months whilst also adding a porch area to the shelter for even more space.

Pros

  • An enormous bivvy.
  • Can accommodate three bedchairs.

Cons

  • Can take a while to erect due to its size.

What to look for in a bivvy

Picking the best fishing bivvy for you is largely determined by what type of angler you are. If you are a mobile angler, you want to look for a lightweight bivvy that you can erect quickly, allowing you to move and capitalise on any opportunity you may find. Conversely, if you do a lot of fishing abroad or fish for longer sessions, you may be far more comfortable in a larger bivvy that can store more tackle and people inside it.

If you fish a lot during the colder months, it is well worth spending more on a bivvy that has superior waterproof material and is renowned for its strength. A bivvy that has the option of an overwrap is essential to prevent condensation and keeps you much warmer too. All these things will make fishing far more pleasant during the miserable months.

Generally, the more you spend on a bivvy, the more waterproof and durable it will be. If you do a lot of angling throughout the course of a year, then a bivvy with thick, rip-resistant material will stand up to the demands you put on it.

Glossary

Bivvy: 'Bivvy' is an abbreviation of the word bivouac – an improvised campsite or temporary shelter.

Storm Pole: Thick, heavy-duty bank sticks that are screwed into the shelter to brace certain bivvies and brollies against wind.

Pegs: Robust metal spikes with heavy-duty moulded tops. Some pegs feature a spiral point for twisting the spike down into hard ground.

Pegging Points: Plastic or metal rings fused to the fabric provide somewhere to push a peg through to keep the shelter anchored to the floor.

Ribs: Long metal poles, generally with plastic fittings, that are used to brace a shelter and give it its structural strength and shape.

Hydrostatic Head: Hydrostatic head (HH) is a way of measuring how waterproof a piece of fabric is.

MM rating: Measured in millimetres (mm), this is a measure of how waterproof a fabric is. In the case of a 10,000mm fabric, if you put a cylinder with inner dimensions of 1" x 1" over a piece of said fabric, you could fill it with water to a height of 10,000 mm (10m) before water would begin to leak through. The higher the rating, the more waterproof it is.

Mozzy Mesh: An ultra-fine net which prevents insects from gaining access through it.

Bedchair: Foam mattress attached to a metal frame that is raised off the ground via legs. Provides somewhere to sleep when outdoors.

Groundsheet: A waterproof sheet of plastic or other durable material spread on the ground under a bedchair or in a tent for protection against moisture and mud.

Central Block: Usually constructed from metal or plastic, it is located at the top of a shelter and is where all the ribs extend from, without it, the shelter would fall apart.

Tensioning Strap: Length of fabric, sometimes elasticated with clips either end. The clips of the tension strap simply attach to either side of the bivvy and provide the exact level of tension required to maintain its structure.

Rain Gutter: Raised area of fabric at the front of the shelter opening, used to divert rainwater down the sides and prevent dripping/pooling of water at the entrance.

Letterbox: A way of setting the door panel to allow you to peer out at the lake without getting wet. Involves zipping the door up fully, then unzipping from the top to create a small opening.

Overwrap: Sheet of waterproof fabric that is designed to be positioned over the shelter for extra protection and to stop condensation forming inside.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best shelter for fishing?

With the diverse range of shelters available nowadays, it can seem like a bit of a minefield as to what shelter to choose. There is no one size fits all shelter, as all have pros and cons depending on the type of fishing you do. For the mobile angler that likes to move around, a quick erect bivvy or brolly system would be best. However, if you are a more stationary angler who likes to set up in a swim for the entire session and have a bit more comfort, then a larger bivvy would be far more suitable.

What is a fishing shelter and a bivvy?

Whilst both options provide a similar outcome, they do vary in construction, which may make one more suitable than the other.

Shelters are generally lighter and more compact in design. Typically designed around a brolly system to make them easy to erect, they tend to be targeted towards those who do short sessions and overnight angling.

Bivvies are built much more like a traditional tent, with fitted doors and a much more elaborate, stronger construction. The bivvy is more suited to the angler who requires more space and is generally doing longer sessions of 48 hours-plus. Bivvies provide space for the extra tackle and comfort for lengthier stays on the bank.

What is the best material?

With manufacturers offering their own version of the material with different names, it can be confusing to anyone as to what is best. We suggest ignoring the name of the material and looking at the HH rating (hydrostatic rating), with most providing a rating between 5000mm and 25,000mm. Put simply, the higher the rating, the more waterproof the fabric will be.

Obviously, we can't guarantee any material will stay waterproof, but if you are concerned, then we recommend going for the best material you can afford for more assurance.

What is included and what do I need to buy?

Depending on the manufacturer and the system you buy, what is included and what is available to customise it after can vary. The majority of bivvy systems will include a groundsheet, pegs, storm poles (if the design requires it) and a bag to carry it in. Quality does vary amongst suppliers, so do check if that's important to you. Then you can add different fronts, overwraps and skullcaps.

Brolly systems can vary, you can often just buy the shelter on its own and add items like fronts and mesh infills later, or they come as a complete system. It comes down to personal preference.

How much does a shelter cost?

The good thing about shelters is there is generally one that suits all budgets. Whether you have £100 or £1000 to spend, you can get something that will protect you on the bank. It goes without saying though, that the more you spend, the more features are included, and generally, the longer it will last.

Author Aidan Bordiuk is an enthusiastic angler who enjoys all fishing disciplines from match fishing to beach casting. He is currently occupying the position of Commercial Content Writer at Angling Times.

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