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 Angling Direct
• Best Beginner Bivvy - Sonik Xtractor Bivvy - View offer on Go Outdoors
• Best Short Session Bivvy - Daiwa Mission Overnighter Plus Shelter - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle
• Best Budget 2-Man Bivvy - Fox EOS 2-Man 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 In Class Bivvy
Aqua have a long-standing reputation for the quality of their products, with their shelters
- Fantastic material and a solid construction.
- Long 12-month warranty.
- Heavier than others on the market.
The original, fast-erecting bivvy with some new and exciting features. The Trakker Tempest 150 EV
- 25000mm fabric, the most waterproof on the market.
- Still the fastest shelter to erect.
- No peak to divert driving rain away from the entrance.
Sonik have designed the Sonik Xtractor bivvy for anglers doing shorter sessions and overnighters
- Block system allows for easy and quick setup
- Flat back design gives plenty of internal space
- 5000mm fabric isn't as waterproof as others
The Daiwa Mission Overnighter Plus is an ideal shelter for specimen anglers who fish a range of
- Lightweight package.
- Easy to erect.
- Fairly basic in terms of extras.
If value for money is what you are considering when looking to buy your next shelter, the Fox EOS
- Large shelter, perfect for families.
- Great entry-level shelter.
- Can take a while to put together.
Regarded as one of the strongest shelters on the market, the Nash Titan Hide Camo Pro is a great
- Strong, easy to erect.
- Very versatile bivvy.
- More suited to anglers that don't take loads of tackle due to its smaller footprint.
If you need a quality shelter with acres of room, then the Fox Retreat+ 2 Man Bivvy has you
- An enormous bivvy.
- Can accommodate three bedchairs.
- 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.
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.