Used extensively by Trek Scotland throughout 2019/20 in the Scottish Highlands and surrounding wilderness regions.
The MSR Pro Bivy is currently one of MSR’s lightest bivy bags. At 246 grams, it packs down small with MSR describing it as being “Designed for professional alpinists and serious adventurers, the Pro Bivy delivers quick-pitch protection in cramped spaces too small for a tent.”
On first appearance this is a bivy that’s very much on the simple side. The fly fabric is made up of bright orange 2 ply, 20D ripstop nylon that is breathable and has a 1000mm HH, combined with a darker red coloured floor made of 15D ripstop nylon and 1200mm HH. The fabric is very thin and at first gave us a bit of concern as to how it would fair being used directly on top of rock and heather. After much use on different surfaces it appears to be a lot tougher than we first thought, although an element of care is still required to keep it in good working order. The Pro Bivy is coated with MSR’s waterproof Xtreme Shield polyurethane, which they claim will last up to 3 times longer than standard coatings. It must be said that the Pro Bivy stands up to the weather much better than expected and after a very wet night in the Cairngorms myself and all gear stored inside was kept dry apart from what we would consider a usual amount of damp spots picked up from condensation. Paired with a winter sleeping bag the Pro Bivy made for a pleasant night sleep high on The Mamores at -9 degrees making this a bivy for all season use. Although, in the summer months, you would want to bring along a midge net. Over time, it will interesting to see how long the Xtreme Shield coating will last, but after plenty of nights over the past 6 months it appears to be coping much better than we had anticipated.
The Pro Bivy has no zipper closure and instead the fabric overlaps which in theory works well for use inside a tent or on a ledge providing some kind of shelter. For the night we spent exposed on a high plateau when the winds picked up it easily blew out of place exposing the face to the elements and allowed spindrift to enter eventually wetting the sleeping bag. It would have been a welcome option to have included some sort of attachment, even a basic loop and fastener to keep the overlap in place. If you intend to use a bivy in this manner it would be well advised to use synthetic sleeping bag as they can handle an intake of moisture much better than a down bag would.
The more we used the Pro Bivy the more we enjoyed its simple approach and the ability to do things like brew a coffee in the morning without having to remove ourselves from our sleep system. Paired with a lightweight tarp you do feel it gives you the true nature of what bivy life is all about. Go anywhere, quick to pitch, and it is incredibly packable. Even with a small tarp you are only looking at a combined 500 grams in total. It’s also exceptionally roomy for the low weight and can easily accommodate a sleeping bag and mat with space for extra gear.
This is about as simple as a bivy gets. Some might argue that for the price you can get a fully featured bivy with extra protection and comfort. For us that’s not what the MSR Pro Bivy is about. It’s a go anywhere, do anything bivy that provides a dependable instant shelter. Packing away almost unnoticeably into a pack at a mere 246 grams you can easily accommodate this as a quick and easy option for planned or unexpected nights in the mountains. Although we wouldn’t have been upset at an increase of a few grams in order to include some form of closure or an integrated midge net for use in Scotland.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...