What’s the difference between a bivvy and a tent?

Some say it’s a case of horses for courses, we say if you’re an angler it’s a bivvy you need not a tent.

But what’s the difference? And why does that make a bivvy the correct tool for the job of keeping you warm and dry on the river bank?

Here’s what makes a bivvy a far superior shelter for people who fish.

Not a family holiday!

Camping Family Holiday

Image source: Monkey Business Images
Family holiday – the perfect tent occasion!

Tents are for campers and either bulky enough to fill the boot of the car and accommodate the whole family for a fortnight in France, or lightweight enough to be carried long distances on trekking adventures.

But while you might want to go for a lightweight bivvy if you’re planning a long walk in to remote reservoir, lake or stretch of river, you’ll still find that your average bivvy is, for its size, of much sturdier construction than a tent. Heavy duty nylon fabrics and sturdy frames are designed to withstand wet and windy weather – often the best conditions for snagging a big carp!

Quick to erect

A bivvy is designed to be erected in seconds. And while some might say the same goes for tents, there is a difference. A bivvy is constructed so that not only does it snap into shape at the drop of a hat, but because we know you might need to move it several times in a single angling session, it’s also designed to either pick up and plonk, or collapse and re-erect in seconds.

Because we know it needs to cope with frequent re-pitching, a bivvy is mechanically more resilient – it won’t have multiple poles that need threading through the flysheet. Instead look for umbrella designs, and features like built in groundsheets, double skins for heat retention and wide double stitched and taped seams.

Designed for fishing

Fishing Bivvys set up on river ready for fishing.

Image source: Andyone
Bivvies are designed with fishing in mind.

A tent is designed primarily for sleeping in. A bivvy is for fishing from, and that plays a big part in the way it’s designed and constructed.

Generous head height enables you to sit upright in a chair inside. Wide openings accommodate either a pair of anglers sat side by side, or a single bed-chair. A deep hood provides great rain protection while the door is open – porch windows enable anglers to keep one eye on their bite alarms while zipped up snug. And then there’s the colour – it’s designed to merge with your surroundings, not stick out like a sore thumb.

Banned

Festival tents

Image source: Petr Jilek
No tents allowed!

And then of course there’s the fact that some fisheries won’t let you pitch a tent in the first place. A draconian measure – or a sensible rule? There is a school of thought which suggests that allowing a proliferation of cheap beach tents at any given lake encourages a clientele whose main interest is “refreshment” not angling.

And a garish collection of multicoloured tents is less than restful on the eye too. We say, get the right tool for the job. It’s angling you’re into – it’s a bivvy you need. And if a new one isn’t an option, check out the multitude of online fishing forums for the second hand market alternative.