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Review: Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi

Lifesystems Solo Bivi

A compact, lightweight, breathable and quick to set up bivy bag for solo adventures.

The Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi is a well built, high quality bivy bag that’s designed to support solo adventures in the mountains, on the trails, or anywhere you fancy pulling over for a minimalist overnight camp. Providing protection and shelter from the elements, it’s suitable for anyone looking to bivy in the outdoors who seeks an extra layer of protection from the wind, rain, and even insects. Its hooped design allows for extra shoulder and head room, while the integrated mesh helps to keep those midges and mozzies out on windless summer nights. Lifesystems have done their best to balance function and weight in their design process, and have come out the other end with a decent piece of kit worth consideration.

Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi: The stats

Best for:Solo hiking, biking, mountaineering
Size:225 x 68 x 58cm / 89 x 27 x 23in
Weight:680g / 24oz
Packed size:31 x 11 x 11cm / 12 x 4 x 4in
Material:70D ripstop nylon fabrics
Overall rating:

Features of the Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi

Hoop frame

Bivi pole hoopAny high quality bivy bag would be at a loss if they didn’t have a frame system to prop the upper section up away from your head and shoulders. This is essential on wet or cold nights when you want to batten down the hatches and tuck into the depths of your bivy bag away from the elements. It also helps to separate your sleeping bag from the bivy inner, helping ventilation and wicking moisture away.

The hooped frame provides just enough room that’s needed if you’ve zipped right up, allowing you more comfort throughout the night having the material about a foot from your upper body. The pole that creates the hooped frame is made from plastic, with inner pole elastication like on most tent poles to create an easy clip and construct process. The plastic doesn’t feel that robust, but it is very lightweight. The pole insertion point is very straightforward and quick to use, with only a single velcro strap to secure the pole in place. Easy!

When the hooped frame is erect and you are fully concealed inside, I find that the frame flaps and collapses easily in windy conditions. Pegging the frame down does help this somewhat. The pegs and pull chords don’t come with the bivvy bag, these are purchased separately.

Bug screen

Bivi bug meshThe zipped bug screen works as it should and is easy to zip up from the inside. I find that the mesh is fine enough to keep out midges when bivying here in the UK. Some meshes are suitable for mosquitos, but the mesh gaps are too big to keep out midges, so an important consideration when buying a bivy bag for use in the UK. The mesh zip is bright orange so it’s easy to differentiate from the main bivy zip from the inside.

Weatherproofness

Bivi FabricThe material is constructed from a 70D ripstop nylon, accompanied with a PU coating, taped seams, and a 11,000mm hydrostatic head. Hydrostatic head is a measurement of how much water pressure the material can withstand before the water starts to penetrate through. 11,000mm is reasonably adequate for UK use. I find the material to be very breathable, and I had very little condensation build up on the inside from my first few nights use. I used it with a down bag too, so I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t soaked from the inside the following morning, and I had very little drying out to do.

Stake out points

Stake out loopUnfortunately you have to buy the ground anchors and pull chords separately, but to be honest you wouldn’t be lost without them, unless you’re bivying in windy conditions. When the bivy bag is fully tensioned from the 4 stake loops at each corner of the bag, they do provide some support to the hooped system, but you’ve got much less wiggle room on the whole as you’re pinned down. I prefer sleeping without the stakes for the extra freedom of movement. The stake loop attachments on the bag are robust and well integrated into the material.

Packability

Bottle next to bivi sackBivying is all about keeping things light and simple. Lifesystems have done a top job on staying true to their word, and keeping this bivy system very compact, light and practical. It’s ideal for stowing away at the bottom of your backpack, a bike pannier, or packed into your kayak for an expedition. It comes with a sturdy stuff sack, and when packed, the dimensions are 310 x 110 x 110mm, similar size to a 1L Nalgene bottle. Ideal!


Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi review

It’s hard to see how designers can keep improving on products like bivvy bags that already have years of design, development and testing. Afterall, it’s just a bag! But I’ve had some fun nights out (on the hill!) testing Lifesystems new bivy bag, and I think they’ve managed to make a few worthwhile improvements on previous designs in the Bivy bag world. If you are a bivy enthusiast, or simply just looking to buy your first bag, have a read through and hopefully it will give you a helpful insight into what makes a bag a bivy bag, and not just a fancy bin liner.

Bivy bag in mountains

Lifesystems have brought out a great product that performs exactly as it’s supposed to. It’s compact and lightweight, reasonably robust, breathable, and quick and easy to set up. It balances functionality with weight to the right amount, and it’s versatile, making it compatible for any outdoor adventure that requires a lightweight and minimal sleeping system.

Pole of bivi bag

The design is modern and sleek, with the hooped construction allowing just enough head and shoulder room. I do feel like the designers could have been a little more generous with space when fully zipped up, and if you were wide at the shoulders or a bigger person than me you might struggle for a little extra space. I find that there is some extra space at the head or at the foot for stowing away my backpack, but it certainly leaves it tight inside overall. I like to stow away my extra belongings at the bottom if I do need to keep things inside and sheltered from the rain. Stowing away at the foot means you’ve maximized the shoulder and head room at the top. If you stow away your bag above the head, it’s easier to reach the contents but you’re forced to move down in the bag where the tapered design becomes more restrictive on the shoulders.

Inside bivi bag

In terms of performance, the bag works really well. It keeps out the elements and most of all it’s a very breathable bag, so you don’t get soaked from the inside. The mesh is ideal for summer bivying where you might get eaten alive by midges, particularly up in Scotland.
The ripstop nylon holds up well against rough surfaces, and adds to the durability of the bag overall. And I like how lightweight the material is, though it does have a slightly delicate feel. Only time will tell how long it will last, particularly if you are sleeping on rough surfaces.

Bivi zipper

What I love the most about the Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi

Its breathability, and quick setup. Unlike heavier bags I’ve used, I find the material to be very breathable. Less drying out time in the morning means you can pack up quicker and get going on your adventure. It’s also very easy to set up, and the hooped system is very straightforward to construct.

What I don’t love so much about the Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi

The hooped system is flimsy in the wind and rattles around during the night. You can use the ground anchors and pull chords but it doesn’t add much of a difference. You also have to buy the stakes and chord separately.


Man in bivy bag

Verdict

Overall I find the Lifesystems Venture Solo Hooped Bivi to be very reliable, durable, and it functions how I want it to. It’s my go to bivy bag at the moment, and I love how light and compact it is. Apart from the few minor issues mentioned above, I highly recommend it, and would recommend it to any outdoor enthusiast looking for a solo, lightweight sleeping system.

The Solo Bivi is ideal for multi-day treks, cycling tours, biking, alpine bivying, or simply just for an overnight sleep under the stars on a hike. It’s very versatile, which I really love. It retails at £119, so comes in at a higher price for a bivy bag of this quality. The hooped system slightly drops my rating as it feels a bit flimsy in the wind, the pole is made of plastic, and it’s not as sturdy as other systems I’ve used. If you are planning on consecutive multi-night use in rougher weather, I might look for a stronger frame. But other than that, it’s a great bag.

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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

Jono Redmond

Jono Redmond
Jono is the founder of Mountain Odyssey, a provider of rock climbing and mountaineering instruction and guided experiences, based in North Wales. With a deep passion for rock climbing and over 12 years of instructing experience, Jono thrives to inspire others to make a positive connection with the natural world and the beautiful landscapes and mountains that he works in.

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