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MSR Pro Bivy Review

An effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist shelters
MSR Pro Bivy
Credit: MSR
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $230 List | $229.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely lightweight, packable
Cons:  Expensive, no zipper
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6.0
  • Weight - 25% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 5.0
  • Ventilation - 15% 6.0
  • Packed Size - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

While we might not choose to take the MSR Pro Bivy out as our go-to bivy for all conditions, it does have some fantastic specialist characteristics that earn it our Top Pick for ultralight adventures. The durable weatherproof shell combined with the extremely low weight of this bivy makes it very attractive to those looking to shed weight while not being hung out to dry if temperatures drop, the wind kicks up, or rain sets in unexpectedly. As the bivy itself doesn't have a zipper or drawstring, if you're using this for a long-term trip or thru-hike, it's probably best combined with a tarp or other shelter solution.

Compare to Similar Products

 
MSR Pro Bivy
This Product
MSR Pro Bivy
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $229.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$199 List
$198.95 at Amazon
$160 List
$159.95 at Amazon
$63 List
$45.11 at Amazon
$25 List
$19.97 at Amazon
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Pros Extremely lightweight, packableLightweight, weatherproof, roomy, ease of use, bug screenLightweight, versatile, stows easily, price is rightLight, durable, warm, affordableWeight, packed size
Cons Expensive, no zipperStuff sack too largeLeaky zippersNot waterproof, tight fit for taller individualsDurability, no zipper/cinch
Bottom Line An effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist sheltersThis very well may be the new standard in what we expect from a top-notch bivy sackThis model boasts an enticing weight, comfort, and versatility ratioThe Escape is an excellent lightweight choice for cold dry climates or emergency situationsAn ultra lightweight, reusable emergency bivy best suited for very occasional use
Rating Categories MSR Pro Bivy Outdoor Research He... Sierra Designs Back... SOL Escape Bivvy Survival Frog Tact...
Weather Resistance (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
3.0
2.0
Weight (25%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Comfort (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
2.0
Ventilation (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
1
Packed Size (15%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Specs MSR Pro Bivy Outdoor Research He... Sierra Designs Back... SOL Escape Bivvy Survival Frog Tact...
Measured Weight (oz.) 8.9 oz 16.3 oz 13.6 oz 8.4 oz 4.6 oz
Packed Size (in.) 8" x 3.5" 4" x 12.5" 3" x 9.5" 4" x 7.5" 2" x 4.5"
Waterproof? Yes Yes Yes Water-resistant fabric with waterproof seams Yes
Open Length (in.) 88" 82" 80" 84" 84"
Shoulder Width (in.) 36" 26" 36" 31" 36"
Material (top/bottom) 20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm Top: Pertex Shield 2.5L 100% nylon Bottom: 100% 40D nylon Top: 20D Nylon Ripstop
Bottom: 30D Nylon Ripstop
Metalized Spun-bonded Olefin Polyester Film
Bug Mesh? No Yes Yes No No
Sleeping Bag or Pad Attachments? No Yes No No No
Poles? No Yes, one overhead shockcorded Delrin pole No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Pro Bivy is in the top position for emergency bivies in this review. It offers warmth with added wind and weather protection. In addition, the MSR Pro actually stuffs down small, making it very packable which we find increases the chances that one will actually take the emergency piece of equipment along.

Performance Comparison


MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - setting up the msr pro at the end of a long day is a snap. even...
Setting up the MSR Pro at the end of a long day is a snap. Even during long-distance bikepacking events when we were completely exhausted, we didn't hesitate to bust out this model.
Credit: Brian Martin

Weather Resistance


While the MSR Pro isn't an ultra-protective bivy, it does have its place in our gear closet. We found its material to be waterproof even after about an hour of constant rain. There were some weak points in the MSR's armor, however. The closure system is simply a flap of material, which does indeed save a lot of weight but also allows wind and water to blow right in. We found that we had to be extremely careful, especially when water would pool on the surface of the bivy. Coaxing these pools off the bivy without draining them into the bivy was, at times, a challenge. Yes, you could keep yourself warm and dry in a downpour, but it would take some effort on your part.


The Pro Bivy has many benefits. We were able to stay drier longer and it is roomy both lengthwise and widthwise, which lets you get comfortable and help the bivy shed water in a way that keeps you dry. The bottom line is if we were told it was going to rain all day and we had to choose using an emergency bivy, we would take the MSR every time.

MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - while the lack of zipper enclosure leaves you vulnerable, the fabric...
While the lack of zipper enclosure leaves you vulnerable, the fabric of the MSR Pro was excellent. Even prolonged exposure to moisture didn't penetrate through.
Credit: Brian Martin

Weight


Saving weight is what this bivy is all about. MSR took away all of the creature comforts and slimmed this bivy down to the essentials. What is left is a bivy that offers decent wind, weather, and cold protection without being noticeable in your bag. At 8.9 ounces, it is barely heavier than our previous top pick for emergency bivys and offers a larger footprint which equates to more space to move around and adjust inside.


MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - while the msr pro does weigh a bit more than the sol escape, it...
While the MSR Pro does weigh a bit more than the SOL Escape, it offers a significant advantage in comfort and weather protection. Well worth the few extra grams.
Credit: Brian Martin

Comfort


Typically, emergency bivies are far from comfortable. They are more comfortable than being left out in the elements, but that's a pretty low bar to hurdle. The MSR Pro's ample footprint and length made it pretty bearable for multiple nights while out bikepacking in the cold. It is big enough to fit a regular-length inflatable sleeping pad, 30-degree Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, and a 175-pound person with room to spare.


There is also an important factor regarding comfort that must be mentioned. If you're into fast and light ascents, ultralight backpacking, or bikepacking, this bivy can offer a significant comfort factor at a minimal weight penalty. If you're pinned down in an unexpected storm or get benighted on a remote ridge, the added warmth, wind resistance, and weather protection offered by the MSR Pro will significantly boost your comfort level. Yes, the same could be said of all bivys we tested, but keep in mind the MSR is minimalist and light.

MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - the msr pro was a welcome companion on the pinyons and pines...
The MSR Pro was a welcome companion on the Pinyons and Pines Bikepacking Race. Around mile 100 our delirious gear tester set up camp and doesn't even remember taking this photo. Good thing this sack is so easy to set up!
Credit: Brian Martin

Ventilation


As it is with every bivy we have tested over the years, it was common to have some condensation form inside the bag, especially on colder nights. This was kept to an extreme minimum in the MSR Pro and was actually pretty rare that you could even see the moisture collected or deposited on our sleeping bag. This is in part to the large open vent at the head of the bivy and also in part to the breathable 20d fabric which comprises the shell.


MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - as the entire top portion of the bivy is open, we had no ventilation...
As the entire top portion of the bivy is open, we had no ventilation issues. If you pack along some para-cord, you can elevate the front flap over your head creating a little extra space.
Credit: Brian Martin

Packed Size


The MSR Pro has the smallest packed size of all re-usable bivys tested. Bivies with a smaller packed footprint will only last for a few uses as they aren't designed for extended, everyday use. Despite weighing slightly more than other emergency bivies the MSR was able to pack down into a small container, and we found we could still pack it even tighter.


Value


Is this ultralight bivy worth the price tag? Maybe. With such strong competition at reasonable prices, shelling out those two crisp Franklins would be difficult. As with most niche products, this ultralight product has great value if it fits your needs specifically. Otherwise, your money is likely spent elsewhere.

MSR Pro Bivy bivy sack - while best suited for emergency situations or as a little extra...
While best suited for emergency situations or as a little extra backup plan, depending on our comfort level with discomfort, we might take this along for extended trips.
Credit: Brian Martin

Conclusion


The MSR Pro Bivy is a fantastic product. It is extremely lightweight and the most packable bivy we have tested. It is a bit on the pricy side, but in our experience, these highly technical pieces are worth the investment. While there are other options for those on a budget, the MSR Pro fills a gap between basic emergency bivys and heavier-duty bivies.

Brian Martin
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