Outdoor Research Helium bivvy bag $299
Used by: Backup-conscious features and trips writer Hazel Phillips
Used for: Three years
I picked up the OR Helium for a long solo trip where I planned to stay in huts but wanted extra security without having to carry a full tent.
The Helium is the little brother to the heavier Alpine bivvy but it does the job in three-season conditions just fine. I love the mesh to keep the bugs out and the simple single-pole construction that keeps the tent fabric away from your face.
I’ve also added a tent peg to keep it anchored.
There’s plenty of room at the foot and I’ve found it to have a good balance of waterproofness and breathability. I’ve used it mostly by choice (bivvying out beside exquisite rivers or avoiding an overcrowded hut) and acouple of times after deciding to call it a day before reaching the hut.
At 459g it’s a no-brainer to throw in my pack when I’m heading somewhere off the beaten track.
Verdict: A lightweight but reliable backup shelter.