Brand: Outdoor Research
Model: Helium Bivy
Overall Rating: 4
Why we like it This shelter disappears in your pack—like any good bivy—but tent-like upgrades make it way more livable than most.
Comfort A curved pole made of tough Selrin plastic suspends the fabric 19.5 inches high at the peak, creating lavish space at the head compared to conventional bivies (though the fabric hangs close to your face where it slopes to the ground—claustrophobes will still feel cramped). Don’t mind really tight spaces? Ditching the pole saves 2 ounces, but you lose the breathing room. Bonus: Straps keep a sleeping pad (up to 3.5 inches thick) in place, and zippers are easy to operate from inside and out.
Protection Hours of sustained rain in New York’s Adirondacks couldn’t penetrate the 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric. Five stake loops pin it firmly against ripping winds, and removable no-see-um netting covers the clamshell opening and kept swarming bugs at bay during a night on the St. Lawrence River.
Durability A tough, 70-denier nylon floor stands up to cheese-grater rocks.
Bummer Like most bivies, the interior gets clammy when you seal it up in humid conditions. Unzipping the opening provides adequate ventilation, but only in light precip, since heavy rain enters through the gap. $169; 1 lb. 2 oz.; outdoorresearch.com