Bivi Bag

A bivi bag, or sleeping bag cover, is a bag that a sleeping bag is put into to increase its ability to repel moisture. This is especially useful for those using sleeping bags in the open rather than inside a tent. The army were quick to recognise this and bivi bags have been issued for several decades. Tonight we are looking at an olive green example from the early 1990s:imageThe bag is made of a single layer of fabric, shaped like a sleeping bag with an opening where the head would be. The sleeping bag is slipped into the bivi bag and a drawstring allows it to be drawn close:imageThis particular example was manufactured in 1992 by ‘Polywarm Products’, the details being stamped onto the interior of the bag:imageIn the military the bag is mainly used to stop a sleeping bag from getting damp from the ground and dew. They are used in combination with sleeping mats and waterproof sheets. The bags are breathable, allowing perspiration to be drawn away from the sleeper and released as water vapour out into the night. They are pretty effective, however they do rely on the air outside having less vapour in it than the interior of the bag. If it is a particularly damp night the vapour is unable to be drawn away and can condense on the inside of the bivvy bag. By all accounts though this issue is far less pronounced with the design of military bivvy bags then their civilian equivelants.

One squaddie had a very odd and life threatening occurrence with a bivi bag:

Have some fun!! smear it with mud overnight, while sleeping in it with the hood zipped closed over your head because you’re young and stupid (and it’s raining). The mud should preferably come from the sides of a firetrench you were too lazy/knackered to dig wide enough, so that as you (in your sleep) wedge yourself deep into the trench, when you’ve breathed all the oxygen in the now impermeable ‘bivi-suffocation unit’, you can wake up in a suffocating panic, unable to move your arms because they’re trapped against the sides of the trench…
With luck, your oppo is in that comatose state of knackered-ness where he can’t hear your muffled cries of ‘feckin heeeeeeelllppp me, I’m too young to die like this!!!’ In any case, there’s no air left to grab for a really good scared bellow…
Scariest thing that ever happened to me in the army – I kid you not… I came very close to death, and finally managed – at the expense of a ripped muscle – to force a hand up to the zip… Air never tasted better…

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