The Book of The Bivvy – a quick review

Just a quick review of a small but significant book about bivvying…



This book is a modern classic and a personal favourite of mine. I bought the book a few years ago on a whim when I was playing around at lightening my load for walking and camping. At once, the easy style of the author Ronald Turnbull made the book a joy to read and an immediate realisation that it would end up on my “favourite book” bookshelf.


Ronald gives a potted history of the humble bivvy bag along with the history of some iconic climbers and also his own experiences to boot. The narrative is both amusing and anecdotal in its style sandwiched between some sound advice. It reminds me a little of the style of Bill Bryson and had me chortling at several points especially when he is explaining the duality of enjoyment and pain whilst bivvying in the extreme.  That said it is also a structured and well written book on how to get the best out of bivvying and Ronald definitely describes it as though it were an art and not merely a function.


Along with sound advice on bivvying, Ronald also describes the different kinds of bivvy available, although the march of time and technology will one day necessitate another revision/new edition. There are some cracking photographs of bivvying destinations contained in the pages of this tardis-like book of the kind that make you really want to visit the them sometime. Add to this the many climbing, walking and sleeping out stories that he squeezes into this small book and you have something that is genuinely entertaining and makes you want to try out bivvying. Although only a short book, you realise that by the end of it, you have shared a lot of Ronalds thoughts and experiences and his obvious passion for the subject matter. I really love the book and everytime I read it, it makes me want to go and bivvy. Seriously…


Be warned though, Ronald admits in his narrative that to bivvy is to accept the possibility of pain and suffering but then he declares that this makes the memory and experience all the more poignant and therefore worthwhile. I dont necessairly go out looking for adversity when I bivvy but I know what Ronald means when he says that. Bivvying gives an element of freedom and risk that we can all indulge in and in some cases for only a few quid….


And I know the perfect spot to go for my next bivvy night…


About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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9 Responses to The Book of The Bivvy – a quick review

  1. The Dork of Cork says:

    Yes, what makes it quite funny is that it is a version of the truth that could be considered understated by some but not by others
    Anyway at its best – bivying on the tops of the Knoydart in early June cobalt skies – it can be quite comfortable and strangely exotic.
    At its worst……………..

  2. backpackbrewer says:


    balance the experience of slowly drowning in your own sweat when using the wrong bag with a stunning sunrise and then a cup of coffee without having to get out of your bag

    but thats part of the attraction….which experience you will have. I can honestly say I havent ever had a boring bivvy night! 🙂

  3. I’ve had this on the Amazon wishlist for a while, you’ve persuaded me that it must be bought now!

    I love my bivvy. Can’t wait to crack it out again.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Chris, its the kind of book that you scribble notes from (where to bivvy, places to see, useful web adresses etc), read several times and wonder how on earth there is so much information and stories in it.

      A modern outdoor classic

  4. I am very much enjoying the book, Ironically I was reading it last night whilst bivvying. I think it’s an even better read if you get his sense of humor.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      The good thing about that book if you are taking it for a read whilst bivvying is that its fairly small and light! 🙂 I definitely get his sense of humour and as said previously reminds me a bit of Bill Bryson for some reason

  5. Maz says:

    I loved it. He writes so cleanly and with real emotion and backhanded humour that it’s impossible not to want to be there next to him. His account of his bivvy in Ireland is hilarious – a few lines which tell pages and pages of what really happened. It’s a great book and small enough to take anywhere…

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I get something out of it everytime I read it. Its just (for me) one of those iconic books that you will remember for years to come

  6. John Crouch says:

    Hi. A great read that speaking for myself has encouraged me to travel lighter and use the bivy bag!

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