UK outdoor brand Alpkit has been making well-priced outdoor gear for a while now, and Alpkit's budget Hunka range of bivy bags has probably got more people sleeping under the stars than any other bivy available — at least here in the UK.
For riders looking for a lightweight bikepacking setup, Alpkit now has the Kloke. With its small pack size and low 285g weight, it still promises impressive weather protection and comfort for bikepacking and ultra-endurance racers. We headed out into the woods to see how this lightweight bivy from Alpkit performs.
Design and specifications
The Kloke uses a 3-layer waterproof fabric which Alpkit claims to be the lightest 3-layer waterproof fabric it could find. The fabric has a PU waterproof membrane that's sandwiched between 10 denier nylon. Alpkit claims a waterproof rating of 20,000mm and breathability of 30,000 g/sqm/24h (minimum), which if you know your waterproof jacket ratings is pretty decent, and should shrug off a decent shower without getting humid inside.
Alpkit has opted for a double-ended zipper which it expressly warns against zipping completely closed due to a risk of suffocation, something which I decided not to test. The zipper isn't waterproof, instead it has a storm flap to shield it from the weather and opens across almost the entire width of the bag to create a huge entrance. The hood is also massive to provide plenty of headroom and space to store some belongings if needed. There is a little loop on the exterior that could be used to either hang the bivy to dry or elevate the hood, however without extra supporting poles the latter is probably not worth the hassle
Once packed into its water-resistant stuff sack, the Kloke’s pack size looks similar to Alpkit’s standard Hunka although, despite the Kloke's significantly larger capacity, with some squishing it will easily crush away a good bit smaller. Small enough that I leave my sleeping bag inside (when it's dry) and it packs away with no discernible extra bulk. I would have liked to see a built-in pocket that the Kloke could be folded into however for me it's not a deal-breaker.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
The Kloke is very spacious at 215cm x 80cm and has plenty of room inside to fit a mat, a sleeping bag and to toss and turn in the night without getting yourself all tied up. The thin material obviously adds very little in insulation, however there is plenty of space for a thick, lofty sleeping bag inside. On hot nights, the wide zip can be opened up to help hot air escape.
I have never found bivies to be very good at venting out moisture, especially if you are really tucked in and trapping your breath, although the Kloke definitely performs better than others. It was only on particularly dewy mornings that I had noticeable moisture and it didn’t take very long for it to evaporate with the help of the summer morning sun.
Unlike the cheaper Hunka which uses a basic drawstring for closure, the Kloke uses a double-ended zip, although the zip isn’t waterproof, so you are really relying on the storm flap to stop rain coming through. In theory, a zip should still provide better sealing from the weather than a drawstring, however due to the risk of suffocation if the zip is fully closed, in reality, it makes less of a difference as you still need to have a good-sized opening.
The zip is also very easy to snag when opening and closing, which is frustrating if you are making a small ventilation adjustment in the middle of the night or needing to leap out with morning urgency. It also means that if you like to have your mouth and nose close to the hole for breathing fresh air you may have a metal zip tag dangling in your face.
The zip does have its advantages though, by closing the huge entrance hole with no bunching there are no channels to funnel water into the breathing hole. The double-ended zip also allows you to easily choose, or change, where your breathing hole is based on how you want to lie, without having to roll your entire sleeping system around, which is a big advantage over a drawstring.
I'm a big fan of the huge hood space and wide opening, which makes it very easy to get in and out of the Kloke, and has plenty of space for things to be kept close to hand while sleeping. However, it does mean that the zip is a little low for orientating a breathing hole. I was able to shuffle lower into the bag, but anybody taller than 175cm might have to curl up a bit or accept that the zip is a little too low for easy breathing.
A bivy's color is more about practicality than personal preference. Due to the amount of wild camping I do the Apple green color is not as subtle as I would like, luckily since I received my test sample Alpkit now offers a darker, more camouflaged Kelp green to help you get lost in the undergrowth.
You can definitely find better specced or cheaper bivy bags on the market, but the Alpkit Kloke is unmatched at balancing lightweight packability and performance at a decent price. While the fiddly zip is a little frustrating and could be positioned slightly better, the Kloke is still a great bivy bag to go for if you are looking to save bag space or travel ultralight.
Alpkit's Kloke is only available directly through Alpkit.com.
Tech Specs: Alpkit Kloke bivy bag
- Price: $189.99 / £129.99
- Weight: 269g (actual)
- Colors: Kelp
- Size: 215cm x 80cm (tapering to 50cm)
- Packed size: 20 x 12 cm