Camping Shelter Styles

Mountain Mail Order breaks down three different levels of camping comfort...

We all have our own way of enjoying the outdoors – some adventurers are content to spend the night under the stars with naught but a pad and a puffy, while others prefer a more luxurious camping experience. Luckily, there are plenty options out there to cater for all of us unique little snowflakes – here are three different camping styles for you try out, ranging from the ultra-basic to the ultra-cosy…


A bivouac (also called a bivi or bivy) is a very simple, temporary shelter that can be best be described as the love child of a tent and a sleeping bag.You could also think of a bivi as a kind of sleeping bag cover. These are for the slack-packers, alpinists, cave-dwellers and all-round badasses that don’t mind getting a little dirtbaggy.

Features & Perks:

● Ultra lightweight and compact – great for minimalist packers and on-the-go ventures
● Most are purpose-built for all-season conditions
● Some more ‘luxurious’ bivis have a short pole to suspend the shell, creating a canopy for slightly more comfortable sleeping arrangements
● Can be carried along with a tent and used in emergency situations instead of a primary shelter

The Downsides:

● A small amount of sleeping space and virtually no storage space
● Minimal comfort (but enough to get a good night’s sleep after a long day)

MMO Recommends:
Survival Bivi from Wild Country by Terra Nova

Terra Nova’s Survival Bivi is ultra light, waterproof, breathable, compact and can be used as a normal bivy bag or in conjunction with a tarp for extra protection from the elements. Easy to carry, easy to set up and perfect for the low-maintenance adventurer.


For those that want to be a little more comfortable (while still enjoying a rustic adventure experience), the classic hammock and tarp combo is perfect.

Features & Perks:

● Like the bivi, this option is lightweight, compact and perfect for those thing to keep things simple
● Much more comfortable than a bivi – depending on your preferences you might even find a hammock more comfortable than a mattress in a tent!
● Keeps you protected from ground-dwelling creepy crawlies and creatures
● Tarp protects against the elements while the mosquito net guards against insects
● Fun swinging capabilities are an undeniable bonus

The Downsides:

● You need appropriate rigging points (e.g. trees, rocks to place cams/nuts, etc.)
● You will suffer if you don’t do it right – here are a few tips:
– Bring along a mosquito net and/or slather yourself in insect repellant (tarps aren’t foolproof)
– Insulate your hammock with a yoga or sleeping mat, or even a thermal blanket to keep the wind away
– Use a sleeping bag and/or blankets with a pillow, and sleep diagonally across the hammock for an uber-cosy night

Check out our blog on hammock camping for more tips!

MMO Recommends:
CityROCK Hammock & Accessories

CityROCK’s hammocks, tarps and mosquito nets are affordable, lightweight and high-quality. All three products work together to make for a simple set up and a happy camper.


Ah, the humble tent – the ultimate camping classic, ideal for anyone wanting to embark on a down-to-earth adventure without sacrificing comfort and convenience.

Features & Perks:

● Spacious enough to set up a cosy, comfy sleeping arrangement (including cuddles) and also store your things
● Good protection from critters and the elements
● Most include porches for storage if things get a bit cramped inside
● A large variety of options are available in different sizes, for different seasons, with different designs, to suit the situation

The Downside:

● Quite a bit heavier and bulkier than a hammock or bivi… but recent advancements in technology have allowed tents to become lighter while still maintaining the properties that keep you safe from the elements (there is a Vango Tent known as the Project Hydrogen that only weighs 700 grams!)

MMO Recommends:
Helm Compact & Trisar Tents from Wild Country by Terra Nova

Like their bivi, Terra Nova’s tents are lightweight, compact and easy to set up. The Helm Compact 1, 2 and 3 each offer two decent-sized porches for gear storage and a clever design that allows you to pitch the flysheet and inner layer together. The Trisar 2 is also a great choice, with a super stable semi-geodesic design and adjustable front and back vents for custom airflow (so fancy!).

Whether you prefer your adventures bare-bones or with all the bells and whistles, there’s a camping set up for you. Chat to the team in your local gear shop for advice and product recommendations, and play around to find your perfect home away from home.