The North Face Asylum Bivy Review

The North Face
Asylum Bivy (ASJM)
Product Rating: 
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Details
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Door Side
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Top w/Optional Guylines
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Packed Dimensions
The North Face Asylum Bivy - w/Sleeping Bag
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Inside w/Pad
The North Face Asylum Bivy - Side & Foot


From The North Face, "Gossamer poled bivy features ground-breaking DryWall™ fabric that's flame retardant, breathable, water-resistant, and super lightweight. One-person tent is super skinny, weighing in at just 1 lb 10 oz."

The North Face Asylum Bivy is a hybrid bivy/tent with the best of both worlds. It is lightweight and compact like a bivy, but roomier like a tent and features aluminum poles and stakes. The TNF Asylum Bivy features DryWall™ proprietary single skin, door and footbox venting, full seam-taped canopy and floor, and a handy loop for hanging headlamps and accessories. Optional footprint also available.


Capacity: 1 person
Width: 21.5 in. at foot to 33.5 in. at shoulder
Length: 93 in.
Height: 14 in. at foot to 25" at head
Tent Material: DryWall™ canopy: 50D polyester ripstop, 1.9 oz/yd²
Floor Material: 50D 270T nylon taffeta, 2.3 oz/yd²
Trail Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (0.73 kg)

Initial Thoughts (08/15/12):

The North Face Asylum Bivy looks to be the perfect tent for my solo mountain adventures. Its lightweight design and weather-shedding features should make it at home on my multi-day climbs where I need a solo shelter. I really like this bivy design in that it is more like a tent, with the fabric lifted away from the user, unlike a traditional bivy.

I weighed the tent with poles, stakes, and bags at 1 lb 14 oz. This is 4 ounces heavier than the advertised trail weight. Eliminating the bags might save an ounce, but I am not sure how the other 3 ounces can be shaved off. In any case, it is still fairly light. The optional ground cloth weighs 5.4 ounces in its sack. Adding two optional guylines (2 stakes, 2 mini carabiners, guylines, micro line-locs) adds another 1.2 ounces. That puts the maximum total weight at 2 lbs 5 oz.

Setup of The North Face Asylum Bivy is straightforward and takes about 10 minutes. The poles are a very tight fit and take some effort to attach to the tent. Once attached and staked down, the tent is very taught. Adding a couple guylines toward the head of the tent adds even more strength for very windy conditions, but they are not needed for a taught pitch. I really like the door and foot ventilation, which are major upgrades from a typical bivy.

Initial Field Test (08/29/12):

My first trip with The North Face Asylum Bivy was at the base of Mt Adams on a cool late summer evening. The temperature dipped down to almost freezing overnight. I pitched the bivy on firm sandy ground and the DAC stakes worked great. There was no wind, so I decided to leave the door open with the screen closed to keep out bugs.

Getting in and out of the TNF Asylum Bivy is a little awkward, but gets easier after the first couple times. It's easier than a typical bivy, but harder than a typical tent. Once inside, there is plenty of room to zip open and closed both the screen and the outer door. There is enough room to prop yourself up on your elbows, but not enough to sit up. There is enough room at the head for a pair of shoes or other small items.

I found the Asylum Bivy to be comfortable to sleep in. I didn't feel the least bit claustrophobic due to the ample space in the head and shoulder areas of the tent. I noticed a small amount of condensation in the tent over the midsection of my body (the area between the foot and door vents). It was minor and likely due to me being too warm in my sleeping bag coupled with no wind and humid conditions. I always experience some condensation in any of my tents in similar conditions, so I was not surprised.

At this point I am fairly satisfied with The North Face Asylum Bivy. I would like to see how it does in poor weather conditions (wind, rain, snow, etc.). I am also curious how it will hold up over the long haul because of how tight the poles fit. It seems as though the tension could weaken the seams over time.

See Mt Adams adventure where The North Face Asylum Bivy was used.

Available from amazon.com.



Chris, Sun, 10/27/2013 - 11:00


Thanks for your informative review. I'm considering a new bivy and this is on my short list, but I have some hesitations. I'd appreciate it if you could help answer two questions for: 1) Is it self-supporting without the use of stakes or guy lines? 2) How has it held up since you purchased it?

Thanks again.

jloomis, Sun, 10/27/2013 - 11:05

Thanks for visiting Loomis Adventures!

The North Face Asylum Bivy is not self-supporting/free-standing. You must use the included stakes and guy lines. I have only used it a couple times and it still looks new. I don't see any reason it won't continue to hold up provided it is cared for.

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