The Kloke is a lightweight bivvy bag for ultralight bikepacking or camping adventures. It provides good protection from the rain and packs down very small. While the internal space is reasonable, the location of the zip might not suit everyone.
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Bikepacking fans might be familiar with the Alpkit Hunka, a bargain bivvy bag that's a great starting point; it was the first bivvy bag I owned. The Hunka is relatively bulky and, in my experience, not the most breathable.
Breathability issues put me off bivvy bags for certain conditions. This is where the Kloke comes in with a lighter weight (274g vs 435g for the Hunka), reduced pack size and massively more breathable. The figures Alpkit provide include a waterproof Hydrostatic Head of 20,000mm and breathability MVTR at 30,000 g/sqm/24h (minimum), which is 3x more than the Hunka. Claimed weight is 285g, with our test bag weighing 274g, including the stuff sack, which weighs 11g.
The Kloke is made from lightweight 3-layer fabric. Alpkit says it's "ultrafine 10 denier nylon fabric to sandwich the PU membrane. It's one of the lightest 3-layer waterproof fabrics", and this helps it pack down to an incredibly small size. With the stuff sack, it's about the size of a litre milk container, and it is very easy to pack into the bag, dry or damp. However, you can compress it much further, and if secured with velcro and voile straps, it at least halves in space taken.
The bag uses a full zip closure, although Alpkit stresses and put warnings on the zip that it needs to remain 6 inches open to ensure air can flow. If you were to close it fully, you could die from carbon monoxide poisoning, so it is certainly not something to attempt or mistakenly do.
While I am neither the tallest nor largest of people at 168cm and 63kg, I have tried to factor in extra height and girth when testing. I used a Thermarest Neoair inflatable mat, which has always been placed inside both 3 season sleeping bag and a lightweight Alpkit Cloudbase 200 summer bag for the warmer nights.
With the inflatable mat inside, which is always my preference, I would assume others, too I found the space to be cosy but not too snug or tight. Even with a thicker 3 season down sleeping bag, I had space to move around and get on to my knees, especially around the head area. There was plenty of space remaining to move or for storage but still remains close enough to feel enclosed in a positive way, and I have had several excellent nights sleep inside it.
The biggest issue for me while using is the zip, both in terms of the design and the location. The 2-way zip is not waterproof, and instead, Alpkit has used a storm flap to keep out rain, which does work. However, I had constant issues with the zip catching the storm flap, from little catches that are easy to sort out but also times when it felt the zip was completely jammed, which was a hassle in the dark trying to work out why it wasn't working and then needing to use two hands in a confined space to try and work it loose. As careful as I was, it happened almost every time I used the zip to open or close, and while the zip works and the storm flap keeps the water out, it is frustrating.
I think the zip's positioning will be an issue for taller people due to the fabric and design, which means you need to keep it open to allow air in and to breathe; ideally, you will want this right by your head. At 168cm tall, I found this perfect and then had plenty of space above my head to store any kit and keep that dry while also being very easy to reach. For taller people, it might present a problem, and either means a slight fetal position will be needed, or the zip will be further down towards your chest, although I suspect only the very tallest people will really struggle. Overall length should not present a problem for most, however, with the full length of the Kloke being 215cm.
I have tested the bag through all weather conditions, from beautiful clear nights to others where it seemed to rain constantly all night. On nice nights, with your head either outside, or at least zip wide open, I had no problems, and it stayed completely dry.
On the wetter nights, especially where I spent time inside, with the zip partially open, the fabric itself kept me perfectly dry both from the ground and the rain, which I was very impressed with given the amount falling on one night especially. On the inside, it was a little different, and when drying out the bag after wetter nights, some condensation had formed and stayed inside the bag. This will almost certainly be prevented if you breathe through an open gap in the zip constantly. However, that might not be realistic when setting things up and getting ready to go when pouring with rain.
The 2-way zip means that you can position the breathing gap in the zip where you like to most suit how you sleep. As a belly sleeper, I found it was easy to open one of the edges, and it could be positioned so that I didn't get wet at all.
The bag lacks any form of pole or support to raise the head area. However, there is a small loop on that section that would allow the potential to fit a cord and attach to something above, such as a tarp or a tree or hedge branch, raising the area where your head will be. It lacks any other form of peg or attachment point, though, so you will need pitching somewhere level.
To test the material properly, I did not sleep under a tarp on the wet nights, and while the fabric held up, I expect many would choose to use a tarp, and this would be wise, giving greater freedom on how you set up the bag and especially for taller people with the possible option of simply keeping the top completely open should it be warm enough.
For dry nights, where there might be the option to keep the head area and zip fully open, some might feel the lack of any form of midge net lacking, which is often a feature with other manufacturers that have a full zip closure, so if you were planning on sleeping out in Scotland through the summer, a midget net headcover would be worthwhile!
In terms of the weight, the setup is hard to beat when you are happy to use it alone; without a tarp and even with a tarp, it will still be lighter than most tent or shelter style setups. Although 274g is not heavy, there are some lighter options on the market. Still, the mix of weight, weatherproofing, breathability and small pack size makes for a good package and at a price that makes it competitive. The lightweight material feels thin, and I think it is natural to think it may be easily damaged or ripped. However, I had no problems, and I think the material is stronger than it appears. While it probably isn't going to be as durable as heavy-duty bivvy bag options, if you pick your camping spot sensibly I think it will be as strong as is needed.
Value and verdict
Rab has the Survival Zone Lite bag at a claimed 225g. Still, it is only categorised for emergency use and not regular outdoor use, retailing at £145. The lightest bag that Rab produces with full zip closure is the Alpine Bivi at £270 and 440g. The Terra Nova Moonlite is another big competitor in the lightweight bivvy bag market. It is claimed to be 210g and retailing at £185, but it is also described as an emergency bivvy and a sleeping bag cover.
For riders looking for a lightweight and compact bivvy bag that is also incredibly breathable and waterproof, the Kloke is an impressive shelter to use. Tall people may struggle with the zip location. In general, the zip can be frustrating as it catches the storm flap constantly. Still, in terms of overall performance, it is a standout bag that is ready for the wildest adventures.
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