Best Tents for Bike Touring

Cycling is the ideal way to see more of the world - from feeling the wind blowing through your hair while taking in breathtaking views, to the smell of the fresh air as you travel at exhilarating speeds, there’s nothing quite like it. 

If you’re into long distance cycling, the chances are you’ll want somewhere to stay during the night, and hotels can get pretty expensive. Why not enjoy the outdoors for a little longer and take in the world from the comfort of a cosy tent? If you’re not used to camping, you may not know where to look when it comes to selecting a tent for bike touring

Thankfully, we’re here to get the wheels turning in your mind about what you need, and have listed some of the best tents out there for bike touring.

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Best Tents for Bike Touring - Reviews

The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Backpack tent is ideal for your bikepacking excursions as it’s light, but it’s still pretty spacious despite the fact you could quite comfortably carry this around on a bike. It’s even ‘ultralight,’ which is where the acronym UL comes from. 

This tent, as previously mentioned, is super easy to carry and it’s only 2lbs when it’s all packed up. The poles are also placed in such a way that it really optimises the space inside without making it heavier. The poles are also only 12” so they’re easy to set up and pack away pretty quickly. It’s incredibly reliable and efficient, it could probably last you through the ice age (though we wouldn’t recommend trying it!). It’s incredibly warm and comfortable inside. It can handle any winds up to 50mph, it can handle snow, sleet and heavy rain with no problems whatsoever. It’s got a hydrostatic head of 1200mm so it’s incredibly waterproof. The vertical door also helps to encourage extra floor and headspace, so you could chill out in this without feeling cramped. 

It’s been described as a little bit delicate in the past, so there may be some durability issues. Otherwise, it’s mostly durable, very lightweight, and offers a lot of space with one and two person options, so it’s worth the investment.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up
  • Lots of space
  • Weatherproof

Cons

  • Can be a little fragile

This tent is listed as an Amazon Choice product, so you already know it’s going to be good. This tent is very lightweight and easy to pack away due to the collapsible poles that the frame consists of. It’s also only 3lbs, so your legs will really like you for choosing it considering it won’t break them under the weight. 

The tent comes in a one-person, two-person and four-person variant. The larger version is ideal for a large family or a couple of friends to come along for the ride without having to buy an extra tent. There’s also plenty of storage space. It’s ideal for most weather conditions due to the 68D polyester walls and nylon flooring, and the additional ventilating meshes help to regulate air flow into the tent. It’s got a decent hydrostatic head at 1800mm, though water can sometimes seep in through the bottom if the tent is pitched on the ground so you should get a footprint to go with it. It’s very comfortable to sleep in, and the tent is double walled so it helps keep critters at bay. It’s incredibly easy to pack up and set up too, so you won’t have a nervous breakdown trying to set up an impossible tent.

The tent is very affordable for everything that it offers and even comes with extra storage if you’re bringing a lot of luggage with you. It’s a good bargain for you fellow adventurers out there looking for a deal!

Pros

  • Lots of storage space
  • Mostly weather resistant
  • Easy set up
  • Weighs very little so it’s easy to carry around

Cons

  • You need to get a footprint as water can get through the bottom

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent is a beast when it comes to withstanding most weather conditions. It’ll have no problem with rain, wind, or sunlight. These things aside, the Hubba Hubba is also wonderful if you want to take in more of the world around you and see the stars at night due to its mesh walls and ceilings that are easy to see through. 

This tent is not simply just weatherproof with a wonderful ability to see the stars through it. It’s also great for bikepacking as it’s incredibly lightweight, weighing only 2lbs with the rainfly and 7Oz with the rainfly. This tent won’t cause much extra strain on you to carry. It’s incredibly spacious too despite the weight so you could fit 2 people in the 2 person version without much trouble. It’s also got two doors and two relatively large vestibules. The tent even has an alternative way of setting it up when the weather is bad. It’s also very durable, and compact when it’s packed away. 

The tent could definitely do when being a few dollars cheaper and certain reports have said it can be difficult to set up, but overall with this one you’re paying for the quality that you’re getting so we wouldn’t pass this up if we were you.

Pros

  • Mesh top allows you to see the outside easily
  • Spacious
  • Light
  • Easy to carry

Cons

  • Expensive

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this tent is that it’s actually designed for the cyclist. The bicycle is basically part of the tent, as it’s a tunnel tent that essentially attaches itself to the handlebars. It’s designed to be used with 26, 27.5, 29 mountain bike wheels or 700c road bike front wheels though, so if none of this criteria fits your bike this may not be the best choice for you. 

The tent is made with a urethane coating that’s water resistant and made primarily of 45D ripstop nylon. The rainfly is then constructed of 70D ripstop nylon that gives you that extra bit of peace of mind should the weather become bad. It has three mesh panels that are designed to keep the tent well ventilated and allow you to view outside on a starry night. The tent packs down into a small size and the sack actually straps to the handlebars for easy movement. It’s incredibly lightweight so you don’t need to worry about excessive weight

Furthermore, this tent is easy to set up and put away, and is listed at a decent price so this is a good option for a cyclist looking for a new tent.

Pros

  • Weatherproof
  • Compact
  • Mesh panels to allow for stargazing

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit all bikes

This 2 person tent is a fantastic choice for bikepacking, weighing only 2lbs 6oz and coming with some great anti frustration features such as color coded poles. It even has reflective clips at the end of the cord on the rainfly which allow you to easily tighten the rainfly to the tent. 

The tent has a lot of nifty storage, particularly above the head in the roof of the tent - you could even put a torch there to help you read at night! It’s a wide tent that has plenty of room, and a fear storage outside of the tent. It’s got a cutaway design too, which gives the tent a little extra flow of air. 

The tent may require a footprint as the floor is only 15d resistant nylon, but otherwise it’s a solid tent that will be more than efficient in supporting you through your excursion.

Pros

  • Lots of storage space
  • Weatherproof
  • Color coded poles for easy set up

Cons

  • Requires a footprint

The Best Tents For Bike Touring - Buyers Guide

So what do you need to look for when selecting a tent for bike touring?

Lightweight

You’re going to be carrying your tent around with you a lot, and tents designed for cars are incredibly heavy. With this in mind, you should be looking for something more lightweight that won’t break your back when you carry it. If you’re going biking on your own, it’s worth getting something no bigger than 2-4kg. The lighter the better to make it easier to carry. 

Waterproof & Weather Resistant

There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll have good weather when you’re out biking. Sure, you can check weather forecasts as much as you want but it’s not an exact science. With this in mind, you should try to select a waterproof tent. 

To select a waterproof tent, you’re looking at the hydrostatic head of the tent. So what’s a hydrostatic head? The hydrostatic head of a tent is a measure of how water resistant the material of the tent will be by seeing how much water from a column of water the fabric can withstand before water leaks in. Usually, you’ll need a larger number to make it the most waterproof. Despite this though, you could easily go camping in the UK for example and only need a hydrostatic head of 3000mm to keep you dry. The level of waterproofing you need will depend a lot on the area you live in and how much it rains.

A lot of tents will also have waterproof coatings that help to keep it dry in bad weather too, so you should check if the tent has this extra level of defence. 

You should also ensure the tent is weather resistant. Ensure that it resists heat from really hot weather and that it doesn’t react badly in the wind. 

Pole Configuration

On the subject of wind, you aren’t going to have a good sleep if the tent collapses on you in the middle of the night. Ensure that your tent has durable poles that will keep the tent in shape even in the worst wind. 

Bug Protection & Mesh

If you’re in an area where there are a lot of bugs, you should try and get a tent that helps with protection from bugs. Double-walled tents are the best for this as they add an extra layer of mesh between you and the bugs. Single-walled tents aren’t that effective in repelling bugs as there’s only one layer between you and the outside world. 

With mesh in mind though, you may want to enjoy the outdoors in the dark too. If you get a tent with a lot of mesh and pull away doors and windows you may be able to enjoy the stars! Mesh can help airflow into the tent easier too, so it’s good for warmer weather. 

Size

Is it just going to be you on the biking tour or are you going to be staying with family and friends? That’s an important question to ask yourself before heading off because you need to make sure you have enough room for everyone. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a tent that’s too small and everyone is squashed inside like sardines. When purchasing a tent, keep in mind that tents will say that a certain amount of people can occupy it, but you should probably go for one size larger than the number of people that will be sleeping in the tent. Generally, manufacturers of tents don’t actually consider that there will be anything additional you need to bring with you or that one or many of the party members are on the larger end of the spectrum. It’s always best to account for one more person than is actually going to be with you.

Also, if you do have a lot of stuff to bring with you it’s worth considering that some tents can come with additional storage areas such as a porch, gear store or external storage system. If the journey is longer is maybe worth considering a little extra space inside so you have room to hang out with family and friends

Easy Setup

Why spend hours setting up a tent when there are features out there that can help you to set up the tent much faster and easier? Make sure you read the instruction manual - they’re really handy for helping to set up the tent quickly. Some tents don’t come with millions of tiny parts so it’s not like doing a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle when trying to assemble the tent.

Some features like color coded poles can take a lot of hassle out of trying to guess what goes where and makes it easier to fix the tent to the ground. You could also make sure there’s an elastic band between the rods, as it keeps the poles together which makes it easier to put together.

Durability

If you’re looking to get into camping long term, you should probably try to get a tent that’s durable and long-lasting. Naturally, how long your tent lasts depends on the purposes you use it for, the conditions it’s in and how well you take care of it. Look for a tent that’s cited as being very durable, but you should also make sure that you properly take care of the tent after use. Before putting it away, try to make sure the tent is properly dried out and clean and this should help it last longer.

Tents can also be subject to condensation, so this is something worth considering. Condensation in a tent can damage belongings and the tent in general, so make sure your tent design keeps anything like that out of the tent.

Color

This may seem like a bit of an obscure thing to add in, but if you’re camping out in the wild you should probably go with a neutral tent that looks similar to the colors around you, such as browns, greens and beiges. You may feel with a brightly colored tent you can’t get involved in the experience quite as much because the tent sticks out too much. It’s also handy so you don’t stick out if you’re not one for excessive attention.

FAQs

What’s bikepacking?

Bikepacking is simply a mish-mash of the words bike and backpacking. It’s essentially backpacking, but on a bike. Bikepacking usually takes place over several days with everything you’ve brought with you on your back as you enjoy the wondrous wilderness. With this in mind, opting for lightweight things to bring with you is a particularly good idea. 

Where do I put my bike when I’m camping?

Once you’re done biking for the day, there are a few ways you can store your bike. If you’re travelling with a group, there will likely be storage space set up already that you can lock your bike onto. If you’re out in the great outdoors by yourself though, you could tie the bike to something tricky to move, like a large tree for example. You should put some thought on where to put the bike, and whether you need a cover for the bike to shield it from the rain or keep it hidden.

Likewise, you could put it in a tent but this can take up excessive space and you will likely need to deconstruct it. Some tents even have the bike incorporated into the tent frame so it’ll stop anyone trying to steal it and allow you to keep a close eye on it.


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