How to Choose a Bikepacking Tent
We've put together this detailed comparison guide to help you decide which bikepacking tent is right for you.
General considerations when thinking about which tent is best for your bikepacking and cycle touring adventure include:
- The size of tent you need for you and your gear
- How much the tent weighs and its size when packed
- The durability of the tent fabrics
- Construction method to give protection from the elements
- Whether you prefer outer or inner pitch first
You'll also need to match your tent to your bikepacking setup and the type of trips you intend to take with it...
Where are you going bikepacking and what will the weather be like?
Summer conditions or winter conditions? Windy or calm? Wet weather or dry weather? Racing or taking your time?
Answering these questions means you can start to get an idea of how resilient your tent needs to be in changeable conditions and how valuable weight is.
If your intentions are bikepacking through the arctic or across Iceland, chances are you're going to need something warm and robust enough to deal with freezing temperatures and high winds.
If you're taking part in a race like the Transcontinental, you'll be saving every gram you can.
How long is your bikepacking trip going to take?
How many miles will you be covering per day? How many days/weeks/months will you be cycling for?
Most of us can put up with some sort of discomfort for short periods of time. But if you're circumnavigating the globe on your cycle touring steed, you'll most likely want something you can happily pitch and leave for weekend breaks.
Where will you be sleeping?
5 star campsite cruising for a full range of facilities? Getting as far away from civilisation as possible for a wild camp?
If you're wild camping, we prefer to be as minimalist and discreet as possible with a bivvy bag and tarp. For campsites however you may want something you can squeeze your bike into too.
How comfortable do you need to be?
We all have different tolerance levels and often in bikepacking, comfort can be a trade-off between weight. But that doesn't mean the most minimalist of shelters has to be uncomfortable.
It's all about knowing yourself and what you need to stay happy on (and off) the bike.
More often than not, the best tents for bikepacking and cycle touring generally weigh between 1-2kg. Potentially more if you can split the tent between riders (e.g. one takes the poles and pegs and the other takes the inner and flysheet).
One thing to keep in mind is that, other than your bike, your tent will most likely be the heaviest item you're carrying.
A modern bike is likely to weigh between 9kg and 13kg. We go for a combined weight of between 5kg and 10kg for all your camping gear. That gives an enjoyable bikepacking experience where the bikes riding performance isn't too affected by the sheer bulk of your camping gear.
With some practice and fine-tuning, you should be able to get all your kit (including the bike) under 18kg, with experts riding events like the Welsh Ride Thing often coming in at around 15kg.
The big advantage of going lightweight is that it opens up trails and bridleways that are otherwise inaccessible to cycle tourers and you might even carry your bike for limited sections.
The decision on what to take, and which tent to pack, ultimately comes down to the rider (or riders), and the length of the adventure.
Bikepacking Weight Saving Tips
- Choose a lightweight bike frame - there's some big gains to be made between frame materials, opting for carbon over aluminium could save you up to 1kg in some cases.
- Use lighter bike luggage - you could save up to 50g by using our UK made VX21 bags with a drybag rather than the waterproof TPU Nylon equivalent
- Pre-cook and vac-pac your food - this could prevent the need for 300g of cooking equipment (a tip learnt from our own IT guru James)
- Minimise base layers - one set for on the bike, one set for off the bike. The weight savings here could be endless
- Pack an ultralight sleep system - If it's just you, there's around a 600g saving by going for a lightweight bivvy and tarp over the Soloist one-person tent
Now's the time to really decide how much comfort you want vs how much weight you want to carry.
Want space and a secure shelter from the storm, 1 person tents offer great comfort but they'll never be lighter than a bivvy bag.
Bivvy Bags, Hammocks and Tarps
- Weight: from 330g / 490g
- Fabric: 2.5 layer waterproof Ripstop nylon
- Packed size: 13x15cm / 16x23cm
- Price: £49.99 / £64.99
- Weight: 265g
- Fabric: 3-layer waterproof 7d nylon
- Packed size: 20x12cm
- Price: £129.99
- Weight: 900g
- Fabric: waterproof 70d ripstop nylon
- Packed size: 39x11cm
- Price: £99.99
- Weight: 515g
- Fabric: 20d nylon
- Packed size: 7x16cm
- Price: £39.99
- Weight: 300g
- Stuffed size: 8x10x14cm
- Open dimensions: 140x240cm
- Price: £64.99
- Weight: 550g
- Stuffed size: 8x18x18cm
- Open dimensions: 240x280cm
- Price: £99.99
If the weather turns, you're going to get a much comfier sleep in a tent, and being well rested could mean covering more ground the following day.
- Weight: 938-1252g
- Fabric: waterproof 20d ripstop polyester
- Packed Size: 42x14cm
- Price: £119.99
Bikepacking and cycle touring with friends often means you can afford to carry a tent by splitting the weight between you, but there are still some really lightweight options to help keep weight minimal.
|Ordos 2||1400-1750g||15D Ripstop nylon||13 x 42cm||£229.99|
|Ordos 3||1700-2150g||15D Ripstop nylon||14.5 x 46cm||£269.99|
|Jaran 2||2040g||40D Ripstop Nylon||15 x 42cm||£229.99|
|Jaran 3||2360g||40D Ripstop Nylon||15 x 45cm||£269.99|
|Tetri (2)||2250-3000g||190t Polyester||20 x 50cm||£119.99|
Cycle touring is often chosen in preference to bikepacking if you're covering lots of ground without worrying about how fast you're riding it.
Pannier racks and bags tend to be heavier and, when fully loaded, aren't the most streamlined of systems.
The major benefit though, is space. More space for extra clothing, food, tools and yes, more space for a bigger tent, especially if you're sharing the weight between friends.
Our favourite tents for cycle touring are tunnel tents. They're lightweight and offer more space, so you can pitch up on a campsite for a few days between long days in the saddle, and explore the local area.
- Weight: 3222g / 3900g
- Fabric: 68D 190T Polyester
- Packed size: 22x48cm / 23x48cm
- Price: £129.99 / £149.99
- Weight: 3250-4300g
- Fabric: 40d Si/PU N6/260t ripstop nylon
- Packed size: 19x60cm
- Price: £399.99