We've put this expert guide together to help you consider what tent to take bikepacking or cycle touring.
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; and
- whether you prefer outer or inner pitch first
More specific considerations are whether you take your full repertoire of camping gear with panniers for ultimate cycle touring comfort? Or do you go minimalist and ultra-lightweight for reckless off-the-beaten-track and off-grid bikepacking?
Are you going for an extended multi-month adventure? Or looking for an inexpensive tent that will last at least a season? Look after your tent and an Alpkit tent will be good for years to come.
Will you camp at campsites or want the opportunity to camp in the wilds, maybe at altitude, and need all-weather protection to sit out a storm? Our bivvy bags and tarps are great lightweight protection and our 4 season tents weigh more but have excellent wind and storm protection.
Want space inside the tent or in a porch to keep your gear out of harms way? In which case look for tents with a porch and double sided entry.
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.
This means a good tent for bikepacking, backpacking and cycle touring is likely to weigh between 1kg and 2kg. Potentially more if you can split the tent between riders (one takes the poles and pegs whilst another takes the inner and fly).
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. So let's get started...
Ultralight Bikepacking and Wild Camping
Getting away from the roads often means a night in the wild. If that's the case, get prepared for wild camping by thinking about what else you might need. We recommend taking loo roll for a night in nature.
Unpaved and less travelled paths make for slow going in any case. Try keeping your kit to a minimum and, as a general rule, the shorter the bikepacking trip, the lighter your rig can be.
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.
Bikepacking Weight Saving Tips
Choose a lightweight bike frame - there's an 830g difference between a medium Transmitter and Transmitter Carbon frame
Use lighter bike luggage - you could save up to150g by using the UL-R range rather than VX21
Pre-cook and vac-pac your food - this could prevent the need for300g of cooking equipment (a tip learnt from our own IT guru James)
Minimise baselayers - one set for on the bike, one set for off the bike. The weight savings here could be endless
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
Alpkit range of tents, bivvy bags and tarpr:
- Bivvy Bags, Hammocks and Tarps
There are still options though...
Kloke Bivvy Bag
Price - £119.00
Weight - 265g
Fabric -3-layer waterproof 7d nylon
Packed size -⌀ 20 x 12 cm
Hunka (Hunka XL) Bivvy Bag
Price - £47.00 (£64.00)
Weight - from 330g (490g)
Fabric -2.5 layer waterproof Ripstop nylon
Packed size -⌀ 13 x 15 cm (⌀ 16 x 23 cm)
Price - £35.00
Weight - 515g (including tree straps)
Fabric - 20d nylon
Packed size -⌀ 7 x 16 cm
There's so much you can do with a tarp. Whether you're bikepacking alone or with friends, you can configure a tarp in a multitude of ways to suit the ground, surroundings and weather.
Rig 3.5 One Person Tarp
Price - £59.00
Weight - 300g
Stuffed size - 8 x 10 x 14 cm
Open dimensions - 2.4 m x 1.4 m
Rig 7 Two-Three Person Tarp
Price - £99.00
Weight - 550g
Stuffed size - 8 x 18 x 18 cm
Open dimensions - 2.4 m x 2.8 m
- Soloist One Person Bikepacking Tent
At 1.2kg it's not the lightest option, but the Soloist offers a lot of benefit for the added weight. If you're wild camping and the weather has turned, you're going to get a much comfier sleep, and being well-rested could mean covering more ground the following day.
Easy to pitch with enough space inside to sit up makes the Soloist an easy choice for comfortable and lightweight bikepacking. Splitting the weight across your bike will also help you feel more stable whilst riding.