The Best Bikepacking and Bicycle Touring Tents And How To Choose One

Choosing the right tent can make or break a cycle touring or bikepacking trip

Bikepacking tents are a relatively new concept. Just a few years ago, this uber-niche category of tent didn’t exist.

Even now, cycle touring is still a relatively niche activity.  However, the recent resurgence of interest under the guise of bikepacking has exploded the marketing of lightweight, bike-based kit.

Due to this influx of popularity, there are now specific bikepacking and bicycle touring tents available on the market.

Which makes selecting the best bikepacking tent for cycle touring all the more subjective. More choice = more confusion.

What are the important characteristics of a bikepacking or cycle touring tent?

To help answer this question I’ve decided to offer guiding principles for choosing the best bikepacking tent based on my experiences cycle touring in over 40 countries.

best bikepacking tent? wild camping in the Hilleberg Nallo 2 GT in Tajikistan

What’s the difference between a tent for hiking and camping and a cycle touring or bikepacking tent?

Before we jump into the best tents for bikepacking and cycle touring, it’s important to understand the industries from which we choose a tent. Tents are made for many specialist reasons and hiking is a popular one.

The best tent for hiking would be super lightweight and portable. Since a hiking tent is carried by one or two people in a backpack, weight is a major consideration.

Bikepacking tents vs tent for hiking

That may not necessarily be the same criteria for cycle touring. Since you have a bicycle to bear the load you may prefer the extra space of a larger tent.

A tent for climbing on the other hand would be designed for strength and durability. Pitching a tent on the side of a mountain requires additional ruggedness and toughness. Arguably, the best tent pegs money can buy would come in handy too.

what is the right amount of cycle touring kit

Essential questions to ask yourself before buying a tent for cycle touring

First up, where are you going and how long for? Do you even need a tent?

When I cycled from Vietnam to the UK, I immediately realised once in Vietnam that a decent hammock would have been WAY more appropriate for cycle touring in South East Asia.

Stubbornly, I persisted with the tent and found out the hard way that ‘camping’ is not such a big thing. It essentially looks like you’re hiding in the bushes. Not cool in a place like Vietnam.

The humidity was stifling, which made the tent so unappealing that in the end, I simply slept on top of the tent using the canvas like a bivvy bag.

What is the best tent for bikepacking and cycling touring?

The point I make here is that the first consideration when choosing the right tent is context. How will you use the tent?

Is it a long-distance solo journey or a multi-month family cycle tour?

Are you a couple going on a short bikepacking jaunt in the UK or a multicountry ‘world cycle’?

Start to think about what you want from a night under canvas. There are many ways to sleep out at night. There is little to recommend the best tent for cycle touring except the requirements of your trip.

When I collected my Dawes Galaxy from Spa Cycles in 2011, the chap that built the bike, Andrew, recommended that no tent or bedding were required. Simply visit a local supermarket and pilfer a pile of cardboard – bed and shelter all in one move.

That said if you still need recommendations on the qualities of a decent tent for cycle touring, here’s a shortlist of the best tents for bikepacking and cycle touring according to dozens of experienced cyclists, adventurers and bikepackers.

bikepacking with a hammock at hardcastle crags

Expert Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Bikepacking Tent for Your Adventure

As you embark on your epic bikepacking adventure, the importance of choosing the right tent cannot be underestimated. Your tent will be your home away from home, providing shelter and comfort after long days of pedaling.

With so many options on the market, finding the best bikepacking tent that suits your needs can be overwhelming. But fear not!

We’ve reviewed the bikepacking kit that we feel offers the best bang for your buck – to help you make an informed decision.

Consider these essential factors when reviewing bikepacking tents:

Packability: As a bikepacker, efficient use of space is paramount. Look for a tent that not only offers reliable protection when set up but also packs away neatly and securely.

Opt for a size and weight that complements your bikepacking style. If you have a large bag and don’t mind a bit of extra weight, a roomier tent may be suitable.

However, if you prioritize minimizing weight and space, go for an ultralight option. Remember, a compact tent is also practical when attaching it to buses or shipping it during your travels, potentially reducing costs.

Set up: A quick and hassle-free tent setup can make a world of difference, especially after a long day of riding. Consider the weather conditions you’ll encounter and the lighting available for setting up camp.

Look for a bikepacking tent with a straightforward setup process, as complex procedures and fiddly poles can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Pro tip: Before embarking on your adventure, practice setting up your tent in your backyard a few times to ensure you are familiar with the process.

Size matter with bikepacking tents

Weight: Every ounce counts when you’re on a bikepacking trip, so the weight of your tent is crucial. Ultralight tents are an excellent choice, particularly if you ride a lightweight bike.

However, if you’re going on a short trip or are new to bikepacking, you may not need the lightest tent available, which often comes at a premium price.

Durability: Investing in a sturdy and long-lasting tent is a wise decision, especially if you plan on frequent bikepacking adventures.

Focus on finding a tent made from weatherproof and durable materials, particularly if you expect to encounter challenging conditions like rain, wind, or rugged terrain.

Some bikepacking tents come with warranties, with options ranging from two to three years or even a lifetime guarantee.

Size: When it comes to size, consider both the packed-down dimensions and the tent’s actual size once pitched. We’ve already discussed the importance of packability, so now let’s focus on the tent’s interior space.

Determine whether you prefer a one-person tent for solo adventures or if you need more room with a two-person tent for couples or friends travelling together.

For individuals with ample gear, a larger tent or one with plenty of storage space might be necessary. Additionally, consider the height of the tent, as taller individuals might not be comfortable in smaller, more compact tents.

By carefully considering these factors, you can confidently choose the best bikepacking tent for your unique adventure, ensuring a comfortable and memorable journey. Happy riding!

Bikepacking Tents Reviews – The Best Bike Touring Tents of 2022/3

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Ultralight Bikepacking Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Ultralight Bikepacking Tent

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Ultralight Bikepacking Tent* is an ultralight tent that recently underwent a redesign, offering steeper walls and more interior space.

It’s a practical choice for weight-conscious adventurers who prefer proper tent poles over trekking poles.

While it might not suit taller and broader individuals sharing it, this tent excels for solo hikers seeking a lightweight option for summer and spring tours.

The North Face Stormbreak 1

The North Face Stormbreak 1

If you anticipate windy and wild weather on your tour, The North Face Stormbreak 1* is an ideal choice. Its X-pole design provides structural stability against strong winds, while the mesh netting ensures good ventilation.

With a lightweight package and clever colour coding for easy assembly, this tent is perfect for solo bike tourers looking for a reliable and quick-pitch option.

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

For the luxury bike tourer seeking extra space for both gear and themselves, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent is a great choice. Its exoskeleton frame allows for quick and easy pitching, and the unified rainfly keeps the inside dry in wet weather.

Despite not being the lightest on the list, its spaciousness and small packed size make it a fantastic option for bike packing.

Winterial Single Person Bivy Tent

Winterial Single Person Bivy Tent

Budget-conscious adventurers will appreciate the Winterial Single Person Bivy Tent. Weighing under 3 pounds and packing into a compact bag, this bivy tent offers a cost-effective solution for bike touring.

Its 2 hoop design simplifies pitching, and the inner mesh material ensures proper ventilation for warmer months. With a rain fly for rainy days, this tent is a valuable choice for three-season adventures.

MSR Hubba Hubba 3-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba 3-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Planning a summer bike-packing adventure with friends or want to share space with your gear? The MSR Hubba Hubba 3-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent is perfect for such scenarios.

Although made for backpacking, this hardwearing three-person tent is spacious enough for a trip of adventurers to feel comfortable. Plus, the Easton Syclone poles are virtually indestructible. It’s fully waterproof too.

Remember: Things to Consider When Buying a Bikepacking Tent for Cycle Touring

  • Weight: Choose lightweight tents to reduce the burden while cycling.
  • Tent Style: Consider bivy tents, single pole designs, or exoskeletal frame tents based on your preferences and requirements.
  • Internal Tent Space: Determine how many people and gear you want to fit inside the tent.
  • Packed Size: Ensure the tent fits onto your bike without hindering your movements.
  • Features Explained: Familiarize yourself with tent shells, ventilation options, pitching methods, stakes, and pole designs.

The Best Bikepacking Tent is the one fits your adventure

Finding the best tent for cycle touring and bikepacking is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

The options we’ve listed above cater to various preferences and needs, from ultralight solo hikers to adventurers seeking extra space.

While material and construction technology has moved on, I still consider the Hilleberg Nallo 2GT a great all-rounder. Failing that, a hammock is also a great choice depending on the climate.

Consider your requirements, and select the perfect tent that will be your reliable companion on your next bike touring adventure. Happy riding!

free style free standing tent in a skate park

Have you got a recommendation for the best bikepacking tent? Share your favourite below: