How to Choose a Bikepacking Tent

By Alex Guerrero

Every bikepacking or cycle touring trip starts with an idea. A two-wheeled dream. And then comes the planning. A key part of the plan is honing down the kit list. But how do you choose where you’re going to sleep? Here’s our guide.

How To Choose A Bikepacking Tent

  1. What to consider when choosing a tent for bikepacking
  2. How heavy should my bikepacking tent be?
  3. Should I take a tent or a bivvy?

What to consider when choosing a tent for bikepacking

Bikepacking can be a minefield. There’s so much to consider. Do you want comfort? Storage? Canvas over your head? Are you racing and saving every gram you can? Are you battling arctic winds or pootling along serene, summer lanes? We’ve boiled it down to four key questions:

  • What will the weather be like?
  • How long is your bikepacking trip?
  • Where will you be sleeping?
  • How comfortable do you need to be?

And with the answers to these questions, you can pick the features you want from your tent.

  • 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...

How heavy should my bikepacking tent be?

Bikepacking and cycle touring tents are probably the heaviest thing you’ll carry on your trip. They tend to come in at a weight of 1-2kg – unless, of course, you’re sharing your trip and your kit with a friend. That probably makes the tent the heaviest item you’re carrying! But the lighter you go, the further you can travel, and the more you can see.

That’s why experts home in on every gram. It’s all part of the fun. A modern bike is likely to weigh between 9kg and 13kg. We recommend a combined weight of between 5kg and 10kg for all your camping gear, meaning your two-wheeled fun isn’t weighed down by your camping kit. We’ve put together a few weight-saving tips over the years:

  • Choose a lightweight bike frame
  • Use lighter bike luggage. Opt for bikepacking bags instead of panniers 
  • Pre-cook and vac-pack 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
  • Pack an ultralight sleep system - you can save 600g on a solo trip with a lightweight bivvy bag and a tarp instead of a one-person tent. And our Ultra sleeping bag range is designed for lightweight ultra-endurance events.

Should I take a tent or a bivvy bag bikepacking?

It’s up to you! Will you be sleeping at a campsite or wild camping? Going for a round-the-world adventure or a weekend away? Will you pitch up for a few days and explore the local area? Depending on how much space, protection and comfort you want, you can make a decision about what your kit list will look like. Here’s the rundown of our one-person sleeping options.

 

What is it?

Weight

Pack Size

Kloke

Ultralight bivvy bag

285g

20cm x 12cm

Hunka (XL)

Bivvy bag

330g (490g)

⌀ 13cm x 15cm (⌀ 16 x 23 cm)

Elan

Hooped bivvy bag

900g

 39 x 11cm

Soloist

Ultralight 1-person tent

1200g

42cm x 12cm

Aeronaut 1

Inflatable 1-person tent

1200g

28cm x 13 cm

 

Ultimately, choosing what your tiny home is going to be like on your big adventure is up to you. Whether it's an inflatable tent, a lightweight bivvy bag or a one-person tent, outdoor sleepouts are all part of the two-wheeled dream.

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