Cycling the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

How to… choose a tent

by Bicycle Junkies

When you decide to travel the world by bicycle, camping will probably be a necessity. A tent will give you the feeling of total freedomĀ  and is a must for every self respecting (wannabe) world cyclist, whether you go for a long distance adventure or a microadventure around the corner. In this article we’ll give you some tips on how to choose the perfect tent for you and your adventures.

1. What seasons do you expect to camp?

If you only expect to camp in summer conditions a 3-season tent will do the trick. The advantage of a 3-season tent is that ventilation will be better, since often the inner tent is mostly made of mesh. But, this also means that it might not be warm enough for colder conditions. We recommend to always choose a tent that will perform in the worst conditions you’d expect to encounter on you bicycle adventure. A 3-season tent might also be cheaper than a 4-season/expedition tent, maybe that is something to keep in mind too.

Cycling in Sichuan China

Lots of snow in Sichuan China

2. How many people are in your party?

Lightweigth tents usually come in 1-person to 4-person models. The more people, the heavier the tent, but more room to keep your stuff inside. We have 2-person tents and 3-person tents and personally I believe that the 3-person is just a roomy 2-person and you have to love each other very much for a 2-person tent. That being said, check the measurements of the specific tent and try to figure out how much stuff you would like to keep inside. For us, a 3-person Hilleberg tent is the way to travel on long distance adventures and a 2-person will be fine for microadventures and bikepacking trips, when we carry less stuff.

3. What weight are you planning to carry?

Both 1 and 2 influence the weight of the tent. 4-season tents tend to be heavier (heavy duty material and less use of mesh) than a 3-season model. Same goes for the amount of people you think you’ll be travelling with, that figures. So try to find the ideal combination for you with the right weight. For long distance cycling an extra 500 grams doesn’t really matter usually, but for fast bikepacking adventures you might want to go lighter. But, keep in mind that the lightest option isn’t usually the most durable despite nowadays lightweight materials.

4. Dome or tunnel?

Both have advantages and disadvantages, so let me try to summ them up. A tunnel tent often has a larger vestibule, is easy to set up and is better in windy situations. On the other hand a dome usually stands without staking, withstands snow more easily and takes less space to pitch. We have both a dome, Hilleberg Rogan, and a couple of tunnels, such as the Nallo 3GT and for our cycling adventures we prefer the tunnel over the dome, unless we go on a short bikepacking trip.

Hilleberg Rogen
Hilleberg Rogan

Hilleberg Nallo 2GT
Hilleberg Nallo 2GT

5. Which colour do you prefer?

If you plan to do some wild camping choosing the right colour is definately something to keep in mind. Bright red or yellow is great for photos, but may not be such a good idea if you don’t want to be noticed. Green or sand colored tents can be a better (and safer) choice.

Hilleberg Staika
Hilleberg Staika in a sand color

6. Inner- and outer tent?

In some situations it can be very useful to be able to only pitch the inner tent. We’ve done so in very hot conditions or in scary, bug infested indoor places. I don’t like the creepy crawlers and the inner tent gives me protection. More so you can use the inner tent as a mosquito net. But, if you only plan to camp in cooler climates, this won’t be an issue for you.

Cycling in NamibiaPitching the inner tent in Namibia

7. What’s your budget?

4-seasons, durability, strength and high quality materials come with a price tag. There are 800$-plus tents on the market, but there are a lot of great tents for less money too. You have to decide for yourself how much money you want to invest. As always we cannot put a value on your money.

Any thoughts on tents especially handy for bicycle touring? What tent are you travelling with? Let us know and drop us a line below!

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