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Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Pick a Tent for a Long Distance Bike Trip

bike camping tent
By Megan Maxwell

While going on an overnight bike trip, finding somewhere to sleep is important. You can always do a “credit card tour,” where you only stay in motel rooms and usually eat at restaurants, thus eliminating the need for camping gear. However, most people don’t have unlimited money to spend on vacation. Spending most nights camping is the best way to save money so you can keep your trip going. There’s plenty of cheap, generic tent brands out there, but it is better to have one that will stay dry and upright. You never really know where you will be sleeping or what the weather will be, so it is best to be as prepared as possible.

Things to remember while shopping for tents for bike trips:
    panniers for long distance bike rides
  • Is it a freestanding tent? A freestanding tent is when the tent will stand up by itself once the poles are put in. Some tents won’t stay up unless stakes are holding it into the ground. This is problematic if you are trying to set up on a tent platform or sandy area.
  • How much room do you need? If you are biking alone, you probably only need a one-person tent. However, some people like to have extra room to stretch out and prefer having a two-person tent. If you have a biking partner, sharing the weight of the tent will be beneficial for both people.
  • How much does it weigh? A two-person tent should weigh five pounds or less. A one-person tent should weight three pounds or less. It’s important to keep the base weight down because it will be easier to bike faster when you have less stuff on the back.
  • How compact is the tent? If you get a lightweight, backpacking tent it should fit in your panniers just fine. However, if it is a bigger tent then it might be more difficult to find a spot on your bike for it.
  • Are the reviews good? Before buying any type of gear, always read the reviews online to make sure that it really lives up to what it claims.
REI is my favorite low-cost gear provider. They are really great about returns if an item just isn’t working for you, and they are also great about replacing items that have broken. Getting a used tent off of Craigslist or eBay is an alternative for used gear.