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Perhaps the biggest challenge in choosing the best tent for your cycle tour or bikepacking trip is the fact that there’s no recognised category of tent for two-wheeled adventures.
Instead, you’re left to browse the hiking, backpacking and mountaineering tent selections, which are filled with ultralight tents, freestanding tents, 3‑season and 4‑season tents, double wall and single wall tents, tents with or without awnings or footprints, tarp tents that don’t even have a floor – and at prices from next to nothing up to hundreds (even thousands) of pounds or dollars.
Which of these tents is right for your upcoming two-wheeled adventures? The truth is that you’ll be lucky to find a tent designed specifically with cycle tourers or bikepackers in mind.
And why the industry bias towards people with backpacks rather than bicycles? Simple: the market is much bigger. This is where the money is. We cycle tourers and bikepackers sit on the margins, and are lucky if we get more than a quick mention in the product description.
Given that, it’s natural to look for recommendations from the community when choosing a tent for cycle touring or bikepacking.
But before you get bogged down with what other people think is the best tent, here’s one important thing to remember:
‘Best’ means nothing outside the context of your bike trip. Every ride is different.
Before you go any deeper into tent research for a cycle tour or bikepacking trip, then, take a moment to ask yourself:
- Are you investing for a long-lasting tent for a transcontinental bike tour, or angling for a bargain for a short summer adventure?
- Are you a heavyweight touring couple who like plenty of living space and room for luggage, a minimalist solo weekend warrior, or somewhere in between?
- Do you have racks and panniers to take bulky and heavy loads, or are you bikepacking with frame luggage, handlebar harnesses and fork cages alone?
- Do you plan on staying mostly at nice campsites with perfect pitches, or wild camping in the woods after dark?
- Are you planning a nice, fair-weather ride, or will all-season, winter or high-altitude mountain use be involved?
As I mentioned, there are a few tried-and-tested tents for cycling adventures that have proven themselves on a massive range of journeys.
But if you want to delve any deeper, you’ll find there’s no real ‘best tent for cycle touring or bikepacking’ until you know the answers to the basic questions above.
Know what kind of bike trip you’re going on? Great! Read on…
What Types Of Tents Are Good For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking?
I’ve spent a long time – too long, probably – looking at the trends over the last 15 years or so.
And I can tell you that the most popular kind of cycle touring or bikepacking tent for one rider is a freestanding, double-walled, 2‑berth, 3‑season tent in an inconspicuous shade of green, weighing 1–2kg (2–4 pounds), striking the perfect balance between comfort, durability and weight, and strapping nicely to a rear rack or a handlebar harness, with room inside for the rider and the most valuable bits of their luggage.
For a couple or pair, it’s the 3‑berth model of the same tent.
And for a solo ultralight rider, it’s the 1‑berth model.
If you were short of time and you asked me to pick just one range of tents that ticks all of these boxes, it would be MSR’s Hubba Hubba range, which is available in 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth models.
(Click here to skip down to the full details, photos, and manufacturer links for the MSR Hubba Hubba range).
I’ve used and abused many tents in the Hubba Hubba range over the years, including a 2014 2‑berth Hubba Hubba NX, a 2012 1‑berth Hubba, and a 2010 3‑berth Mutha Hubba HP. They’re heavily patched-up with seam seal and repair tape, but I still use all of them regularly (see the photos above).
If you don’t have any highly specialised requirements and you’re looking for a top-quality tent you can simply grab and ride out the door with, the MSR Hubba Hubba range is what I’d recommend.
How Do Tents For Cyclists Differ From Tents For Hikers & Backpackers?
Before we start listing off the best cycle touring and bikepacking tents, I feel it’s important to explain how the priorities for cyclists differ from walkers, and how that might affect your choice of tent.
The single biggest difference is that packed weight and volume is usually less important for cyclists.
On a bike trip, you have a two wheeled, pedal-powered vehicle to carry your gear, rather than shouldering the burden yourself. This means – generally speaking – that you can safely consider slightly bigger, heavier tents that will allow you to live more comfortably, fare better in bad weather, last longer, and possibly cost less too.
Long-distance thru-hikers in particular are often concerned with minimising their pack weight, and for that reason sometimes carry single-skin shelters propped up by trekking poles that weigh just a few hundred grams. Unless you’re hoping to win an endurance bikepacking race, you probably won’t be sharing this obsession. (But in case you are, there are several suggestions below for ultralight tents for bikepacking too.)
A second difference is that cyclists tend to camp close to roads, not in the backcountry.
This brings with it slightly different priorities when it comes to visibility.
Many hikers prefer to be as visible as possible in a mountain landscape in case of needing assistance. Cyclists, on the other hand, typically want the opposite: to be able to wild camp (or stealth camp) undetected, close to civilisation. For that reason, the colour of the pitched tent often limits the range of appropriate choices.
This is less of a concern for remote, off-road riding in wilderness areas where you’re going to be a long way from people. But many bikepackers tend to combine that with road tours and stealth camping, and therefore want a tent that can serve well in both situations.
A third, possibly marginal difference is that hikers have access to ultralight shelters which use hiking poles for structure.
Although some of these shelters may seem to offer a fabulously lightweight and packable solution for a bikepacking expedition, you’ll have to bring an additional set of poles to set them up. These poles will have no other use, which kind of defeats the point. If reducing your luggage is really your top priority, consider using your bike to support a tarp shelter.
The Best Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Tents For 2022
The tents in the following list are specifically recommended for cycle touring and bikepacking, and have been extensively road-tested by the community at large.
Items in this list come from manufacturers across the English-speaking world, so whether you’re reading this article in the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, or elsewhere, there’ll be options here you can buy locally, as well as online.
These recommendations are drawn from my interviews with highly experienced riders who have spent countless miles and years road-testing these tents. The listings are fully updated to reflect the latest models and prices for the 2021 season, and will soon be updated for 2022.
We’ll start with low-budget tents for short and simple trips, move on to the most popular tents in the mid-range for general cycle touring and bikepacking service, and work our way up to the most durable lightweight tents ever made for world-ranging rides of months or years.
We’ll finish by looking at specialist tents suited to the weight and pack size restrictions faced by bikepackers with frame luggage planning rides in wilder country.
For each tent, you’ll find links to manufacturer’s websites where you can get detailed, up-to-date specifications. Wherever possible, I’ve included links to online retailers in the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada offering the best deals I can find (affiliate links are marked with an asterisk; you can find out more about my affiliate policy here).
These are not the only tents that’ll do the job.
But I can promise you they represent the very best of what the global cycle touring and bikepacking community is using successfully today.
Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 (UK, £230)
Wild Country is the budget marque of the premium British manufacturer Terra Nova. The 1.85kg Zephyros Compact 2 takes more than a little inspiration from Hilleberg’s Akto, a favourite high-end tent for minimalists since it was popularised by TV outdoorsman Ray Mears. It requires staking out at each end, but you get a lot of interior space for a reasonably low weight and with a single pole supporting a single-pitch structure.
The new Compact version, updated in 2020, features shorter pole sections for a more convenient packed shape for bikepacking luggage and small panniers.
There’s also a 1‑berth version which weighs in at 1.65kg, but in my opinion – especially given the small awning – the 300g you’d save isn’t worth the loss of interior storage space for your gear, unless minimising weight is your number one priority.
Alpkit Ordos 2 (UK, £220)
Direct retailer and manufacturer Alpkit have made a splash in the UK bikepacking and cycle touring scene with their Ordos ultralight 3‑season wedge tents. I used one on a traverse of the central highlands of Armenia, and I’d still be using it if it hadn’t later been trampled by a herd of cattle.
With 2- and 3‑berth models available and a choice of a red or green fly for the style-conscious rider, the lightweight Ordos tents – just 1.4kg for the 2‑berth and 1.7kg for the 3‑berth in their most minimal configurations – are roomy, practical, well-ventilated, easy to pitch, and reasonably priced, doing best in warmer weather.
The classic wedge design echoes long-standing tents such as the Vaude Hogan (see below) and Big Agnes Seedhouse. It’s not quite freestanding but close enough for almost all real-world purposes, requiring a minimum of four stakes for a good pitch.
Bikepackers will be interested to know that the most recent versions of the Ordos feature short-section collapsible poles, making the 42cm-long pack shape and size as handlebar harness-friendly as possible.
REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2/3 (USA, $350/400)
If your tour is beginning in the States and you need a new set of camping gear, you’d do well to head to the nearest branch of REI. This well-known outdoor co-op manufactures a range of top-rated gear and sells it without the third-party mark-up, so you get a lot for your money.
Their ultralight, semi-freestanding Quarter Dome, available in 2‑berth (1.5kg) and 3‑berth (1.8kg) versions, was the most popular cycle touring tent among Stateside riders in my most recent survey. Expect plentiful headroom, excellent build quality and one of the best warranties you’ll find in the outdoor equipment industry. The mesh inner can be pitched fully freestanding for warmer weather and stargazing, with the rainfly needing just a couple of (included) stakes.
- Get the two-berth Quarter Dome 2 from REI.com in the USA
- Get the three-berth Quarter Dome 3 from REI.com in the USA
- Alternatively you can buy the Quarter Dome range from any of REI’s 132 retail stores in the lower 48.
MEC Spark 2.0 (Canada, CAD$420)
Looking for a suitable tent for a bike trip originating in Canada? Look no further than the Spark 2.0 dome tent from Canadian gear retailer MEC. Formerly Mountain Equipment Cooperative, the organisation was bought out in 2020 and now trades as Mountain Equipment Company.
The 1.75kg, 2‑berth Spark will house you and your partner, or just you if you want a bit of space, at a very reasonable weight for the price. With two doors and two vestibules for easy access and extra storage, the 3000mm waterproof, 30D polyester ripstop fly will protect you from the most obnoxious of North American springtime downpours. And because the Spark 2.0 is designed in-house by Canada’s largest gear retailer, it also works out considerably cheaper than similar-looking tents from better-known brands, and is covered by MEC’s famous ‘rock solid’ guarantee.
- Get the MEC Spark 2.0 tent online from the MEC website or from any of their 22 retail stores across Canada.
MSR Elixir 1/2/3 (Worldwide, £215/265/320 / $200/250/300)
If saving weight is not of utmost importance, and you’re looking to save money, but you still want a quality tent from a reputable brand, the MSR Elixir range (Europe/USA/Canada webpages) is a very good bet.
These tents have a very similar freestanding dome structure and the same range of 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth variants as the much-loved Hubba range (see below) – but for significantly lower prices. Why? They’re considerably heavier: 2.77kg compared to 1.76kg in the case of the 2‑berth Elixir versus the 2‑berth Hubba. That’s almost 60% heavier, although we’re still only talking the weight of a 1‑litre water bottle.
Slightly more spacious, and with a more complex pole structure, you can probably expect the Elixir tents to last even longer than their more expensive brethren. As such, they’d be an excellent choice for fully-loaded riders heading off on long-haul trips for whom maximum durability is key.
As with the more popular Hubba range (see below), European markets get a choice of green or grey rainfly while Americans are, for unknown reasons, stuck with grey.
- Get the MSR Elixir range in the UK from Snow + Rock, Cotswold Outdoor, OutdoorGear UK, Amazon or eBay
- Get the MSR Elixir range in the USA direct from MSR or from REI, Outdoorplay, Amazon or eBay
- Get the MSR Elixir range in Canada direct from MSR or from MEC, Amazon or eBay
MSR Hubba Hubba 1/2/3P (Worldwide, £385/445/650 / $410/480/580)
Riders love the generous headroom, the inner mesh pockets, the vast luggage awnings, and the low packed volume and weight.
The range features 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth models (all three of which are pictured above – can you spot the differences?), and has been updated several times over the last couple of decades as tent technology evolves. Today, the MSR Hubba Hubba range aims to strike that finest of balances between weight, comfort and durability. In other words, they’re neither the lightest, biggest, nor longest-lasting tents in this list, but you’re unlikely to find fault with the end result.
As pictured above, the updated-for-2022 North American models now come with a “Sahara” yellow-tan rainfly, replacing the light grey of previous iterations.
In Europe (where the range still goes by the old ‘NX’ naming scheme), grey and green rainflys are still available. If you have a choice, I’d recommend green for more inconspucious wild camping.
Most solo fully-loaded cycle tourers go for the 1.5kg, 2‑berth Hubba Hubba (known before 2022 as the Hubba Hubba NX), which may also suit those bikepacking in pairs. If I’m running out the door and don’t have time to choose the perfect tent from my stash, I’ll always grab this one.
Couples with a full luggage setup tend to prefer the spacious 1.7kg 3‑berth Hubba Hubba (known before 2022 as the Mutha Hubba NX). This is my and my wife’s go-to tent when we ride together.
Ultralight solo bikepackers usually go for the 1‑berth Hubba Hubba (known before 2022 as the Hubba NX) with a minimum packed weight of 1.1kg. I took one of these down the US West Coast a few years back and wrote this review.
There has in the past been a 4‑berth variant called the Papa Hubba, but this is not part of the current season’s range.
Expect MSR tents to last many years if well looked-after, with top-quality weatherproofing, well-designed ventilation, superb build quality, and super-easy setup, with a variety of pitching options for different climates, including inner-only and fly/footprint-only.
By all accounts you should avoid the now-discontinued Tour variants, which suffered from a variety of well-documented issues.
- Get the MSR Hubba Hubba range in-store in the UK from Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, or Ellis Brigham. Online retailers include Alpine Trek, All Outdoor, OutdoorGear UK, Amazon and eBay
- Get the MSR Hubba Hubba range in the USA direct from MSR or from REI, Amazon or eBay
- Get the MSR Hubba Hubba range in Canada direct from MSR or from MEC, Amazon or eBay
Vaude Hogan UL (Germany, £430)
Another tent that has stood the test of time, German brand Vaude’s classic Hogan UL 2‑berth tent was, back in 2007, my first real high-quality tent of any kind. I rode across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Mongolia with it for four years, so I guess you could say I’ve put it through its paces (read my original review here). Then my brother inherited it and subjected it to another few years of abuse. It’s still standing 14 years on.
It’s not the lightest, nor is it truly freestanding, but it is extremely durable, waterproof, and stable in bad weather, with a decent-sized porch and a nice natural shade of green available for the fly, and it’s pretty portable at 1.9kg.
- Get the Vaude Hogan UL in the UK direct from Vaude or from Amazon
- Get the Vaude Hogan UL in its native Germany direct from Vaude or from Bergzeit.de
- Get the Vaude Hogan UL in Canada from Amazon
Terra Nova Voyager (UK, £660)
A British design that’s been doing the rounds for decades, the semi-freestanding classic Voyager is a long-term favourite among round-the-world tourers from the UK, in part because Terra Nova don’t feel the need to change the design of or discontinue perfectly good tents at random (like certain other manufacturers seem to do), allowing the tent to build up a second-to-none reputation.
Weighing in at 2.15kg, top-class construction, weatherproofing, liveability and extreme durability is the order of the day here.
- Get the Terra Nova Voyager in the UK direct from Terra Nova, with 20% off when you use the voucher code TOMA20.
- It’s also available from Cotswold Outdoor*, UltralightOutdoorGear.co.uk, Amazon and eBay.
Hilleberg Nallo 2/3/GT (Sweden, £910+)
The most lusted after (and expensive) tents for long-haul trips for which durability is the key consideration are undoubtedly those in the Nallo range from Swedish tentmakers Hilleberg.
They’re not the most lightweight, nor the best choice for hot climates, but they do have an unmatched reputation for quality and longevity. Hilleberg have long resisted following the trend for ever lighter and more flimsy materials: these tents are among the most tried and tested in the world and will last – literally – for decades.
Other Hilleberg tents often seen on the road include the lighter 1.7kg Akto for soloists and bikepackers, and the freestanding and spacious 3.3kg Allak 2 for couples and heavyweight tourers. The Swedish brand of course makes excellent winter tents, with the 2.4kg Soulo standing out.
The Best Ultralight Bikepacking Tents For 2022
The following tents are included in this list as examples of shelters that have either been developed with bikepacking in mind or crossed over from backpacking and thru-hiking circles – in any case, tents that have found favour in the bikepacking community.
You’ll also find some of the lighter tents from the list above – such as the Alpkit Ordos 2, the MSR Hubba 1P, and the Hilleberg Akto – making their way onto bikepacking kit lists, possibly in stripped-down form.
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (USA, $200)
Weighing just 680g (that’s the same as a full, standard-sized cycling water bottle), the single-pole, single-wall Lunar Solo relies on being staked out and requires you to supply your own pole (it’s designed to be used with a trekking pole). It’s never going to be as comfortable as a double-wall tent with a geodesic structure – but if you’re OK with that, it’s difficult to imagine a more minimal shelter that isn’t a bivvy bag.
- Get the Lunar Solo direct from Six Moon Designs in the USA, or from Ultralight Outdoor Gear in the UK.
Terra Nova Starlite (UK, £655)
New in 2018, the Terra Nova Starlite series, available in 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth options, was one of the first British tents designed with bikepacking in mind. Aside from striking a great combination of weight and weather-resistance, the 2‑berth Starlite 2 weighs just 1.5kg and, thanks to a reduction in pole section length, has a packed length of just 29cm. This means it’ll fit easily into a small pannier, or strap to your handlebars using the stuff-sack’s integrated webbing loops.
Some might consider its non-freestanding design a negative, but in the type of climate and terrain it’s designed for, staking it out really shouldn’t be a problem if you choose your pitch accordingly. Once up, it’s as roomy as you’d expect from a tunnel tent and very stable. That the optional footprint extends to cover the awning floor is a nice bonus.
More Tents For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
If that’s not enough of a selection, try the following, which have also been recommended by readers of this blog:
- Big Agnes Seedhouse SL / Copper Spur HV (USA, $350/450)
- Camp USA Minima 2 SL (USA, $350)
- Decathlon Quickhiker 3 (Europe, UK £100)
- Macpac Minaret (New Zealand, NZ$900)
- Marmot Tungsten (Worldwide, $200)
- Nordisk Telemark (Denmark)
I have also happily cycled the length of England with a Tesco Value tent I rescued from the local household recycling centre, because remember: you don’t actually need any of this fancy gear.
Which tent(s) have you successfully used on tours or bikepacking trips? Let us know in the comments.
Still struggling to choose?
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