Last updated on, adding an exclusive 20% discount code for Terra Nova & Wild Country tents when ordered direct in the UK.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in choosing the best tent for your cycle tour or bikepacking trip is that there’s no special category of tents for cyclists.
Instead, you will probably already have noticed that we bicycle travellers basically have to choose between tents designed for hiking, backpacking and mountaineering to meet our needs.
And this is a diverse market, in which you’ll find 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.
And why the industry bias towards people with backpacks rather than bicycles? Simple: the market is much, much bigger. This is where the money is. Even with the recent rise of bikepacking, we cyclists still sit on the margins, and are lucky if we get more than a quick mention in the updated product descriptions (which is more about marketing and less about tent design anyway).
The truth is that you’ll be lucky to find a tent designed specifically with cycle tourers and bikepackers in mind.
Given that, it’s natural to look for recommendations from the community when choosing a tent for cycle touring or bikepacking.
And that’s what this post is all about – sifting through the tent industry’s offerings to help you identify which tents have found favour among cycle tourers and bikepackers.
But before you get bogged down with what other riders 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.
So before you go any deeper into researching the best tent for a cycle tour or bikepacking trip, take a moment to ask yourself:
- Are you hunting for a cheap tent for a short overnight bike adventure close to home, or investing in a long-lasting tent for a transcontinental or round-the-world tour?
- Are you a heavyweight tourer who likes plenty of living space and room for luggage, a minimalist ultralight bikepacker, 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 tent pitches, or wild camping in the woods with your own stove and cookware?
- Are you planning a fair-weather ride in good weather, or will you encounter winter temperatures, strong winds, high altitudes, or other extreme conditions?
As I mentioned, there are a few tried-and-tested tents for cycling and camping 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.
If you haven’t asked them of yourself, now’s the time to do so. And if you’re struggling to find clear answers, I’ve written introductions to the what, where, when, who and how of adventure cycle touring and bikepacking to help you.
Got a clear idea of 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 16 years or so.
And I can tell you that the most popular kind of cycle touring or bikepacking tent for a solo rider is a freestanding, double-walled, 2‑berth, 3‑season tent in an inconspicuous shade of green, weighing 1–2kg (2–4 pounds), striking a balance between comfort, durability and weight, strapping neatly to a rear rack or a handlebar harness, with room inside for the rider and the most valuable bits of their luggage, and room in the awning for the rest (the bike stays outside).
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 usually recommend.
That said, the 2022-season MSR Hubba Hubba range has unfortunately suffered from some well-documented issues with build quality, in particular splintering poles, so I’d recommend holding out for the 2023-season update of the Hubba Hubba range, and double-checking with your chosen supplier that these issues have been rectified before you buy one.
How Do Tents For Cyclists Differ From Tents For Hikers & Backpackers?
Before we start listing the best cycle touring and bikepacking tents, it’s important to explain how the priorities for cyclists differ from, say, long-distance hikers, and how that might affect your choice of tent.
The first big 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 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 held up by carbon-fibre 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 suggestions below for ultralight tents for bikepacking too.)
A second difference is that cyclists often camp close to roads, as well as 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 remote landscapes in case of needing assistance. Cyclists just as often want the opposite: to be able to wild camp (or stealth camp) undetected, close to civilisation when necessary. For that reason, the colour of the pitched tent often factors into the buying decision.
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 because trips like this often involve road sections too, both cycle tourers and off-road bikepackers are served best by tents suited to both scenarios.
A third, possibly marginal difference is that hikers have the ability to pitch ultralight shelters which use trekking poles for structure.
If you’re on a bike, then 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 cancels out the weight savings. If reducing your luggage is really your top priority, consider using the bike itself to support a tarp shelter.
The Best Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Tents For 2023
To the listings!
The following tents are specifically recommended for cycle touring and bikepacking, and have been extensively road-tested by the community.
Models in this list come from a variety of manufacturers worldwide, so whether you’re reading this article in the UK or Europe, the USA or Canada, Australia, or elsewhere, there’ll probably be options here you can find locally, as well as online.
Some of these recommendations are inspired by my interviews with highly experienced riders who have spent countless miles and years road-testing these tents. Others are tents that frequently appear in trip reports and receive unanimously positive reviews from real-world users. The listings are fully updated to reflect the latest models and prices for the 2023 season.
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 for world-ranging rides of months or years.
To finish, we’ll looking at a few examples of specialist tents suited to the weight and pack size restrictions faced by ultralight bikepackers with minimal frame luggage (though this niche is not my usual focus).
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. In fact, the tent you already have in the garage/basement/attic/storage unit might be perfectly adequate, as you don’t really need any of this fancy gear anyway.
But I can promise you the listing below 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 1.95kg 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 “Compact” tag was added to the name in 2020, with the tent now featuring shorter pole sections for a more convenient 30×16cm 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.
- Exclusive to Tom’s Bike Trip readers: Get 20% off the Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 on the Terra Nova website when you use the voucher code TOMA20 at checkout.
- The Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 is also available online or in-store in the UK from Go Outdoors, Snow + Rock and Cotswold Outdoor, or online-only from Amazon. Try eBay.co.uk for second-hand offers.
- Wild Country is a British brand, so (especially post-Brexit) this tent is quite hard to find elsewhere in the world.
Alpkit Ordos 2 (UK, £235)
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 rainfly, 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 UL (see below) and Big Agnes Seedhouse. It’s not quite freestanding but close enough for most real-world scenarios, 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 shorter-section collapsible poles, making the 42cm-long pack shape and size slightly more handlebar harness-friendly (though not as friendly as the Zephyros Compact above or the Starlite below).
REI Co-Op Quarter Dome SL 1/2/3 (USA, $330/350/400)
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.
REI is a well-known outdoor co-operative manufacturing a range of top-rated gear and selling it without the third-party mark-up, so you get a lot for your money. Sign up as a lifetime member of the co-op and you’ll also get 10% of your spend back in store credit at the end of each year, as well as free delivery and various other benefits.
Their ultralight, semi-freestanding Quarter Dome, available in 1‑berth (2lb 6oz / 1.1kg), 2‑berth (2lb 14oz / 1.5kg) and 3‑berth (4lb 9oz / 2.1kg) versions, was the most popular cycle touring tent among Stateside riders in my most recent survey of cycle touring and bikepacking tents.
The mesh inner can be pitched fully freestanding for warmer weather and stargazing, with the rainfly needing just a couple of (included) stakes.
Expect plentiful headroom, excellent build quality and one of the best warranties you’ll find in the outdoor equipment industry.
- Buy the REI Co-Op Quarter Dome range online from REI.com in the USA.
- Try eBay.com for second-hand models of this popular range of tents.
- Alternatively you can buy the Quarter Dome range in-store from any of REI’s 132 retail locations in the lower 48.
MEC Spark 2.0 1/2/3P (Canada, CA$375/475/575)
Looking for a tent for a cycle tour originating in Canada? The Spark 2.0 range of tents from Canadian gear retailer MEC comes in 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth versions at a very reasonable weight for the price – the solo 1‑berth version weighs just 1.34kg packed.
With a familiar looking freestanding dome-shaped design, the 2- and 3‑berth models each have two doors and two vestibules for easy access to extra storage for panniers and other luggage. All models feature a 3000mm waterproof, 30D polyester ripstop fly to protect you from the heaviest of North American springtime downpours.
And because the Spark 2.0 range is designed, manufacturerd and sold direct by Canada’s largest gear retailer, each model also works out considerably cheaper than similar tents from better-known brands, and is covered by MEC’s ‘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 1–4 (Worldwide, £250–380 / US$320–490 / CA$350–635)
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 is a very good bet (click for Europe/USA/Canada official manufacturer webpages).
These tents have a very similar freestanding dome structure and a range of 1- to 4‑berth variants – similar to the much-loved Hubba 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. For a fully-loaded rider carrying a tent on a rear rack, that’s a marginal difference, though the 51cm-long packed size will exclude it from many bikepacking handlebar harness setups.
Slightly more spacious than the Hubba Hubbas, and with a more complex pole structure, you can 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.
UK/European markets get a choice of green or grey rainfly while North Americans are, for unknown reasons, stuck with grey.
- Buy the MSR Elixir range in-store or online in the UK from Go Outdoors, Snow + Rock, Cotswold Outdoor or Ellis Brigham. Online retailers include OutdoorGear UK, Amazon and eBay.co.uk.
- Buy the MSR Elixir range online in the USA direct from MSR or from REI, Amazon or eBay.com. Don’t forget REI also have 132 retail locations across the contiguous US.
- Buy the MSR Elixir range online in Canada direct from MSR or from MEC, Amazon or eBay.ca. Again, MEC have numerous retail locations where you may be able to see the MSR Elixir pitched before you buy.
MSR Hubba Hubba 1/2/3P (Worldwide, £385/445/650 / $410/480/580)
In the long term, the MSR Hubba Hubba range (Europe/USA/Canada webpages) is possibly the all-time most recommended series of tents among the global community of cycle tourers and bikepackers, as mentioned in the introduction. As a result, it has spawned a thousand cheap and inferior imitations on Amazon.
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) and has been updated several times over the years 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.
The 2022 update of the North American models (pictured above) now come with a “Sahara” yellow-tan rainfly, replacing the light grey of previous iterations. Feedback of the 2022 model was not entirely positive, as you’ll see from the many reviews on the manufacturer’s own webpage, so if you’re looking at buying a Hubba Hubba right now, make sure it’s a 2023-season model.
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 usually 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 an older 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 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. If you do encounter difficulties, warranty repairs or exchanges can be requested from MSR’s service centres in WA, USA and Ireland.
- Buy the MSR Hubba Hubba range in-store or online in the UK from Go Outdoors, Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, or Ellis Brigham. Online-only retailers include Alpine Trek, OutdoorGear UK and Amazon. Also try eBay.co.uk for second-hand offers.
- Buy the MSR Hubba Hubba range online in the USA direct from MSR or from REI (also in-store), Amazon or eBay.com.
- Buy the MSR Hubba Hubba range online in Canada direct from MSR or from MEC (also in-store), Amazon or eBay.ca.
Vaude Hogan UL (UK & Europe, £470/€500)
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. 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 very outdated original review here).
At 1.9kg it’s not the lightest tent in this list, nor is it truly freestanding, but it is extremely durable, waterproof, with a decent-sized porch and a nice natural shade of green available for the fly.
As with other wedge-shaped tents, it’s a little more sensitive to side winds than tunnel or geodesic (aka: dome) tents, so you’ll do well to be mindful of wind direction when pitching.
- Buy the Vaude Hogan UL online in the UK direct from Vaude or from Amazon.
- Buy the Vaude Hogan UL in its native Germany direct from Vaude or from Bergzeit.de.
- Vaude doesn’t currently have an official distributor in North America or Australia.
Terra Nova Voyager (UK, £660)
A British design that’s been on the scene for decades, the semi-freestanding classic Voyager is a long-term favourite among round-the-world riders originating 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.
With a packed weight of 2.15kg, lightness is not the Voyager’s top design priority – but instead, you get top-class construction and weatherproofing, loads of liveability, and extreme durability for years (decades!) of riding.
The Voyager’s inner tent can be pitched fully freestanding, so in good weather you’ll also be able to take advantage of its part-mesh construction for ventilation and views of the night sky.
- Buy the Terra Nova Voyager online in the UK direct from Terra Nova, with an exclusive 20% reader discount when you use the voucher code TOMA20 at checkout.
- The Terra Nova Voyager is also available in-store or online in the UK from Cotswold Outdoor and Snow + Rock, or online only from UltralightOutdoorGear.co.uk and Amazon. Try eBay.co.uk. for second-hand offers and deals.
- As with their subsidiary brand Wild Country, Terra Nova tents are not easily found outside the UK.
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.
- Buy the Hilleberg Nallo range in-store or online in the UK from Ellis Brigham or Tiso, or online-only from UltralightOutdoorGear.co.uk or AlpineTrek.co.uk. Always check eBay.co.uk for deals and second-hand offers.
- Buy the Hilleberg Nallo range online in the USA from Moosejaw or eBay.com, or for in-store locations see Hilleberg’s list of authorized dealers.
- Hilleberg does not appear to have an official dealer in Canada, but you might as well check eBay.ca anyway.
Ultralight Bikepacking Tents
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 thru-hiking circles because they’re the lightest and most packable shelters you can get.
The range of minimalist tents and shelters serving this niche has only grown with the rise of bikepacking, so consider this a sample of the kind of options you’ll find if you start digging deeper into this market. It is certainly not an exhaustive list: for that, you’ll have to visit a specialist bikepacking gear blog.
You’ll find some of the lighter tents from the list above – such as the Alpkit Ordos 2 or the MSR Hubba Hubba 1P – making their way onto bikepacking kit lists, possibly in stripped-down form.
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (USA, $260)
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)
Launched in 2018, the Terra Nova Starlite series, available in 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth options, was one of the first British tents specifically 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 tunnel 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.
- Read my long-term review of the Starlite 2 here.
- Get the Terra Nova Starlite 2 in the UK direct from Terra Nova, with an exclusive 20% reader discount when you use the voucher code TOMA20.
- The Terra Nova Starlite 2 is also available online in the UK from Amazon, Wiggle and eBay.co.uk.
- As previously noted, Terra Nova products are hard to find outside of the UK.
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 SL2 / Copper Spur HV UL2 (USA, $300/550)
- Decathlon Forclaz MT900 Trekking Dome Tent 2P (UK/Europe, £200)
- Macpac Minaret 2P (New Zealand, NZ$900)
- Marmot Tungsten (Worldwide, $214)
- Nordisk Telemark 2.2 PU (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 stuff.
Which tent(s) have you successfully used on tours or bikepacking trips? Let us know in the comments.
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