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What’s The Best Tent For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking?

Last updated in January 2021. Happy New Year!

Perhaps the biggest challenge in choosing the right tent for your cycle tour or bikepacking expedition is the fact that there’s no industry-standard category of tent specifically made for cycle touring or bikepacking.

Instead, you’re left to wander through hiking and backpacking departments looking at ultralight tents, freestanding tents, 3‑season and 4‑season tents, double wall and single wall tents, tents with or without awnings or footprints – and at prices from next to nothing up to hundreds (even thousands) of pounds or dollars. Which of these tents is appropriate for a two-wheeled adventure?

Given this bias towards people with backpacks rather than panniers or frame luggage, it’s natural to look for recommendations from other riders when choosing a tent for cycle touring or bikepacking. 

But before you get bogged down with what other people think is the best tent (which often seems to be the first one they bought or the latest one their sponsors gave them), 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 further, take a moment to ask yourself:

  • Are you looking for a long-lasting tent for a transcontinental trip, or something simple for a short summer adventure?
  • Are you a couple who like plenty of living space and room for your luggage, or a minimal solo rider?
  • Do you have racks and panniers to take bulky and heavy loads, or are you bikepacking with ultralight gear?
  • Do you plan on staying at nice campsites, or wild camping in the woods after dark?
  • Are you planning a fair-weather ride, or will all-season and/or winter use be involved?

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.

If you haven’t asked them of yourself, now’s the time to do so. Perhaps read my posts on the what, where, when, who and how of cycle touring. Then come back to this post.

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 14 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, two-berth, three-season tent in an inconspicuous shade of green, weighing 1–2.5kg (2–6 pounds), and strapping nicely to a rear rack or a handlebar harness, with room inside for the rider and the most important bits of their luggage.

For a couple, it’s the three-berth model of the same tent.

And for a solo ultralight bikepacker, it’s the one-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 NX range, which is available in 1- to 3‑berth models. (Click here to scroll to the full details and photos).

I’ve used and abused many tents in the Hubba range over the years, including a 2014 two-berth Hubba Hubba NX, a 2012 one-berth Hubba, and a 2010 three-berth Mutha Hubba HP. I still own and use all of them regularly.

If you don’t have any super-specialised requirements and you’re looking for a top-quality tent you can simply grab and ride out the door with, the MSR Hubba NX 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 of an issue for cyclists.

On a bike tour, 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 concerned with minimising their loads. Unless you’re an ultralight bikepacker, you probably won’t be sharing that concern. (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 totally 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 undetected, close to civilisation.

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 simple tarp shelter.


The Best Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Tents For 2021

The following tents are specifically recommended for those travelling by bicycle, and include examples from manufacturers the world over.

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.

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 use, 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. I’ve also included links to online retailers in the UK, USA 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.


Vango Banshee Pro 200/300 (UK, £155/185)

UK manufacturer Vango’s range of 3‑season Banshee Pro tents are at the upper end of their scale in terms of quality and features, but still represent good value for money. They come in a natural shade of green for wild-camping in the temperate zone and provide ample living and storage space while remaining light enough for a fully-loaded cycle tourer to consider. Two- and three-berth versions are available under the 200 and 300 model names. The 200 is ideal for a soloist at 2.39kg, and the 300 at 2.82kg is good for a couple.

(The same naming scheme is used for other tents in Vango’s range, of which the Soul is recommended as a budget option and the Mirage at the higher end.)

Being a British brand, Vango is very well represented in the UK, both on the high street and online. Their tents may be harder to find elsewhere.

As an alternative, the Coshee range by Wild Country (see below) is similar in design, name and price point.


Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 (UK, £220)

Wild Country is the budget marque of the premium British manufacturer Terra Nova. The 1.95kg Zephyros 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 for the 2020 season, 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 2/3 (UK, £230/270)

Direct retailer Alpkit has made a splash in the bikepacking and cycle touring scene, with the Ordos 2 and Ordos 3 tents now almost as popular as MSR’s Hubba series (see below). I used one myself on a traverse of the central highlands of Armenia. Alpkit is UK-based but offers global delivery.

With 2- and 3‑berth models available and a choice of a red or green fly, the lightweight yet affordable Ordos tents – just 1.4kg for the 2‑berth and 1.7kg for the 3‑berth – are roomy, practical, well-ventilated, easy to pitch, and very reasonably priced, with the wedge design echoing the long-standing Vaude Hogan (see below) and Big Agnes Seedhouse. Not quite freestanding but close enough for almost all real-world purposes, they do well in warmer weather.

  • Order the Ordos 2 or Ordos 3 direct from Alpkit in the UK or with worldwide delivery, or try eBay for second-hand options

REI Quarter Dome SL1/2 (USA, $299/349)

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 SL, available in 1‑berth (1.3kg) and 2‑berth (1.7kg) 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 one-berth Quarter Dome SL 1 from REI.com in the USA
  • Get the two-berth Quarter Dome SL 2 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.

If you’re on a tight budget, don’t mind a little extra weight, and still want the REI brand assurance and warranty, check out the cheaper Half Dome 2 Plus.


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 co-operative MEC.

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 co-op, it also works out considerably cheaper than similar-looking tents from better-known brands, and is covered by MEC’s famous ‘rock solid’ guarantee.


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 Hubbas, European markets get a choice of green or grey rainfly while Americans are stuck with grey.


MSR Hubba NX 1/2/3P (Worldwide, £385/445/650 / $380/450/550)

The MSR Hubba NX range (Europe/USA/Canada webpages) is possibly the all-time most recommended series of tents among global cycle tourers and bikepackers, as mentioned in the introduction.

Riders love the generous headroom, the inner mesh pockets, the vast luggage awnings, and the low packed volume and weight.

The range, which features 1‑, 2- and 3‑berth models, has been updated several times over the last couple of decades as tent technology evolves, and today strikes a balance between weight and longevity. In other words, they’re neither the lightest nor the longest-lasting tents in this list, but you’re unlikely to find fault with either characteristic.

msr_hubbahubbahp_fly_door_open_eu_l

The North American models all come with a grey rainfly, but in Europe green rainflys are also available. I’d recommend this for more inconspucious wild camping.

Most solo fully-loaded cycle tourers go for the 1.7kg, two-berth Hubba Hubba, which may also suit those bikepacking in pairs.

Couples with a full luggage setup tend to prefer the spacious 2.3kg three-berth Mutha Hubba.

Ultralight solo bikepackers usually go for the 1‑berth Hubba with a minimum packed weight of 1.1kg.

(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.


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 decent 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.


Terra Nova Voyager (UK, £600)

terra-nova-voyager

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 2.2kg, top-class construction, weatherproofing, liveability and extreme durability is the order of the day here.


Hilleberg Nallo 2/3/GT (Sweden, £765–970)

hilleberg-nallo-2

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.

The Nallo 2 (2.4kg) is recommended for solo tourers, with the Nallo 3 GT (3.1kg) delivering luxury on-the-road living for couples and their luggage.

Other Hilleberg tents often seen on the road include the minimalist 1.7kg Akto for soloists and bikepackers (also see the Wild Country Zephyros above) and, for couples, the freestanding and spacious 3.3kg Allak 2. The Swedish brand predictably makes excellent winter tents, with the 2.4kg Soulo standing out.


The Best Ultralight Bikepacking Tents For 2021

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, the MSR Hubba NX, 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.


Terra Nova Starlite (UK, £595)

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:

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?

How To Hit The Road is here to take the pain out of researching and buying equipment for a long bicycle adventure, with contributions from over 50 veteran riders. Available now as a low-price ebook or print-on-demand paperback.

Click here to learn more →

118 replies on “What’s The Best Tent For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking?”

MacPac Minaret. We did tones of bike touring with it and it was fantastic. The last one held well for 12 years now we’ve got a new one!

Try the Macpac microlight as well. Just finished a couple of weeks round inner Hebrides. Mixture of sun and storms. Didn’t leak a drop. Great gear.

I have both a Macpac Mineret and a Tarptent DW moment. I love both of them. The Mineret is perfect for two, and sometimes I take it on solo tours, but at 3.2kg (15 years old and still bomb proof), it borders on extravagant. The tarptent, is half the weight, and super simple to put up, freestanding, and brilliantly ventilated. But I’m not sold on the tricky sideways entry in pouring rain, and the small head space when lying down (I am 6′3″). So I think my dream tent would be a blend of the two. Mineret for the front entry, Tarptent internal battens in a triangle on the back end. Of course there is also the Tarptent double-moment (slightly bigger), if I had to chose just one more tent, that would be it.

I used the Terra Nova Voyager XL 2 on a recent tour of Europe. It lasted about a week and the tents poles broke in a mild storm. Customer service didnt answer my emails, and I thought the service was shocking. It’s a shame because it seems they make really good tents, but I got a duff one. That is when customer service is important. Sadly they are infamous for poor service. Ended up buying a generic tent for a quarter of the price and it served me well.

Nice compilation Tom! I would vote for the Gelert Solo actually. I have been looking around for an affordable lightweight tent before hitting the road for a month and have been quite happy with the choice. I didn’t encounter any harsh conditions though, but it seems to be a fairly durable tent indeed.

I have spent years in my Nallo 3Gt and I’ll likely have it on my rear rack the next time I hit the open road for an extended period of time; however, I have recently switched over to a bivy sack for overnight to weeklong trips. Its the best way to set up and take down camp in a hurry, which is essential when free camping where maybe you shouldn’t be!

Everyone knows your confessed love for the discontinued Hubba Hubba, but you used the 1 man version for your American trip right — so why do you recommend the bigger/heavier version? 

I’ve just got a Seedhouse SL1 for £100, cheap price but it doesn’t have the split pole design of the SL2 (or indeed the Hubba range). So it’s freestanding ability is a little flawed.

These aren’t personal recommendations, they’re my interpretations of the results of an extensive survey. Most solo tourers seem to prefer 2‑person tents for the extra living space. Personally, I’m happy with a minimal 1‑person tent nowadays, but that’s just my preference.

Love my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1. Has coped with some “character building” weather so far despite only being a 3 season tent, packs down nice’n’small and is a smidge over a kilo (some stripped down variations go lighter). Not sure what you mean by no ‘split pole’ — d’you mean the sort of Y‑shape arrangement? If so, mine does have that, perhaps there are older versions which don’t?

I’ve just found this website and I am glued to it!
A lot of what it have read so far, and the ‘just do it’ attitude is truly inspiring.
Most of what I have read online seems to involve a lot of overthinking and overanalysing so this approach is extremely refreshing. Keep up the good work.

Very happy to recommend the Tarptent Scarp 1. Kept me very comfortable for 15 months across Asia. It’s amazingly spacious for a one man with two porches and lofty head room (even for me at 6′ 2″ and a bit). Goes up in a flash, pitches taught, you can choose a mesh or solid inner and it all weighs just 1.35kg. Seems to balance quality, space and weight perfectly and what’s more you don’t have to take out a mortgage to get one.

Got to be freestanding! I have a Coleman Boa, freestanding and long with 233 cm inner..
I remember once I put it up on a concrete surface under a roof near a footballfield in France. It was raining very, very hard. It was great to find this spot and then just put it up there. This could not have worked with a non freestanding tent.
I like tents, I tried a hammock as well , nice, but only if the weather is good. Reason I like a tent is spiders, snakes and dogs. And musquitoes of course!

Another thumbs up for the Gelert Solo. Used it mainly for lightweight “bike-packing” and 1.5kg weight and squat pack size make it perfect. For longer tours, I highly recommend the “Wild Country Aspect 1” . It’s a pitch with outer, two hoop tunell tent at 1.9kg. It’s quite tall (but very stable), and makes for an “airy” camp if sitting down, plenty of headroom for moving about. The USP clincher for me is that the whole side zips open, and you can attach to nearby bike for a tarp-like big awning for cooking, lazing about. Also sleeping with the side open gives a nice panoramic view through the upper mesh of the side. Being Wild Country (a branch of Terra Nova), the quality is exceptional, and all for about £90 or less if you shop about. Can’t fault it, and for me the perfect solo touring tent. Think they are discontinuing them soon (and can’t find anything similar), so snap any residual stock for a bargain.

Having used the banshee 200 over the past few years and find this is more a 1 man tent with a bit of added room, used in all weathers have found it to be a fantastic tent, during the summer I generally take a bivy bag for short 1 / 2 night’s even if a spot of rain is expected, makes it easier for wild camping.

Can I just cast another vote for the humble, inexpensive and very compact Gelert Solo. But I’d like to make it clear to all — you won’t be holding a disco or having your mates round for a brew. It’s a low, narrow sleeping space .…… Which is all I personally feel I need on bike trips. Getting dressed inside requires agility, organisation and telescopic legs would be an advantage. Brilliant value though, and tucks away small. Perfectly good waterproofing too.

I’ve a somewhat spacious Vango Tempest 300 which is technically a 3 person tent but the pack size is a reasonable 46x16cm and 3.35kg and that fits in a pannier. It’s a bit big for solo use though you can get all your bags inside and if you remove the wheels, your bike even fits in the porch.

Having just carted it around the Pennines for the best part of a week though, I’m tempted with the smaller Zenith 100 or Blade 100, halving the weight and reducing the pack size (Zenith is 35x13!).

The Gelert Solo might have been possibly discontinued but there seems to be a few clones of it about on Amazon such as ‘Highlander Blackthorn 1’ and ‘Charlies Outdoor Leisure Beris 1 Man Camping Tent’ for sub 30 quid. I’d rather have a bit more space, especially for stashing away kit, so your panniers don’t go walkies in the night.

I picked up a Blade 100 for about £50 after a price match+discount in April and used it for a 23 day tour through France & Spain. It’s quite roomy for a 1 person tent but don’t pack it too full as the gap between the inner and fly isn’t great. You can get your pannier bags inside alongside your sleeping bag and 1 or 2 in the porch. 

The single pole gets in the way a bit at the door and if your pitch isn’t perfect bends into an S. It’s inner first which some people dislike (I don’t mind). But, another good cheap, light (1.75kg) tent from Vango.

Have finally managed to try out our Dragonfly 3XT with my husband. We really like the quick pitch and robust shape. Lots of room for storing panniers in the porch area, and plenty long enough for a tall man in the tent. For solo touring my husband tends to take a Quecha 2 man, much cheaper though not such a strong tent.

I use a Quechua Arpanaz 2 Fresh&Black — it’s shiny white on the outside, so no under the radar wild camping, but i love my sleep even on tour and enjoy the dark and cool inner. I replaced the fiber glass tent poles with aluminium, which brought weight and size down: less than 2kg, 38x13cm — for less than 100€ (45 tent, 20 aluminium tent poles, 10€ for repair tubes to reinforce the pole ends).

I’ve just bought a 2pax, forest-green MSR HubbaHubba HP. I believe this particular range has been discontinued but I was lucky enough to come across one in a store here in Dublin, Éire. The name of the store is Great Outdoors, the tent cost e499.00, they ship internationally, and I think they have a couple left. I believe the footprint will be an extra e50 when they get them in next January. Happy hunting.

There are a few similar models

The ‘Blow ‘by Hannah, a czech company
The ‘Tordis’ by Ford Nansen, a polish company.

Nice green colours too, better then the Hubba, a bit too light. IMHO!

Personnally I think the Micra by Salewa is impressive. Freestanding! Sturdy! small footprint! Steep walls! Green ( the older models are darkgreen.. ) Inner only possiblity!
Some people might argue that 2.3 kg is too heavy, But I think, if you ’ re cycling it is not extreme, for one kilo less you might find something that is very flimsy ” fashion before function”.
I like to think that you get a lot more Reliablity for the extra 500 gram.

Used the Wild Country Zephyros 1 last May for a east coast ride of 4 days, very light & plenty of room for panniers. A really great tent.

I use a very cheap gelert scout, 1,750 Kg, for 2people, but better for just one. Is goof for summer, letting the door open a little. With cold weather some moisture in the morning, never used in stormy weather or very fast wind. Very good for £ 15, but not for every kind of journey

What I’ve seen so far looks very inspiring, have purchased the E‑book and look forward to reading it. Keep up the great work and stay safe.

Have you tried or even heard of the Black Diamond Mega Mid Lite? It’s a HUGE 4‑person, center pole tent made of parachute material, so it stuffs down to about the size of a softball on steroids. Probably weighs about 2 and a half pounds. It has no floor, so not great in areas with snakes and creepy crawly things. If it is set up really taut, it sheds water well. I’ve used it in winter conditions and actually even built a small fire inside. It stand probably 5 and a half feet, so you can sort of stand up to pull on your pants. If creepy-crawlies are an issue — and most of my camping and touring is in the desert southwest of the U.S. where ants, spiders, scorpions and an occasional snake are issues — you can purchase the Bug Mid which is netting and integrated floor. The Mega Mid then just drapes over that. Total weight with floor and tent is 5 pounds, 10 ounces. The tent has a HUGE front opening that really lets the outdoors in. If you go with the no floor version, the tent pulls down to within about 3 inches of the ground. I don’t know why, but in my experience with this tent, mosquitoes never, ever fly in under the tent walls. I’m old and travel with a light weight backpacking chair which I can easily set up inside the tent. Personally I think that this is the best all round tent for most applications.

I am a huge fan of my Terra Nova Solar, which has travelled the world with me over the years, on the back of my motorbike and bicycle.A bit pricey but well made, its a roomy one person tent ( you can store your panniers inside), or a cosy 2 person tent with your luggage in the porch.

Have been n the road for more than 2 and a half years now (so far have cycled Norway to Taiwan). We’re using the Hilleburg Nallo 3 GT which we highly recommend for couples on long-time cycling trips. It’s not perfect but having slept in it on this journey for more than 500 nights including in Mongolia, China, Pamir Highway we really can’t complain about it. In seriously high winds and prolonged rain it’s been fine. Yes, it’s expensive but on this journey it’s our home. I think there are few tents out there that would be so reliable over such a long time period. However, if your trip is just for a few months then it’s probably not worth forking out so much.
http://www.slothsonwheels.blogspot.com

During summers 2013, I attended my first cycling tour, and guess what; I changed three tents in just 24 days. It was my first trip I had no idea and just fell for reviews. But, I have to admit that the search ended with TLDR. It’s a genuine dome that is durable and waterproof and it’s very light. Even a couple of hundred grams weighs more when you are on a one month hiking and camping trip.

Superb article Tom , I use a Force Ten , Argon 200 for my present tour. Very lightweight and spacious, good in the wind too !

I have had this tent the terra nova voyager for just under a year now mostly took out out in fair weather I decided to camp on top of Pen-y-fan 11/04/15 the wind condition’s were moderate to strong at the time’s but with this being rated a 4 season tent I was confident it would withstand the weather being thrown at it , but boy was I wrong the arch pole over the door kept being blown back onto the tent and me inside all night despite being pitched correctly the result in the morning was a broken pole and where the red pole sit’s over the two blue horizontal poles it had rubbed holes in both pole sleeves and the stitching inside was tearing through the inner tent where the pole sleeves attach, now I cannot insert the poles through the sleeves without them coming through the holes . I contacted terra nova about this they were useless after many emails and pictures of the damage were sent I had to send it off to them, 2 weeks for them to look at it and after they make a dissension another 2–3 weeks for them to repair it at my expense when it is clearly a design fault as there is no reinforcement protection where the poles overlap on the front of the tent but there is protection on the rear. Truly disappointed in there poor customer service I expected more form a British company I have lost faith in there product’s and will buy a Hilleberg for a better experience .

I v got the Coleman Celsius Compact. Fantastic simplicity, One entrance, on the long side, and easy in and out.
Very good ventilation, accessable from inside, and the colour is a decent brown and green. Freestanding , a must I think.

Stumbled on the website, great article. 

Is use the terra nova tourer deluxe for touring. Comes in at around 2.5kg and is a massive 2 man tent, with a porch area. It’s an excellent tent, but too big for single expeditions. 

For solo efforts I have reverted to the terra nova Jupiter bivvy and a tarp. This is a new set up, so it will take me a bit of time to fully appreciate it.

I am a big fan of the good old tarp. I have a 10x12 Cuben fiber tarp that weighs around 16oz. TONS of room and more airy and roomy.

I’m probably not going with a tarp, although it recommended by many experienced light-weight affiicionados. But I am curious: What is your preferred method for setting it up, and what to you do about mosquitoes? Thanks.

Terra Nova Photon Laser Elite on a 72 day tour round France plus a tour of Northern Spain. Very light at under a kilo and compact for sticking in a pannier bag. Like others I’m very unimpressed by TNs non response to an email I sent seeking advice on a repair issue. The tent served me well . For me weight is an issue especially in hilly regions.

Yes – Terra Nova haven’t responded to any of the emails I’ve sent them over the years with various enquiries. Seems they make good tents but aren’t particularly interested in the people who buy them…

The Gelert Solo tent is available in Europe under the name Highlander Blackthorn 1 for about €40 from Amazon. Mine will be here in a few days. Thanks for the great post!

Hi Tom,
my favourite is the Hilleberg Soulo. I am using it now for an entire year and never had any problems with it. It has the perfect size, easy to pitch and enough space for all panniers. I am 172cm.
Yes it is expensive but no regrets — I love it.
Greetings Heike

Hi tom, great website, rich with relevant information. I begin a transcontinental tour from Alaska in June. I am using the hilleberg Allak. It’s a roomy 2 man tent at 5 lbs and looks solid. Do you have any record of experiences with it? I tested it in the Himalayas in snow and at ‑15 c. It was really comfortable. The zips worry me though.

HiI, we did our first cycle tour in 1992 through Europe and used a Vaude three person tent. It weighed about 2.8kg. I still have it and still use it .I have had the seams resealed by a parachute maker here in Australia and have found its internal inner hanging system unbelievable. The best tent I have ever used for hiking or biking

Hi, i have been using a banshee 200 for the last 3 years as a one person tent. Bought on price match from Go-outdoors. Original one a seam on the inner parted on first outing & shop replaced (was not actually a big problem) since then i have used the tent for well over 100 nights in Scotland, England, Germany & a trip all the way down the Rhine. Seen some real bad all season weather & its held up & stayed dry. It has been a good performer & is very well suited to wild camping especially if you leave the panniers on the bike & use a cheap plastic groundsheet as a footprint. Now has a very minor seam leak — I have internet ordered some sealant that i hope will sort this out. For the price it is excellent value if I throw it away & buy another one tomorrow I will still have spent less money than on some other tents & also will have worried less about how much i spent on kit. I am sure there are other good there but the banshee is a very good low cost buy. It is not free standing but i see very few situations were I need this.

I have a vaude hogan ultra light. Its great for wild camping very quick to set up . Cycled cape york in Australia and could not leave the tent up in the the afternoon sun the poles break from the heat and the tension on the two shorter ons. Back in NZ the repaired them. Then i cycled from the Netherlands to Indonesia bringing repair kit for tent plus spare parts of pole plus sleeves. The poles are just to light or thin. Have to look ad something els #(:

Hello Tom, thank you for the guide and recommendations! We (my boyfriend and I) are setting off to Australia from Barcelona in December, going through the Balcans, Turkey, Iran, China, Thailand etc and would like to know what your opinion is on the MSR Hubba Hubba nx3? We are planning to camp all the way, although not sure if it will be ok in SE Asia yet but anyway.. Would this tent be good in case of cold nights and also good for hot climates?
By they way I would like to comment on the Vango Banshee 300. We used this tent on our tour from Edinburgh to Barcelona(Via Holland, Belgium, France) and unfortunately after a month the tent poles started to crack. We did tape them along the way but it was really frustrating to set the tent up in a decent shape. Also the button to hold the tent doors rolled up came off pretty soon but we stitch that with no problems afterwards. The waterproof of the tent is very very good luckily! Also shape and color are great. This is our feedback so we wouldn’t rely on it for a long term use. I’m sure for short trips is great, or maybe we have just been unlucky.

The Hubba range is very good all-round. If there’s two of you I’d definitely look at the Mutha Hubba (3‑berth) – I’ve been using it with my other half since 2010 and we really appreciate a little extra space to unpack and make it more homely. I’ve heard only good reports about the updated NX version of the tents. HTH!

Great reviews thanks. I have used my Vango Blade 2 a few times. Long metal pole front to back. Loads of room for one with panniers. Inner up first but I have no experience otherwise. As someone else commented, their is not a lot of room between the inner and outer, and I too dislike the awkwardness of the pole even though you can unzip to go past it left or right. Did the job but had to be a strap-on-top of panniers job partly due to poles. Gelert solo tents are rare as hens’ teeth. The Banshee 200 is looking good to me!

The Solo one is sometimes sold under the Highlander brand. I also highly recommend the Wild Country Zephyros 1 (a 1.4kg Hilleburg Atko copy for <£100) and my fave, the Wild Country Aspect one for a good spacious 1 man 1.9kg tent.

Hi tom,

How much time did you spend in your tent on your janapar expedition? How important is Living space on such a long journey?

I am setting off soon for a few years and can’t decide on how big a tent I want.

As a beginner I found having a bit of living space was nice in the long run. A 2‑berth tent suited me fine. Nowadays I’m happy with a 1‑berth tent or just bivvying without a tent at all, but it took a few years to get to that point.

I’ve used a Hillberg Akto for several years whilst cycling & hill walking. It’s absolutely bomb proof & easy to put up that I find is great when conditions are bad & you need to get your tent up quickly. My version is quite old now as I inherited it from s friend when he bought a new tent. The only downside is it’s size & weight when compared to modern compact & lightweight tents on the market. But the benefits hugely outweigh these downsides.
Great article as always from Tom, my go to site on bikes & bike equipment.

Hi Tom,

great list! On our biketrip from Austria to Australia we also used the 1‑person MSR Hubba NX each. Great tent. I was satisfied with it during our whole journey of 11 months.

I found out that Naturehike, a Chinese brand that you’ll find on Aliexpress as well as sometimes Amazon, kind of replicates the style of the MSR Hubba Hubba (my very first tent!) as it used to be with their so called Mongar. And the price is divided by three. Something to investigate for the newcomers, I guess.

Thumbs up for the Nature Hike. Did a tour around the outer Hebrides last year, had everything from torrential rain to snow and gales. Never missed a beat and stayed dry. Well impressed for the money

A good piece, Tom! A bike touring tent is a really personal purchase which, like bikes, I think people tend to buy with undue haste when starting out, before working through what they need it to do for them.

A thought or two on tents for larger groups — specifically those with children!

In groups of multiple adults, more than two in a tent and you’re best off having multiple tents of that size. It’s inefficient to do otherwise, but with children you have very little choice but to go big.

We used the Vango Ark 400 when the children were smaller; this was a good price but the fly never quite seemed to be the same shape as the inner, and relied on the roominess of our child trailer to transport it. The cube, more so than the weight, became an issue, although it was no lightweight.

To say that “Terra Nova don’t feel the need to change the design of or discontinue perfectly good tents at random” isn’t *quite* true when it comes to bigger tents, because the Laser Space 5 which we use, had a frightfully short life. Sadly, I fear that critical mass for an ultra-light five berth tent simply doesn’t exist. The similarly shaped 4 berth version remains in the Wild Country range but is heavier and has two of the two-berth inners, rather than a three and a two.

We spent over a year trying to track a Laser Space 5 down, having been royally done over by a retailer during the clearance sale, but got lucky in the end. We can now get all five of us, and all our bikes and panniers at a push, under cover in a space most of us can stand up in — and pack the tent away into a single Ortlieb Sportpacker, excluding the poles. We use the Wild Country footprint and carry a tarp for the bikes in a second pannier, with space left in the top of both, and it all fits on the rack of a 20” wheeled trailerbike. There’s a few pictures of it in action, here: http://www.familybycycle.uk/2017/08/vatersay-barrabados.html

The downsides? Frontal area, and the consequential strain on guys in strong winds necessitating some meaty pegs for insurance, and a distinct lack of stealth — but if you have children you’re unlikely to be banking on that anyway 😉

There is a distinct shortage of choice for families looking for a seriously lightweight tent, and it’s a real shame that, expensive as it was, the Laser Space 5 has been discontinued. We know a family who actually make their own tents for touring — and we nearly did the same!

Good to hear someone else also using a Laser Space 5. We (2 adults + 3 kids) are not long back from a cycle tour of Burgundy where it again served us well.

Hi Tom, great article and perfect timing for me personally. The suggestions and endorsements from readers have led to a dozen open tabs in seconds. Just throwing into the mix the Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 (1.5kg) very cheap, it cost me £30 and it served me well, if a little bit too small for my height, and used it across Europe and Scandinavia a couple of years ago.

I’d recommend buying a tent with two entrances for better views. A two person ten for solo rider and a four person tent for two or for the family. I know most people prefer green but I’ve noticed that a bright colour like orange works just as well. Enjoy your trip!

I’ve used the Luxe Mini Peak II for several years.
http://www.luxeoutdoor.com/eng/catalog-topic-gallery-view1.asp?id=1388&selfpath=/173
Weighs in at 1.6kg plus pole.
I like it because -
1. Very light and packs down.
2. Tons of interior space for storage.
3. Lost of ventilation. This is important here in Australia where you are more likely to have hot weather.
4. Like Mike says it is useful to be able to put the outer up first. The tent goes up fast.

My touring is for 1 — 2 weeks at a time. I mainly stay in campgrounds. I would not be able to comment on possible expedition use. The tent is pegged out, not freestanding.
I’ve been able to use it with 2 people by getting an additional inner.
I’ve always used it with a tarp or other groundsheet.

I too prefer a smaller, solo tent, and I am surprised that the one I have been using for several years now never seems to get recognition. The Eureka Spitfire 1 weighs in at just over 3lbs, sets up and tears down quickly, is easy to get in and out of, has great ventilation, and offers a surprising amount of room… It’s unusual shape allows me (I am 6′5″) to stretch out for sleep–with room to store items above, below, and on both sides of me–and it affords ample space to sit up to get dressed in the morning. I have a brief review and picture of it on Amazon.com:
Eureka Spitfire 1 Tent https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SZ0ZLME/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_JXiWAbF3J52Q4

Interesting read, I have a tour (my first!) Planned this summer with my dad in France, contrary to this list we’ve gone with Robens challenger 2 tents, which come with their own dry bags!

So many suggestions yet no mention of QUECHUA Quickhiker Ultralight from Decathlon :/

It’s very affordable (£110) and lighter (under 2kg) then pretty much anything mentioned here. It also has very favorable reviews (4.6/5) as of this writing.

On a recent tour whilst using the Wild Country by Terra Nova Zepheros 1 and feeling claustrophobic in the extreme I met a guy using the Nigor Wickiup 3 with a half inner, what impressed me most about it was the sheer volume of living space, ease of setup & ventilation! So much so that I bought the tent myself, it’s a great tent, not free standing but otherwise, everything I need for a bike packing/touring tent, lightweight & weatherproof, great ventilation and so much livable space, especially for a longer tour. I use it with a lightweight groundsheet/footprint. https://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/gear-editors-column/nigor-half-size-innertent-wickiup‑3/

I’m soon to hit the big ol’ world for the first time on a bike! I have the Vango Banshee Pro 300 just for me as it’s spacey and allows me to sit up with clearance—I’m 6′1″. (The space is superb if I’m going to be staying for a while). The only issue worth a mention is that it’s not freestanding ie. it requires both ends to be tethered, (not good for camping inside a buddhist monastery Tom!). Other than that, it’s well-vented and a top quality tent for the price.

‘Nice article. Well-written, informative, honest–even “revealing.” LOL ‘Nice photographs, too!!

And not LITTERED with ads. Granted, you have links–but they can be quite useful. 

‘Read another review of tents just before this one and there was ad after ad after ad after ad. I wrote to them, pointing out that they perhaps HAD a lot of experience, and things to say, but … geez. If you’re going to review tents, review tents–right? And as I was composing my unsolicited comment, immediately to the right on the page was an ad for HOTHOUSES! What the heck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Anyway, ‘very informative article. Thank you!!!
~ Michael
Morelia, Mexico
Whidbey Island, WA
Cajamarca, Peru

Hi Tom,

Cracking article as ever, thanks for the in depth reviews.

I was wondering if you’d thought about the Mont Moondance 2? It’s only available in Aus but not too expensive to ship to the UK
https://www.mont.com.au/moondance-2-tent-bracken

I’m deciding between that and the MSR Hubba NX2 to tackle Central and Southern America over a few years. To me the Mont Moondance appears to match up pretty well and has the added benefit of having 2 entrances, which I’m sure will allow a much appreciated through breeze when in hotter climates.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts and any pros/cons.

Steve

If I’m honest, at first glance this tent looks like a more or less straight copy of the MSR. Even the company logo looks like a close imitation!

The 2‑berth Hubba Hubba also has two entrances, by the way…

I used the Big Agnes Spur 3man tent on my tandem cycling tour in southern Germany with my 8 year son July 2018. I was disappointed. I’ve also used it on a 5 day hike with my son (6) 2017 in April. 

Very easy to put up, freestanding and light and nice shape and room. But so not suitable to rain. Yes you stay dry, but it’s soggy fly cover is not good getting in and out of and with only single mesh walls cold. I didn’t take the tent liner and I should have. The tent floor is far too light for not having extra protection. Which definitely defeats to lightness. Even as a hiking tent, we hit rain and the tent requires extra effort to keep the fly away from the mesh inner to prevent dampness on your tent. This wasn’t so easy in sand and the fly needs to fit over the tent frame perfectly to be able to pull it away. I found in wet (hot/tropical) weather the tent you had to fiddle a bit with it. 

Further for a basic tour I also have two bike tube patches on the fly and on on the innner mesh. It is so light that it’s easy damaged. And it’s it’s own system of venting that mostly damaged it. The fly vents have a firm 10cm long “post” that keeps the vent open, but went you fold pack the tent you have to make sure you have these (2) horizontal to your tent roll otherwise they dig into the tent fabric. This is a pain to do. 

I guess too I was used to the toughness of the Macpac Apollo (no longer around). Yes super heavy at 3kg but that tent was amazing. Bought in 2006 and only just retired it for the Big Agnes. I’m glad to see it’s not on the top list of tents on this blog. 

Though you can tell I’m having to get a new Tent. I’m Australian so need a tent that is good for hot weather also.

Hi Tom
I’m using the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 persons for the last 6 years trips in south Australi Tasmania and Asia, it is good , little bit heavy, unfortunately somebody stepped on the poles last trip and 3 of ther were broken, do you know where I can get replacement

Hi Tom, Thanks for all the info particularly keeping things up to date!
I’m heading off for my first big cycle tour next week (solo around Europe) and after a lot of debate between taking my brothers ancient Eurohike 201 or whether to invest in something a bit lighter and better designed I have gone for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX2 . . big money for me but I’m very excited!

hello Tom , is there a 4 seasons ticking all the boxes for cycling around the planet like the ‘hubba hubba nx’ 3 seasons does, considering you d have to camp in some colder areas .. like the MSR Access 2 maybe ? .. cheers and thanks for sharing !

Really useful article, thanks. I’ve been using a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 for about 5 years in all weathers, and it’s been great as a bikepacking tent.
Now that I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, and less bendy, I’m thinking of upping size to a 2‑berth tent and the Copper Spur HV or Fly Creek HV are both looking like good options. Interesting to see Big Agnes has now got bikepacking specific versions (shorter poles and a few other features) — clearly a commercially viable niche these days!

Hi!

I noticed I commented last years edition of this post too. What I failed to say is that sometimes it is also interesting to notice how the type of tent you are using affects the way you travel. I mean rather than choosing a tent by listing ones personal priorities.

On my first solo tours I had a small, lightweight and highly waterproof tent. I could camp pretty much anywhere. Later I travelled with a friend who had this old, leaky and heavy four person tent. They had used it on their annual weeks hike in Lapland for a decade or two. His dad had told him the basic rules on how and where to pitch the tent.

So what happened is we learned to read the map and really put effort on finding the perfect spot. So if there is no lake, sea shore or riverside views, maybe there is is a spectacular hill top somewhere… And I dont think I would have found it using an ultralight one person sleep anywhere camo setup. Because I’m lazy and I dont have to.

Besides: a spacious four kilo tent with two large entrances only makes two kilos per person. The modern one person tents are sometimes more about individualism than actually keeping things lightweight.

Good luck on your trips! We are planning on doing a guidebook/map for bike touring in some close to Finland parts of Russia. That is if the funding works out…

You have a what? ‑_-

“On a bike tour, you have a vehicle to carry your gear, rather than shouldering the burden yourself.”

Used a Vango Mirage 200 for a while. good tent but with pannier bags inside it wasn’t too roomy. Opted for the Vango Mirage 300, plenty of room, decent porch and I can kneel up fully inside. The extra weight is worth the extra benefit. Lots of good tents out there.

Excellent article Tom.Ive used the Msr Zoid 1.5,now discontinued but a great tent.Hiking,bike packing, motorbike trips, concerts etc & it was a dinger.Its for one & a half people ie fits two but plenty of room for one.They pop up second hand & are very well made, so should be considered if we’ll minded.I now use the Hubba 1 & love it as an excellent all rounder.I was lucky to spot it second hand, but only pitched in the guys house, for 90€.I thought it might be a copy but it’s genuine.Moral of the story, I know buying used tents is risky but like the zoid I sold, which was fit for years more use & the hubba I bought, pre-loved can work too with a bit of research & luck,
Ciarán.

Thanks, Ciarán! You’re right that if a tent has been lightly used and well looked-after, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a second-hand option. Always best if you can inspect it in person, of course!

Hi Moa! Thank you very much for this recommendation. The Niak looks like a relatively new model for Hilleberg, so would you mind telling us a little more about your experiences using it for cycle touring and/or bikepacking?

this is great thanks. I’m trying to decide on an ultra light tent that I can use for hiking or off road bike packing. Solo use. I will bivy if weather good so looking for one that I could use in the winter too, or am I trying to tick too many boxes in one tent. I bought a second hand terra nova laser competition 1 first to check I’d definitely be doing this to warrant getting a new one. From that I’ve learnt it would be good to be able to sit up. What would you recommend?

Have a look at Decathlon tents, some are light weight and good price, also Naturhike Cloud up 2 or Mongar tents.

The Hilleberg Soulo is a very capable 1‑berth 4‑season tent, but it’s not ultralight. You might consider the 1‑berth MSR Hubba NX, which has lots of headroom, but isn’t ideal for winter, though you would no doubt manage with it.

Hi Allen
What would you consider an adequate water column for a bike touring tent?

I almost decided to get a big agnes copper spur 3 for crossing Europe with my gf next near. However yesterday I saw it has a water column of just 1200, which seems awfully low to me, especially for the floor. (The other tent i looked at was Hilleberg Nammatj, but it costs twice as much, and interior space is a lot more limited.) 

Also thanks for all the amazing info on your website.

cheers
Jake

Hi Jake,

As much of Europe is in the temperate zone and you’ll be camping mostly on soft, moist ground, I would go for a tent with a higher water column rating for the floor than the rainfly. For example, MSR’s Hubba range has the same 1200mm rainfly fabric as the Copper Spur, but uses 3000mm for the floor. Having said that, if you’ve found a good deal on the Copper Spur and you can buy (or make) an additional footprint/floor protector to go with it, then I am sure it will serve you well for a few weeks in Europe.

Hope that helps!

Tom

Hi Tom
Followed your recommendation on Bike choice and went to Richard at Oxford Bike Works and I love the bike he built for me. None of our three tents we use make your tent list though — 1) Vango Omega 350 — originally bought for weekend car camping but a great size for a group of 3 adults bike touring, relatively cheap and massive storage, 2) Nigor Great Auk 2 — enough height and space in porch for two adults to be able to sit in chairs (Helinox) and wait out foul weather, 3) MSR Hubba Tour2 — picked up for £260 this year — has masses of storage space for panniers etc and decent sleeping space for 2 adults. This years international touring scuppered, but enjoyed both the Nigor and MSR around East Anglia this year.

Likewise I am very pleased with my Oxford Bike Works bicycle.
Re tents, your Nigor Great Auk 2 is an eye watering £800 and heavy at 3.5kg. I went for a Luxe Outdoor Peakarch TL-6350, less than half the price, and 1kg+ lighter. The MSR Hubba Tour2 looks like you got a bargain though.

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