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7 best bicycle touring tents to buy (in my opinion)

One of the many accessories that we always carry on a medium length cycling trip is a bicycle touring tent to camp everywhere. It doesn't matter if we will use it for half of the nights during the trip, but we prefer to carry some extra kg but to be free to choose where to sleep. We have slept in the most different places during these years of bicycle touring, so we developed a pretty accurate awareness in this matter, and we try to share with you some thoughts in order to help you choose the best tent for your cycle adventures..
A little, banal but necessary foreword: the perfect bicycle touring tent doesn't exist! There are tents appropriate for each need, and nowadays the market is so variegated and rich that you will unlikely not find the right one for your needs. This clarification allows us to arrive directly to the conclusion: do find the type of trip you're facing, and you're going to find many models of camping tents suitable for your adventure. Establish the budget and mix it with your aesthetic taste: you will reach the end of your research.
 

Bicycle touring camping tents types

Let's begin from a fact: during a vacation by bicycle we will be carrying our luggage and will not be using a service of luggage carriers... in this case, the field is reduced to tents weighing 3-4 kg tops, maximum limit acceptable. Even in this little area (tents for 3-4 people), the number of possibilities is vast. For convenience, we can split the tents into two categories:

Light tents:
 this type puts first the reduction of the weight above all the other features, so it's more likely to be suitable for shorter trips during spring or summer. We will not expect them to be highly durable or resistant to all weather conditions. These tents usually weigh 1 to 2 kg.
 Four-seasons tents:
 these tents are suitable to endure tough weather conditions, so they have to be chosen if you travel off-season, with some nights below zero. Four-seasons tents are realized with more resistant materials, so they are suitable for longer bicycle travels, while their minus is the weight: they can be 3 to 5 kg. notte in tenda desrto delle rocce

Starting from this first selection, you easily see that the perfect tent doesn't exist and usually, you'll have to face this thin balance between lightweight and resistance, I can personally suggest the following:

  • Do you usually do short trips (up to a month)? Do you travel to countries where the weather is mild?  You will need a light tent, easy to carry, quick to mount, which can guarantee good ventilation during the warm nights on the ocean shore. If you have to change some poles or patch it after 5 trips... some years should pass and you should have paid off the tent.
  • Do you usually travel for a long time in extreme conditions?  Without any doubt I suggest you buying a four-seasons tent. Some hectogram more won't change your life, but you'll camp one or more nights under the starry sky! The tent will protect you against pouring rain, wind, cold, resisting the abuse of the bad weather.
There are other factors other than weight and resistance to consider when thinking about buying a new bicycle touring tent, especially if you think about free camping. There they are:

Price:
 Keep in mind that four-seasons tents, being built with more resistant and heavy materials are also more expensive (30-40% more than the light tents). There are some amazing medium models which are affordable.
 Size:
 Keep in mind that most companies indicate the number of hosts per tent without considering the luggage. Consequently, in a 2-persons tent, you will hardly fit 4 (or 8 panniers) without losing in terms of comfort. Once more I suggest you carry more weight in order to live comfortably inside the tent if you plan to travel a lot: buy a 2-persons tent if you travel alone and a 3-persons tent if you are a couple. This way, you won't have any problem in term of room for your luggage too. For shorter trips, you can adapt by squeezing a bit or leaving the luggage on the rack or near the tent.
 Water resistance:
 After some years of travels and free camping around the world, I can assure you that it's easier to get wet from underneath than from the roof! The weight of our body and of the luggage on the floor, especially if you place the tent on non-draining terrains, can cause the entrance of some water and I can assure (by personal experience... what a night under Mount Cook in New Zealand!) that it's not funny to dig during the night under a storm! So, when you choose the tent, check the water-resistance level of the floor other than the roof! The value to be considered is the Water Column, expressed in millimetres: between 3000 and 4000 mm for the roof, and between 6000 and 10000 mm for the floor. Be careful not to exaggerate! The more water-resistance of your tent nylon, the less will be its transpiration!
 Veranda:
 Yes, I know... the presence of a veranda on a bicycle touring tent might seem an extra luxury. But if it's raining outside and you need to "live" imprisoned, to have a place where to cook or just where to leave the luggage, this might be useful!
 Ventilation:
 Usually light tents are built with mosquito nets instead of nylon, beating the four-season tents. If you plan a trip in a hot and dry country, look for tents with wide areas of mosquito nets. Some four-season tents allow to open the nylon, generally near the entrance, and leave only a mosquito net. This feature might be useful in dry and moist countries.
 Entrance:
 To have two entrances might be very useful in some situations, especially to avoid stepping on someone if you have to get out of the tint in the middle of the night and you are on the opposite side of the tent. Some tents, especially the igloo-type, have a side entrance.
 Assembly:
 Some tents offer a pretty useful feature, especially if you have to assembly it under pouring rain: in order to avoid wetting the internal part, which then would be wet for all the night, some companies have produced some tents which can be mounted starting from the water-resistant roof. If you are planning to travel in some moist areas, this feature could help ou a lot.
 Zippers:
 One of the most delicate parts of a tent is the zippers, which are used to close and open the access area(s). The zipper and the nylon near it are the most stimulated parts of the tent, for their continuous use. Be careful and find a model with robust zippers and reinforced sides: if a zipper breaks, it will be difficult to fix it or replace it and you'll have to throw away the tent.prima notte in tenda lagune bolivia

The best touring tent models in my opinion

The models that you will find below are just a few among the hundreds available on the market, so if you don't find the right mix suitable for your needs, don't hesitate to look more thoroughly! Here you won't find any self-sustaining model, which is definitely not suitable for a bicycle trip.
 
Let's start with some Italian companies:

Bertoni Tende, our technical sponsor during #transitalia, provided usTiger Moth tent. This 2-persons camping tent is lightweight but didn't present any trouble during some storms on the Appennines or strong wind in our Andes journey. It's a 2-persons tent so it doesn't fit all our luggage, which can be placed in the two verandas on the sides, where the entrances are. It weights 1,80 kg. Soon we will write a detailed review of this Tiger Moth.
Price: 195 €
Bertoni Tiger mouth
Ferrino, one of the leader companies in Italy, produced a mountain bike and bikepacking tentFerrino MTB. It's a3-season ultralight tent (1,7 kg) and has some very summery features. The outer tent is in aluminium, while the floor is in thermal-insulating polyester. The size of this touring tent is 250x135x110. It's suitable for who loves riding light (it weights just 1,6 kg and the compact size is 13 x 36 cm) and for short trips by bicycle, but I advise against it to more adventurous travellers.
Price: 115 € - On Amazon, at the moment I'm writing this Ferrino MTB .
Tenda Ferrino MTB
Salewa, a brand from South Tyrol specialized in outdoor products realizes tents for mountain hikers, but also for demanding bicycle travellers. Their Litetrek II, for example, has a nylon 5000 mm floor and is without any doubt a valid purchase if you plan on some serious trip with the roof. The weight is really contained, just 989g and it's freestanding. Moreover it has a small veranda to store bags and shoes. - On Amazon Italy, at the moment I'm writing, this Salewa LiteTrek II is available for 200 €.
litetrek salewa

The most known among bicycle travellers

Coleman is another brand pretty popular among bicycle travellers met around the world. In their catalogue we can find the most classic Monviso and the most technical line Phad. In our opinion one of the best tent for Coleman brand is the 2- person Sundome tent. It has no veranda so it's better using it traveling alone to store bags inside. This tent is a 3-season basically (but can become a 4-season!) with good ventilation thanks the two windows and a good resistance to wind and rains . It weighs around 3 kg and it's freestanding. On Amazon you can find the renewed version Coleman 2-person Sundome Tent at 70$ 
sundome tent coleman
MSR is by far the most known brand and an international guarantee for its mythical tents Hubba (1, 2 or 3 persons versions), which has been a companion for many bicycle travellers and backpackers around the world. It's a very resistant and high-quality tent but as it usually happens, you pay for the brand. Despite this, prepare to purchase an object which will last for years. On amazon you can find Hubba Hubba NX- 2person at 299,95$
msr hubbahubba Vaude is one of the most known brands producing bicycle panniers and bags, so they are very famous among bicycle travellers, mostly Germans, also for their tents. The models Hogan UL and Lzard are 3-season tents, for 1 or 2 persons and they weight 1,85 kg and 1,12 kg. They are wind resistant, made to host trekkers, alpinists and bikers during the worst forecast condition. The same as MSR: quality and the brand name have a price. On amazon you can find  VAUDE Hogan UL 2-persons at 345 € and the Vaude Power Lizard sul 1-2 persons at 375 €
vaude hoganvaude power Vango is an English brand which produces great tents. One of them is the Tempest (200 for two and 300 for three). These tents have the advantage of having a pretty wide veranda, useful in case of rain. The weight might be a minus, being between  2,75 kg and 3,35 kg. On Amazon, you can find the version Vango Tempest 200 at 179 € and the version Vango Tempest 300 cactus at 215 €.
Vango Tempest 300
The list of best touring bicycle tents above isn't exhaustive neither selective: as we broadly explained before, there is a tent for each kind of traveller!
If you tested some tents and you want to let us know about, please write a comment down below, and motivate your opinion!
Good (dry) rides guys and girls!
Francesco

I'm from Piedmont and I'm 30 years old, I have been living and working in Lombardy for a few years. After a start without any competence in this field, I then approached the bicycle world more and more. Today I can call myself a bicycle traveller and videomaker who would never ever stop. I ride my bike trying to understand why it is so beautiful, rich, therapeutic. And every time I try, I do not understand it. So I must leave again...

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