With summer fast approaching, bikers up and down the country will be finalising plans for their big holiday trips. No matter how far you’re planning on going, Bikesure, the free-wheeling insurance broker, is here to help you choose the right tent.
Obviously, what you choose will depend on the carrying capacity of your motorcycle. Lighter is better, but cheaper? Depending on the length of your camping trip, and how much use it gets, you’re almost certainly better off getting something better than a cheap tent. As a general rule of thumb, anything around £100 before discounts will be pretty good, but you might have to pay extra if you’re aiming for something lightweight or otherwise special.
Something to watch out for is its hydrostatic head rating, or how water resistant it is. The bigger the number, the drier, is a good rule of thumb, but that’s not the whole story. Also take into account the quality of the stitching on the seams – the more they’re taped and sealed, the less likely it will be to leak. Regardless of how much money you spend on a tent, getting separate seal sealant and tape and giving them another go over is usually a good idea.
Goose, Wingman of the road
This is a rather funky little tent designed specifically for motorcycles. It’s a compact canvas tent that can be stored on the pillion, and unfolds into a compact sleep tube ideal for the lone biking camper. It’s a great option for someone looking to keep their camping load as minimal as possible.
A similar product to the Goose, with angles instead of curves, this bivouac is in the same price range, but you have to order it from Switzerland. Both of these tents are really aimed at the more temperate climate camper, or at the very least people who don’t mind if they get a bit cold while they sleep.
The previous tents are something of an acquired taste, but if you’re doing some serious camping then the MotoTent is the ideal solution. Not only does it have enough room for more than one person (and their gear), it has a vestibule capable of holding your motorcycle, protecting it against the weather and prying eyes. All the LoneRider products are worth mentioning here, with the ADV tent ideal if you don’t want the vestibule, or the minitent.
If you liked the look of the MotoTent but would prefer it cost at least £100 more, then boy are you in luck. The Redverz Atacama is basically identical to the MotoTent but slightly larger. This increased size does make it easier to park two bikes in the porch area, so if you’re a touring twosome then the extra expense might just be worth it.
Getting into the world of non-bike optimised tents now, MSR’s tents have the kind of hard-wearing quality that will see them last a long time as well as keeping you dry if it does pour with rain, while remaining lightweight.
Alongside more traditional tents, Vango also offer a range of tents using inflatable struts, which may well save a few vital centimetres of storage space.
A good Welsh company here, with a solid range of products including plenty at the budget end of things. Of course those quick pitch microtents may not be the greatest thing after a day in the saddle, so if you can at least double your budget from £50 you should be able to find something that’ll let you stretch out your legs.
There’s some good tents to be had from this brand, well made but still decently priced for what you’re getting. The Denali range is specifically marketed as being good for bicycle ‘tourers’ so it should be equally at home with the internally combusting bikes.
Eurohike have a wide selection of tents, at extremely good prices. Some highlights include the Ribble range, which incorporates a sizeable sun canopy. Fans of dome tents aren’t left out either, with the Tamar being good value. If you’re planning on sharing a tent with other tourers then there’s plenty of larger tents too, with the Avon hitting a nice balance between size and transportability.
Pricier tents here, but if you’re looking for something that’s been designed to be as compact as possible, you can rest assured they have a complete range of tents designed to fit in bicycle panniers – so they’ll definitely fit in most motorcycle ones too. The Zephyros 2 is one of their cheapest, but if you are looking to make every square centimetre count the laser pulse ultra is the best option.
This would obviously be better if you’ve got a larger bike or some of the larger luggage options, but if you want extra room to relax in at the end of the day then you can’t get better than a bell tent. It’s not as easy to put up or take down as some of the other options, but in terms of space you can’t get much better.
Tarps and such
Now, you can’t guarantee you’ll have anywhere to store your bike when you reach your destination or camping field. If you’ve got a tent with a porch capable of holding most of your bike that is a good stopgap solution.
At the end of a long day of riding and tent construction you’ll be looking forward to a good night’s sleep to prepare yourself for the next day’s activities. This is where you’ll really thank yourself for getting a decent bed or mattress. Those slim travel mattresses might look tempting in terms of keeping your luggage as small as possible but waking up the next morning with a back is not great for anyone planning on getting back on the road as soon as possible.
Most of the companies we’ve already looked at have sleeping equipment as part of their range. Vango have some affordable inflatable mattresses and sleeping mats covering all price ranges. Gelert have a larger selection of airbeds, while Eurohike’s airbeds and camp beds are ideal for those with more luggage space.
Whatever tent you think is right for you, before heading off on the road make sure you have the right motorcycle insurance.
Motorbikes, Motorcycle Insurance