Choosing a tent

for bikepacking and lightweight cycle touring

Choosing a tent for bikepacking and lightweight cycle touring

We've put this expert guide together to help you consider what tent to take bikepacking or cycle touring.

General considerations when thinking about which tent is best for your bikepacking and cycle touring adventure include:

  • the size of tent you need for you and your gear;
  • how much the tent weighs and its size when packed;
  • the durability of the tent fabrics;
  • construction method to give protection from the elements; and
  • whether you prefer outer or inner pitch first

More specific considerations are whether you take your full repertoire of camping gear with panniers for ultimate cycle touring comfort? Or do you go minimalist and ultra-lightweight for reckless off-the-beaten-track and off-grid bikepacking?

Are you going for an extended multi-month adventure? Or looking for an inexpensive tent that will last at least a season? Look after your tent and an Alpkit tent will be good for years to come. 

Will you camp at campsites or want the opportunity to camp in the wilds, maybe at altitude, and need all-weather protection to sit out a storm? Our bivvy bags and tarps are great lightweight protection and our 4 season tents weigh more but have excellent wind and storm protection.

Want space inside the tent or in a porch to keep your gear out of harms way? In which case look for tents with a porch and double sided entry.

A modern bike is likely to weigh between 9kg and 13kg. We go for a combined weight of between 5kg and 10kg for all your camping gear. That gives an enjoyable bikepacking experience where the bikes riding performance isn't too affected by the sheer bulk of your camping gear.

This means a good tent for bikepacking, backpacking and cycle touring is likely to weigh between 1kg and 2kg. Potentially more if you can split the tent between riders (one takes the poles and pegs whilst another takes the inner and fly).

Deciding exactly what to pack for a bikepacking adventure is all part of the excitement. Optimising your cooking setup andanalysing your sleep system to save weight and minimise your pack size.

The big advantage of going lightweight is that it opens up trails and bridleways that are otherwise inaccessible to cycle tourers and you might even carry your bike for limited sections.

The decision on what to take, and which tent to pack, ultimately comes down to the rider (or riders), and the length of the adventure. So let's get started...

Ultralight Bikepacking and Wild Camping

Getting away from the roads often means a night in the wild. If that's the case, get prepared for wild camping by thinking about what else you might need. We recommend taking loo roll for a night in nature.

Unpaved and less travelled paths make for slow going in any case. Try keeping your kit to a minimum and, as a general rule, the shorter the bikepacking trip, the lighter your rig can be.

With some practice and fine-tuning, you should be able to get all your kit (including the bike) under 18kg, with experts riding events like the Welsh Ride Thing often coming in at around 15kg.

Bikepacking Weight Saving Tips

  • Choose a lightweight bike frame - there's an 830g difference between a medium Transmitter and Transmitter Carbon frame

  • Use lighter bike luggage - you could save up to150g by using the UL-R range rather than VX21

  • Pre-cook and vac-pac your food - this could prevent the need for300g of cooking equipment (a tip learnt from our own IT guru James)

  • Minimise baselayers - one set for on the bike, one set for off the bike. The weight savings here could be endless

  • Ultralight sleep system - If it's just you, there's around a 600g saving by going for a lightweight bivvy and tarp over the Soloist one-person tent

Alpkit range of bivvy bags and tarps

Bivvy Bags,Hammocks and Tarps
Often a popular choice for the fast and light setup, bivvy bags or hammocks coupled with a tarp offer the greatest weight savings and the lightest shelter at just 565g (not including pegs or para-cord).
Waterproof and breathable bivvy bag weighing less than 400g
€64,99
Lightweight, waterproof hooped bivvy bag weighing less than 1kg
€149,99
Ultralight, waterproof bivvy bag with a zipped opening weighing just 285g
€229,99
Extra large, breathable and waterproof bivvy bag weighing under 500g
€84,99
Solo camping bivvy bag, headtorch and rucksack bundle
€94,99 €129,99
3m x 3m square tarp for hammock camping or bivvying
€44,99
4m x 4m square tarp for canopy group shelters and expeditions
€69,99
Siliconised ripstop nylon tarp with 16 hypalon attachment points
€69,99
Lightweight siliconised tarp large enough for up to 8 people
€179,99
An ultralight, 1-person pyramid tarp tent that pitches using trekking poles.
€189,99
Ultralight pyramid tarp tent for backpacking: 2-person, 3-season, as light as 500g
€219,99
Ultralight pyramid tarp tent for backpacking: 4-person, 3-season, as light as 771g
€289,99
Lightweight, 1-person camping hammock with hanging straps
€54,99
Insulated hammock under layer to prevent hammock heat loss
€49,99 €64,99
Mesh hammock bug net to keep insects at bay
€34,99
Ultralight folding tarp pole
€44,99
Ultralight, full-length titanium tent pegs. Pack of 6
€19,99
Aluminium, hooked tent pegs made from round wire. Pack of 10
€12,49
3mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€8,99
4mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€9,99
5mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€12,49
Rubber camping mallet for pegging out your tent
€4,99 €6,99
Lightweight, titanium V-pegs with a high load strength. Pack of 6
€24,99
Pair of lightweight titanium accessory carabiners
€12,49
Titanium tent pegs weighing 15g each. Pack of 6
€34,99
Y-shaped, lightweight and strong aluminium tent pegs. Pack of 10
€14,99
Set of 5 shiny red and grey micro clips
€9,99
Super strong, long aluminium pegs for hard packed grounds
€17,49
30d siliconised ripstop nylon tarp, the ultimate lightweight shelter for backpackers
€89,99 €119,99

Alpkit Range of Tents

One Person Bikepacking Tent Ultralight Tents for More Than One Bikepacking and Cycle Touring Tents Spacious Cycle Touring Tents
Lightweight, waterproof hooped bivvy bag weighing less than 1kg
€149,99
Spacious, backpacking tunnel tent: 2-person, 3-season, 3.2kg
€199,99
Spacious, backpacking tunnel tent: 3-person, 3-season, 3.9kg
€219,99
Spacious, practical all-weather tent: 4-person, 3-season, 3.4kg
€439,99
Geodesic mountain tent for expeditions: 2-person, 4-season, 4.3kg
€459,99
Geodesic mountain tent for expeditions: 4-person, 4-season, 5.8kg
€574,00
Geodesic mountain tent for expeditions: 6-person, 4-season, 9.7kg
€0,00
Organic cotton canvas A-frame tent. Spacious and comfortable: 2-person, 3-season, 10.2kg
€369,99
Organic cotton canvas bell tent. Spacious and comfortable: 4-person, 3-season, 8.2kg
€649,00
An ultralight, 1-person pyramid tarp tent that pitches using trekking poles.
€189,99
Ultralight pyramid tarp tent for backpacking: 2-person, 3-season, as light as 500g
€219,99
Ultralight pyramid tarp tent for backpacking: 4-person, 3-season, as light as 771g
€289,99
Tent bedroom compartment: creates separate living and sleeping areas. Compatible with Roundhouse.
€209,99
Ultralight folding tarp pole
€44,99
Lightweight, 1-person camping hammock with hanging straps
€54,99
Mesh hammock bug net to keep insects at bay
€34,99
Insulated hammock under layer to prevent hammock heat loss
€49,99 €64,99
Universal additional groundsheet. Protect and extend the life of your tent
€29,99
Protect and extend the life of your Kangri with an additional groundsheet
€69,99
Protect and extend the life of your Jaran 2 with an additional groundsheet
€44,99
Protect and extend the life of your Jaran 3 with an additional groundsheet
€54,99
Protect and extend the life of your Ordos 2 with an additional groundsheet
€44,99
Protect and extend the life of your Ordos 3 with an additional groundsheet
€54,99
Protect and extend the life of your Axiom with an additional groundsheet
€59,99
Protect and extend the life of your Zhota with an additional groundsheet
€84,99
Protect and extend the life of your Tarp Star 2 with an additional groundsheet
€49,99
Protect and extend the life of your Tarpstar 4 with an additional groundsheet
€64,99
Super strong, long aluminium pegs for hard packed grounds
€17,49
Protect and extend the life of your Heksa with an additional groundsheet
€94,99
4mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€9,99
3mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€8,99
5mm camping utility cord for tent and tarp guy lines
€12,49
Y-shaped, lightweight and strong aluminium tent pegs. Pack of 10
€14,99
Protect and extend the life of your Soloist with an additional groundsheet
€34,99
Aluminium, hooked tent pegs made from round wire. Pack of 10
€12,49
Rubber camping mallet for pegging out your tent
€4,99 €6,99
Lightweight, titanium V-pegs with a high load strength. Pack of 6
€24,99
Titanium tent pegs weighing 15g each. Pack of 6
€34,99
Ultralight, full-length titanium tent pegs. Pack of 6
€19,99
Pair of lightweight titanium accessory carabiners
€12,49
Solo camping bivvy bag, headtorch and rucksack bundle
€94,99 €129,99
Trekking pole tent for long distance backpacking: 1-person, 3-season, 980g
€149,99
Protect and extend the life of your Polestar with an additional groundsheet
€29,99
Ultralight backpacking tent: 1-person, 3-season, 1.2kg
€169,99
Geodesic backpacking tent: 2-person, 3-season, 3kg
€199,99
Ultralight backpacking tent: 2-person, 3-season, 1.4kg
€259,99
Ultralight backpacking tent: 3-person, 3-season, 1.7kg
€289,99
Ultralight, twin porch backpacking tent: 2-person, 3-season, 2kg
€289,99
Ultralight twin porch backpacking tent: 3-person, 3-season, 2.4kg
€329,99

More Bikepacking Spotlight Guides From Mountain Journal