Author Topic: Tents Designed for Bike touring  (Read 1451 times)

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Offline Limabean

Tents Designed for Bike touring
« on: July 18, 2020, 04:37:15 pm »
So last year I did the northern tier with an REI Half-Dome 1 Plus tent which I bungie'd to the top of my rear rack. It was mostly fine, but I just had some minor annoyances with this setup that I'm trying to avoid. Namely, when packed it was just a bit too long to fit on the rack. Even pushed up against my seat post, it would always hang off the back a few inches. The tent bag was also not super sturdy, and I had to be careful to ensure it's drawstring did not fall into the wheel. Also, I'm aware that a 1 person tent without the "Plus" might be shorter, but I'm 6'4'' and that extra space is valuable.

Since the packed length is pretty much dictated by the tent poles, I was wondering if there are any tents specifically designed for a shorter/wider profile when packed? Bonus points if it comes with a tough bag with built in straps for rack attachment.

Lastly, I realize the above are somewhat trivial problems and there are other creative ways of carrying tents to avoid them, but I swear I once saw a bicycle-specific tent like this. I have not been able to find it again since, and it's been driving me crazy.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2020, 04:51:03 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

Big Agnes makes some "bike packing" tents.  However, they are only 88" long which as you probably know does not mean it is a usable 88", probably closer to 72"-78".  See if you can find one to test before you buy or if you can't find one, be sure to buy from some place (like REI) that allows you to return it, no questions asked.

Also, every tent has different collapsed pole lengths.  When reviewing a tent, check out the "packed size".  The smaller the length, the shorter the collapsed pole length. 

For packing, I typically stuff the tent material inside a pannier.  If the poles fit inside a pannier, I put them in first then the tent.  If not, I will but them in a stuff sack and strap to bike somewhere, typically the rear rack but have done it on the front rack or inside a larger rack pack.  If you do not use a handlebar bag, some tents, like Big Agnes' bikepacking tents are designed to strap to the handlebar.  This typically is best for flat bars versus drop bars.

A final option is to have a custom set of poles made for your tent.  Search "custom tent poles" on Google and contact the various suppliers.  They are pricey but you can usually have them make the pole sections shorter so your overall collapsed length is shorter.

Hope this helps!
Tailwinds, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2020, 05:03:06 pm »
I don't mind if my tent hangs off the back of the rack. I'm currently using an REI Quarter Dome 2. It's apparently no longer available, but it's 19 inches long, which hangs about 5 inches off the back of my Tubus Cargo rack. Yes, you do have to tuck the draw cord inside the bag. And how tough does the bag need to be anyway?

There are bicycle-specific tents, most of which use the frame and/or wheel to support the tent. I don't think they are too popular, however, in part because people might like to use the tent and bicycle independently.

FWIW, I don't trust bungee cords. I prefer nylon straps, which are easily available in almost any length you can imagine.

Offline Limabean

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2020, 05:18:23 pm »
Thanks for the tips John and John :)

I had written off bikepacking tents because I like my handlebar bag too much, but looking through the Big Agnes lineup I guess I hadn't considered that the handlebar mounted bags need to have a short length too. I'll do some more looking in that direction. Also nice to know about custom tent poles as a last resort. I hadn't thought of that.

And yes, I did have a couple bungees fail on me, so I'll probably go for straps on my next tour

Offline aggie

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2020, 06:34:50 pm »
Go to REI.com and open the tent section in camping.  On the left side you can click on bikepacking tents.  There are several tents that may be what you are looking for.

Offline RonK

Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2020, 09:11:00 pm »
Bikepacking.com recently reported on the new Nemo Dragonfly bikepacking tents.

https://bikepacking.com/news/nemo-dragonfly-bikepack-tent/
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline froze

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2020, 06:04:14 pm »
I got from REI a Marmot Tungsten 2 (meaning 2 person, but it's actually a 1 1/2 person tent which is what I wanted so I had space for my gear inside the tent) and I set my tent up on the rear rack sideways instead of longwise and it stick out no further than my rear panniers do.

I have a bungee net I use to keep it securely in place to the rear rack, it doesn't shift even slightly while riding.

As a side note, I put my tent in the bag it came with and it all goes in a trash bag just to make sure it doesn't get wet in a rainstorm, I haven't tested the tent bag for rain, but it keeps the tent bag cleaner as well.

I actually love that Marmot Tungsten tent, it's not the lightest option, but the fabric is tougher than the lightest options that I saw, some were calling it a 3 1/2 season tent because of the fabric used. The best part of all, it wasn't terribly expensive, it goes up and comes down fast, and in a torrential rainfall I endured for about 2 hours I didn't have one drop of water inside, and it comes with a ground tarp.  So for the money, or you're on a tight budget like me, I think it's a great tent.  I can't say if it will last a long time, I've only used it on 5 short trips, but so far so good.  My last tent didn't last long so it's now a the grandkids play tent, and that last tent I had cost a bit more than the Marmot, but I got the Marmot on a huge sale at REI.

Offline froze

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2020, 07:31:15 pm »
I did find a lighter tent than my Marmot Tungsten 2 tent that I got, but it will cost about $150 a more then my Marmot, but it weighs about 1 1/2 pounds less than mine, so you have to decide which is more important, cost or weight, isn't that usually the case?  Anyway it's a Nemo Hornet 2 person tent, it will cost $370, but it weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces

Offline canalligators

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2020, 06:06:19 pm »
...
I have a bungee net I use to keep it securely in place to the rear rack, it doesn't shift even slightly while riding.
...

Glad that works out for you, but I'd take straps and buckles any day.  And not the snap buckles, but the ones you thread the strap through and back out.  They hold better, and there's no chance of it slipping and injuring you.  Yes, if you're careful it's not an issue, but it will never happen with straps.  IMO.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2020, 07:40:24 am »
FWIW, I don't trust bungee cords. I prefer nylon straps,
1.  Consistent with JOHN's above comment I refrain from the use of bungee cords ... If one breaks while I'm riding / in motion and gets entangled in my spokes the outcome is likely to not be desireable.
2.  While, yes, the REI Dome design 'hangs over' a bit ... and it is (or initially, was : ) a bit annoying ... I have been so well served by the REI tent that I no longer let it prompt my thinking.
However, will continue to monitor this string to learn if there is tent that does not hang over....
e.g., that which has been posted about the handle bar hang-on-able-design.
3.  Thank you  for posting your inquiry LIMA.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2020, 11:49:45 am »
Take alook at the Big Agness Coper Spur  HV LW 2 person tent.  It's a bit cramped for two but can accomdate them. It's very spacious for one and gear or dog (which is why I bought it).  A feature I really have come to appreciate is that it has a quick pitch option where you can easily just pitch the fly without the acutual tent canopy when appropriate. It does require you purchase the footpirnt which is expsensive (about $80.00) and I balked at first at the price but went ahead and pulled the trigger on it. Glad I did. It's a great opiton in mild weather and bugless conditions. I'm very happy with mine.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 12:11:35 am by hikerjer »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2020, 11:53:13 am »
I'm currently using an REI Quarter Dome 2. It's apparently no longer available,

It has been replaced by the Quarter Dome SL 2. Bought one this spring. Finally go to use it for the first time on July 1st, when it just so happened to pour for more than an hour. I like to live on the edge, so I didn't even take it out of the sack before starting the three-day trip. I did, however, feel around inside to determine if all the parts seemed to be present.

Definitely bulkier, heavier and longer than my Fly Creek UL 2, but it also has more room and has two doors.  Hangs a few inches more off the back than my Fly Creek does, but that is due in large part to the fact that I can't shove ii as far forward on the rack because the diameter is such that if I do, the backs of my thighs will hit it. Perhaps I will experiment with compression straps to combat this.

I will use it for shorter and/or easier terrain trips.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2020, 12:29:24 pm »
Thanks BikeliciousBabe for the information. I really like the two doors and two vestibules. I store stuff in one vestibule, like my helmet, shoes, gloves and sunglasses, which remains easily accessible but doesn't get in my way as I go in and out the other vestibule. There is one downside, however, in storing stuff in the vestibule. On a particularly windy night in Arizona, the vestibule guy line broke and my gloves left home and never returned.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2020, 08:26:58 am »

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: Tents Designed for Bike touring
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2020, 03:43:14 pm »
My NEMO has performed well. It is pretty light, and sets up easily enough to do it in the dark when the rain wakes me up, DAMHIK.  It is nominally a two man tent, but they had better be very friendly, even lustful, towards each other.  It has lots of screen so it is not too hot and sultry in the NE Summer. 
BTW, Froze, I think if you paid me $150.00, I could lose a half a pound, maybe even a whole pound.