Bike Camping Gear: a complete list of lightweight equipment for cycle touring
Unless you’re going on a so-called “credit card tour” (meaning sleep only in hotels and eat only in restaurants), the most of your nights out bike touring will probably be camping nights. Camping and bike touring go hand in hand, and camping is one of the fascinating aspects of traveling by bicycle. Finding the perfect spot, sleeping in nature, cooking your own meal, enjoying the stars and waking up in the wilderness. These are experiences you’ll carry with you forever.
Choosing the right camping gear for your expedition marks the difference between nights amazing and memorable or horrible and restless, if you’re traveling in climatically extreme areas your very survival will depend on it.
So, if you’re planning on warm weather destination don’t waste too much money on that, you can find lightweight gear without selling a kidney, but if an expedition to Kazakstan in winter is what you’re up to, don’t stay too cheap.
This article is part of our series about Essential Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
This section is about camping gear. For the other sections check below.
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The Essential Bike Camping Equipment
Bike Camping Tent
Your tent will be your home for most of your trip, if it is going to last a while, then you’ll want a comfortable and reliable home to live in.
It should be lightweight, small when packed and as big as possible when mounted. Having wide vestibules is very important to store your gear.
Tents can be free-standing (no need to pitch it to the ground), half-free-standing (only need a few stakes), or not-free-standing (doesn’t stay up if not pitched). We suggest you to absolutely avoid not-free-standing tents like this, it’s very common to find perfect sheltered camping spots where is impossible to plant a stake (or peg), it may be concrete, wood or whatever (like for example the magical gazebos of Korea, or porches of the Shinto Shrines in Japan), you can also find kinds of soil where pitching is really complex, like hardened soils or sand.
We suggest taking with you a half-freestanding tent like this (you can use ropes and tight it to somewhere), or even better a completely free-standing one like this (the super expensive tent of my dreams). Take a look at the vast choices of quality tents available at outdoorplay.com. Don’t forget also to bring a few spare pegs (stakes), soon or later you’re going to lose at least one.
Sleeping Mats for cycle touring
If the tent is your house, then the Sleeping Mat is your bed. It’s very important to have a proper sleep when keeping your body under a continuous effort like bicycle touring does. Self-inflatable mats are the most common choice, and indubitably the best. There are dozens of brands out there, Thermarest is the most popular but you can check many more interesting products on Wiggle.
The quality of the sleeping bag you’ll need strongly depends on which temperatures are you going to face. There are very cheap, compact and lightweight sleeping bags that are good for temperate climates like this and this.
If you plan to camp with lower outside temperatures than is very important for your survival to invest a little more in this item. The lower the temperature, the more expensive the sleeping bag. Take a look at this one, suited for Siberia or this, also for low temperatures.
If you are on a budget but do not want to give up quality here are the top 10 sleeping lightweight bags under 100$
Unless you’re a feline you’ll need some help to see in the dark. Headlamps are definitively the best solution, as they leave your manipulative limb free to manipulate whatever. Take a look at this choice on Outdoorplay.com and the much cheaper stuff on Amazon.
A sleeping linen is a thin sheet that can add some warmth to your sleeping bag, or be used when is too hot for a proper blanket.
They are lightweight and do not take much space. This merino wool one REI or this from Sea to Summit.
We cooked for 2 years using a very basic DIY alcohol stove made out of a beer can, you can make your own for free, there a plenty of sophisticated DIY stoves project on this beautiful website. If you want something more professional, MSR, Jetboil, and Primus make nice multifuel stoves.
What’s a stove without a pan? There are a lot of solutions on the market for cooking sets.
Weather is this a fork, a spoon, chopsticks or your hands, you must find a way to deliver the tasty meal you just cooked to your mouth. Camping specific tools like this (ever heard of the “spork”) are nice, but you could also just bring a fork from home.
Nice to keep your coffee hot, or your ice tea icy. Simple as this.
A water filter is something you may use very rarely, but it’s a true lifesaver. If you’re going to travel in densely populated areas you probably don’t need that. But when going to places like Kazakhstan, then you’re going to love it. We have the wonderful MSR Guardian, a cheaper option is the LifeStraw.
I didn’t even know these existed until a few days ago, they are exactly what the name suggests: a sink that you can fold. Useful to wash the dishes, but do you really need one? If the answer is yes, check this one from Ortlieb, we are considering buying one.
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If you’re looking for a bicycle have a look at
18 Great Touring Bikes Under 2,000$, 21 Best Touring Bicycles Under 1,000$, 10 Great Woman Specific Touring Bikes
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