Your first cycle tour is all planned. You know roughly where you want to go and how long you will go for. You have thought about camping, but your last experience was at a Scouts/Girl Guides weekend away when you were 12 years old! Looking through your local camping shop and on-line you become even more confused about what you need? And the price tags on some kit can be eye watering!
Has any of the above been in your mind? If yes is the answer, then don't worry. My next few posts are going to tell you about the kit I took on some of my first cycle tours. And how not breaking the bank doesn't mean you have to suffer too! I'm certainly not a rich man and when this cycle touring lark started for me, I didn't want to buy the greatest gear until I knew I liked it. Let me rephrase that. I knew I loved cycling - it was this camping business I was unsure of! But today I can honestly say I love camping :-) The freedom to set down for the night in places hotels just cannot capture.
Tents for Cycle Touring
For many of us our first cycle tours are during the warmer months of the year (the madness of going touring in winter will come I can assure you). This post is all about my first tent for cycle touring and why I think this cheap little tent (and many like it) is a great starting point.
Eurohike Backer 2 Man Tent
This tent has been part of my life for over 5 years now. From camping in the back garden with my daughter to cycle touring, this cheap and reliable tent has more than paid for itself. It amazes me how reliable it has been after everything it has been through. You quite often expect to get what you pay for when you go cheap, but on this occasion, it has outdone all my expectations.
What do you get?
A 2 man, light (ish), basic tent. It's official weight is 2.5kg. Dimensions are 140x315x100cm when pitched and packs down to 51x14cm. For waterproofing you are looking at 2000mn Not bad for a £30.00 tent!
Can I throw a party in it?
After putting it up you have living space that will allow you to get your camping mat, sleeping bag, kit and yourself comfortably in. For any extra kit or stuff you don't want near you (i.e.. dirty shoes), there is a small porch. I would question it's two man ability. Far too close for comfort if I was to sleep with another adult in there. I'm 6ft 1in and 13 stone (180lbs) and someone else in there of a similar size could mean some awkward moments!
I have mainly used this tent by myself with all my cycling touring kit; it provides me with ample room to move around and most importantly, allows me to have a good sleep. I have shared the tent with my 5 year old daughter on a couple of occasions for back garden camping and that worked out well. I generally ended up squashed in the corner while she took up most of the space!
This tent has many uses; cycle touring, backpacking, festivals, scouts/guides, back garden/yard adventures or anything for people needing to travel light. It certainly isn't designed for family camping holidays, but that should be pretty obvious by it’s name! But it can cope with all kinds of family uses.
How easy is it to put up?
It is probably fair to say that many of us have attempted to put up a tent when not really having a clue how it goes together. Or the so called instructions leave us confused. And this always happens when in a rush and it is starting to get dark or it is blowing a gale and tipping it down! Or all of the above! The Eurohike Backpacker is great for us lazy people who don't read instructions very well. It comes with idiot proof instructions sewn into the carry bag. Clear and concise these will help you get the tent up and you chilling out in under 10 mins. Two poles go through the outer with the usual pegs and some guy ropes to get it nice a tight. The inner is attached to the outer, so no messing around there.
As with any new kit, do yourself a favour and practice at home first. Not just to see how it goes, but to make sure all parts were shipped to you.
Just as easy to pack away?
Really simple. Remove the pegs and poles and it folds down nicely into the stuff sack. I have never had any issues packing away into the bag. Everything fits in nicely.
For cycle touring I simply tie the bag to the top of my rear rack. Sits perfectly on there and the with the weight being fairly low and distributed well, it doesn't interfere with the balance of the bike.
What is it like to use and how does it perform?
As mentioned, there is a good amount of space inside when using it as a one man rent. Ample room for sleeping and more than enough remaining to store all of your kit inside with you. Movement inside can be limited if you are tall like me, but it is only designed to sleep and store kit in, not entertain! The small porch is handy and allows you to store dirty shoes or anything that won't fit inside. Great for smelly kit that needs to be kept to away!
I have used this in varying weather conditions; high (ish) winds, heavy rain, glorious sunshine and a little frost, and it has held up pretty well overall. It could do with improved ventilation to keep the internal moisture down as it does become a sweat box, but for £30.00 you get what you paid for. And I know of tents 10 times that cost having similar condensation problems!
It is designed for fair weather camping and not to withstand extremes, so do keep that in mind. A winter in Siberia is probably not going to be ideal!
Lets round this up
I have owned this tent for a number of years now and so far it isn't showing any sign of major wear. I see it being used by my children as they grow up and has already been used to see if they like camping at our local camp site and back garden.
For people just starting out in cycle touring and don't want to break the bank with super light gear or just want to see if they like camping, I would certainly recommend this tent to get you going. It is low cost, easy to transport, has good specs and simple to put up/down. You can always move onto another tent if you decide you like camping and your requirements change.
If your first taste of camping is going to be in at the deep end and you are off on a long cycle tour in extreme conditions, then this isn't for you. Look for something a little more robust and protective.
If you are on a low budget, looking for something fairly compact, able to cope with reasonable weather conditions and can be passed around the family for everyone's different uses, then this could be a good option for you. It will serve you well and if you decide to take camping to the next step and upgrade, then it will pass down to someone else who will appreciate it. It will become part of the family before you know it. Just don't let the children take it a music festival - you will never see it again!
Cycling Touring Community