How to go camping by bike
Like the idea of a motorcycle camping trip but not sure what you need? It’s easy
“Do you cook your own food or eat out every night?”
1 The tent
The quality of your canvas matters – but it would be a waste to spend a lot of money on a top-end tent, only to discover that you don’t actually like camping. A £20 ‘festival’ tent is enough for a single, dry, warm night to let you test the waters. If you’re happy that camping by bike could be the future, then here’s what to consider when buying a proper tent: Construction: Proper tents are not single-skin tents. The flysheet will have a ‘hydrostatic head’ figure indicating how waterproof it is – look for 3000 or higher. Pitching: Tents that pitch as one are best. If not, get a tent that pitches outer-first, in case you have to put it up in the rain. Tent size: An awning area is really handy for storing kit. You must be able to lie down without touching the tent sides. A two-man tent will have space for one rider plus riding kit; a three-man tent will take two bikers or one with loads of space. Pack size: Compact is good. Most tents pack down to tubular shapes: look for a diameter below 25cm, length under 60cm.
GOOD TENTS Redverz Atacama (£539, www.twistmoto.co.uk) Spacious two-man tent with a garage area. Lone Rider Mototent (€500, www.loneridermotorcycle.co.uk) Rugged two-man garage tent. Outwell Cloud 2 (£99.99, www.outwell.com) Easy-to-pitch two-man dome tent with awning.
If you can get a good night’s sleep in a tent, you’ll probably love camping; if not, you’ll hate it. The golden rule is: don’t sleep on the floor. An inflatable sleeping mat is good; a camp bed is better; a mat on a camp bed is luxury… Sleeping bags vary in price and pukka ones are tailored to temperature ranges. Mummy bags, where your head is inside the hood, are best for keeping warm. Take a compact pillow: it makes a huge difference. GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP Coleman Biker (£39.99, www.coleman.eu/uk/) Lightweight for warm weather, comes in a drybag. Snugpak Sleeper Lite (£42.50, www.snugpak. com) High-spec mummy bag is nice and warm. Dreamer self-inflating pillow (£12, www. gooutdoors.co.uk) Rest your weary head. Multimat Superlite Air (£52.50, www.multimat. uk.com) Puffs up large, packs down small. Simple. Helinox Cot One Lite (£211.50, www.twistmoto. co.uk) Compact, light, luxurious hi-tech camp bed. Basic 4-leg camping bed (£15, www.halfords. com) Simple and affordable but pack size is large.
3 Eating and drinking
There’s a big philosophical decision to be made here: do you take a stove and cook your own food, or do you just eat out every night and get up early to find a café for breakfast? That might not be possible everywhere though – and besides, nothing tastes as good as bacon you’ve fried on your own camping stove.
Cooking gear should be compact, stackable and non-stick. Cups and plates should be plastic and metal (not breakable china). The debate on the cooking front is between gas or liquid-fuel stoves: gas cooks things fast but can be a bit fierce and the bottles are bulky; spirit stoves burning meths are compact and reliable but usually cook more slowly; a multi-fuel stove can work with petrol siphoned from your tank if you’re desperate for dinner.
GOOD MEALS Trangia 27-1UL + fuel bottle (£57.50 + £16, www.cotswoldoutdoor.com) The classic spirit stove, with two saucepans and a frying pan. Robens Fire Ant (£59.99, www.robens.de) Two easy-to-use pans and a gas burner. Lifeventure tablewear (from £3, www. blacks.co.uk) A range of good-value camping plates, cups, bowls and cutlery.
Frankly, sitting on the floor in a field is a mug’s game – and don’t think perching on a pannier’s much more comfortable after an hour or two, either. You need a comfortable chair to make camping pleasant. Sadly, compact and comfortable rarely equals low-cost: start with a cheap stool and upgrade to a chair if you decide you’ll do enough camping to justify it.
GOOD SEATS Robens Geographic High stool (£23.99, www. robens.de) Simple, strong and comfortable stool. But no backrest. Vango Microlite (£60, www.twistmoto.co.uk) Simple, low bucketseat. Bulky pack size though. Helinox Swivel chair (£120, www. cotswoldoutdoor.com) Ultra-comfortable chair, but expensive and bulky.
5 That’s handy
There are some things that make life easy: a mallet to knock tent pegs into firm ground; decent tent pegs that don’t bend. A headtorch for hands-free walking to the pub/toilet block/tent. A
small jar full of washing-up liquid. A microfibre camping towel, which can double as a blanket on cool nights if it’s dry; a camping clothesline for drying the towel (and maybe clothes after a wet ride). A USB power bank for charging phones, especially if you can recharge it from the bike while riding or from a small solar panel. Sun cream and insect repellent. Ear plugs.
6 Packing it all in
You can probably get all your camping kit into one large rollbag, ready to strap to the back seat or luggage rack of the bike. Even if you do that, keep the tent in its own drybag: if you have to put it away wet, you don’t want it making everything else in the drybag damp on the way home. Pack clothes separately to the camping gear if you can (ideally in panniers).
GOOD PACKS Held 90L Roll-bag (£42.99, www.held.de) Huge tough tarpaulin drybag. Ortlieb 90L Moto Rack Pack (£110, www.touratech. co.uk) Rugged rubberized waterproof duffle bag. Exped 50L Waterproof Rucksack liner (£16.15, www.outdoorgb.com) An ideal waterproof tent bag. ROK Straps (£16.99, www.oxfordproducts.com) Adjustable straps ideal for securing kit to the bike.