How to go camp­ing by bike

Like the idea of a mo­tor­cy­cle camp­ing trip but not sure what you need? It’s easy

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - Words Si­mon Weir

“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.

2 Sleep­ing

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.

4 Com­fort

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.

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