Best tents for motorcycle camping

The key element of any motorcycling camping trip, choosing the right tent is crucial

Camping in tents with motorcycles

by Jim Blackstock |

We said it recently when we looked at the basics of motorcycle camping but it really does bear saying again; your tent is perhaps the most important element of any motorcycle camping trip. It is your only shelter from the elements and if it lets you down, you have nowhere to hide from the weather.F

Of course, tent technology is much better today than it was even a few years ago. Material and design advances have meant that tents can be larger when in use yet fold up smaller and are lighter than ever.

The first thing to decide with a tent is how much space you want when it is up. Many mountaineers and hardcore campers go for the smallest tent possible, working on the basis that the less space it takes up on the bike, the better – this can be particularly true if they are on a huge overland trip where they will be carrying everything to be self-sufficient for weeks at a time.

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However, for a weekend or a week away around the North Coast 500, for example, you can probably afford to carry a bit more luggage and not have to worry about carrying 1000 miles' worth of petrol with you.

So while a tent barely larger than a sleeping bag will keep the rain off you while you sleep, it doesn’t offer much protection for your kit or space to try to dry it after a long, wet ride, for example. Of course, you could get one with all the space you need but the pay-off is weight and space on the bike when packed.

Here is a selection of tents that could work, depending on your requirements.

Jack Wolfskin Solo

Jack Wolfskin Solo

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If minimal packing space and weight are what you're after, then this solo 'one person' tent could be for you. It gets great reviews on Amazon and will accommodate one person while reviews suggest there is also a decent bit of room to house some kit as well.

It pitches inner first, so be quick if it’s raining but if not, then you can leave the flysheet off and sleep in the mesh inner, gazing at the stars.

Sleeping area: 225cm (l) x 80cm (w) x 75cm (h, tallest point)

Packed size: 44cm x 14cm x 14cm

Weight: 1.53kg

Vango Mirage Pro 200

Vango Mirage Pro 200 stock image

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Tested by Justin Hayzelden for one year, 12 nights
Quality 5/5, Value 5/5

Finding a sturdy, lightweight tent that’s small enough to stash on a bike without compromising function isn’t easy, but after a full four season test the Vango Mirage Pro 200 has proved itself to be a worthy home from home on the road.

Pitching is an absolute doddle and can be done comfortably in under 15 minutes. Even the persistent heavy rain and 60 mph winds I encountered on the Dragon Rally in Snowdonia back in February failed to slow the process, even though I was hampered by waterproofs over winter kit and a full-face lid.

The Mirage Pro 200 pitches with the both the flysheet and inner together (provided it’s been packed that way), so all you need do is unroll the tent, insert the three alloy poles through the colour coded sleeves to form a free-standing structure, then peg it down. Final tensioning of guy lines is a straightforward affair with the simple, yet effective, ‘Line-Lok’ runners.

Measuring 130cm internally at its widest, the Mirage Pro 200 is designed as a two-person tent, but once you take bike kit into account it’s far more suited to one. Lengthwise it’s a generous 225 cm, which is more than enough for my 180 cm (5’ 11”) frame. I tend to leave my boots in the porch area, with everything else fitting neatly inside.

There’s no groundsheet for the porch, but the twin zip design on the flysheet allows for a choice of three entry points, left, right or through the middle – very handy for when the wind changes. The flysheet itself is constructed of ProTex® RS, a tough, lightweight 70D fabric with the highest waterproof rating (6000mm HH) in the Vango range – perfect for the typical British summer.

Packed down into the cylindrical wide-mouthed storage bag it measures a smidge under 50 x 20 cm, small enough to fit inside my Givi V46 topcase with room to spare for other outdoor overnight essentials. Vango’s quoted dry weight of 3.02kg is pretty much spot on, however I also slip in a mallet to aid with pegging, taking the total to exactly 3.5kg.

In winter it kept me warm and dry, whilst the mesh panels and vents allowed plenty of airflow in summer. It’s light, yet as tough as old boots – the perfect companion for off-grid two wheeled adventures.

Sleeping area: 225cm (l) x 130cm (w) x 95cm (h)

Packed size: 48 (l) x 16 (ø) cm

Weight: 3.02kg

Tucuman Adventure

Tucuman Adventure

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Although this is described as a two-person tent, it is more likely to work well for a single rider and some of their gear. It packs up small and uses a single arch-shaped pole to create a sleeping space that will easily accept one person.

The flysheet is waterproof and there is a built-in groundsheet, as you would expect and it is intended for cycle and motorcycle travellers.

Sleeping area: 248cm (l) x 135cm (w) x 100cm (h)

Packed size: Unknown

Weight: 1.6kg

It’s a side-entry tent that pitches with the inner and flysheet together, making it good for wet conditions and it goes up in seven minutes, according to the manufacturer.

Vango Banshee 200

Vango Banshee 200

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Vango is one of the most well-respected names in tents and outdoor equipment and this Duke of Edinburgh-award approved tunnel tent is classed as two-person though as we know, it's more appropriate for one person with some gear.

Sleeping area: 225cm (l) x 120cm (w) x 90cm (h)

Packed size: 47cm x 18cm x 18cm

Weight: 2.6kg

Slumit Cub Dome

Slumit Cub Dome

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Moving away from tunnel tents and into dome tents, this one from Slumit is described as an 'instant erect' version and apparently, goes up in less than a minute - useful if you're touring an area notorious for rain.

The quick-erect framework provides a taller sleeping area with a useful porch area too, for storing gear or simply a bit more room. It packs up relatively large – a function of the ease of putting it up – and it isn’t light but it is waterproof and quick.

Sleeping area: 200cm (l) x 135cm (w) x 110cm (h)

Packed size: 70cm x 17cm x 17cm

Weight: 3.6kg

Coleman Darwin 2

Coleman Darwin 2

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Not particularly designed for motorcycle touring but this three-person example from Coleman (there are smaller and larger versions) offers plenty of space for one or even two people comfortably and also has a decent-sized porch to store riding gear, camping gear or just take shelter from the elements if it's raining.

It pitches inner first and gets good reviews online, saying it is waterproof in heavy rain yet allows good ventilation when warm.

Sleeping area: 210cm (l) x 180cm (w) x 120cm (h)

Packed size: 50cm x 19cm x 19cm

Weight: 4.9kg

DL Adventure Dromedary

DL Adventure Dromedary

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Tents that house both you and the motorcycle are not new but this particular design, that sites the bike alongside a sleeping compartment, is new to us. It looks interesting but the sleeping compartment would appear to be open to the elements depending on the direction of the wind, for example and if it isn't waterproof, you may get wet. It also looks a bit cramped when set up next to the bike and it doesn't pack particularly small. But for warm, dry trips, could be useful.

Sleeping area: Unknown

Packed size: 36cm (l) x 30cm (w) x 18cm (h)

Weight: 3.1kg

The tent is described as sleeping three or four people though this and the large garage do make the pack size quite large and the weight fairly high – the trade-off for that much shelter space.

Sleeping area: 230cm (l) x 140cm (w) x 170cm (h)

Packed size: 60cmx22cmx29cm

Weight: 6kg

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