Motorcycle camping is an emerging new hobby for motorcycle enthusiasts. Motorcycle fans have started a new trend of traveling across the country on their adventure bikes, packed with essentials so they can rest along the way without checking into a motel.
If you want to experience, or start up on, a hobby of motorcycle camping, be sure to get the most basic necessity in it - a tent. But before you head out to the nearest store to get one, check some reviews of the best tents for motorcycle camping to have an idea on what to buy to get your money’s worth.
Mountain Hardwear EV
Big Agnes Big House
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL
NTK Indy GT XL
Enkeeo Family Camping Tent
Choosing a Tent for Motorcycle Camping 101
When you finally decided that motorcycle touring is for you, the next thing you should do is to pool the essentials for a comfortable “away from home” expedition.
The number one rule in motorcycle camping is to have the right gears and tools with you so you can survive wherever you decided to setup your camp. These tools can help you in making your life easier in the wilderness, as well as in protecting you from the dangers that lurk outdoors.
The tools in the checklist can be: bag, food, accessories such as cooking stove and other eating utensils, flashlights and even a chair. However, the most important of them all is the gear that can protect you - a camping tent. It will serve as your home; your comfort and protection from different types of weather conditions.
There is a wide selection of tents available in the market which can cater to different needs. You should choose one from well established brands in the market (Coleman, Mountain Hardwear, Redverz or other). Here are some tips to guide you on how to choose the best tent for motorcycle camping and what to look for when buying one. Follow them and you will buy the right one for you:
- Choose your bag. The very first thing you should check is if the tent you'll get will fit in your travel bag. For first timers, it is recommended to buy the tent on the day you'll purchase the luggage to make sure it'll fit.
- Find the right tent according to the prevailing weather in your destination. Buy a tent to fit the type of weather condition you have in your area or the places where you'll mostly set up your camp. There are some tents built for a particular weather condition. You don't want to use a tent built for warm weather in humid places or vice versa.
- Choose the best features. Check for the important aspects to consider in choosing a tent. Please keep these important factors in mind when selecting the best tent for motorcycle camping.
- Free standing – it is important that your tent can stand alone even without any help from anything. Other tents need additional support to stand such as ropes staked to the ground or heavy materials to keep the tent standing.
- Aluminum poles – is a wiser choice than fiberglass poles. It is stronger and lighter than fiberglass poles; perfect for the tent's weight and packing. Although it corrodes, there are plenty of protective coating available in the market to prevent this. Aluminum poles only break into two pieces, allowing easy fix. On the other hand, the fiberglass will shatter into pieces and will render irreparable after.
- Separate rain fly – rain fly or also known as flysheet. A separate rain fly can help as you have the option to put this on during cold and rainy weather or not if the weather is warm. This can also insulate and reduce condensation on the inner tent as it serves as a second layer of protection from the harmful elements outside your tent.
- Easy to set up – there are some camping tents that require the assistance of more than one person, so choose a tent that you can easily set up by yourself.
- Clips, instead of poles, for sleeves – clips give better ventilation between the rain fly and inner body than pole sleeves. It is also easier to set up, and can be set up tautly due to the established tension lines between attachment points. On the other hand, the pole sleeves can add up some weight and a little tricky to set up. For motorcycle camping, clips are preferred than poles due to the extra weight provided by the poles in the luggage.
- Vestibule (porch) – this is optional; some bikers want this as an added feature for their tents to protect their bikes and other gear during motorcycle camping. This can also serve as a shelter for your things and an extra space in your tent. Some don't like this due to the added weight but is recommended if you will be traveling long paths and will set up camp in different areas.
- Check the tent's ventilation. This is important since some tents can provide low ventilation during warm weather. Larger mesh panels are perfect for humid weather. Select a tent that allows and enhances cross-ventilation for managing condensation (also take a look at this guide).
- Get the type of tent that will fit your needs. There are numerous varieties of tents available in the market. There are cabin-style and dome-style tents. If you are traveling with a large group, cabin-style is usually the perfect choice of riders taking turns in carrying since cabin-style tents tend to be heavier compared to other single or double occupancy tents.
- Find a tent with a durable flooring. The flooring of the tent should be as durable as the walls and ceiling of your tent. It should be able to protect you and your things from anything outside. Check if the flooring is made of strong materials as some manufacturer even offers footprint – specifically designed to fit your tent’s flooring in order to protect it from abrasions brought about by uneven pavement or rocky flooring.
- Take your time in choosing. Don’t buy the first tent you’ll see when you go tent shopping. Make it a habit to check what Ebay, Amazon or other online stores has to offer and always compare and contrast different tents according to your needs and specifications. Check for the prices and learn why one tent is cheaper than the others. It is also important to work on a budget. Wait for tent sales; you can get deals with up to 50% discount on some tents if you will only shop around.
- Take a note of the after-sales services. Make sure that the after-sales services of the manufacturer of your tent is impressive. Read some blogs or reviews about the tent you've been eyeing. Learn from first-hand experiences of previous customers, and you will know whether the tent you're about to buy is worth your money.
As mentioned, reading reviews about the different brands of camping tents is important in selecting the best. You will see the pros and cons of each brand, get to know the product more, and learn whether the specifications can meet your needs and requirements.
Listed here are the top brands of tents available in the market. Remember to always check the important aspects as part of your factors in deciding which one is the best tent for motorcycle camping.
If you just recently started motorcycle camping and in need of a reliable and decent tent, then you should check out Eureka! Solitaire Tent. It is cheaper compared to other starter type tents and can compete with other expensive tents when it comes to functionality and use.
The materials used are lightweight and would not take up too much space in your luggage. It is perfect for lone riders who wish to have some precious time alone or star gaze. Its mesh roof is well ventilated with an option to be zipped open if you want the extra cool wind to come in and out.
- Its lightweight design is one of the best features of this tent - weighs only 2 pounds and 9 ounces.
- Cheaper compared to other starter tents. This beginner's tent has the full functions of other advanced types of tents at an affordable price.
- It has two layers of sheets - the inner tent, and the fly sheet.
- Easy to set up so it is perfect for beginners in camping or less-experienced campers.
- The flysheet makes this waterproof.
- Designed for solo camping.
- It uses fiberglass poles which is known to break up easily. However, you have the option to replace the fiberglass poles with aluminum poles.
- The flysheet is attached to the inner tent so you can’t completely remove it.
- This tent can accommodate only one person comfortably with its standard size of 2 feet 8 inches by 8 feet.
- Hard to get a straight and rigid pitch due to the fiberglass poles but again, easy to fix by replacing poles.
- Condensation can occur.
Enkeeo 4 Person Family Camping Tent
This tent, as its name suggests, is perfect for families or group camping. It can accommodate up to 4 persons comfortably in one bedroom and has an extra room for your bags and other equipment or a special compartment for your pets. It is also known for its spacious and high-roof designs. This camping tent is inexpensive and also built to withstand three types of seasons. So, if you’re planning to go motorcycle camping with your family or friends, Enkeeo is a great value for your money.
- It has a spacious interior that allows four persons to lie down comfortably.
- Lightweight at only 12.87 lbs.
- The roof mesh is a bit higher compared to other ordinary tents so people who are approximately 5'6 feet in height can stand straight.
- There’s a vestibule for your gear or motorcycle with two openings.
- It has two pockets on the inside wall for storing keys, books, and other valuable objects.
- No need for an additional footprint as the floor is made up of a quality material - woven polyurethane.
- It takes about 30 minutes to set this up and normally, 2 people are required to get the job done.
- The seams and linings of the tent are crooked, which makes it to not lay flat.
- Some users have issues with the zipper, which is hard to open and close. The seam line that encloses the zipper makes it a bit harder to access it as well.
- The flysheet is not separated from the inner tent so you can’t completely remove it.
- It uses fiberglass poles.
NTK Indy GT XL Tent
If you're looking for a camping tent with bigger interiors for accommodating a small group, the NTK Indy GT XL tent is for you. It can accommodate up to 6 persons comfortably and is really perfect for traveling with family or a group of friends. You don't have to take turns in carrying this since this tent is also lightweight and packable.
Its breathable micro mosquito mesh allows good ventilation and keeps the mosquitoes and small bugs out. But the best feature that made this motorcycle camping tent stand out from the others is its anti-fungus floor material that has a polyethylene with a silver-coated inner layer to prevent leaks. So even without a footprint, your floor is kept dry and protected.
- It has a free-standing feature, but you can still have the option to use the poles during windy weather.
- Great for cold weather.
- Registered ultra–thin NO-SEE-UM technology - a super thin mesh to keep you well ventilated and bug-free.
- It has a vestibule as extra room for your supplies and other gear.
- It can protect you from the extreme heat of the sun as its thermoplastic coating offers UV protection.
- Has pockets inside the tent for valuable items safekeeping.
- No need for an additional footprint.
- Assembling and disassembling is a bit of hard work. It can take 20-30 minutes alone in each task. It also requires 2-3 people to do the job.
- It has bad ventilation due to lack of openings and windows.
- The instruction set-up manual that comes along with the tent is not very useful.
- Pole sleeves can cause a tear in the tent fabric if put up incorrectly.
Big Agnes Big House
This tent can accommodate up to 6 persons comfortably if sleeping pads are used, and up to 4 persons if you'll be using a mattress for sleeping. It also has two entrances for wider space and good ventilation.
It is also recommended for motorcycle campers with limited packing space as it won’t require a huge space in your bag. It is also very lightweight at only 12 lbs. If you’re looking for a perfect home alternative in the wilderness, then Big Agnes – Big house is for you.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble.
- This tent is tall enough to stand-in inside.
- Good ventilation due to the two wide doors.
- It has an optional huge vestibule to accommodate your gear or bike.
- Easy to pack and carry due to its light weight.
- This tent is expensive, with the vestibule being sold separately.
- The tall feature doesn’t hold up to the wind, making it less sturdy during windy weather conditions.
- There’s only a wide opening and no screen mesh to keep the mosquitoes and bugs out.
- The newer design seems to be not as adaptable on different weather conditions, unlike the older versions.
Motorcycle Tent with Garage
A motorcycle tent with garage is a tent with a giant vestibule (porch) compared to other regular tents with a vestibule for bags. The vestibule is so large that one whole motorcycle can fit in it. The shape of this tent is also elongated instead of the normal-looking tent. Some motorcycle tents with garage designs has a detachable garage option while some have it built-in.
Harley-Davidson Rider’s 4-Person Motorcycle Tent
This motorcycle tent with garage is your perfect buddy if you want to go out camping with some friends. The garage of this tent can park up to 3 motorcycles and accommodate up to 2-3 persons alongside the parked bikes. This camping tent is also known to stay sturdy for years which is worth your money. Its durable design makes it tough to face different weather condition and stays dry during a heavy downpour. It is also a perfect storage room for your bikes at home.
- Easy to set-up and pack on your bike.
- The tent has a roomy interior that can accommodate up to 2-3 persons comfortably.
- You have the option whether to attach or detach the garage so that you can use the tent for other camping activities aside from motorcycle camping.
- There is no support bar across the top so it can sometimes sag if you do not put enough tension.
- Although it says in the name that this tent can accommodate up to 4 persons, it does not. If you want to sleep comfortably, only 2-3 persons can fit in it.
Motorcycle Winter Tent
A motorcycle winter tent is basically a tent to brace the cold weather. It is mostly recommended to bikers who like to go out camping in cold weather as this tent has an added feature of keeping the interiors warm, as well as an exit point for accumulated snow.
Mountain Hardwear EV 2 Tent
This is perfect for motorcycle campers who like to set-up camps in cold and snowy weather. This luxury tent has integrated the propriety evolution tension arch which stabilizes the tent by only using three aluminum poles. It also has watertight snow port in the floor that allows an exit point for the accumulated snow.
- Easy to pitch.
- Has an attachable vestibule for your gear and accessories.
- With footprint included upon purchase.
- Sturdy and durable.
- It has poor ventilation in normal weather conditions.
- Poor condensation management.
Lightweight Tent for Motorcycle Camping
These camping tents are built to be lightweight and are highly recommended for motorcycle campers. Mostly, these tents can accommodate up to 2 persons. These are perfect for light packers who want to move from one campsite to another.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 Person Tent
This is one of the lightest tents available at only 2.45 pounds. It is also freestanding with a full-coverage shelter. Although the weight is light, this doesn’t prevent the tent from providing the full features of other tents such as a vestibule and a full-size door for good ventilation and easy access.
- Sold with a footprint which makes it waterproof.
- It has a detachable separate fly sheet, so you have the option to put it or not.
- Durable, which can withstand strong winds.
- Perfect for cross country trips.
- Easy to set up, pack, and carry.
- Small interior which makes two persons sleeping inside a bit uncomfortable.
Which is Better in Motorcycle Camping, a Tent or a Swag?
This question is very common for beginners in motorcycle camping. The answer depends on what type of a camper you are. There are several pros and cons on both set-ups and you just need to figure out which type suits you more and your needs.
A swag is an essential part of the Australian camping tradition, but not all uses this. Swags, or also known as bedrolls, are smaller compared to the smallest tent that can sleep only one person. It is designed for one person only and is usually waterproof and sometimes with built-in mattress.
- It is very easy to set up; just roll it out and sleep on it.
- Easy to stow at the back of your motorcycle.
- Perfect for sleep and drive activity for cross-country expeditions.
- The smallest design is still bulky when carried compared to the packable tents.
- Bulky to carry but the space provided when used is too small as it can only accommodate one person on a mattress. Sometimes, a sleeping pad is recommended instead to save interior space.
- If you have problems with small spaces, then swags are not for you as it can go very tight.
- No storage for your gears and accessories.
Camping tents, on the other hand, provides a more home-like feeling and roomier interior for you and your things. A huge variety is available in the market.
- Ventilation is good.
- Bigger space to move inside.
- It has an optional vestibule for safekeeping and gear storage.
- It is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry around.
- It can be harder to set up than swags.
- It is not as durable as the swags. Tents should be handled with care to last longer.
For the majority of all the campers, the tent wins this round as it is worth the money due to the numerous features it can offer.
Which is Better in Motorcycle Camping, a Tent or a Hammock?
A hammock is considered if you have included only short trip to your plans. It is easy to pack, is very light, and can be tied anywhere. It is also recommended if the place you’re going to isn’t a good one to pitch up a tent.
Although hammock is also good for motorcycle camping, it lacks a lot of the features that a tent can offer. So, it is only greatly considered if the tent is unavailable or you are only out for a short trip.
Pros of hammocks:
- It is very easy and fast to set up.
- Protection against ground water.
Cons of hammocks:
- Sleeping comfortably can be a problem due to the squeezing feeling inside the hammock, and you can't lie flatly on your back.
- Not recommended for cold environments as sleeping in hammocks can result to massive heat loss due to the convective direction of the air.
The camping tent wins this round too. Although hammocks provide comfort, it only gives temporary relief for tired campers. Tents, on the other hand, are still the best alternatives for your home out in the wilderness.
There are several other types of tents (or even go for a tarp if you want extra space in your bag) used in motorcycle camping or other camping activities. The choices can vary from the size, uses, and added features. Among these selections, you can choose which one is the best for your needs.
We hope that this guide helped you to start your 2017 years adventure right now!
P.S. this guide is for you if you are also in love with car camping!
P.P.S. do not forget to clean it afterwards!