Which Motorcycle Tent Do You Need For Touring? An Uncomplicated Guide

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If I could’ve found a hotel on the internet up in the Highlands, I wouldn’t have had to pitch the damn motorcycle tent!

And whilst not a million miles from home, the Scottish Highlands tend to offer up some pretty tempestuous terrain whether you want it to or not.

So with this in mind (and knowing that I didn’t have a hotel booked on a few nights), I strapped my camping kit to my bike.

Just in case.

I’d been riding all day. Glorious sunshine, empty, inviting roads, and awe-inspiring scenery.

Without a hotel booking, I tentatively rode my bike down an unknown trail to the fields below.

And without enthusiasm, I pitched my tent and begrudgingly set up camp for the night.

motorcycle and tent
Pitching in nature’s front room (image via Pars Sahin)

And it was only as the sun went down that I took out my camera and realised that, actually, I was in the most perfect location on earth.

No, I didn’t have a roof over my head. Nor did I have a cooked meal served to me or videos to watch on YouTube. And whilst I didn’t have a bed or comfortable covers, I was blanketed by the stars instead.

Eventually, I fell asleep. And then was awoken by bovine sniffs at my tent as the sun rose.

Bloody cows!

But it was all part of the adventure. And right there – in that moment – I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything.

In this post, we’ll look at the basics of motorcycle tents. And we’ll offer up some recommendations so that you too can enjoy the world from front-row seats.

Related: The Ultimate Motorcycle Touring Packing Guide

tent by lake at sunset
Enjoying the world from front row seats (image via mybuzz)

Choosing The Right Motorcycle Tent

You’d think it would be easy, wouldn’t you? Just pop into an outdoorsy-type shop and pick one off the shelf, right?

‘Fraid not!

That’s a bit like going into a motorcycle clothing shop and just picking a random jacket up off the rail. Sure, it’ll work. But the chances of it being exactly right for you are highly slim.

And as with jackets, motorcycle tents need to be considered.

So what is it you’re supposed to be looking for?

Well in this post, we’ll look at the different types of motorcycle tents available. And from there, we’ll give some suggestions which fit into different needs and different price points.

lonerider motorcycle tent and bmw
Yep! You really can get garage-style tents! But be patient… we’ll get to that soon! (Image via LoneRider)

Weight

For us, weight it just one of the most important factors. But don’t get overly caught up in it – because it isn’t the only important factor!

If you’ve read any of our posts before, you’ll know we’re firm believers in the “light is right” mantra. From clothing to equipment, and from bikes to tents, weight-shedding is key to every form of comfort.

I’d rather not go over about 2.5 kg. Ideally, it’d be more like 2 kg. And if it begins with a 1, then that’s even better!

The biggest negative to this is that if the weight goes down, the price tends to go up.

It’s a balance between budget and function.

Related: Why HIKING Gear Is Better Than MOTORCYCLE Gear

tent on beach at sunrise
Most tents are a compromise between budget and function (image via Teemu R/Pexels)

Packing Size

You can have the lightest motorcycle tent in the world. But if it’s the size of a double decker bus when collapsed, what’s the point?

On a bike, space is prime real estate. So your motorcycle tent needs to pack down into a neat little package that can be stowed either on your bike, strapped to luggage, or (ideally) in a pannier.

Because don’t forget, it’s not just the tent you need to think about. There’s still sleeping bags, roll mats, pillows, cooking equipment, and whatever else you choose to take.

Related: Motorcycle Camping For Beginners: The Basics

Ease Of Pitching

There’s nothing worse than knobbing about with a pain-in-the-arse tent that requires 48 people to get it up. Especially when you’ve been in the saddle all day, are tired, hungry, and generally pissed off.

Pitching your tent should be easy even when you don’t know what you’re doing. With practice, you should be able to get it up in a matter of minutes. Not hours.

motorcycle tent on cliff top at sunset
A motorcycle tent needs to pitch in minutes if you arrive at sunset (image via John McSporran/Flickr)

Go For Free Standing

Hammocks are becoming quite popular at the moment. And whilst they have a slightly more exotic to feel to them over a plain old tent, you need to be 100% sure you’ll have two trees to be able to pitch it!

If you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping from one night to the next, play it safe and go with a free standing tent.

This way, it doesn’t matter if you end up in a forest, on a beach, or in an ice cave, you’ll always be able to erect your home for the night.

Inside Space

Most people (including me) started off with a 1-person back-packing tent. And that’s absolutely fine if you’re going on a weekend hike in the Lake District.

But for anything longer, go for a 2-person tent.

The difference in weight between a 1-person tent and a 2-person tent is negligable.

Accept the extra few grams in weight and know that you’re gaining way more space when you get there.

Related: 12 Motorcycle Essentials You Never Thought Of

tent at sunrise
A few more grams of weight is often worth it for the extra space (image via rockever)

Outside Space

A vestibule really helps on a motorcycle trip. You could of course take a washing line and peg your wet clothes up over night to dry out.

But that might not always be possible. Or it might be raining.

Having a vestibule ensures you can dry out wet gear so it’s ready for the morning. And more importantly, outside space means you can keep boots, bags, and other gear outside rather than in your living space.

Choose The Right Season

Unless you’re camping at Everest basecamp in the winter months, you probably won’t need a 4-season expedition tent.

For most people, a 3-season tent is perfectly adequate for most outings.

If you’re planning on camping in the milder months, a 3-season tent will do you just fine.

motorcycle tent ventilation
I don’t care what they say… ventilation is still the most important part of camping!

Ventilation

If you’ve read our posts before, ‘ventilation’ is another word we always bang on about! A lot of people will tell you that ventilation is an over-used word.

But the truth is, it isn’t – it’s very important.

You need a well ventilated tent in the same way you need a well ventilated jacket.

Whichever motorcycle tent you go for, make sure it has good ventilation and airflow.

Related: Is Soft Motorcycle Luggage The Way To Go In 2021?

Motorcycle Tent Suggestions

Okay, so we’ve been through the things you need to consider. So now we can get onto the good bit of choosing some tents!

As mentioned at the top of this post, the motorcycle tent that suits me might not suit you. So we’ve put together a mixed bunch which will hopefully fit into your particular category.

For ease, we’ll go in price order – from cheapest to most expensive – to fit all budgets.


Vango Nevis 200 Motorcycle Tent

This is the cheapest motorcycle tent on our list. And whilst it isn’t the tent I would choose for a winter camp in Iceland, it’s well-priced (and well-spec’d) for a few days away in July.

The Vango Nevis is a tunnel tent that is great for bikers as it gives us the greatest weight to space ratio.

It comes with an integrated flysheet (great for keeping away those notorious Highland midges), holds up well in changeable winds, and comes with a groundsheet.

On top of this, it also has a breathable inner (good for ventilation and prevention of condensation), a part-mesh inner door, and some handy inner pockets.

It isn’t for truly hostile environments. But it’s waterproof and fully weather-tested to EN ISO 5912 standards.

On the whole, the Vango Nevis 200 is a motorcycle tent that is lightweight and compact. It’s easy to put up and can be pitched in a matter of minutes.

It’s not what you’d call ‘spacious’ (inside or out), but it’s perfect for a few days in nature or in case of a hotel emergency!

vango nevis 200 motorcycle tent

Nevis 200 – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £105
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 2.02 kg
  • Pack size: 46 x 15 cm
  • Pitched: 215 x 120 cm
  • Head height: 95 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? No

Wild Country Zephyros Compact Motorcycle Tent

Wild Country is a subsidiary of Terra Nova – and Terra Nova make high-end tents that are quite expensive to buy.

Based on Terra Nova tents, Wild Country products often share the features of their more expensive sister products.

So if you aren’t going on arctic expeditions, Wild Country tents offer a great balance when considering budget and functionality.

From a biker’s perspective, the Zephyros Compact 2 is excellent as its packed length is just 30cm.

It’s quick to pitch, has inner pegging points, and also features an integrated flysheet.

Thankfully, there’s a midge-proof mesh door and many ventilation options. And two doors makes it easier for two people to get in and out.

All-in-all, this is a motorcycle tent that is easy to use, quick to pitch, comes with a flysheet and groundsheet and is designed for 3-season use.

For bikers, it’s perfect to carry!

Wild Country Zephyros Compact Motorcycle Tent

Zephyros Compact – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £165
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 1.95 kg
  • Pack size: 30 x 19 cm
  • Pitched: 230 x 100 cm
  • Head height: 92 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? No

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Motorcycle Tent

The Copper Spur by Big Agnes is another 3-season, 2-person tent. It comes with recently updated fabrics, shorter poles, a user-friendly set-up, and a range of features.

The new, shorter poles make it way easier to pack on the bike, and they also make for a more intuitive experience when pitching.

Space is better in this tent than with the previous two, providing good space both in the tent and vestibule.

For bikers, this motorcycle tent offers lots of space and a low carry weight which is also compact.

On top of this, the tent is also made of nylon double rip-stop – preventing rips and tears. It has double zipper doors, convenient storage and media stashes, outside space, and excellent ventilation.

Made for cyclists, the attention to detail and finishing touches work well for bikers. And for the price, it’s one we recommend.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Motorcycle Tent

Copper Spur – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £450
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 1.38 kg
  • Pack size: 34 x 18 cm
  • Pitched: 224 x 132 cm
  • Head height: 102 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? No

LoneRider MotoTent

This motorcycle tent by LoneRider is a monster designed to put up a few riders, their luggage, and a big adventure bike complete with panniers!

The fact it can garage is your bike is a definite positive if you need to keep your bike away from prying eyes. And on top of this, it will house you and a passenger, and give you somewhere to relax, as well as space to vent your wet clothes.

It comes with its own carry bag which is designed to be stowed on your bike. And thanks to its intuitive design, this motorcycle tent can be pitched in less than 10 minutes.

It’s quite heavy at around 5.5kg, but it’s still one of the lightest motorcycle-housing tents on the market.

And whilst it’s on the expensive side, the price is worth it for the luxury of being able to secure your bike, and sleep in a fully waterproof tent that has tonnes of space and even space to work on your bike.

Built by adventure riders for adventure riders, LoneRider is the only company on this list that is a dedicated motorcycle company. As such, this tent has been designed with the motorcyclist in mind. And this shows in the many little features and designs throughout.

It’s probably overkill for one person. But if you’re traveling with a passenger, this motorcycle tent is a home away from home!

LoneRider MotoTent

MotoTent V2 – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £435
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 5.44 kg
  • Pack size: 60 x 20 cm
  • Pitched: 240 x 140 cm
  • Head height: 190 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? Yes

Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 Motorcycle Tent

The Compact 2 is the ‘small pack’ edition of the popular Laser Competition 2 tent. It’s low-weight, offers great comfort, and comes in a compact size.

It’s designed for two people and is a 3-season tent – perfect for all but the harshest of conditions.

This motorcycle tent packs down to a pack length of 30cm – ideal for bikers looking for optimum positioning within their luggage.

There are two doors (one at the front, and one at the rear) enabling easy access for two people.

Pitching is designed to be easy with the integrated flysheet being erected at the same time as the tent.

As well as the midge-proof inner door mesh, there are other clever features to this motorcycle tent, such as the use of colour-coding to make pitching easier.

As well as the integrated flysheet, the tent also comes with waterproof covers and a Watershed groundsheet.

Whilst Terra Nova do offer slightly roomier options such as the Voyager, the Laser 2 is an easy-to-pitch tunnel tent with a convenient ‘up-in-one’ system.

It’s also lighter and more compact which is often a compromise worth making on shorter trips.

And it’s a bonus that it’ll fit in a pannier!

Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 Motorcycle Tent

Laser Compact 2 – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £465
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 1.23 kg
  • Pack size: 30 x 15 cm
  • Pitched: 230 x 90 cm
  • Head height: 95 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? No

Hilleberg Anjan GT Motorcycle Tent

And finally, we have the most expensive of the bunch by Hilleberg.

Whilst this motorcycle tent is expensive, Hilleberg are a well-respected company that have been producing high-end tents since the 1970s.

Their methods are tried, tested, and refined into what they are today – and for that, there is a premium.

Would we recommend it for one or two weekends away in summer?

No, probably not.

But it’s an incredibly versatile 3-season tent that will fare well if you enjoy regularly camping in all but the harshest of conditions.

One of the best features of this motorcycle tent is the design which allows constant airflow and ventilation.

Despite its size, this tent is still lightweight. And it comes with a large vestibule making it ideal for bikers who need to air out boots, ventilate kit, or even cook.

We also like that in warm conditions, the entire vestibule can be rolled away. This allows more air to enter and ventilate through the tent.

Hilleberg Anjan GT Motorcycle Tent

Anjan GT 2 – At A Glance

  • Price: ~ £860
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Weight: 2.1 kg
  • Pack size: 46 x 14 cm
  • Pitched: 220 x 110 cm
  • Head height: 100 cm
  • Will it fit a bike in? No

Choosing A Motorcycle Tent: Conclusion

Deciding on a motorcycle tent is a difficult choice because there are so many options!

What works for me might not necessarily work for you. And what works for you might be wrong for somebody else.

Before you buy, take a while to consider what you want from your tent.

Ultra-lightweight tents can be two or three (or more) times the cost of a similar-spec’d tent without lightweight materials.

If you only camp once or twice a year, the extra weight might be worth the cost savings.

Will it be used just to get your head down at night? Or will it be used for eating, cooking, and socialising? If this is the case, investing in a tent that is slightly larger with more space and a vestibule would suit you better.

Finally, don’t forget that you have to carry this stuff! So be sure to check the weight, the dimensions, and the packing dimensions!

Top image via Kevin Ianeselli

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