Well let’s just say that cycle campers and touring cyclists have never had it so
good! Yes, the carbon lightweights get all the attention but there's a huge groundswell
of robust, practical and good-looking bikes that will carry you and your gear to
places and on trips undreamt of by the Sunday morning roadie.
The best place to start in our view is at Evans who hold the largest range but do
take a look around as well. Wiggle do the Kona Dew: we’ve included it to show that
you can get a cheap practical cycle camper for about £250 - just add racks.
Have fun - those mouth-watering goodies are our reward for decades of scraping the
barrel, looking in vain for touring bikes in bike shops. Cycle camping is back!
You need a tent that’s light enough to carry on your bicycle, robust enough to withstand
bad weather and roomy enough to be comfortable! That’s quite a tough list for a
The ever popular Vango Banshee ticks most of these requirements and you can see it
and other lightweight cycle camping tents at Cotswold Outdoor. Click herefor their
Cycle camping means a rack and panniers - everything else is a compromise. Panniers come in different materials and colours but are all basically the same shape. Some are fully waterproof but more expensive. Cheaper ones though can still be robust and you can put your stuff in plastic bags to keep it dry - not a bad thing to do anyway.
Start by sorting out a rear rack. Most panniers will fit on most racks but not all racks will fit on all bikes. A standard rear rack will fit on 700c and 26” wheels but will usually need rack eyes on the frame. £30 is the minimum benchmark figure. The Topeak Super Tourist DX Rack from Chain Reaction Cyclesis sturdy, light and practical - notice the “dog’s leg” frame that prevents the panniers from hitting the rear wheel.
And finally we’ve highlighted some Altura pannnier covers from Amazon!
What to wear
Cooking stoves and sets
8 Clothing anchor
You can choose between paper maps or GPS but an ordinary map will still get you through!
Maps, guides and GPS
You want your bike to be in good order before you set off but you also need to be able to do a few running repairs en route.
Take only a basic toolkit to save weight: this mostly will mean a puncture repair kit and three Allen keys. You can beg or borrow more tools from campsites or ask for help from a bike shop along the way (cyclecamp is encouraging campsites to hold a few cycle tools that can be borrowed).
You’ll very rarely ever be completely stuck -bikes don’t break down in a big way very often. The three most likely problems you might face are a puncture (URGHH! see our resource page on this), a brake or gear cable breaking or losing a spoke from a wheel.
Do take spare brake cables for your bike. Here is a cheap practical one from Chain Reaction Cycles that will get you out of an emergency. It has the correct end for either drop or straight bar levers. (ask in a cycle shop if you’re not sure which) but always have this job done professionally (i.e. in a cycle shop) if you are not absolutely sure how to do it. In any case you may not have the tools to do it easily.
Other jobs on the road might include for example tightening up loose pannier rack bolts or adjusting your saddle height. Both these jobs can be done with your Allen keys.Chain Reaction Cycles has a huge range of spares and tools but Amazon also offers handy inexpensive repair kits - we highlight two of them here.
If you really do get stuck and don't even fancy mending a puncture then you could call out ETA. If you take out their cycle breakdown cover, they will come and pick you and your bike up and take you to the nearest cycle shop or railway station.
Tools and spares
Panniers get your gear to your chosen campsite! Some are fully waterproof but more
A tent: light enough to carry on your bicycle, robust enough to withstand bad weather
and roomy enough to be comfortable!
Sleeping bags need to be light enough to carry, but warm enough to make sure you
get a good night’s sleep.
Take a basic tool kit with you when you go.
For that early morning cuppa, a hearty soup or pasta in the evening and a good night
Some clothing is cycling -specific but you can get away with almost any outdoor gear,
especially in the summer.
If there is one reason to go cycle camping, it’s to cook on a simple stove in the
fresh air or sit on the grass and make your morning cuppa! As a cyclist, you can
carry a good stove and cooking pots - you may even end up doing more cooking on tour
than you do at home!
There are lots of stoves to choose from: you can start with a simple lightweight
gas stove (the mainstay of lightweight campers for years) such as the MSR Pocket
Rocket or buy a more sophisticated multi-stove. You won’t have problems finding fuel
in the UK but check carefully if going abroad - names of fuels are different in Europe
And then there’s the Trangia: in a class of its own, decades old and as reliable
and superb as ever. It’s heavy but easy to use and will last for years. There is
also the fantastic mini Trangia if cycle camping solo. We’ve picked out Cotswold
Outdoor as having the best range of cooking sets. We’ve also picked out four from
Amazon. There's huge range of cooking pot sets on the market, from cheap aluminium
ones to much more expensive titanium and stainless steel. But even if you don’t want
to cook, at least take a simple gas stove and kettle for an emergency cup of tea
on a chilly early morning start!
The famous Trangia 27-2 UL from Cotswold Outdoor
It gets cold out of doors at night in the summer. That’s a fact, even in England!
So you have to plan for what you might wear on the bike for actual cycling (and that
usually means Lycra shorts) and what you put on in the evening. Cycling is a physical
activity so it’s best to choose synthetic fibres that will wick away your perspiration.
But a cotton tee shirt will really do just as well on a warm day. Rain is the enemy,
not because you will get wet, but because it’s hard to keep cool and dry (or warm
and dry in the colder months). While woolly jumpers are great at home, they can be
too heavy to carry on your bike.
There’s lots of excellent cycle specific clothing to choose from at Evans Cycles
and sometimes sales to take advantage of. Look out for a pair Lycra shorts (some
are women's specific), and a cycling jersy . For the evenings (and for cold, wet
days - yes they also do happen even in the summer!), you’ll need a fleecy top, You‘ve
probably got one already but if you need a new one (or just want to treat yourself
) there is an excellent range here at Blacks. There are masses of colours to choose
from and you can choose the right weight to layer under your rain jacket. The women's
fleeces at Blacks are here.
A rain jacket is essential and it should preferably be cycling-specific - short at
the frint, longer at the back. Here are some at Evans starting at around £30.00.
Excellent little tent, robust and lightweight with a bright orange interior. Now
reduced from £130 to just £99. Well worth getting this sorted in time for the season.
A brilliant and deservedly popular cycle camping tent. Here’s the page link to Cotswold
and a video of it being put up.