Best: Bikepacking tent
Tents made for hiking with backpacks are fabulous things, and they have served cycle tourers and bikepackers well for many years. But US brand Big Agnes has taken a giant leap forward in terms of making their already very well-regarded tents even more handy for those of us who prefer travelling on two wheels. The company has given their copper spur HV UL a bike-friendly makeover for 2021 to create the bikepack edition – and it’s got loads of extra features specifically for us dorks.
Shorter poles than the regular model mean that they can easily slip into bike bags (pannier, frame, saddle), and the really fabulous bag that the whole tent comes in is designed to be carried on your handlebars. It clips onto flat bars with no hassle, and onto all but the most narrow of drop bars easily. The case also has a number of clever buckles and loops that enable you to attach accessory pouches for on-the-bike access to snacks and suncream.
The tent itself is stupendously light at less than 1.7kg. This is an “ultralight” tent, which means it is not the most durable on the market and you will have to give it a bit of TLC a groundsheet (£89.99, Ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk) is advised for longer trips. But for a careful bikepacker, it should strike the perfect balance between weight and robustness.
We tried the positively palatial three-man version, which we’d recommend for those who enjoy a little more wiggle room – it was perfect for a fortnight-long trip for a couple. It comes in at just less than the weight of this reviewer’s previous two-man model (£179.99, Decathlon.co.uk), so it felt incredibly luxurious to have such a bump in space for no weight penalty. Unlike many tunnel-style hiking tents, the pole constructuction of the copper spur gives you enough room to sit up – a saviour should one of your days of adventuring get rained off, and you find yourself with nothing but an old card game for company. When we tested it, being able to change in the tent without having to lie down was enough to convince us of its glory.
Extra details like daisy-chain webbing on the top of the tent (to stuff your just-washed kecks into for drying at camp), an elasticated home just for your helmet (not a piece of equipment you want to misplace under heavy stuff) and generous porches that you can convert into awning-like areas are genuinely lovely additions that make you realise that Big Agnes loves bikepacking as much as we do. You can, of course, buy a serviceable tent for less than this, but if you are planning to spend long periods in your saddle, there’s no better place to catch those much-needed Zs.
If you can’t wait for the UL3 to come back in stock, the two-man version is currently available at Absolute Snow (£424.95, Absolutesnow.co.uk).