Gimme Shelter…life in a tent

As we are overlanders – people who live on the road permanently not just away for that once in a lifetime trip, we spend a great deal of time in a tent!

I’ll give you a few ideas about tents and camping and show you what works for us. When it comes to the tent you do get what you pay for, a cheap tent might last one season if lucky, a mid-range a few years and a high end 5,10 or 20 years isn’t unheard of.


To me, the requirements of a tent beside the obvious of keeping you dry if it rains and keeping bugs away in the wrong areas, are a little deeper. Headroom, access, vestibule, tent pole length, pack size are all major factors, but the weight isn’t a major one as a pound +/- on a motorcycle is not a great thing like it would be for a backpacker but for a motorcyclist it gives a lot wider choice of abode.


1 person tents –

I used this tent in the desert southwest solo riding and on the western TAT, mine was without the lighting so a little cheaper, I’m 6’1″ and I fit albeit ‘just’. Once I’m in there is virtually zero room for any gear inside, a small vestibule to put some gear but most will need to be left on the bike. Pack size was small, weight was minimal, I find this tent great for a few days to a week’s worth of riding in the backcountry.

1person tent envy, these are the ultimate in one person tents, I have seen them in person but never owned one, just amazing, really the best of the best the Rolls Royce of 1 man tents

2 person tents –

I have worn a few out in search for the right tent, I use a 2 man when i ride solo for a sustained length of time and know I will need to have my gear inside and off the bike so that little extra room is a great benefit

Small budget tent – I used one these for two seasons and it worked great but once it started to deteriorate it went downhill in a hurry

This is a new version of the tent I used when I rode RTW the first time on an enduro bike (KTM 625) it has decent size for one person, small pack size, and lightweight, it is also short in length when packed 20 inches


Two up riding –

…and the search for a good 3 man tent, a little more space inside is required and a bigger vestibule

In 2015 I was offered a partial sponsorship by Hilleberg ‘the tent maker’, I researched all their tents and this one fitted our requirements. It has an amazingly small pack size for such a massive tent, poles about 17 inches long, great ventilation, easy setup and a vestibule huge enough to sit up and cook in, it was like a 2-bed apartment. After about a year with this tent, we stopped using it for one simple reason – head height! At 6’1″ I could not sit up inside the sleeping area of the tent without bending my neck, on a heavy rainy day when you are trapped that is just not good.

So if you aren’t 6’1″ or taller this is a great option, no its a fantastic option and you should expect it to last 10 + years of regular use.

Other 3 and 4 mans we’ve tried.

After the crooked neck stint we decided to go cheap and spacious, the Marmot I could nearly stand up in, pack size was great, a little bigger than the Hilleberg, all was going well until we got the tent very dirty in a campground and washed it, the people we were staying with, while we were out, ‘did us a favor’ and put it in the drier, it ruined the waterproofing because of the heat of the drier…time to find a new home!


Our current tent

We were riding thru Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the home of Big Agnes, outside their retail outlet they had this ‘hotel’ pitched on the grass. We got in tried it, in the sleeping area there is simply enough room for our two sleeping bags and the clothes we take off before getting in them, so a snug fit. Oh, but the vestibule…it’s huge, big enough to fit both of our gear and sit and cook if it’s raining, we are super happy with the tent after getting used to the sleeping area size…and I can sit up in it.

If you like a little space between you and your sleeping partner when you sleep they do make a 3 person version for a few dollars more, we opted for a smaller pack size


Other tents we’ve tried

This is a single wall tent, extremely sturdy I found great in areas like the desert southwest where there is zero humidity and cooking outside is an option most days. Once taken into more humid areas I found myself feeling damp in the mornings when the tent material couldn’t allow all the moisture to escape prior to making my sleeping bag outer feel damp or even wet

Absolutely cavernous, but expect to lose a massive amount of luggage space, and be prepared for the weight…I had it for car camping which it is good for, motorcycle camping not so much


Tents I’d like to try – tent envy is a thing!

These tents always seemed like a good idea as long as you knew you would have soft enough ground to be able to knock stakes firmly in


Whats a camp without a campfire?

I have carried one for year, small enough to fit in the bottom of a saddlebag or pannier, just enough weight to knock in a tent peg, and useful for making kindling, but when a bigger fire is need and logs are laying around a little sawing might be required (or if a fallen tree is across the trail). That when this comes in handy and packs small, I used to have one strapped along my bars, or if you need smaller this is a new option that I saw had great reviews but I’ve never seen one in person.

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