Two Wheel Adventure… Cycle Camping

Two Wheel Adventure… Cycle Camping

You’ve heard of backpacking, campervanning, hiking and horse riding… you may have experienced bus travel; rail travel or even hitchhiked your way to adventure, but something you may have overlooked is the increasingly popular trend of cycle camping.

What is cycle camping?

More than anything, cycle camping is a breath of fresh air. It allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings, go off the beaten track and seek out new experiences in a self sufficient, rewarding and most importantly, inexpensive way. A cross between simple bicycle touring and traditional camping trips, cycle camping involves setting off down your chosen path at your own pace and making the most of the Great Outdoors.

Like any overland trip, cycle camping is not just about getting from A to B, instead it’s a way of maximising your adventures along the way. Almost every country in the world has its own cycle camping appeal, from North America’s Pacific Coast Highway or Vietnam’s Ninh Binh province; to Chile’s Carretera Austral and Australia’s Red Centre. Each of these has its own appeal and anyone – yes anyone – can take advantage of all they have to offer.

Cycle camping isn’t just for the uber fit, young or serious cyclist enthusiast – the beauty of the bicycle is that you can go completely at your own pace. Whether you’re up for an epic journey of over 100km a day or a more relaxed 30 or 40km per day, the point is that it’s up to you. Unrestricted by bus timetables, train delays or traffic jams, you can simply pedal to your heart’s content, stopping as and when you feel like it.

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Sounds like I’ll need a lot of kit!

You really don’t need to bring tonnes of equipment with you when cycle camping, in fact, the trick is to bring hardly anything at all! As you’ll have probably guessed, the words ‘self sufficient’ mean that you do need to carry all of your belongings with you – you won’t have a roof rack or luggage compartment to make use of. But this doesn’t need to bring you out in a cold sweat; you simply need to pay closer attention to the type of kit you purchase.

Camping of course, means tents. And if you’ve never had to buy a tent before, let alone a suitable tent for cycle camping, then you may feel a bit bewildered by the amount of products on offer. But if you follow a few golden rules when considering the options, you won’t go far wrong:

• Don’t go heavier than a 2.5kg tent
• 2 man tents are most versatile for cyclists in terms of porch space and pack size
• Porches are useful for cooking under in adverse weather and can also be used as an area to store mucky bags
• Try to pick a 3 season tent to cover a wide range of weather conditions
• Invest in an air-mattress for extra comfort and to keep you off the ground
• Go for quality zips and aluminum poles, rather than flimsy fiberglass

The most important thing you’ll be doing in your tent is cooking and sleeping. You’ll need to get a good night’s sleep and a hearty meal inside you to fuel up for the next day; so, as well as your sleeping bag another important piece of kit is your camping stove.

Self-igniting stoves are very handy as they don’t rely on matches which can break easily or succumb to damp. You will also want to ensure that you pick a sturdy yet lightweight stove that works with multi-fuel systems. Many camping stoves come complete with pots and pans that are easily stackable or come in their own pouches. And don’t worry about what to actually cook while cycle camping – it’s amazing what tasty dishes you can come up with when you put your mind to it!
As for your sleeping bag, think lightweight and durable. Synthetic bags are your best bet as they dry easier and while a little bulky will turn out to be the most practical choice. Sleeping bags come in different ratings depending on the season they are designed for. If you choose a 3 Season, mummy style bag you’ll be covered for most situations.

How do I carry my camping gear?

If you’ve not done much cycling before, you’re probably not too familiar with panniers. These are the bags or boxes that are fitted on either side of the rear wheel of a bicycle. Depending on the length and location of your trip, you may also want to use front panniers too. If you’re not sure how to fit them, you can always go down to your local bike store and ask them to help you out.

Think about keeping cooking utensils and gas stoves separate from your clothing as these can get messy and it’s usually a good idea to store your tent in its pack on top of your rear panniers in case you get caught out in the rain – that way the rest of your gear should be sheltered.

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Enjoy the scenery and stay safe

Luckily bike theft is relatively rare but it won’t harm you to take preventative steps to ensure your bike’s security whilst cycle camping. The fact that you will generally be drawn to rural areas is a plus side in itself and you’ll also find that often the poorest countries in the world are the safest in terms of securing your belongings. While camping overnight make sure you lock your bike to a solid object like a tree or fence and it’s a good idea to invest in both a cable lock and a D lock to put off would-be thieves. If you are free-camping or ‘wild camping’ make sure you choose a spot that is discreet and out of the view of main roads and buildings – this will prevent any unwanted attention.

Cycle camping really does capture the essence of worry-free travel. You control the speed, you control the route and you control which parts of our amazing planet you want to explore. Cycling past dramatic landscapes, through local villages and along pristine coastlines gives you a sense of freedom that can often be lacking with other mainstream forms of transport. Whether embarking on an epic adventure, a week-long break by yourself or with friends and family, it’s hard to think of a better way of enjoying the great outdoors than cycle camping.

So what are you waiting for? On yer bike..!

This article was brought to you by Outdoor World Direct, the UK’s Independent online retailer with a large collection of camping equipment.

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4 Comments

  1. December 20, 12:36 #1 Aisleen Author

    I’m with you Alex – start off nice and easy, somewhere flat, dry and warm so that I can’t be put off! Being so exposed to nature is definitely the most appealling part of this sort of trip and I love the idea of getting away from bus timetables, train tables and the stress of missed connections etc!

  2. December 20, 12:31 #2 AlexBerger

    Never been in good enough shape to try this, but the exposure to nature/the scenery and the experience of it strikes me as absolutely fantastic. Something that I’ll have to do at some point, though I’ll probably start somewhere fairly flat 😉

  3. December 19, 23:15 #3 Aisleen Author

    Hey Diana, Yes, I’m sure if you start off small you may develop a liking for it! I’m guessing the trick is to make sure you go on a nice, dry long weekend somewhere so that you dont have any horrible, mucky experiences to put you off! 🙂

  4. December 19, 21:21 #4 DTravelsRound

    I met a lot of people doing the cycle camping adventure while I was traveling. I don’t think I could do it for a long haul, but for an overnight or something, it would be a really cool experience!


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