Cheap ‘bikepacking’ (camping) gear

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  • Cheap ‘bikepacking’ (camping) gear
  • DickBarton

    Do a wee bit of camping but mainly based out a car, so most of my kit is cheap and bulky.
    Took a hike up a hill last night and realised I don’t have kit to go for a wee trip with the bike – I can’t carry it all.
    Couple of chats with mates and we are looking to try some trips with the kids as well.
    So I’m needing new gear – small 1-2 person tent, 3-season sleeping bag, probably 2) and I’m guessing a lightweight sleeping mat – that isn’t expensive but is lightish but packs small.
    I’m aware small and cheap don’t really go so rather than cheap just not extortionate.
    Where should I be looking?

    Premier Icon jaminb

    I have the lomo seat pack and it has survived a few trips – I dont think it is as well made as my bullet proof wildcat gear but should be fine

    Premier Icon martymac

    I use a fair bit of alpkit stuff, not that cheap, but it lasts, so ends up being good value.

    Premier Icon harvey

    alpkit are excellent, its also well worth keeping an eye on eBay etc for good quality second hand gear.

    the lightweight stuff, tents, bags etc even if best quality , tends to be a bit more delicate, especially when used by kids !

    Premier Icon Cougar

    Decathlon does half-decent kit for prices that aren’t silly.

    Camping is something for which the adage “buy cheap, buy twice” really does apply, I’ve thrown out all manner of crap over the years. You want to avoid the cheapest of the cheap like the plague.

    Premier Icon martinhutch

    There was some very cheap POD-branded gear I think Planet X was knocking out. Might be worth a punt before paying big(ger) money for Alpkit or some of the specialist makers.

    Or check the classifieds – I think there was a nice seatpack/drybag combo on sale there.

    Premier Icon ampthill

    I have one of these. I’d say a good buy at this price

    That’s not an own brand that is a real tent that often sells for more. It’s not that light but not bad for the money

    WC Hoolie is an excellent tent – one of my clients uses them for DofE groups. The only flaw we’ve discovered is the pegging tabs in the corners of the inner can tear under tension – we solved that by adding a short loop of elastic bungee cord, with eases the strain on the stitching. Other than that, they’ve been very reliable.

    I got an air bed from Decathlon a couple of years ago that packs down to just larger than a 500ml bottle and have found it very comfy on the handful of times I’ve used it. The fact that is has almost zero thickness when deflated means it’s ideal to wrap around your sleeping bag to aid packing too.

    I learnt the hard way not to go for a bigger-than-necessary/ideal bar bag as my 20L one has to be persuaded between my drop bars. They’re only 400mm bars so YMMV.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    Luggage can be expensive, but a lomo or podsacs saddle bag will last for anything short of multi week races. Bar bag just needs to be a tough dry bag, some webbing and something to stop it rubbing (a cut up pop bottle taped to the bag when full would probably work TBH).

    As for kit, if you’re on a budget then be realistic.

    Not going to do much in winter? Get a synthetic 2 season bag, it’ll weigh less than a 3-4 season down one and cost about 1/4.

    Ditto mattresses, thermarests are great, airbeds wirhout the foam inside are a fraction of the price, lighter and fine for 75% of the year.

    Cooking, it’s a luxury and adds weight. A bear bones meths stove will boil a mug of water for noodles and tea and weighs naff all. Gas will cook stuff quicker but adds a lot of weight (and then you take a frying pan, and bacon, etc and before you know it your cook kit is heavier than your bike even if you do have the tastiest breakfast.

    Water filters? Great idea, but I’ve drunk some seriously dodgy looking water and not died. I carry some tablets if I dont know where the nearest tap is going to be but rarely bother with them. Realistically you’re going to struggle to get so dehydrated that you really can’t ride to a shop and buy a couple of bottles.

    Tent? Gelert solo. £25. The alternative is the army surplus bivi but I think that is actually heavier and harder to pack. If the budget stretches a bit then rab survival is a very compact and light bivi without breaking the budget. The rab storm is a bit more robust and weatherproof.


    Thanks for the info. Will go do some looking.


    Bikepacking is more difficult than backpacking because it needs to fit in – and you’ll need to buy – saddle/bar bags and I would have a few waterproof bags inside if you might get wet. I would prioritise keeping warm and dry, so a 2-season sleeping bag is fine with thermal base layer, thin hat, buff, gloves, and an insulated jacket that packs small, you can sleep in all your clothes. Do get an inflatable mat or airbed rather than a roll-up bit of foam. For backpacking or canoe camping we also take some foil backed insulation to sit on in the evening, but you can’t really do that bikepacking. To begin with, just eating in a pub and then not bothering with cooking is fine. But I find a little fold up gas stove, small gas and the adventure life branded food, instant coffee, and just-add-water porridge sachets are great for keeping you warm.


    Thanks Brant…ordered it..then realised I needed 2 handlebar bags so had to order a second. Can’t find a way to combine the orders to save on postage but hopefully they will help carry kit. I just need to now get mat/bag and probably bivvy bag and tarp instead of tent and hope I can get things to fit.


    Most of the salient points have been covered. The main restriction is volume in that you just don’t have much to play with, 25L or so is probably the practical maximum. The easiest and by far the cheapest way to get your packed weight/volume down is not to take stuff! Since you’ve ordered bags I’ll skip that.

    Here’s our bikes loaded up for an overnighter in the Dales:

    A two season bag is fine for summer, I augment mine with a quilt for the colder months so two items rated to 8C individually are good to -6C when used together. Note that sleeping bags ratings assume you are wearing a base layer. The main choice is filling: down or synthetic. For price I’d go with synthetic, maybe rated to around 5-8C.

    Sleeping mat: we use Exped but they aren’t cheap (understatement). For summer where you don’t need good insulation then a plain LiLo type is fine, we’ve used one of these which packs up pretty small and isn’t that heavy.

    Shelter: basically a choice between tent and tarp/bivy combo. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Alpkit have just brought out a new 1 person bikepacking oriented tent – I don’t have one but it looks pretty decent for the price, £119. The poles use 400mm sections so can fit better in bikepacking bags. We started bikepacking using an Alpkit Rig3.5 with poles made from recycled tent poles. We didn’t use bivy bags but if there are midges about then just about essential. Fully waterproof bivy bags are all well and good but getting in and out when it’s raining is not easy.

    Cooking: don’t try to replicate cooking at home, it just requires too much kit. We did a four day/three night trip in Scotland at easter using a Bearbones 8g meths stove and a homemade beer can stove along with the small and large Alpkit titanium mugs. Boil water and add to bag of dehydrated food, boil more water for brew while food is rehydrating. We used about 200ml of meths for the two of us for the three nights.

    For general tips and reviews of kit look at Stu’s blog on Bearbones –


    frame bags – buggybags/ bike bags do a custom frame bag for about half the cost of others.

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