We aren’t new to the world of bicycle touring. Indeed, we’ve done many multiple day bike tours on the mountain bikes; including the UK Coast to Coast (C2C)
I’m now reliably informed that what we’ve been doing is ‘credit card touring’, where we take just a change of clothes and pay for accommodation on the way. This year we decided we wanted to do full bicycle touring, taking our accommodation, food and everything we need with us. We had an appropriate bike (a tandem) with pannier bags. What we needed was the camping equipment.
Since buying our first campervan in 2012, all our old tent equipment has either been borrowed, sold or lost. We had simple requirements: mustn’t cost the earth, must be light, have a small pack size and fit two people with four panniers. These were the tents we considered:
Vango Banshee 300 (RRP £160.00)
We liked: The pack size.
We disliked: Low headroom. Small porch
Vango Nova 300 (RRP £180.00)
We liked: The indoor space and large porch. Outer first pitching.
We disliked: Not as clever with vents/pockets. Only one door.
OEX Bandicoot (RRP £200.00)
We liked: The large porch with groundsheet.
We disliked: The colour. If you are stealth camping, bright red is not subtle!
MSR Elixir 2 (RRP £240.00)
We liked: The weight. The overall quality. Roomy 2 man space. Semi Geodesic design.
We disliked: The cost. Inner first pitching.
Quechua Quick Hiker Tent 2M/3M (RRP £79.99 2M)
We liked: The price; it looks like a cheaper copy of the MSR Elixir. Clever pockets/washing line etc
We disliked: reviews from tent below left a question mark.
Quechua Ultralight 3 Hiking Tent (RRP £149.99)
We liked: A lot of space for the low weight.
We disliked: Mixed reviews on groundsheet quality.
All of the tents we looked at were good. We say this from sitting in each of them and reading reviews. It comes down to personal preference and what is important to you. The biggest surprise to me was the Quechua quick hiker. If you are only going to use it occasionally, why spend lots of money? The Vango Nova is another tent that impressed, with its roomy interior. In the end the quality and weight of the MSR made the most sense to us.
We have since done a test run with this tent and our (tandem) bike. From this we found: 1) The bike is a lot slower when weighed down with two peoples things, 2) the MSR is extremely roomy for the weight and easy to put up; and 3) we need new sleeping bags!