Last Updated: May 1, 2012
Those who have left their car in the garage, in a parking lot, or at the trailhead, and pedaled away by bicycle for a camping trip, will tell you what an incredibly memorable adventure it is. Unique sights, smells, and sounds abound. You will work just about every muscle while traveling the back roads and trails, and you will see everything at a pace that ensures a true vacation.
While today’s bikes and bike camping packs are built to handle the weight of all your camping gear, you’ll still want to pack light so that you’re focused on the scenery instead of looking down at the pedals. Some bike campers like to pull a small trailer to make room for extras like warm clothes, rain gear, and repair kits. Make sure to pack enough water. Consider a dromedary water bag as a convenient way to carry your water and avoid dehydration on the road or trail.
Bike camping sites are typically half the cost of car camping. Many camping areas and resort communities feature bike trails and rentals for exploring, so why not arrive ready with your own personal equipment? Cycle camping can be done with regular road bikes, touring bikes, and mountain bikes.
Map your route and look for bike-friendly itineraries. Avoid high traffic areas and locations where visibility might be limited for extended stretches. Not all roads or trails are suitable or legal for a biking adventure. While you can easily plan a point-to-point journey, experienced bike campers like to cycle first to a base camp and use that central location for heading off on a different ride each day.
If you’re just starting out and want to put the trip in the hands of somebody else, consider a bike camping outfitter. However, many converts to bike camping have learned that once you try it, it’s not any more complicated than planning for a regular day on the trail.