There are several options on the market for tents, ponchos, and sleeping bags, but for a long term, cross-country trip, it’s important to find just the right stuff. For my trip, Volunteer and Advocate for America 2018, I am undergoing this very dilemma. I need something heavy-duty yet lightweight, easy to assemble yet sturdy and solid. I also need something affordable. All of these factors are playing in my decision.
So, let’s take a look at the options. I have narrowed it down to the most reliable, heavy-duty, weatherproof tents on the market. Coincidentally, they hit all price points. So what do we have? I’m considering the EXPOSED Bivouac Motorcycle Tent, the Nomad II Motorcycle Tent by Abel Brown, the Ionosphere Tent by Snugpack, the Stasha Tactical Shelter by Snugpack, and the Half Shelter Tent by the U.S. Military. All of these are great options, and honestly, anyone of them would work just fine.
- EXPOSED Bivouac Motorcycle TentInitially I was going to go with this tent, still may, but I started to look around for less costly options. First, let’s look at the EXPOSED Bivouac for what it is. For starters, it’s the coolest. It most definitely has the cool factor. It’s also waterproof, weatherproof, possesses a durable zipper, and contains very few parts. Fewer parts mean it’s less likely I would lose necessary parts, lugging this thing on my bike won’t weigh as much or take up space, and it rolls up to the most compact package out of all the options – a big plus for motorcycle travel. This tent will also work with any style and size of motorcycle, another big plus. Not everyone has a high sissy bar to tie this thing off on. So, no matter the bike, you’ll know your ride will be as dry as you are. Now for the downside, and with this one there really is just one: price. It is by far the most expensive option. At about $400USD it is quite an investment. I take this with context, however, because many pro-hiking tents will run you $800 or more and won’t even stand up to constant punishment. In the light of that, it could be looked upon as a bargain, but it all depends on where your wallet is. I am still considering this one, for its compact size, easy and quick assembly, and it’s toughness.
- Nomad II by Abel Brown Like the EXPOSED Bivouac the Abel Brown Nomad II is designed for motorcycle enthusiasts. It ties to your ride very much the same way, with minor differences, and has the general idea. Big difference right off the bat is the fact that it’s completely walled off from the outside and even has a floor. Typically this is what people are looking for, but not me so much. I’m looking for something for all 4 seasons and a tent that’s walled off will become muggy more easily and even damp. Besides being cool, this tent is also very easy to assemble and possesses very few parts. It rolls up to a nice compact package and can tie on your ride securely without taking up much space. My big wonder about this tent is its resilience to the elements. Sure it’s waterproof and has a net screen for bugs, but how tough is it really? I’m going to be in the most extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to weather and that will take its toll on my tent. There is also the fact that the motorcycle is situated leaning towards you, rather than away. Nomad II comes with a kickstand plate to use for unstable ground, but I’m still on the fence. The big plus about this tent is that it comes with a $200USD price tag from Abel Brown and can be found at $136USD.
- Ionosphere Tent by Snugpack
What initially caught my eye on this one was the fact that it’s made by Snugpack and used by servicemembers in the U.S. Army. From the reviews they have written, this thing will keep you dry for days through constant rain and heavy winds. It’s also very affordable. Another big plus is that it comes with a net. It’s really two tents in one, where the net is securely connected to the flooring, while the second piece is the tarp above. Heavy duty and extremely simple to assemble, this thing would be a life saver if I got stuck somewhere where I needed to get off the bike and bunker down on the spot. The big selling point on this one for me is its reliability and quality. There is no doubt in my mind that thing tent would withstand the punishing demand I will be putting on it. At $129USD you get top quality for a very reasonable price. It also comes with a repair kit as well.
4. Stasha Tactical Shelter by SnugpackI can say the same thing for this tent. It’s tough, reliable, simple to assemble in a hurry. The downside is what if I find myself without a convenient set of trees that I can get to? The likelihood is low, I’m sure. Besides that, I like that it has no floor, it’s just you, a tarp, and your sleep system. It wouldn’t be muggy in the hot seasons, and it wouldn’t be difficult to keep warm during winter with a fire. The big drawback is there’s no tent, but like the first Bivouac on this list, I would need to get a bug net. Not a big deal since they’re so cheap. Another concern is wind gust. How well would this thing hold up if I were in a situation with high winds and very little cover? Would it just turn into a sail and fly off? I like the idea of anchoring one end of this tent to my bike and the other end to a tree. I also like the price tag: $35USD. With it’s durabality and price, I am heavily considering this tent.
This is one of my favorites. It is tough, made of a canvas, and is in all means a canvas tent. From what I have read, it is not waterproof and spraying it with a water shield is ill-advised. Still, what I like about it is its simplicity, ruggedness, durability, and bad ass attitude. You can Shield yourself off from the elements with its massive flaps at the end, or you can leave one or both sides open on hot days. You can make this thing tall enough to allow for a small candle burner for additional heat, or if you’re in a bugout weekend trip you can take a wood burner and plop it in there. For me, it’s simplicity and durability win me over. It’s actually two separate tarps that button together to form one 2 man shelter. No worries about a zipper breaking, freezing, or ripping off entirely. I also like that theres no bottom. You can make one if you want, but for me, my sleep system will be just fine. In wooded areas with pine I’ll lay down a thick layer of pine bedding on the bottom, regardless which tent I end up choosing. It’s all part of the adventure! This tent would make that very easy indeed. It’s also affordable. You can find it for $169USD new and never used, or roll the dice on a used tent for $30USD.
The choice is great and the options superb. I have no idea which I will decide on. Most likely it will come down to budget and overall confidence in reliability. I’m going to need a beast of a shelter that can take a beating from hot, cold, windy, etc. Give me your thoughts on this and let me know how you’ve overcome this hurdle.