When biking and camping collide – the Bikamper
Camping, especially when it’s not car-supported camping, is all about reducing what you have to carry with you. If someone comes along with a tent that doesn’t require poles, then that’s definitely welcome news. As its name implies, however, what Topeak’s Bikamper does require instead is a bicycle – probably a little bulkier to carry with you than tent poles, but presumably the folks at Topeak are assuming that you would have the bike with you already.
The one-person, three-season tent is made from water-resistant urethane-coated 45D ripstop nylon, with a waterproof fly. Your 26-inch or 700C front wheel slides vertically into the foot of the tent, to give it structure, while the rest of your bike is parked nose-in at the head. There, loops at the top of the canopy attach to your handlebars, while the fly proceeds to hook around the back of your seat. Adjustable-length tie-downs keep everything from blowing away.
The arrangement does look a little unstable as pictured, but what you can’t see are the fork anchors that slide into the front dropouts, then stake down into the ground. The whole thing weighs in at 1.63 kg (3.59 lbs), and stuffs down into a small pack that can be strapped to your handlebars or rack.
It definitely looks like a neat idea for bicycle tourists, so long as you keep in mind that once you’ve got your tent set up, you won’t be riding your bike again until the next morning. If you were staying at the same campsite for multiple days, this would mean that you’d have to set up and tear down your tent every day, even though you weren’t relocating.
Road bike riders should also note that they would be required to turn their dropped handlebars drops-up (yuck!) when using their bike to hold up the tent.
The Bikamper is available at various retailers, for around US$150-$200.