Cycle Touring – Camping

Depending on the type of touring you are doing, you might want to stay in hotels or bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, or free off the side of the road.  For paid accommodation and camping, be sure to refer to your guidebook and plan carefully so you can reach your destination by nightfall.To reduce costs or to simplify travels, it may be preferable to camp off the side of the road in the forest or a farmer’s field.  During our own cycling journeys we almost always camped in this fashion, and never had any problems.  Russia, Europe, Canada and the USA were especially good, and often we found free camping spots far superior to crowded commercial campgrounds.The main attributes we would look for in camping spots would include a water source, privacy, safety (using basic common sense) and scenery.  In areas where safety was a concern, we would try to camp where we weren’t visible (i.e. thick grove of trees), and be careful that nobody observed us departing the road.

Snow Camping
Snow Camping

 

Camping Equipment
The same type of equipment used for backpacking works well for cycle touring.  A lightweight tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat (Thermarests work well) clothing, headlamp, raingear, utensils, etc are a few items that may be required.

 

Cook Stove
Multi-fuel stoves work well; with white gas being my personal favourite fuel (burns cleanly, doesn’t plug the lines, and is cheap).  In some developing countries no fuels other than gasoline can be found.  Not all multi-fuel stoves burn gasoline, so double check if you’re doing remote touring.

Stoves that run on small compressed butane/propane cartridges are good for only very short excursions.  The canisters are often hard to find, are significantly more expensive, and are worse for the environment, since the spent canisters end up in landfills (or rivers and oceans which is where many third-world municipalities dispose of their garbage).

For those with a little more time on their hands, looking to be self-sufficient, and completely independent of fossil fuels, there are a few interesting stoves that use solid fuel (small bits of wood, pine cones, etc), and work quite well.  There is a model commercially made called the Sierra Zip, or you can make your own stove using a large can with holes cut in the bottom and top to allow air flow.  A small fire is created in the base of the can, and the pot sits on the top.  One drawback with solid fuel stoves is they do blacken the pots and pans.