Written by Liz Childers
If you are looking for a more sustainable form of camping and better enjoyment of nature, read these easy tips, grab your bike, and get out on your first bicycle camping trip.

Camping and backpacking enthusiasts are motivated by the delights of being in the fresh air and enjoying nature. Bike camping is a great variety of this. It allows campers to get closer to nature and be more sustainable in their outdoor adventures. Don’t be deterred by ideas that you cannot bike far enough or cannot carry a pack while biking. As long as you have a bike, bicycle camping is much easier than you think!

The Benefits of Bike Camping

Bike camping has many benefits over other types camping. By taking your car or other motorized form of transportation out of the camping equation, you’ll be enjoying a more sustainable form of camping. Many people travel long distances to go camping, ignoring what is near them; biking to your campsite means you will stay more local, and enjoy and explore the woods, fields, or national parks near your home. Bicycle camping also provides better interaction with nature, as you can skip the crowded campground with RVs and generators.

What to Pack

For the most part, packing for a bicycle camping trip is no different than a regular camping trip. You’ll need your sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, water bottle, plate, and utensils. You should also pack bicycle gear, like a pump and patch kit. One hint for bicycle camping gear is, if you have to buy a tent to get started, look for a free standing backpacking tent; not having poles will make the tent much easier to pack. While bike camping is a nice way to be forced to reduce your packing, don’t skimp on the essentials; remember, the bike is carrying the gear, not you, so weight is not a huge issue.

How to Pack

All you need to get going are two easy additions to your bike: a bike rack and panniers. The bike rack is the metal platform that mounts above your tires. Panniers are the bags that sling across the rack and hang on either side of the tire. You can install the rack on the rear tire or on both, depending on how much gear you want to bring. Pack your main gear in the panniers. You can strap your sleeping bag and sleeping pad to the top of the bike rack.

Enjoy Some Food Freedom

If you’re staying near your home, you are probably also near grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants. Stop by the store on your way to the campsite and load up on your favorite foods. Since you aren’t going as far, there is less need for a cooler, and since you aren’t carrying the food on your back, the extra food load will not be a burden. And for breakfast, a nice morning bike ride lets you enjoy the fresh air and head to a bakery for a freshly made treat.

Public Transportation

If you are in a major city, you may not be as easy to bike somewhere nearby to go camping. However, this does not mean you have to strap your bike to you car and drive somewhere. Check out your public transportation systems. Many bus lines and subways allow bikes and can get you started on your trip out of the city.