Guest blog: Hammock camping for the motorbike tourist
It was while researching for my first big motorbike tour that I discovered camping hammocks. I'd never heard of them before. I was looking for a lightweight, easy to pack, simple to set-up camping solution so that I could maximise the time I spend riding and minimise the time spent setting up camp and breaking down again.
I'd done a few trips to bike meets with one of those pop-up tents that collapses into a circle but it's difficult to strap them safely to a motorbike. So, when I saw a video of a camping hammock, complete with a tarp, I was intrigued.
I ended up getting a DD Travel Hammock and tested it out. It was comfy - really comfy. Way better than tent camping. I invested in a snakeskin, making it easy to pitch. Whoopie slings made it easy to adjust. Extra long tree-huggers meant I could hang from anywhere. The bug net was made from mesh small enough to keep out UK midgies and the whole sleep system, including sleeping bags, air mat, XL Tarp and gear hammock fit into a roll bag that strapped to the pillion seat. I was ready to ride.
My first trip was a ten day blast along the best biking roads the UK has to offer, known as the Bike-8 (because it was designed by Bike mag and is in the shape of a figure 8 around Scotland, Wales and England). This was not a simple autobahn slog across Europe, punctuated with a few mountain passes. No, this was wall to wall curves, twists, blind bends, technical riding and yes, okay, the odd mountain pass. And all this under the changeable British weather that we like to call Springtime.
The Travel Hammock was easily the best choice in terms of accommodation. For me, this meant no booking camp sites or B&B's, no searching for flat ground so I could get a good sleep in a tent. I could ride all day if I wanted to. And most days I did. I'd just ride until the sun started to sink, then pick out some trees on the horizon and head towards them. Then it was simply a case of rigging the hammock and tarp up in the fading light and relaxing. It didn't matter if it was raining, or if the ground was wet, or stony – I never had to kneel down, perfect after hours crouched over a V-Twin engine.
I'd sleep soundly, then wake to the sunlight and the dawn chorus, pack up before anyone except the occasional dog-walker was alive, and be back on the road til lunchtime. It was great fun and simply wouldn't have been possible – and certainly not as comfortable – without the hammock.
If you'd like to read about my trip, the story starts here.
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About the writer
Dan is a photographer from Newcastle, UK. He's often road tripping with his motorbike and has also appeared on DD TV doing reviews and tutorials!