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Old 02-22-2015, 03:52 PM   #1
Powersnatch OP
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Minimal Camping - newb

Hello ADV-ers, looooong time lurker, first time poster :)

A little about me, broad strokes: been riding for a couple years, on roads (I'm not doing any offroading... yet). Been wrenching on bikes for a couple years too. Learning lots and feeling good about what I'm doing. Been rebuilding my old CB750 for the giant trip I'm about to embark on. From Calgary Alberta, to the southern tip of mexico (via Death Valley), and then back up the Baja and Pacific Coast highway to Tofino BC (where I'll rendezvous with my fella). Doing this trip solo over 9 weeks, taking it day by day.

I plan on using airbnb and couchsurfing where ever possible, but also want to be safe if I get stranded, or need to get through the night somewhere unexpected. ALSO, don't want to be weighed down with a tonne of gear I'm not going to use on the regular. I'm keenly aware that I need to spend a night in Death Valley if I'm going to make the most of my time there. There are no towns or accommodation I can access (recommendations maybe?), so camping will be necessary.

My saddlebag situation will be minimal, 2 army bags each about the size of a jumbo cereal box.

I need advice! I'm not adverse to being uncomfortable for a night or 4 throughout the duration of the trip, also don't want to die or have scorpions crawling on my face in the night (same thing).

Thanks so much for reading! I know I'm a total assh0le stranger to y'all, but your input is super appreciated.
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:01 PM   #2
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There is a ton of information on that topic in this sub-forum. If you use the "search this forum" feature you can use a variety of search terms to zero in on some good discussions and advice on questions you may have.
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:18 PM   #3
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Yup, lots of info available. Just dig around. Pack less than you think you need, leave space for things you find out along the way that you definitely need that you didn't bring. Walmarts are all over the damn place like a cancer, but they do have most anything you'd ever need in a pinch.

Some sort of hydration system or camelback will be a must.

I've only used airbnb once, it was a pretty good experience and very inexpensive. Never used the tent space thread but it's here somewhere
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:25 PM   #4
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As far as Death Valley goes, there are motels at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells and Panamint Springs. DV web site here:
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:34 PM   #5
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There is a minimalist tournig thread that has some great pro tips.

It is for 250cc MC, but the idea is the same.

Ohh, and welcome to ADV Rider.
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:54 PM   #6
U'mmmm yeaah!!
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Welcome aboard... bring a tire plug kit and a mini compressor.

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Old 02-22-2015, 09:56 PM   #7
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Try searching some of the ultralight backpacking forums for ideas. They get pretty geeky, but you can see how compact and light sleeping systems can get.

My lightweight moto setup fits in a 28 liter bag and consists of a Tarptent, a down quilt from Enlightened Equipment (30 degree), a sleeping pad from REI ("Flash"), ultralight down jacket from Montbell, good synthetic thermals and a fleece beenie. This setup is comfortable for me down to the low 40's F and weighs less than 5 lbs. It allows for comfortable, waterproof and (importantly) bug proof nights at camp.

I fit a cook kit, first aid kit, extra water bladder (MSR), "town" clothes, and electronic chargers and such in that bag too. Camera, head lamp and small stuff in a tank bag. Riding gear is my waterproof layer.

Don't know how that compares to "two large cereal boxes", but it's in the ball park maybe.

Enjoy the trip, sounds like good fun!

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Old 02-23-2015, 11:08 AM   #8
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Thanks people! Great advice! It's a big site, one can spend a lot of time thrashing around. I did find the magic word though 'bivy sack'.

Tire repair, tools, etc, all on board. Looking into your links @coyotethistle, thanks!
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:25 AM   #9
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Sounds like you are going to have a great adventure, definitely do keep the packing to a minimum. Personally I think it is miserable to ride around on a bike loaded down full of crap like a lot of people do. The bike is no fun to ride if it has so much junk on it that you can barely hold it up lol.

I would get the camelback, heck you can get cheap ones at walmart that works great.

Get a cooling vest for around $30 at cyclegear or somewhere. They come in handy when things get hot.

I wouldn't pack any food other than maybe a couple of power bars, etc. it is not like you will go days without finding a store or gas station or restaurant on your trip.
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:52 AM   #10
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I didn't catch when you were going, however, based on your Calgary address, I'm going to guess May at the earliest.

With that in mind, you'll be reaching Death Valley in a pretty hot time of year. Words can't really describe it to us Northern folks, but riding for long periods in that kind of heat can really take a tole. The issue is that there's very few places to stop for shade or water. The roads leading in and out of the park are particularly baron in both shade and population. Planning is essential, and a gallon of water won't be enough.

I did it in mid October, and the day time temps in Furnace Creek/Badwater (the lowest and hottest areas) where in the mid 90s. May-June will be much hotter.

But on that same note, I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's an incredible place that no picture can do justice for. Not just the rock and canyon formations, but the paved roads are awesome for riding. If it's a tripple digit day, overnight it, and plan to get moving at sunrise. The temps will be better and the colors will be amazing.

On your return trip north, I think you'll miss the typical north west rain, so that'll be good. If you haven't been to Vancouver Island, it's amazing. Tofino is very pretty, if you can avoid the tourists.

You're only camping reference was in Death Valley. Not sure if it's worth spending $$$ for just one night of camping. Although I'll admit, I did it twice, and the stars and morning sunrises were amazing.

If you are thinking about more camping and want to save weight, expect to spend$$$$. Once you hit a certain threshold of weight savings, the prices go up dramatically. I walked out of the San Francisco REI with the middle of the road camping basics (tent, pad, bag, pillow, cooking pot) and a wallet that was $580 lighter

One little tip that I found successful: buy your camping gear at REI, use it for 1-2 nights, then return it at another REI on the way. Worked for me twice
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Powersnatch View Post
Thanks people! Great advice! It's a big site, one can spend a lot of time thrashing around. I did find the magic word though 'bivy sack'.

Tire repair, tools, etc, all on board. Looking into your links @coyotethistle, thanks!

First of all, welcome! Your screen name is funny and bold at the same time.

From the first post, I was thinking "bivy sack". I recommend a low temperature sleeping bag to go with it. When they say 25 degrees F, that means you won't die. It can get below freezing in places like Death Valley, so I would get a 5-10 degree F bag, with the waterproof bivy. Roll it tight in a waterproof bag, and use ratchet straps (cut off any excess length) to attach it to the back of your bike. Don't trust bungee cords, as they can come loose over bumps and wrap into your wheel. Don't ask me how I know. A self inflating mattress would be nice, but I would not want to carry it that far if you only plan to use it a few times.

For extra water, you might consider this thing called "sweet cheeks" that holds 4 liters. You can pack it away when you don't need it, and buy 2 liter bottles of drink along the way. If you can't find a drink you like, just dump it out and use the bottles for water. I would think one of lemonaid and one of tea would be a good buy, though.

There are tiny stoves you can get if you would like coffee or simple dehydrated food. When I backpack, I carry an Esbit stove. It fits in my pocket. and the fuel pellets are available all over. The pan for boiling water can fit over the end of your sleeping bag.

If you camp/stay at Furnace Creek (Death Valley) they have a store and restaurant.

The west coast has quite a few hostels. On the coast, in the cities, near Yosemite, etc. Private rooms can get booked up in advance, but you can usually get a bed in a female dorm. The 2 lighthouse hostels in California are the exceptions. Even the dorms get booked up. If you plan to use them a lot, it may be worth it to become a member for the discount.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:05 AM   #12
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Check out the Pacific Crest Trail hikers forums as some of those guys and gals get their base pack weights well under 20 lbs. And that's for hiking for months away from resupply options. Ray Jardine wrote a book or two on ultralight packing as well. He's good at coming up with solutions that are different though not all work for everyone.
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Old 02-27-2015, 02:54 PM   #13
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It sounds like you are looking for the absolute minimum. If you only plan on camping a night here and there when you have no other choice, just plan on eating things you don't have to cook. All you really need is a way to sleep comfortably. Just a light sleeping bag is all you might really need. Maybe a bivy to keep the scorpions off. Sleep in your clothes to extend the temp range. Sleep on a soft surface like grass or sand and you can get away without a pad if it's not cold. But cold ground will suck the heat right out of you. There are some inflatable pads that pack really small. Big Agnes aircore for example.
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:11 PM   #14
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Dudes! Hi.

Not planning on bringing along any cooking gear at all. I think if I wanted to the furthest I would go would be tinfoil on hot coals. That esbit stove looks pretty baller though.

I am MAINLY worried about creepy crawlys being all over me , or else I would use a sleeping bag and a tarp. Ugh. Decent bivy sacks that have the pole thing to keep it off your face are not inexpensive... there's one coming online at MEC thats $180 that fills my criteria, available in the spring. Vague! Alarming! I hope I can stumble on a secondhand one sometime before I go.

I'd really prefer not to bring any of this stuff, but should err on the side of caution, I guess. I'm mostly bitter that emergency gear and the tools will take up one complete saddlebag and may never get used.

@antirich5, I grew up on Vancouver Island! Planning on meeting up with my BF there and spending some time in Tofino, Carmanah Valley, Hornby, etc.

I'm definitely underestimating how hot it'll be in Death Valley, this is known. I'm also underestimating how taxing all the travel will be, and how difficult it will be to make cheap accomodation arrangements with almost no notice to would-be hosts. That ADV couchsurfing plan looks promising, but I can't get it to load.
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:24 PM   #15
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There's really only two ways...three, actually.

First is, get in with an organized tour that'll have a chase truck take your luggage. Never done that; but it seems as if it might be a great time. Remove the weight and the hassle and have your gear toted for you. Depending on the group, it might be a good time. Or might not.

Second...I've never tried this but I'd thought of it. Make up, say, three packs. MAIL two of them to the second and third campsite or post office nearby...General Delivery. So they're there, separate from you.

If you have time, mail the third pack also, to your first stop.

Stop, use what showed up in the mail; box it up and mail it to your fourth stop. And so on. Let Pony Express carry your crap.

I don't know how well that would work. If you wanted to include a cot, of course, it would get spendy...having three cots to relay.

Of course there is the third choice. I DO have experience with this one.

Works at lodging establishments everywhere.
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