Camping Gear Questions

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Rider, Dec 12, 2001.

  1. Rider

    Rider In Your Heart, You Know I'm Right

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    Okay, I admit it: I'm middle-aged, overweight guy and I ride a leviathan behemoth of a motorcycle (BMW K1200LT) and suddenty - virtually out of nowhere - I am getting an old (and odd) urge that I thought long dead: I want to camp again.
    Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Is he mad?"
    Probably.
    Well, I usually stay in medium-quality motels when I tour. And I find many of them grossly overpriced, filthy dirty, often staffed with surly and/or incompetent mouth-breathers, and they're usually located all too close to major traffic crossroads and other hazards of modern America.
    In other words, I wanna get away from it all.
    Now, next year I plan on taking a Big Tour. I don't know where. I don't know when. I don't know much of anything at this point except that I'm going somewhere, damn it, and it's going to be for at least 10 days and I'm considering camping about every other night or so, both to save precious dollars and to experience the Great Outdoors and be One with Nature ... sort of.
    I haven't camped in almost 20 years and have absolutely NO equipment whatsoever, so I'm starting from scratch.
    I'd like some feedback on what tent to buy (I'll be traveling solo, with the good graces of my wife), as well as tips on sleeping bags, air mattresses or other similar devices and any other camping gear you can think of, including perhaps air pumps, etc. (Keep in mind I have a very questionable lower back, one of the things that's making me question my sanity on this.) I do not want to spend an outrageous sum of money because I doubt I'll camp again on a regular basis (though you never know, I suppose), I have a limited budget (new car) and ... well ... ummmmm ... I'm just cheap. I don't need enough stuff to climb Mt. Ararat or search for bin Laden in the caves near Khandahar, just some decent gear for maybe 5 or 6 nights under the stars, enough to stay dry and away from blood-sucking insects. I do need, however, decent-quality gear that won't self-destruct after a day in the sun or turn to cheese after a night of rain.
    Okay ... 'nuf said.
    Any ideas, gang?
    And thanks in advance ...
    #1
  2. Rider

    Rider In Your Heart, You Know I'm Right

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    Man, O-Shen ... talk about quick replies!
    Thanks ever so much for the words of wisdom. Duly noted and logged. I'll begin my search for gear in earnest soon.
    #2
  3. stevenknapp

    stevenknapp Long timer

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    A 2nd vote for the thermarest LE. It even packs down smaller than some of the lesser thermarests. :)

    O-shen has more expirence than I do with the other stuff.

    I've not camped much, I bought my gear based on it's packed size. Small tent, bag, and stove. My wife who camps more but with a car was confused. Small stuff has worked OK for me and has suprised her. I think my bag is synthethic, but it was designed to pack down small. I forget the details.

    I'm with you BMW Rider. I'm going to head MC camping for the first time as soon as the weather turns around. I figure I'll try it a couple times close to home and test the gear I have.

    Keep in touch, let us all know how things are going.

    Oh, yeah, ya might check here:
    http://www.bmwmoa.org/camping/index.htm

    O-shen...all that shit fit? WOW! Do tell how?

    I'm curious how to get the tent poles to fit into the bags. They seem too long. Ideas?
    #3
  4. moon

    moon Space Cowboy

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    One quick recommendation about the thermorest -- I would go with the full length version rather than the 3/4 length. It's nice to keep your dogs off the cold ground while your sleeping.
    #4
  5. Marc

    Marc Just sayin...

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    BMW Rider,

    A while back, we had a good thread going on Motorcycle Camping Tents. Well, the long and the short of it was I took fish's advice and went out and bought a Sierra Designs Alpha CD Tent. It works GREAT for me camping solo and will comfortably fit The BOY when he comes along. Not only that, but I got it on e-bay in October for < $200 new - great time to pick up camping gear!

    As far as other's opinions about the Thermarest LE - do it. Well worth the investment. My old sleeping bag has seen its' last season, so next season, I'm looking at the North Face Blue Ox Sleeping Bag - yes, it's down so there are a few dis-advantages, but it is HUGE and comes in extra-long to fit my generous dimensions. That's all I have for now...

    Marc
    #5
  6. Myles Whitfield

    Myles Whitfield Studly Moderator

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    Damn Son! Yer drivin' the Light Truck for Chrissakes!
    The only camping gear I'd carry would be an American Express Card...

    No, seriously....Love the Sierra Designs tents-buy a three man for two-leaves room for gear. Thermarest-way to be...North Face make pretty good bags, espescially in the "oversize" department...Get a gear loft and footprint (ground tarp) for the tent. Buy real tent stakes....

    Carry Duct tape, a candle, and a bic lighter....A little single malt doesn't hurt either...

    Happy Trails...if the LT gets stuck in the mud, send up a flare and we'll get you out.
    #6
  7. Rider

    Rider In Your Heart, You Know I'm Right

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    Myles (and O-SHEN and everybody else too),
    First, thanks for the terrific responses to my query. As a camping novice (virgin?) I'm pretty much at a loss so this info has been invaluable and I really appreciate it.
    As for the Amex Card, well, that's the way I've traveled for years and it does have its advantages: hot indoor showers, air conditioned rooms, and the hotel bar. But I figure "roughing it" for a few nights every year might not be a bad alternative ... sort of reconnect with Nature or something ... :smile6
    That single malt suggestion is right up my alley, though I prefer bourbon. And I'll have to remember to hook up my martini mixer on the LT ... :evil
    Now, if I do get stuck in the mud aboard the Light Truck, I appreciate the offer to come get me out. I reckon a Huey helicopter and a sling ought to get the job done, huh?
    :rofl
    #7
  8. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

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    There are a bizzillion tents out there! I bought a Walrus Repede a couple years ago. Goes up & down real fast! Packs small & light. My next tent will be bigger though! :smile6
    Don't leave home without the thermorest & camping pillow!
    Can pick up some Travel John's at K-store! These things are great for losing fluids without getting out of your tent at night! :super
    On 2 week trips, I would camp every other night & motel it every other:):
    Taking MRE'S saves all the space of cooking stuff ! They're good!
    If you're one of those people that have to have hot coffee in the morning, take a thermos & fill it up the night B-4! :hat
    #8
  9. jocflier

    jocflier Dammit, that hurt...

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    O-Shen is spot on about the Western Mountineering bags..Best bags out there for us larger people..Down side is they are not cheep...Thermorest LS pads..got to have one...remember..you can have the grestest tent in the world and best food..but nothing worst then having a crappy night sleep...Don't cut cost there..

    Rick
    #9
  10. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    A few comments:

    1) I do not recommend down as an insulator unless you can guarantee it will never get wet - which of course you cannot. Synthetic insulators are almost as good in every respect except for a very slight weight penalty which would not be noticeable on a motorcycle. What you will notice is that the synthetic gear will keep you warm even when it is wet. I have been glad for this advantage of synthetic over down a number of times.

    2) Since you have a bad back I recommend you get a folding cot along with a sleeping pad as this will help a lot.

    3) Bivy sack type shelters are light and small, but they do not give you the opportunity to easily store gear out of the rain and muck and can be too warm in the heat. When it is raining out it is very nice to be able to move around in a small tent and get all dressed/undressed out of the rain. Same goes for avoiding bugs.

    4) I personally prefer tents that are one piece; in that they do not need a rain fly. They are somewhat heavier, but they are much easier to erect, especially when it is raining and windy, and you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to put the rain fly on because a rain storm caught you by surprise.

    5) I recommend against cheap sub $100 tents; one night in the rain in one of those tents and you will know true misery.

    6) If you are doing your own cooking during camping then I recommend teflon lined pans. This makes cleanup much easier.

    7) Do not cook inside your tent as there is a real risk of fire and injury, not to mention asphixiation.

    FWIW,
    LCB
    #10
  11. Rider

    Rider In Your Heart, You Know I'm Right

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    Thought I'd resurrect this old thread. I think it might have been the first one I started, way back in 1933. :scratch
    Anyway, I'm still considering doing the camping thing to BMWGSBYOB II in Hot Springs, NC next June.
    So if your idea of calling it a night is crawling into Farmer McCullough's corn crop and using your Shoei as a pillow, feel free to add your two cents.
    Oh, and as a caveat, two cents is about what I want to spend. Think cheap but not shoddy.
    Discuss amongst yourselves ...
    #11
  12. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    Spend good money on the sleeping bag and pad. I have a Northface bag and the thickest thermarest they had. Like both.
    I'd get a cheap tent- you don't need light you do need waterproof and roomy. Look for a large rainfly( some of the cheapest tents have a nylon handkerchief pretending to be a rainfly), shockcorded poles( i prefer fiberglas to aluminum-don't break when you stumble over them and why pay a premium for light weight). You want a free standing dome tent with a tub floor. The cheaper ones use woven pvc for the floor, like what you use for a tarp over your wood pile. I think this is actually better for moto camping than the more expensive light weight nylon floors-you don't need a ground cloth, the plastic resists chafing when packed and resists punctures and tears when in use.
    Clip systems are a little easier to set up, but sleeves for the tent poles work fine, specially since you don't plan on a lot of use. Use seam sealer on the sewn seams of your new tent.
    Campmore is a good mailorder source for gear. We got an Eureka tent from them last Spring which is very nice. Think it was about $120. Replaced a $30 WhiteStag that I have used hard for several years-got that one from the local chain hardware store.
    #12
  13. Jabba

    Jabba "HOLD THE LIGHT!!!"

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    Don't leave home without a Thermarest Camprest LE- trust me on this one Rider- I'm a fat phuck like you- with a bad back... you'll sleep great on one of these- and like shit on damned near anything else. It is hugely overpriced and you'll choke when you buy it- but you will actually sleep- and that can be priceless~ You can get away with just about any sleeping bag that's good to 40 degrees or so... you probably won't camp if it's going to get any colder than that. If you want to borrow a tent for BMWBYOBII I can bring my spare- You can just hotel it enroute- and then camp at the event.
    #13
  14. Pussboy

    Pussboy 'Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.'

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    Rider,

    Head on down to Sawmill Road there and check out Galyan's to see if they have any good Post Holiday sales going. They have a lot of high quality stuff there. I bought a Marmot bag before Xmas. It was 20% off and I got a free sleeping pad! Plus, you can try the bag you want to buy. That was important for me because the bag said for up to 6'. I'm 6'2" and I thought I would have to get a "tall" bag but I didn't.

    They had a bunch of tents on clearance too. I'll see you around. I took a 50 mile ride last night (12/26). Got home about 10pm. My face shield was actually frosting up!
    #14
  15. Komet

    Komet The Voice of Reason

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    'Rider,
    Wifey got me a few camping toys for Christmas as I want to try that route a little this year...You can get decent stuff relatively cheap if you will go the route of sale/discontinued/overstock etc. She bought me a NorthFace Rock 22 tent, Kelty bag, and a basecamp thermarest. I believe the basecamp is a tad thicker for us old fellas. I'll probably get a small cartridge type (propane/butane) stove (I've got coleman stoves, just don't want to fool with the fuel). I won't fool with a lantern...LED flashlights will suffice. Probably will go very sparce with utensils too. Too many cafes abound. And for entertainment...she got me a neat little radio, a Grundig Yachtboy. I have little-biddy TV's but won't take them on a camping trip...much rather have a book & radio. This won't be exactly roughing it...I've BTDT. Oh, and I'm sure I'll have some sort of equalizer along if you know what I mean.
    #15
  16. Gerg

    Gerg Gergy Bear

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    Check the "Hot Deals" at the very bottom of the page at
    Campmor The have a high turn over of Hot Deals. Got most of my stuff either there or at REI.

    Greg
    #16
  17. CroMag

    CroMag Gelande Sauté It

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    another vote for Thermarest.

    I also bought cheap stuff, first time out, and got hooked. The cheap stuff that survived, soon got replaced. The good stuff you can always sell at a reasonable price, if you decide once is enough.

    Get some camp candles and a decent headlamp. it sucks setting up your tent at night, if you can't see. You can use the headlight from the bike, but you have to get your gear OFF the bike first, and a good Petzl headlamp can be stowed in the tankbag or jacket pocket for easy access.

    The bulb (incandescent) headlamps generally are brighter and have more range. The LED headlamps run a lot longer on same batteries, but have a much shorter range. I carry one of each, the bulb type for hiking and the LED for setting up camp.
    #17
  18. Mully

    Mully Kineticist

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    `K, here's my $0.02:

    Tents:
    - avoid anything with pole sleeves; you'll hate them when it's dark and you're tired. Clips are preferred.
    - Easton aluminum poles with shock-cord are the best and most reliable
    - you want a zippered vent in the rain fly to let heat/moisture out and regulate temperature
    - there's no such thing as a vestibule that's too big when boots are muddy and riding gear is wet
    - if you have a choice, go for something with yellow or orange uppers: the quality of interior light is more upbeat
    - you'll want a "footprint" to protect the tent floor from rocks
    - the best tentpegs are the ones that look like giant nails, made of steel; you'll also want a plastic mallet to hammer on them when the ground is hard
    - "end" doors are less convenient than side doors
    - taller is better, but since you don't get stand-up capability until you get into "Family" tents (which are much larger, heavier, and cheaper than MC-camping-suitable stuff) its a moot point
    - I recommend you not buy a tent you have not personally seen and clambered in/out; that's the only way to know for sure whether it "fits"
    - best brands include Sierra Designs, Mountain Hardware, Marmot, and North Face. I've camped in a SD "Nightwatch" since 1996.

    Sleeping Bags
    - synth is better than down until it gets below freezing: who camps below 0C?
    - square bags allow you more movement freedom if you're a restless sleeper
    - spend extra time working out the proper pillow; your neck will thank you
    - a tent is good for 10~20 degrees of sleeping bag warmth rating; if you sleep "cold", go for something in the 40F range and plan on wearing poly long johns on cold nights - or stay in a motel.
    - most of the "mountain" tents are overkill for summer camping; I've a Wiggy's midweight square bag I like a lot and I've never been cold in it down to about 30F; I've been too warm at 50F

    Cooking gear
    - I carried a liquid fuel stove for years but have converted to canned fuel (isopropane/butane) since seeing incidents of fuel bottles opening in panniers and having a fire situation from over-priming. Latest models include piezo-electric starters and fuel is now cheap and plentiful
    - teflon-lined cookware is necessary; any camping store should have a good lineup
    - the best addition I've made to my gear in years is a foldable insulated cooler I carry on the rear seat; allows for iced lunches, beverages, fruit on the road

    Lights
    - somebody recommended a "head" light: I second that. Pelican makes a good one. Best moment I've had was when I was putting up the tent at the Winter Rally down in Fla. a couple years back and a mixed group walked by: one of the men commented "Hey, look at that! He looks like a miner!" One of the women remarked "No, he looks like my gynecologist!" :lol3
    - Inova makes a nice led hand lamp, but when you want light there's Surefire and then everything else.....I recommend the G2 Nitrolon or Z2 Combat

    Sleeping Pads
    - it's already been said: Thermarest. Get the long thick one. Period.

    Camp Chairs
    - Kermit's: art in design, combined with craftsman work and excellent materials.

    PM me if I can help.

    HTH
    Mully
    #18
  19. CroMag

    CroMag Gelande Sauté It

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    Mully brought up some good extras:

    Pillow - never carry one, but I use a gear sack and stuff it with clothes at night. Pretty comfy.

    The whisperlite camp stoves will run on gasoline, kerosene, white gas, etc., so getting fuel is never a problem. I also carry an aluminum coffe pot. I gotsa have my fresh roast java in the a.m.
    #19
  20. Komet

    Komet The Voice of Reason

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    Something else to consider 'Rider...WP bags...H2W or the like for your sleeping gear etc.
    #20