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Old 04-26-2012, 08:36 PM   #1
1200gsceej OP
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Question Camping n00b seeks advice

Note to Moderator: I could not figure out where to put this, so please move as appropriate.

Except for when I was in the Boy Scouts, I have not been much for camping out. In all my previous motorcycle trips, whether solo or with a buddy, I have stayed in motels. However, now I am considering perhaps more frequent and longer trips – e.g. taking 3-4+ weeks to ride back from the East Coast in July. At a motel-a-night, that gets expensive. I have read many ride reports of folks who camp all the time. I have found the list of Inmates who kindly offer a plot in their back yard for those on the road. So I am thinking about camping. However, for me it is a big step (I have no history to fall back on) so I’d appreciate help from the Collective Wisdom.

1. No Cooking. I am looking at camping only, not cooking. I am perfectly happy to get my breakfast and dinner at a restaurant. I am OK with carrying some packaged provisions should I have to camp where I cannot get one or the other.

2. Tent. What are the critical issues? I have looked at the following tents: REI Half Dome 2 (http://www.rei.com/product/794294/rei-half-dome-2-tent) and Marmot Limelight 2P (http://www.rei.com/product/828149/marmot-limelight-2p-tent). They are both have a nice floor area, are tall enough to sit/change clothes, supposed to be three season, and in my price range. But I don’t know how appropriate/practical they are for motorcycle travel. I have seen others swear by Big Agnes, but that seems a notch up for me.

3. Cot. I’ve slept on the ground before, and on a mat, and don’t think much of either. I’m thinking I’d get one of the two compact cots that I have seen. Here is one: http://www.advdesigns.com/hiteulcocoma.html. What do folks think of them? Notwithstanding what the marketing material says, how do they do inside tents?

4. Sleeping Bag. I have no idea what to shop for in a sleeping bag. I don’t plan any winter weather camping. Mid-spring to mid-fall most likely. How do I get started on research and selecting a sleeping bag?

5. Camp Sites. As a n00b, I am unlikely to do any ‘free camping.’ So where /how do folks find places to stay? Are state parks a reasonable option? The only commercial option I know about is KOA. What should I look for/expect? Is safety an issue (and how would I know what was unsafe)? I have a Garmin Zumo 660. Are there POI files I should get?

6. Packing and Carrying the Gear. Is there a ‘best practices’ to packing the gear on the bike? I have heard over and over that the most important thing is to keep your sleeping bag dry. Do people put such things in dry bags (I have an Orthlieb bag already for my clothes, etc; Vario sidebags are for bike gear and rain gear).

7. What else? I don’t know if I can take any more, but have I omitted something important?


Thanks so much,
-ceej
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:10 PM   #2
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This should probably technically be in the Equipment forum, but if we're talking GS related camping, this is probably fine.

1. Bring some water and peanut butter crackers or something at least. Life sucks without a snack or drink.

2. 3. I have a 'Hammock tent' setup up. I like it. You are off the ground, relatively comfortable with no rocks in your spine. Mine has an insect net and a rainfly for a private, moisture and insect free life style. But you need trees or "something" to tie to. When there are no trees (in the desert) I use a Kelty 1 person tent. You can get some lightweight cots if you arent fat or too tall, they work fine inside tents, bring a tarp or something to put your tent on, it protects it from abrasions from rocks under your tent rubbing against your cot feet. If are you fat or tall, you should just get used to the ground, most people use a lightweight/expensive camp mat. The stupid blue thing at wal-mart is fine for me.

4. I live in Texas, it's either hot or cold here. I carry two things: A sleeping bag liner and a 32 degree bag. When it's hot I sleep on top of the bag, inside the light weight liner, which is comfortable and cool but keeps the wind off me. When it's cool I put the liner inside the bag and sleep inside that, it keeps the sweat off me.

5. In Texas state parks ARE an option. You mileage may vary in other states. Here, there is usually a gate fee and a camping fee. But in exchange you get a sealed gate to keep undesirables out, and usually patrolled by rangers of some sort.

6. I keep my camping gear in drybags (especially the sleeping bag) strapped outside of my panniers. It allows me to keep valuable items in my locked panniers. Nobody wants your smelly camping gear.

7. Don't forget some kind of chair, or camp near a stump. Sitting on the ground blows. Also bring your own toilet paper if you go to a public camp site.
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Snarky screwed with this post 04-26-2012 at 09:16 PM
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:41 PM   #3
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:41 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great plan! Maybe start with a shorter trip to somewhere not totally overrun but still with good facilities.

My attempt at some answers:
1. no cooking should be fine. You could relax that rule a bit and use the fire pit (see below) for grilling meat. That, a bit of toast, some mustard/ketchup/mayonnaise, a beer or two, and you have a balanced meal!
2. Both tents look ok. The marmot is a bit lighter and packs 3 inches shorter, but has only one vestibule. Not sure the vestibule matters if you travel alone.
3. I've always used a self-inflating foam pad. Transporting the cot might be the tricky thing.
4. sleeping bag: Better a bit too warm (just sleep on top) than too cold. They come with temperature ratings.
5. State Parks and National Parks are great. At least in the western US they usually come with fire pits for grilling and benches by the individual camp sites. Also, the spots for individual tents are easier to get than those for RVs (or at least were 20 years ago).
6. Packing: side cases and a duffle across should be sufficient. Sleeping bag and tent can be strapped outside the duffle if necessary. Tools and other heavy stuff (tent stakes, cooking gear if you bring any, beer, mayonnaise jar ) should go low in the panniers.
Disclaimer: my last multi-week camping trip through the western US was 20 years ago.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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as suggested before, we did a "camp trip" that was within 30 minutes of our house, built a fire, set everything up, made a meal, stayed the night and figured out what we still needed (i.e. chairs!)
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix101 View Post
as suggested before, we did a "camp trip" that was within 30 minutes of our house, built a fire, set everything up, made a meal, stayed the night and figured out what we still needed (i.e. chairs!)
Yeah, chairs are kind of a big deal, the first time my buddy and I tested our stuff out at the beach within a half hour of our house, we didn't bring them. It was an evening of sitting in the sand.

Another thing I suggest: Area lighting. If you can't have a fire, which is most places when it's dry, you need (imo) some kind of lantern to sit around at night. I carry a double mantle cheapo chinese one and some matches. You can get the 1lb cylinders at a lot of gas stations around here, I pick them up as I need them. A single mantle lantern (and extra mantles) would be more ideal as they fit easily in gear and are small without the tank.

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Old 04-26-2012, 10:17 PM   #7
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sleeping pad

Someone already mentioned thermarest pads. Those are good, but there are very comfortable, packable mattresses these days that make for a great night's rest. Worth it's weight in gold...
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:19 PM   #8
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2. Tent. What are the critical issues? I have looked at the following tents: REI Half Dome 2 (http://www.rei.com/product/794294/rei-half-dome-2-tent) and Marmot Limelight 2P (http://www.rei.com/product/828149/ma...elight-2p-tent). They are both have a nice floor area, are tall enough to sit/change clothes, supposed to be three season, and in my price range. But I donít know how appropriate/practical they are for motorcycle travel. I have seen others swear by Big Agnes, but that seems a notch up for me. -- those tents are good choices. So is the REI Passage 2 (the one I prefer). Lightweight and packs small.

3. Cot. Iíve slept on the ground before, and on a mat, and donít think much of either. Iím thinking Iíd get one of the two compact cots that I have seen. Here is one: http://www.advdesigns.com/hiteulcocoma.html. What do folks think of them? Notwithstanding what the marketing material says, how do they do inside tents? -- I just recently bought this (expensive) cot and like it a lot. It is small and light and easy to take on a m/c trip.

4. Sleeping Bag. I have no idea what to shop for in a sleeping bag. I donít plan any winter weather camping. Mid-spring to mid-fall most likely. How do I get started on research and selecting a sleeping bag? -- the guy who suggested a mid range sleeping bag ans a liner is right on. The liner might be the Sea to Summit Reactor. That would be a good choice.


6. Packing and Carrying the Gear. Is there a Ďbest practicesí to packing the gear on the bike? I have heard over and over that the most important thing is to keep your sleeping bag dry. Do people put such things in dry bags (I have an Orthlieb bag already for my clothes, etc; Vario sidebags are for bike gear and rain gear). -- I like Exped lateral compression waterproof bags. Also, consider ROK straps as they work well and are easy to use. Watch the ROK strap video to see how they attach.

7. What else? I donít know if I can take any more, but have I omitted something important?
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:20 PM   #9
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I think you are on the right track. Sleeping bags have temp ratings. I bought my last one at Sierra Trading Post online. Good deals.

I think a great resource is the book Beyond Backpacking by Ray Jardine. It's about techniques for ultralight backpacking long distances. It has some of the best advice about camping anywhere. Especially good is the info on site selection. Many of the ideas can easily be applied to moto camping.

Above all, just go and do it. You will learn what to do and not to do pretty quickly. Worst case: you get wet, or cold, or a squirrel eats your breakfast before you do. Sleeping outdoors is a great pleasure. Go for it!
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:26 PM   #10
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This is a hard question to answer. Camping, by it's nature, means you are giving up something you'd have at home or in a motel, but what each person is willing to give up varies from person to person. For example, physical comfort is not too important to me, but I hate bugs crawling on me. That means I might leave a sleeping pad behind for an insect net instead. Your questions are all a matter of choice and you ask them because you aren't sure what the best option is, but I think the best option is the one that works best for you, not the one that works best for us.

The advice of going on "one night stands" nearby is a good one. Just like you don't change an ignition coil for the first time on the side of the road, don't make a 4 week cross-country trip your first camping adventure, unless you are okay with buying things as you go and throwing away the things you brought but don't need.

On the other hand, if you are heading out into the bush away from civilization, the rules change. There you really do need to have a minimum standard of survival supplies in order to get by should the worst case become true. But if you are just crossing the country and staying in campgrounds, worst case you end up in a motel for a night because you don't have what you need for the weather.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:34 PM   #11
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First off, I highly recommend the half dome 2. I got mine after reading many positive reviews, and I absolutely love it. Easy to set up, easy to pack up, smal compact and you can't beat the REI warranty.

Secondly, pay campgrounds are shrinking up quick. As more and more people use RVs, I've found that many camp areas don't allow tents for insurance reasons. It seems people in RVs tend to back up over the tents. Sometimes with people in them. National forests and blm lands offer dispersed camping options. This means that in general, you can ride into some blm land, find a nice spot, park your bike and camp. No need to look for a developed campsite, especially if you don't need a fire ring.

I will also agree with others that you should consider a stove. I understand that you won't be cooking, but sometimes just a hot cup of coffee or tea while the sun rises, or a nice quick bowl of oatmeal before the day will get you started on the right foot.

As far as storage, I've found the Wolfman expedition dry bags are fantastic. I get my tent, sleeping pad, stove, cookware, shit tickets, sleeping bag and most of my dry food in with room to spare. It lashes down nice and tight, and comes off with relative ease.

Good luck, and enjoy the woods.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:03 PM   #12
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yes... you can make a lot of stuff with hot water.... everything from tea to complete dinners that are at least OK & damn good when you are cold & hungry. A good stove is a campers friend on many levels. MSR stoves are the top of the line. The International burns almost anything.

Check out Big Agness bags and tents. All are well thought out. The bags don't waste material on the bottom where you mat will do the work... this saves weight and (more importantly) volume. I have owned and used a lot of top stuff (Bibler, Black Diamond, Patagonia, North Face, Kelty, Marmot, Eureka & more)... these guys are my current favorite.

I have been an avid back country traveler & camper in my home state of Alaska since about 1964. Big Agness is affordable and as good as high digit stuff like Bibler and Patagonia. Good camping stuff makes camping fun, and you will want to do it more... bad gear makes you miserable. REI brand products are good quality & really hard to beat for the price... and the guarantee is the best (I've been a member for over 30 years). I've seen stuff returned that has obviously been abused for a long time, yet they took it back. They carry most of the good brands and I would recommend you buy from them just for that reason alone.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:05 PM   #13
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last summer-fall I did about 60 days camping on the bike. 30+ at one stretch.
when i started the trip i was in your shoes...now i think i have a good system down.
im looking forward to doing it again this summer

1. No Cooking. I don't bring food on the bike for 2 reasons....BEARS and i cant be assed to do the dishes.
do bring high protein snacks, a few cans of tuna,power bars etc just in case you get stuck somewhere remote.
this year i may do some camp cooking. it can be hard to get a good meal if you are out traveling by fire road and trail...i had quite a few rotten meals...and sometimes you run out of daylight.
bring water..i have a camelback that hangs on the bike..i can drink while riding, and 2 ss bottles for coffee and brushing teeth. i have a tiny alcohol stove and coffee pot. works great/

2. Tent. having clips for the poles rather than sleeves is a great feature that makes setup a breeze.
After using a tent last year i will be using a Hennessy hammock this year. so much better than sleeping on the ground.
whatever tent you get set it up in your backyard and seam seal it. buy a footprint/ground tarp for it. i keep the tent/rainfly/footprint in a separate dry bag because it is usually still damp from dew or rain when i want to hit the road...having s separate bag keeps your sleeping gear dry. having glow in the dark zipper pulls is great when you have to pee at 4am and forgot your piss bottle. you do have a piss bottle right?


3. Cot. i started with a great air mattress with a built in pump. it got a slow leak and i ended up on a foam pad for awhile...then sprung for a thermarest basecamp self inflating job. it was comfy but hard to stay on it on uneven ground. and it packs big.
now ill be in my hammock all comfy.

4. Sleeping Bag. this is tough...i bought a few last year trying to find the right setup to get me from the deep south to Canada. in the end i settled on a very inexpensive 20 degree bag from amazon.com it is actually very nice and packs up quite small. also i have an underquilt for my hammock. in addition i have a fleece liner and a cotton liner. i have not decided if i will bring the liners this time with the hammock. maybe just the cotton one or a fleece throw. sleeping bags don't work well in hammocks.

5. Camp Sites. get the apps "we camp here" and "allstays camp and tent" they are available for android, not sure about i phone. they are not perfect but are a great resource for finding camp sites along your route. public campgrounds can be great...or a loud, buggy pain in the ass. this year i will be doing as much stealth camping as possible.

also you can look for motorcycle friendly campgrounds and find other two wheel campers.


6. Packing and Carrying the Gear. i use hard panniers and dry bags. one dry bag for my sleeping bags etc. and one for my tent. you may want a top box so you can lock some stuff up..or get one of those steel net things. a small bicycle cable lock is a great way to lock up your jacket and helmet..run it through the sleeve and chinbar of your lid and lock it to the luggage rack.

7. What else?
first aid kit, it is up to you how comprehensive of one you want. i travel very back roads alone so i have as a minimum a small basic kit, quick clot, suture kit,sawyer venom extractor, a loud whistle, and signal mirror.
lights...carry at least 2 small led flashlights, a led headlamp, and a led lantern....this one is amazing...
http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com...orbit-lantern/
yo can find it for about $20 online.

microfiber towels for showers etc

rather than toilet paper which is so flimsy i carry kleenex brand paper towels..they are great as tp, nose tissue, or anything else. i just save a few half used rolls for the bike..squish em and they pack flat.

don't go crazy trying to get it all right before you leave...you can tweak the small stuff on the road. you will see other campers setup and get ideas.

most of all have fun





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Old 04-27-2012, 12:19 AM   #14
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Nothing like camping to make you realize how many times you piss at night.

Headlamp/ hands-free RED light
Easy slip-on camp shoes(Merrell)
Baby wipes & toilet paper

Glow in the dark zipper pulls! I wish I had thought of that.

One time I did a week of primitive in Colorado. The latrine was dug about 250 yards away from the campsite. The middle of the second night I had to deuce. I walked out into the darkness in just shorts and boots. It took me an hour to find my way back to camp. I had a flash light, but I did not use it until I got out of camp; then it ruined my night vision, and I got turned around. A ranger had come by earlier that day and warned us that a bear had mauled an olympic trainee three days before. I was half naked, freezing and freaked out.
Moral: Don't Poop.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by go gonzo View Post
Nothing like camping to make you realize how many times you piss at night.

Easy fix. When mountain climbing we take an empty one liter Nalgene bottle into our bag when sleeping so we don`t fall off in the dark. Fill `er up as required, just like at the gas station (nice mental picture eh?) DO NOT MISTAKE THIS BOTTLE for your drinking water bottle

OP
A cot will punch a hole in your tent floor as it sinks into soft earth unless you have a heavy canvas bottom or a wood sheet to rest the legs on.
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