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  1. #1
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    Vending Machine for Tents/Cots/Chairs

    Recently I was able to sleep in a large tent on a cot and realized what a luxury this is compared to what camping supplies I can carry on a bike with me. This caused me to wonder if multi-day cycling tours would become more popular if camping spots were available along bike paths with folding-frame tents, cots, and chairs for rent via a large vending machine.

    I picture the vending machine as a regular shipping container built with doors along the sides that open electronically once a payment is made via a smartphone app (similar to lockers). Since these folding tents, cots, and chairs have a small profile, a large number of such doors could be placed on the sides of the container and a door on the side would give access to personnel who would need to visit the vending machine periodically to check the equipment, etc.

    The benefits of such a system would be keeping cost low so that such camping areas could be located frequently along bike roads. That way, inexperienced cyclists wouldn't need to ride an additional 20 miles to the next campsite. Every ten or even five miles, such a vending machine could be available and users could park their bikes, check out the needed equipment and go find a clear spot to set it up for the night.

    Do you think such a system would make multiday bike touring easier and more popular or do you think it would still be considered too minimalist to appear to popular attitudes?

  2. #2
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use it. I like my tent and Thermo-rest fine. It would have to be at camp grounds.
    Ed Miller
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  3. #3
    Senior Member MikeRides's Avatar
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    When I bike-camp, I prefer to stealth camp away from others over paying for a usually overcrowded campground. I can carry my two person tent, a change of clothes, a sleeping bag and a telescoping chair just fine on my rear rack, so I don't need any place to 'rent' one. That said, most campgrounds at least all the ones I've been to have a camp store nearby and some actually rent chairs/cots (not sure about tents) for those who go camping and forget those items.

    BTW, I don't want to sound like a backseat moderator but wouldn't this thread be better suited for the Touring forum not the LCF?
    2013: 1220 miles | 2014: 1200 miles
    Just ride until the wheels fall off!

  4. #4
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I don't think there's enough current demand for this. But it might create its own demand.

    Another idea would be to buy camping equipment collectively with other cyclists. Since it's typically sitting around unused, camping equipment is a good thing to share with friends, relatives, or neighbors. Of course, this would not solve the issue of actually getting the equipment to a campground on a bike.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  5. #5
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Many campgrounds have Camp Hosts.

    I'm not sure if they have regular hours, but one could organize it so that they would have minimal hours, say from 6:00 to 9:00 PM in the summer. It would be much easier for them to deal with rentals than a machine.

    If it was machine operated, then there is a certain amount of trust that the users would need... So you couldn't just go up to the vending machine and put in $5 and get back a $100 item. It would probably be something that is run like the bike share companies where a person would have to sign up for the service ahead of time, and then everything would be serialized, and the actions of a particular user would be tracked (with video surveillance too). Thus, to be worthwhile, there would also have to be a network of several campgrounds.

    I think there was a discussion earlier about conveniently placed vending machines selling things like bike lights, spare tubes, tires, and etc. Stuff that might cover emergency needs along a trail. You could add some camping supplies such as white gas or propane.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    This is probably more of a Touring topic, but shops do rent out camping equipment.

    MEC is a large sporting goods store in Canada ... we make a point of going there when we visit just to have a look around.

    This is the equipment rental page for Calgary:
    MEC Calgary - Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). Free Shipping Available.

    You could, for example, rent your camping equipment and take into the Rockies for a weekend.

    I see the Vancouver store has a bit more:
    MEC Vancouver - Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). Free Shipping Available.

    You could also rent panniers and trailer for your bicycle to carry the camping equipment.


    You might look up REI and see if they do the same thing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeRides View Post
    When I bike-camp, I prefer to stealth camp away from others over paying for a usually overcrowded campground. I can carry my two person tent, a change of clothes, a sleeping bag and a telescoping chair just fine on my rear rack, so I don't need any place to 'rent' one. That said, most campgrounds at least all the ones I've been to have a camp store nearby and some actually rent chairs/cots (not sure about tents) for those who go camping and forget those items.
    The bike road near where I live has many small hiking trails that could be used for primitive dispersed camping. I, like you, have developed a system for carrying everything I need when I bike-camp, but I can't carry a cot, or a chair, or a larger tent. Also, I like being able to bike with less cargo (weight) and I think this would be even more of an issue for novice and fair-weather bike touring, if the more general public became interested in it.

    The public seems interested in preserving land so I'm wondering if building more bike roads through land preserves wouldn't be a good way for the public to enjoy nature without filling it with cars driving and parking. I'm thinking not everyone can bike 50-100 miles a day and carry all their own camping equipment, but most people could bike 20-40 in a day carrying just a sleeping bag, change of clothes, and toiletries in a basket - in a bike or an electric mobility device.

    If vending machines provided tents/cots/chairs plus food/toiletries/etc. people could feel secure launching off on a bike or mobility scooter for a multi-day trip on a bike road without a car. Popularizing car-free touring/travel is what I'm getting at with these threads.

    BTW, I don't want to sound like a backseat moderator but wouldn't this thread be better suited for the Touring forum not the LCF?
    I started to post it in the touring forum but then I realized that forum is more for experienced tourers, and my interest is in making car-free touring/travel more accessible to the general public.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I don't think there's enough current demand for this. But it might create its own demand.
    I hope so because the more options people have for car-free activities, the more comfortable they are with living car-free.

    Another idea would be to buy camping equipment collectively with other cyclists. Since it's typically sitting around unused, camping equipment is a good thing to share with friends, relatives, or neighbors. Of course, this would not solve the issue of actually getting the equipment to a campground on a bike.
    Yes, I'm not biased in terms of where or how to get the equipment. My real focus is on being able to bike tour without carrying much cargo yet without having to sleep in motels or have it cost a lot. I also think the more accessible bike touring/travel is to the general public, the more bike roads we'll see with more spots to overnight along them to facilitate multi-day touring/travel.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    Many campgrounds have Camp Hosts.

    I'm not sure if they have regular hours, but one could organize it so that they would have minimal hours, say from 6:00 to 9:00 PM in the summer. It would be much easier for them to deal with rentals than a machine.
    I don't know if hiring human personnel is conducive to having lots of camping spots located frequently along a bike route. For the general public to take a multi-day tour by bike, you might need to have camping available every 20 miles (or even every 10). Imagine inexperienced cyclists taking off, making it 10 miles and feeling pretty accomplished, and then seeing on their smart phone that the next camp ground is 20-40 miles further.

    If it was machine operated, then there is a certain amount of trust that the users would need... So you couldn't just go up to the vending machine and put in $5 and get back a $100 item. It would probably be something that is run like the bike share companies where a person would have to sign up for the service ahead of time, and then everything would be serialized, and the actions of a particular user would be tracked (with video surveillance too). Thus, to be worthwhile, there would also have to be a network of several campgrounds.
    I assume it would work via a smartphone app.

    I think there was a discussion earlier about conveniently placed vending machines selling things like bike lights, spare tubes, tires, and etc. Stuff that might cover emergency needs along a trail. You could add some camping supplies such as white gas or propane.
    Yes, and food.

  8. #8
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
    I picture the vending machine as a regular shipping container built with doors along the sides that open electronically once a payment is made via a smartphone app (similar to lockers). Since these folding tents, cots, and chairs have a small profile, a large number of such doors could be placed on the sides of the container and a door on the side would give access to personnel who would need to visit the vending machine periodically to check the equipment, etc.
    This might sound crazy, but your vending machine could be a 3-d printer. Now that would be ultralight touring!!

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