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  1. #1
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    What's worth spending a lot on?

    I'm trying to put together some touring equipment, mainly a tent, bag (40+ or 32+) and cookware. I'm also trying to go lightweight here and thanks to REI's return policy and the membership thing I have like $170 in store credit and there's that 20% off thing going on. So Basically I can get a 210 dollar item for free, which makes me want to buy one nice thing; either a bag or a tent and go cheap on the others.

    I'm a student, so optimizing the cash to goodness ratio is important here.

    I may be interested in making a tarp tent, but remain undecided.

    As far as their rack and pannier selection, I'd rather support a local shop which cuts me deals now and again.

    So what would you rather have, a nice light well vented tent or a nice light bag?
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  2. #2
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    Here's your tent.


    http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ry_rn=40003461

    At around 2 kilos (real life weight), it's a great deal. It's possible to get a lighter tent with as much weather protection, but not for less that around $500.

  3. #3
    Mutt Owner gizem310's Avatar
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    I'd say a really good quality rain jacket.

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    You don't say what your intended purpose is, which would drive the decision. If you're planning on a camping cross-country tour, or going out for more than a few weeks, then chances are 99%+ you'll encounter bad weather.

    The best lightweight sleeping bag won't be good for much if you're wet or cold inside your tent. I'd put my money in a tent. Weather can sometimes make you hole up for a day or 2, and although it's not luxurious, a dry shelter makes all the difference. (You'll also get opinions on tent-hammocks and tarp tents, just make sure whatever you choose will get you through.)

    Good sleeping bags don't have to cost much, although lightweight does. But IMO a good tent starts at the $150 range (new) if you do your homework. Don't forget a sleeping pad -- <$10 will cover that.

    If you're doing 1-week trips, or credit-card touring, you can probably get by with a X-mart tent. But someday you'll want to upgrade, a cheap tent seems like a wasted investment.

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    EmmCeeBee really gives good advice. Above I voted for a quality REI tent-- but I didn't give you any reasons. It's really hard to go wrong with a weather proof, free standing 2 person tent. Heck, you can steal your little sisters Power Ranger's sleeping bag if you need to... if you have a good tent to keep you dry.

    It's also a good choice for other outdoor stuff than cycling.

    I remember getting my butt kicked in a crappy lightweight trap tent and riding home over 110 miles in a single day in driving rain because I couldn't take another night outside. The right tent takes a lot of pessure off.

  6. #6
    M_S
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    Quote Originally Posted by gizem310
    I'd say a really good quality rain jacket.
    Not a bad idea, but I'd put that second to a tent. Some days I just figure I'll get soaked, but I'd rather get wet on the ride and dry off later than get wet when I'm trying to sleep.

  7. #7
    Slowpoach
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    I reckon a sleeping bag is where it is hard to get quality without shelling out cash. Good down costs, there's no getting away from that. If you are experienced, a tent fly and ground sheet can keep the rain out, but warm, light, compact sleeping bags will cost you.

    Having said that, a tent is also a worthy place to invest; however, I'd strongly recommend a tent that lets you set it up and get in and out without getting wet, if you are expecting inclement weather. This means you need a vestibule (porch), and also either a fly-first pitch, an integral pitch or a single-skin tent. Snow tents may be different ( I wouldn't know), but in rain the typical dome-with-fly-thrown-over-the-top can get a little wet while setting up or getting in or out, and in the wind they are less stable than a hoop tent or a geodesic structure (a dome where the poles cross at the edges of the tent rather than at the apex).

    Making and sealing a tent is not trivial, but easier than making your own sleeping bag. If you want to try making a tarp tent I'd suggest looking at
    http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/DIY_RNCTents.htm
    and
    http://www.permaflate.com/tent.htm
    as well as the Tarptent and other US sites.

    Adequate rain gear or warm clothes can be relatively cheap.

    Aluminium pots are light enough and cheap.

    Stoves can be expensive, but you don't need much unless you need to melt snow for water, in which case you need a Primus or MSR or similar liquid fuel stove. Gas (propane/butane) stoves can be had at a reasonable cost; metho (alcohol) stoves are cheap to free (if you make your own).

  8. #8
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Tent first, then bag/pad. The tent is what you have to live in. You can get bivy bags for cheap but what if you happen to be stuck in it for a couple of days waiting out really bad weather. Can you live in a coffin? It's nice to have somewhere to sit up, change clothes and, most importantly, retreat to when the blood suckers come out Lots of people here use the ground cover/rain fly approach and I don't see how. They must all ride somewhere that has used DDT indiscriminately and there are not blood sucking fiends. I'd be one large red welt!

    As for tents, I try to avoid ones that need the have the poles fed into sleeves. They are a pain to put together. Go with one that uses plastic clips to hold the poles to the tent. The Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 is as light as the REI tent that tacomee suggested and easier to erect. REI sells them for around $200. With the extra bucks you have left, look at a Big Agnes pad too. Much better than Thermorest...thicker and lighter.
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    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, my brother and his girlfriend have that REI dome tent that was suggested and both like it a lot. I was thinking of going for the MSR single person tent: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ory_rn=4500666

    Some camping in Turkey put my faith in the importance of a covered food prep area and dry entry/exit area and I'm really trying to go sub 20 lbs of gear here. Also, after all the discounts an such I'd be spending 40 bucks for a 250 dollar tent. I think the groundfly is another 40 also.

    I did also forget to include what I'm doing. I'd like to do a cross-country self supported tour next summer, I have a week long tour comming up the first week in june (DC to Pittsburg on the rails-to-trails) with the possibility of something west coast later in the summer. I see everyones point about the importance of the tent, I'll buy a quality tent first.
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  10. #10
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    I bought this sleeping bag. It's pretty warm and only weighs 18 ounces, packs really small and includes a compression sack.

    http://www.sacattack.com/items/776

    Only 60 bucks at the time, if you want it you can still get 40% off.

    Check out the other sleeping bags and tents you can get 40% off on by doing a search on www.sacattack.com

    Or if you are patient you can wait til more deals pop up on www.steapandcheap.com for up to 70% off.

  11. #11
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    Thanks guys, my brother and his girlfriend have that REI dome tent that was suggested and both like it a lot. I was thinking of going for the MSR single person tent: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ory_rn=4500666

    Some camping in Turkey put my faith in the importance of a covered food prep area and dry entry/exit area and I'm really trying to go sub 20 lbs of gear here. Also, after all the discounts an such I'd be spending 40 bucks for a 250 dollar tent. I think the groundfly is another 40 also.

    I did also forget to include what I'm doing. I'd like to do a cross-country self supported tour next summer, I have a week long tour comming up the first week in june (DC to Pittsburg on the rails-to-trails) with the possibility of something west coast later in the summer. I see everyones point about the importance of the tent, I'll buy a quality tent first.
    REI has lots of good stuff, but their selection of bags and tents is not the best or the lightest out there. If you want a really good bag you won't beat Western Mountaineering and as you mentioned a tarptent look at the stuff at

    www.tarptent.com.

    i'd buy a nice pad from REI a Prolite 3 or an Exped if you like luxury, and some clothes like T-shirts by
    Smartwool or Patagonia, get a good windshirt, and then stock up on all the little things you'll need like spare parts for the bike first aid kits, mini lights, tools like a small leatherman, compression sacks etc.

  12. #12
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    If you want to make a tarptent, check out Ray Jardine's website (www.rayjardine.com). Jardine is a bit of an eccentric guy, but his tent kit is first rate. If you have access to a sewing machine, you'll end up with a very lightweight bugproof tent for a lot less money than buying one pre-made. A tent is one of the simpler things you can make. Spend your money on a good sleeping bag.

  13. #13
    Senior Member velo2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    Thanks guys, my brother and his girlfriend have that REI dome tent that was suggested and both like it a lot. I was thinking of going for the MSR single person tent: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ory_rn=4500666
    While you're looking in that price range, check out the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1. A few people on this forum have recommended it in the past so when I saw one on sale at an REI gear sale this winter, I snatched it up. I haven't tried it in the field yet, but it's about half the weight of my REI halfdome tent.

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    Yeah, it's possible to get good camping gear for less than REI-- hopefully nothing ever goes wrong with it. At REI, you can always take it back. Always. Not to say I have bought coseout stuff on the net....but take you chances. Personally, a tent is a good bet.

    And REI does happen to almost all lightest and best tents in the world. REI house brand, Northface, Big Anges-- even Bibler. Tents have a lot of engineering behind them. The R&D department at a outfit like Northface spends big money so you can get a tent that works.

  15. #15
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    Thanks guys, my brother and his girlfriend have that REI dome tent that was suggested and both like it a lot. I was thinking of going for the MSR single person tent: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ory_rn=4500666

    Some camping in Turkey put my faith in the importance of a covered food prep area and dry entry/exit area and I'm really trying to go sub 20 lbs of gear here. Also, after all the discounts an such I'd be spending 40 bucks for a 250 dollar tent. I think the groundfly is another 40 also.

    I did also forget to include what I'm doing. I'd like to do a cross-country self supported tour next summer, I have a week long tour comming up the first week in june (DC to Pittsburg on the rails-to-trails) with the possibility of something west coast later in the summer. I see everyones point about the importance of the tent, I'll buy a quality tent first.

    26" wide is pretty narrow. You won't have room for anything else besides gear. Take a good look at the Big Agnes (I know I'm harping on them but they are pretty good ) singles. The Seedhouse SL1 is very light (2lb, 13 oz pack weight), 16" wider, 4" longer and is free standing. That's a plus when you are putting it together night after night. And the price is about the same.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'd buy this - The Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2. It's roomy, very light, free-standing, and perfect when it's hot but there are mosquitoes. (I've never owned one - they're too expensive and I already have too many tents. My wife would kill me. But I've read a lot of glowing reviews, and they look excellent!)

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    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...=1173149356801

    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...romSearch=true

    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...romSearch=true

    The sleeping bag I have is a slightly better version of this but its warm enough for summer camping. You may be better off if you can find a shorter sleeping pad. If you are trying to save on cost and weight make an alcohol stove from coke cans - you can find instructions on the web.

  18. #18
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    I'd buy this - The Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2. It's roomy, very light, free-standing, and perfect when it's hot but there are mosquitoes. (I've never owned one - they're too expensive and I already have too many tents. My wife would kill me. But I've read a lot of glowing reviews, and they look excellent!)
    Yeah that looks pretty good.. The same weight as the MSR but almost twice the room and it'd end up costing me like $60 more.. BUT this guy doesn't seem to like it http://www.nessmuking.com/seedhouse.htm


    This one looks pretty good but I can't find any reviews. http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...vcat=searchnav
    Last edited by Hocam; 03-05-07 at 08:18 PM.
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  19. #19
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...=1173149356801

    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...romSearch=true

    http://www.canadiantire.com/browse/p...romSearch=true

    The sleeping bag I have is a slightly better version of this but its warm enough for summer camping. You may be better off if you can find a shorter sleeping pad. If you are trying to save on cost and weight make an alcohol stove from coke cans - you can find instructions on the web.
    Must be a french canadian website, I can't get in.
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  20. #20
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    For summer weather down to about 40 degrees, you can be comfortable in a very light weight sleeping back, avoid a three season bag that is often designed to go to 20F, a 40 F bag can have everything you need want in a light package for about 85 dollars. I got a great one at MEC. It's essentially equivalent to a Jardine Quilt, without the hoopla. I've used such bags right down to nights with frost in October, admitedly I was wearing a sweater inside it. Actually if you want to sew, as mentioned the Jardine quilt is the same deal and the kit is, for about 65 dollars. I've made similar things in an afternoon, so I wouldn't worry about it being a huge project with a regular sewing machine.

    Of course if you do need the standard 3 season bagwhich coneptually is going ot include much colder weather in early spring and late fall, weather I probably am not going to be cycling in unless it's a very warm November or March, then sure, you need to spend more on a bag, and it may end up pretty huge unless you get it in premium materials.

    I think a better rain solution when cycling is a poncho. It can be lighter and more functional, and certainly cheaper than the next alternative which would be a a breathable high tech jacket. Ponchos seem to have fallen out of favour in recent years, but I still think they keep you drier at a lower cost than a high tech Jacket. I used to be in the Goretex clothing design business so I have a range of Jackets, but there are situations when realistically they aren't the best solution, and that was before they started costing 400 bucks. Design wise a lot of the newer designs seem heavier, more leak prone than the simpler jackets we used to have available. Anyway, it's up to you, but this is one pace where you can make a budget driven decision without reduced performance.

  21. #21
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    I think you're definitely right about the poncho, seems like a better cheaper alternative than a suit of pricey goretex (which doesn't really do much in a downpour anyway).

    I also only plan on touring in nice weather, so a 40+ bag will probably work great an save some ounces.

    I don't have much access to a sewing machine so the self made tents and bags might be out of my capabilities, but I do have a friend that makes messenger bags... (http://www.girlbikedog.blogspot.com/) maybe she can help.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    With the extra bucks you have left, look at a Big Agnes pad too. Much better than Thermorest...thicker and lighter.
    If the OP is on a budget, I would recommend this alternative to the BA pad -- an InsulMat Thermo Max sleeping pad. I got one for around $30 from Sierra Trading Post. Awesomely comfortable! And warm!

    Insul Mat on sale for 40% off

  23. #23
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    I think you're definitely right about the poncho, seems like a better cheaper alternative than a suit of pricey goretex (which doesn't really do much in a downpour anyway).

    I also only plan on touring in nice weather, so a 40+ bag will probably work great an save some ounces.

    I don't have much access to a sewing machine so the self made tents and bags might be out of my capabilities, but I do have a friend that makes messenger bags... (http://www.girlbikedog.blogspot.com/) maybe she can help.
    That depends where you shop. I'm on a tight budget and even I just ordered a gore-tex suit. http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=59197 That's what I just ordered. $40 for a used German gore-tex suit. I saw another website with the same thing at the same price. They had sizes though. I originally bought the large which is on backorder, but then saw the other sites size chart. I switched to a medium which has a 32" inseam and 32-34 size waist or something around there. If it fits and the suit is in good shape I don't think that deal can be beat.

    If you search for 'gore' in the keyword search you can find the items seperately. The pants are about $15 and the jacket is $30 I think. There are some other good gore-tex buys though. Not everything worth buying is expensive. Matt

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    As for tents, I try to avoid ones that need the have the poles fed into sleeves. They are a pain to put together.
    This is a good point, I'm tired of feeding poles through sleeves. We've had a Sierra Designs Meteor Light for 5 years or so which I'd like to replace, partly because of the pole sleeves, partly to save a few pounds. It's a roomy tent for 2, and while it's not hard to set up, feeding those poles is an extra step that could be eliminated, and I'm looking to simplify as much as possible. Besides, the rain fly zippers just can't be operated with one hand without snagging. Most annoying thing ever.

  25. #25
    Senior Member eliktronik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    If the OP is on a budget, I would recommend this alternative to the BA pad -- an InsulMat Thermo Max sleeping pad. I got one for around $30 from Sierra Trading Post. Awesomely comfortable! And warm!

    Insul Mat on sale for 40% off
    +1, It's a super light and comfy pad. The price is right too.

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