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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Bike Camping Basics....

    Edits: Initial questions were basically answered, new questions at the end of the thread.


    So, I've done a few tours and am starting in on camping. Gear-wise I am mostly set, but have a few quick questions.

    1) What is the best way to attach the tent to the rear rack? Edit: Answered, at the price of igniting a minor flame war.

    2) Are stuff-sacks, especially the ones you get with the tent, usually water-proof enough for bike touring? (i.e. use them outside the panniers) Edit: Answered

    3) If you plan to leave your bike & gear for a few hours (e.g. spend half a day hiking), what is the best way to secure the gear?

    4) If I'm touring in somewhat populated areas and will not be stealth camping, is it a good idea to bring along some extra water (e.g. a 4-liter collapsible water container)? Edit: Answered

    Thanks....
    B
    Last edited by Bacciagalupe; 04-17-07 at 05:26 PM. Reason: Updating for answered questions.

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    (1) I'll be really interested to see if someone has come up with a better idea than bungies for strapping the stuff on. (2) I've never wanted anything more than the plain nylon cover the tent comes in. Real dry bag for the sleeping bag, though. My personal rule is: No matter what happens, floods, Nor'easters, total bike, person , and gear submersion, the sleeping bag must never become wet.
    If I cannot be perfectly orthodox, let me at least be mundane.

  3. #3
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    1. I like using nylon straps with buckles. I don't like bungies because a) hooks might damage gear and b) they give me an almost infinite number of ways to secure my tent, bag and mattress on the back. Not a solution for everyone but it works for me.
    2. No.
    3. Usually leave all that at the campsite.
    4. Water is always a good idea.

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    1) nylon straps w/fastex buckles
    2) no, but you can put a trash compactor bag inside as a liner, that works fine
    3) I usually just lock the bike to something, and don't worry about it. If it's a big city, you probably want somewhere secure - sometimes the visitor info center or chamber of commerce will let you put the bike in their office. Once I went to the movies and the theater let me put my bike inside in a back room. I almost never leave my camp pitched, as I move almost every day, so that's not a solution for me.
    4) No, don't bother. I almost never need more than my 3 bike bottles, and if i do, i buy a bottle of water at the convenience store, use that bottle until i don't need an extra container any more, and then toss/recycle it. That way you aren't hauling around some big expensive container that you barely ever need.
    ...

  5. #5
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Pretty consistent answers. My answers would be the same. I use bungies and nylon straps.Bungies are great for a clothes line.
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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    No to the extra bag. FWIW my tent is pretty small and usually gets strapped to the front rack. I prefer the nylon straps with the fastex type buckles.
    For water I use a MSR dromedary bag, usually a black one. If you fill it in the morning and leave it on the top of your rack on a sunny day you will get a nice warm to hot water shower that evening.
    If I am hiking in a popular area I will try and find a ranger station, store or other place to leave the bike and equipment.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Very good, very good.... Not crazy about bungees, so nylon straps may do the trick. I assume that getting the straps tight enough to hold the tent in place will not damage the tent somehow.

    Do most folks put their sleeping pads and/or sleeping bags inside the panniers? I will be using a down bag, so obviously that needs to stay as dry as possible....

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    I think anything that is said to be waterproof may well not be,i put my tent in my rucksack which is my hiking bag thus making one thing do two jobs it also keeps the tent safe from the possiblities of bungee failure, they can and do snap, or more often are overstrech which in time leads to failure fair point about damaging other things but they are very convenient and if treated with care are almost unbeatable for ease and relability plus safe im thinking of times when ive not attached them properly and almost got one in the eye.
    water carraige... dont worry if you need more storage youll find it ive travelled through many a desert and when water gets short there are funnily plenty of things that will do ie other peoples throwaways, that said i always carry in such situations my two bottle cages with large 1 ltr bottles plus 5 litre bottle that i always find somewhere( attaeched with bungee!! careful!! travelled with this system for a long time now no problems, up to 250 kms between water stops, to buy a special water container seems to me unneccesary waste of cash. when needs be i wont wash!!
    With regards to leaving stuff securley ive never lost anything from picking a well observed spot that cant be seen, if you leave it with someone can you trust them and only i know where i put my stuff, if you walk past it and dont know its there you wont even look for it!! I know rangers are diefferent and i would use them but often iim not in that environment, depends where you are?? secrets are best kept in the knowledge of one if you get my meaning!!
    In short protect the sleeping bag at all costs even in warm climates it aint comfy wet, water staorage is available, need be youll come up with something, one of the great beauties of touring!! and storgae of kit use your head but rememebr people dont look for things they dont expect to find!!

  9. #9
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Depending on how you roll your tent up, waterproofness of stuff sacks is irrelevant. When you take down the tent, lay the fly in the middle, then roll the tent up so that only the bottom of the tent is facing outwards. That bit is absolutely waterproof anyway.

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    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    I dislike bungee cords. The hooks can damage your gear and you can put an eye out with those nasties.
    Take a supply of velcro cinchers. They work great.
    http://hitthetrailnewnanga.stores.yahoo.net/vecist.html
    Don't worry about the tent getting wet. It's rolled up with the bottom exposed.
    My sleeping bag goes in a compression sack, then a garbage bag inside the pannier.
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  11. #11
    40 yrs bike touring
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    I eliminated bungee cords during my first tour. They failed to hold well on rough roads at speed.

    Since then I have been using the same long neoprene crampon straps to hold gear on racks for over thirty years. I only replaced one due to loss after failing to pack it away properly when I put the bike in a train baggage car.
    The straps grip even sil-nylon well. I found mine at REI long ago. I do not know if they are regularly available now.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Very good, very good.... Not crazy about bungees, so nylon straps may do the trick. I assume that getting the straps tight enough to hold the tent in place will not damage the tent somehow.

    Do most folks put their sleeping pads and/or sleeping bags inside the panniers? I will be using a down bag, so obviously that needs to stay as dry as possible....
    You may want to rethink the nylon straps. Nylon stretches when it gets wet and shrinks as it drys. You need to constantly adjust your straps if you get caught in rain. Bungies stay nice and tight. I use 'ball bungies' like these. Use 4 and wrap the loop around the corners of your rack and fasten the balls together in the middle. Much better than the hook type.

    As for the tent, I carefully pack my tent every morning so that the bits that aren't water proof are wrapped by the water proof bits. I fold the upper part of the tent to the inside, fold the bottom over this and then roll the tent and fly together around the poles. That way you don't have to worry if you get caught in a storm. For the bag and sleeping pad, I put the pad in the stuff sack with the bag. It's one of the reasons I use a Big Agnes pad...it packs down to a 1qt Nalgene bottle size I keep a plastic garbage bag handy to wrap the whole stuff sack with in the event of rain. And the whole mess goes on the back rack. I haven't slept a wet night yet.
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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    During a tour, your tent is going to get wet, even if it doesn't rain. Condensation is common and unless you delay your morning departure to allow the tent to dry, it is going to go into the stuff sack wet. You simply put the tent up in the afternoon when you stop and if it's not a rainy day, it should dry out by evening.

    Most other stuff sacks are not very waterproof. If you seal their seams, you might be able to get them reasonably so, but I put anything I want to stay dry inside a plastic bag. Use a trash compactor bag to keep your sleeping bag dry if rain is in the forecast. And be sure to air it our whenever possible as it will get damp from perspiration over time.

    Generally you should avoid bungie cords. Not only can the hooks tear things, but unless they are very tight, they can allow a load to shift. Better to use nylon straps that let you control the tension against the load.

    There's generally no way to provide any real security for you gear aside from keeping it within reach. Fortunately, most areas you are likely to tour in the US will not be theft-prone.

    Whether you carry extra water is a function of how far you will be from water sources. A collapsible water container could be convenient to have, but you will have to trade that against the weight and volume of the container when empty. There are some very lightweight and compact containers available so the convenience might be worth taking. It's up to you.

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    The idea of nylon straps with buckles is that you cinch the load down as tight as necessary so that NOTHING can shift. Yes, nylon can stretch, which is a consideration when lifting aircraft or docking a destroyer. It's also one of its benefits, you don't want a brittle fastener system that can snap when you need it most. On the other hand, nylon stretches so imperceptibly under these strains that the loosening of the load isn't possible; the question of re-adjusting for a given load is moot. I've been using nylon straps (generally 3/4" and 1" width) for years, backpacking and cycling, and have never had to adjust for stretch between packing/unloading the bags. (I've also used nylon lines for docking submarines, which can be deadly if not handled properly.)

    I use bungies. They're quick(er), forgiving, multi-purpose, and expandable. But I don't, and would never, use them for loaded touring (unless backed up by straps). I commute every day with bungies. Maybe a dozen times over 20+ years, my commute bag has shifted or dropped off (even in the middle of an intersection), and it was little more than amusing. On a loaded bike this could be a disaster.

    Bungies stretch to about twice their length, which is too much for controlling a balanced load. Unless you pull them so tight and wrap them so firmly that more stretching isn't possible (and I'm aware that some people do this). But at that point, you have the equivalent of a cinch strap, only with rubber strands instead of nylon filament. Rubber ages and fails at much lower strains than nylon. With bungies, whenever you add or take away part of your load, you need to come up with a different routing/attachment to compensate for the change in tension. No big deal, but most people wouldn't bother. Result: loose load.

    I toured from Yellowstone with a friend who used bungies (against my recommendation, but I'm not a bungie-cop), and within 2 days, after dropping his tent and pedaling with one eye over his shoulder, I suggested he use my extra cinch strap, which he gladly did. In common use, it's too easy to whip your bungies around your tennis racket/grocery bags a couple of times, and before you take off, nudge the load to ensure it's "stable". You don't want to find out when you hit a bump on a screaming downhill with 40 lbs over your spokes.

    All this info is for the OP, who's looking for a good solution to attaching the load. I don't doubt that some people properly use bungies. But to me, they raise the risk for trouble, for no additional benefit.

    -- Mark

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    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    I use bungies. They're quick(er), forgiving, multi-purpose, and expandable. But I don't, and would never, use them for loaded touring (unless backed up by straps).
    Good advice. The one advantage of bungees if you can secure a light item like a jacket, gloves, gatorade bottle, and get to it real easy without having to undo your straps. What I do is to secure my stuff with straps then overlay 2 or 3 bungees. Then the jacket and other light items I might want to get easy go under the bungees. I use those black hard rubber straps that are unbreakable and give very little play.

    As far as a tent, it's going to be wet most mornings and you'll probably not want to wait around until the humidity gets low enough to dry the tent. So if your bag was waterproof, that works both ways, meaning it will seal any moisture inside. Most of the time, I just bite the bullet and pack the tent wet. If I got the energy, I'll dry it around noon or just pitch it at the end of the day regardless.

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    I like those hard black rubber straps too. I have always know them as "tarp straps", as they are made for holding down the tarps on big rig trailers that haul sand, gravel, rock salt, etc. I hope you still like them now.

  17. #17
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    I use a bungee "cargo net" which was good enough to keep rain gear stuck to the back seat of my motorcycle at 150mph, and very handy on the bicycle too.
    http://www.ascycles.com/images/products/100010.jpg
    Maybe available from you local motorcycle shop.
    Mine has 2 extra hooks on the side. Hooks are plastic coated so as not to scratch paint etc. I stick my tent under it and strap 2 hooks on each ent to rack, nice and tight. Thread some of the hooks through spare shirts and shorts for drying! After my last tour I decided a stuff sack would be a good idea for the tent, then I could fit it into my panniers.

    I start each day with 3 bottles and another litre in my panniers. This is probably good for 120km. I usually refill my bottles mid afternoon at a shop and dont need the extra liter. Depends a lot on the hills and the heat.

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    In my opinion the best way to attach practically anything to the rear rack is with 20 or so feet of stout cord and the diamond hitch.

  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    I use bungies. They're quick(er), forgiving, multi-purpose, and expandable. But I don't, and would never, use them for loaded touring (unless backed up by straps). I commute every day with bungies. Maybe a dozen times over 20+ years, my commute bag has shifted or dropped off (even in the middle of an intersection), and it was little more than amusing. On a loaded bike this could be a disaster.
    Only once have I lost a bag from the rack while using bungies...and that was because I was trying to save weight by using light bungies. It's dumb and I replaced them as soon as I could. The load on the rear deck should be so high that it would cause adverse handling if you lost part of it. If it is, you should reconsider how you carry your stuff. I carry only a tent, sleeping bag and pad on the top of the rear rack which is a maximum of around 12 lbs. I've also lost bags in the past and still not had handling problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    Bungies stretch to about twice their length, which is too much for controlling a balanced load. Unless you pull them so tight and wrap them so firmly that more stretching isn't possible (and I'm aware that some people do this). But at that point, you have the equivalent of a cinch strap, only with rubber strands instead of nylon filament. Rubber ages and fails at much lower strains than nylon. With bungies, whenever you add or take away part of your load, you need to come up with a different routing/attachment to compensate for the change in tension. No big deal, but most people wouldn't bother. Result: loose load.
    Yes bungies stretch. That's why I use them. They are self adjusting and I don't have to work about cinching and uncinching a buckle all the time. I'm also having a hard time seeing how you could attach a nylon strap to a rack. My bungies are attached at the four corners of the rack and my load is carried perpendicular to the rack. I've tried to put the load on parallel and found that it sticks too far off the back of the rack or it's too difficult to hold the load (3 pieces and the bike) while fastening the cords. Additionally, I can easily slip stuff under the bungie without having to readjust, like rain coat and pants or wet laundry. I just don't see it as being as easy with a nylon strap.

    If you choose bungies that are too long, I'll agree that you are going to have problems with them. Choose bungies that are short enough to stretch and hold the load but they don't have to be at the absolute limit of travel to be useful. If they are too long, you can always tie a knot in the middle of them to shorten them up.

    I will agree that the hooked bungies aren't a great choice. The ball bungies are however. The fasten nicely around the rear rack, they are then double cords and they fasten neatly - and securely - in the middle load. In the photo below you can see how they attach




    I find them secure enough that I can lay my bike on it side and not have a load shift like here





    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    I toured from Yellowstone with a friend who used bungies (against my recommendation, but I'm not a bungie-cop), and within 2 days, after dropping his tent and pedaling with one eye over his shoulder, I suggested he use my extra cinch strap, which he gladly did. In common use, it's too easy to whip your bungies around your tennis racket/grocery bags a couple of times, and before you take off, nudge the load to ensure it's "stable". You don't want to find out when you hit a bump on a screaming downhill with 40 lbs over your spokes.
    I don't think I would ever put a 40 lb load on a bike that wasn't in bags hanging on the rack. That's just asking for trouble.
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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Trailers vs panniers, Shimano vs Campy, and now bungees vs straps. Yet another heated topic for discussion. Who knew?


    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    I carry only a tent, sleeping bag and pad on the top of the rear rack which is a maximum of around 12 lbs...
    OK, so with the tent (as previously commented), as long as it's rolled up properly waterproofing is not a problem.

    So, do you take additional steps to keep your sleeping bag and pad dry, since they are on top of the rack and outside your panniers -- e.g. liners or waterproof stuff sacks?

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    1) Bungees
    2) If my tent is dry, and it starts to rain, I put it in a plastic garbage bag.
    3) I take my valuables with me in my handlebar bag, and leave the bike.
    4) No.

  22. #22
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    1. While people have mentioned bungees vs. straps. I use a 20' plain yellow nylon rope that I cinch tight through gear loops on my panniers to keep all my stuff on. Only once did I lose something on tour and I have to go back and get it (only a few miles). I find using the rope nice because I can use it for many other purposes such as tieing up a tarp over my hammock in the rain or as a clothesline. I find the rope to be very multipurpose and if I need to remove things, it is still easy to untie.

    There are so many ways to tie things down and as long as you are not losing anything, it works. If you do lose something, then you need to revise your way.....its that simple.

    2. I always use garbage bags inside my stuff sack to 100% make sure by sleeping bag is dry because if **** hits the fan, that is the last thing that I want wet.

    3. I keep valuables in a hydration pack that I have on my back at all time and other valuables inside a handlebar bag that I can remove and take with me into grocery stores.

    4. Lots of water available in gas stations or if you aren't into that, cheap from a grocery store. Because of my hydration pack, if I know I am not going to come across water access for a day or two, I will load a few extra bottles up to make sure I don't run out. I also carry emergency water purification solution in case I run into trouble.
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  23. #23
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    1) What is the best way to attach the tent to the rear rack?

    I just used some of those thick rubber "tarp cords" mentioned by another poster. They are incredibly strong and held my dry bag and sleeping bag very securely on top of my rack.

    Also, I invested in the waterproof dry sack made by Ortlieb, medium sized. It's bright yellow and holds my tent (it's a 3/4 man REI Half Dome) as well as the tent footprint, sleeping pad, camp chair frame, and two baseball mitts (essential items for a father-son catch in camp).
    http://www.thetouringstore.com/ORTLI...ACK%20PAGE.htm


    2) Are stuff-sacks, especially the ones you get with the tent, usually water-proof enough for bike touring? (i.e. use them outside the panniers).

    I found waterproof stuff sacks at my local REI. The Sea to Summit brand, for a few dollars more per sack compared to a regular stuff sack. They worked very well, and they added some yellow visibility on my son's rear rack.
    http://www.rei.com/product/730882

    3) If you plan to leave your bike & gear for a few hours (e.g. spend half a day hiking), what is the best way to secure the gear?

    Hiking? <going to look that up in Wikipedia>
    I'm not a stealth camper, so I rely on the kindness of picnic tables at the campsite. In town, I carry my handlebar bag with me and chain the bike(s) to whatever is handy.

    4) If I'm touring in somewhat populated areas and will not be stealth camping, is it a good idea to bring along some extra water (e.g. a 4-liter collapsible water container)?

    At public/private campsites, water supply should be less of an issue overnight. I suppose it depends on how far you plan to ride each day, and what that terrain is like (ie, desert, overly hot/humid, etc). I have room for 3 water bottles on my 520 frame, so I rely upon those.

    As many have said in this forum, most tourers are not "weight-weenies." If you're truly concerned about your water supply, sounds like it would be worth the added (less than a pound?) weight to carry an empty plastic container.
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  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    OK, so with the tent (as previously commented), as long as it's rolled up properly waterproofing is not a problem.

    So, do you take additional steps to keep your sleeping bag and pad dry, since they are on top of the rack and outside your panniers -- e.g. liners or waterproof stuff sacks?
    I mentioned in a previous post that I carry a plastic garbage bag that I put around my bag when it rains. That and a waterproof...or at least water resistant...stuff sack is all I've ever needed. If you look at the second picture on my last post, you'll see that I only have 2 bags. Tent and sleeping bag. The sleeping pad is in the sleeping bag since I went to Big Agnes pads. It stuffs down real tiny.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    I was riding behind a guy who straps his map and waterproofs to the top of his Carradice rack bag, with a bungie.

    The bungie failed, his bag fell off and we nearly had a pile-up on a busy road.

    I am not so keen on bungee cords now!

    I like those ball straps cyco posted.

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