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  1. #1
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Camping Equipment Advice ...

    I need some advice on which camping equipment to consider .... I won't be doing any long distance bicycling, due to serious health issues, but am working up to bicycling to the nearest camp grounds ... which will be around 15-16 miles each way.

    I want to invest in a good quality tent that will give me sufficient protection from the rain, with room for three people (myself and my two boys). I'm hoping that I can find a lightweight tent for around $200.00, or less. Also would like to have a good tent repair kit ....

    Also, I need a good lightweight sleeping bag. Our weather here isn't too bad. Even the coldest nights around our area will only be in the mid-20s, but mostly the coldest will be in the high 20s, to low-mid 30s.

    And I need a good ground pad. I have a bad back, and I've suffered many sleepless nights, sleeping on the ground. If I was driving, I would take along our heavy-duty army cots, which are very comfortable, but I won't be packing anything that bulky on my bicycle!!!

    I'm still undecided on which stove to get ... Lots of people are giving the inexpensive alcohol burners good reports, but I'd like to have some control over the flame. I'm still considering the Primus EtaPower EF Lightweight Trail Stove

    http://www.altrec.com/primus-outdoor...ht-trail-stove

    Also, I'd like to have a good quality water container (bag?). I've always just carried several water bottles, which might still work out ok.

  2. #2
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Nice little stove - until you get to the fuel canisters. Not always available everywhere. That's why most go with the alcohol burners.

    Among the best bags and pads I'd have to say the Big Agnes line: http://www.bigagnes.com/str_bag_home.php

  3. #3
    SNARKY MEMBER CardiacKid's Avatar
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    I few questions. How large are you and your boys? If your boys are young, you can probably get away with a 3 person tent. If they are full grown, I am not sure a 4 person tent would be big enough. I would go for 2 tents in that case.
    Are you really planning on going on trips when the tempurature gets down to the mid 20s? If so, I would go with something like a North Face Cats Meow. At $160, it is kind of expensive, but staying warm and comfortable is worth it. If you won't be camping in temps under 40, you can get a more inexpensive 30 degree bag.
    As far as a pad, I am a huge fan of the Big Agnes Air Core. It is very light and packs very small, but blows up to be very plush.
    For a stove, I use a Jetboil, but I only use it for coffee, oatmeal, ramen and dehydrated meals.
    For those purposes, it works wonderfully. Availability of fuel isn't really an issue on short trips. If i was going on a month long trip to Europe, I would probably go with an alcohol stove.
    Water takes up a lot of space and weight. You should try and find a place to camp that has potable water. I would recommend against packing in your own water, unless absolutely necessary. 2 water bottles should get you 20 miles.
    Last edited by CardiacKid; 01-11-09 at 04:33 PM.

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    Keep an eye on steepandcheap.com
    I'm also gearing up and have gotten good tent and bag deals. Also seen some 3 & 4 man tents in the last few days.

  5. #5
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Sleeping Bag for Less than $100 ....

    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Nice little stove - until you get to the fuel canisters. Not always available everywhere. That's why most go with the alcohol burners.

    Among the best bags and pads I'd have to say the Big Agnes line: http://www.bigagnes.com/str_bag_home.php
    I would like to have the agnes bag, but that's a bit too much for me to spend! I'm looking for a sleeping bag for less than $100.00.

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    I don't think most alcohol stoves would be able to handle cooking for 3 people. Not enough heat output.

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    REI is having their biggest sale ever....right now. They'll hook you up.

  8. #8
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CardiacKid View Post
    I few questions. How large are you and your boys? If your boys are young, you can probably get away with a 3 person tent. If they are full grown, I am not sure a 4 person tent would be big enough. I would go for 2 tents in that case.
    Are you really planning on going on trips when the tempurature gets down to the mid 20s? If so, I would go with something like a North Face Cats Meow. At $160, it is kind of expensive, but staying warm and comfortable is worth it. If you won't be camping in temps under 40, you can get a more inexpensive 30 degree bag.
    As far as a pad, I am a huge fan of the Big Agnes Air Core. It is very light and packs very small, but blows up to be very plush.
    For a stove, I use a Jetboil, but I only use it for coffee, oatmeal, ramen and dehydrated meals.
    For those purposes, it works wonderfully. Availability of fuel isn't really an issue on short trips. If i was going on a month long trip to Europe, I would probably go with an alcohol stove.
    Water takes up a lot of space and weight. You should try and find a place to camp that has potable water. I would recommend against packing in your own water, unless absolutely necessary. 2 water bottles should get you 20 miles.
    My boys are almost 12 and 17. I might even go with only a two man tent for now, because we only have two bikes anyways .... Then I could get a one man tent later when we have another bike.

    As far as the temperature is concerned, when we were camping in the mountains several years ago, using our minivan for traveling, and had a huge 5 man tent, and another two man tent. We had cheap sleeping bags, and no pads, and the temperature got down to below freezing several nights!!! We actually were pretty comfortable.

    Since we are nearly out of our coldest weather, the temperatures I'll be facing will most likely be closer to the 40s at night. I'm not planning on camping until March or April.

    Concerning cooking, I would like to be able to control the flame, so I can simmer some things. I realize that canisters seem to be a problem to buy at times. Any advice on types of canisters that are more popular and readily available?

  9. #9
    Member roadie66's Avatar
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    have you considered a Tarptent by Henry Shires? I have the Rainshadow 3, 3 person tent lots have room have fit 4 peoplei In a pinch.
    sleeping Bag for 100 thatis kinda hard check http://gearx.com/sleeping_sleeping-b...gree-bags.html they have a kelty for 79 might find somthing you like
    look at brasslite or Trangia Alcohol Stove for multi person cook stove

  10. #10
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    I would also go with two small tents or a combo.
    Maybe a Big Agnes 2 person and a Columbia Frost Ridge II which is also a two person but really a nice one man tent. And its very light.
    A North face Fission sleeping bag can usually be found for around $120 and is good to -7C and is very light weight.

  11. #11
    SNARKY MEMBER CardiacKid's Avatar
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    I have an REI Half Dome and a Sierra Design Sirius 3. The Sirius is supposed to be a 3 man and the Half Dome is supposed to be a 2 person, but they are almost exactly the same size. Both of them are good tents that retail for around $150, but are frequently on sale for closer to $100.
    If you are looking for a bag under $100, try this one from Cabelas.
    Here is the same bag on sale at Campmor
    Last edited by CardiacKid; 01-11-09 at 07:42 PM. Reason: fixed link

  12. #12
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadie66 View Post
    have you considered a Tarptent by Henry Shires? I have the Rainshadow 3, 3 person tent lots have room have fit 4 peoplei In a pinch.
    sleeping Bag for 100 thatis kinda hard check http://gearx.com/sleeping_sleeping-b...gree-bags.html they have a kelty for 79 might find somthing you like
    look at brasslite or Trangia Alcohol Stove for multi person cook stove
    I read comments from people who have used the Rainshadow. Doesn't look like a good tent for rainy conditions! Any other suggestions for lightweight tents?

  13. #13
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    We're using theREI 4-person half-dome and it's fine. We fit all four of us in there,but it is fairly tight. It would be perfect with only three people.

    As for sleeping bags - check out Sierra Trading Post or the REI clearance. They sometimes have some great deals and you'll get a super bag for cheap!
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  14. #14
    SNARKY MEMBER CardiacKid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post
    We're using theREI 4-person half-dome and it's fine. We fit all four of us in there,but it is fairly tight. It would be perfect with only three people.

    As for sleeping bags - check out Sierra Trading Post or the REI clearance. They sometimes have some great deals and you'll get a super bag for cheap!
    Good point about Sierra Trading Post. I bought a Lafuma Down bag from there a couple of years ago for around $80. There stock is constantly changing since they are an outlet.
    Alps Mountaineering is another source of good tents and bags. If your kids are in Boy Scouts, they will give you a 40% discount. But you can only get the discount if you order direct from the manufacturer.
    Last edited by CardiacKid; 01-13-09 at 06:53 AM.

  15. #15
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Trangia Alcohol Stove ...

    Quote Originally Posted by roadie66 View Post
    have you considered a Tarptent by Henry Shires? I have the Rainshadow 3, 3 person tent lots have room have fit 4 peoplei In a pinch.
    sleeping Bag for 100 thatis kinda hard check http://gearx.com/sleeping_sleeping-b...gree-bags.html they have a kelty for 79 might find somthing you like
    look at brasslite or Trangia Alcohol Stove for multi person cook stove
    Have you used the Trangia Alcohol Stove? I'm curious, exactly how do you get the Trangia to simmer? I was reading several webpages on the Trangia, and that looks like a very good choice? I like the idea of carrying alcohol, because even if some of it does spill, it wouldn't be as bad as spilled gasoline. And seems to be much safer than canisters that could blow up!

    I would want to get something with a good windscreen. I'm also concerned with the stability of the stove, and setting pots on the stove. I would also like to boil at least 16 ounces of water, instead of only 8 (I'm a big eater, especially because of my hypoglycemia). I need lots of complex carbohydrates for breakfast.

  16. #16
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Brasslite Turbo II-D Alcohol Stove Reviews ...

    After reading various reviews about the Brasslite Turbo II-D Alcohol Stove, I'm leaning towards buying this one ... !!! Looks like it has decent capability of simmering, and good vent controls for various cooking needs, and a good windscreen, and long burning time.

    Has anyone used the Braasslite Turbo II-D Alcohol Stove? What has been your experience?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Aushiker's Avatar
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    G'day

    I suggest you check out the test reports and owner reviews at http://backpackgeartest.org. Lots of real user feedback there.

    Regards
    Andrew

  18. #18
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    We used a four man tent for three of us on a 73 day tour with no complaints. We had plenty of room. Bear in mind that we leave all of our gear on the bikes and do not bring anything inside except sleeping stuff, our handlebar bags with our electronics and valuables, a book, and clothes for the next day.

    Unlike smaller tents, I have not found in the 4 man size that extra money spent buys a lot more in weight reduction. So we used an inexpensive Eureka Tetragon 8 that cost well under $100. It weighs a whopping 9 pounds but when shared among 3 people it is a more reasonable 3 pounds per person.

    If you can squeeze into a 3 person tent some of them are a substantially lighter. The lighter ones cost a good bit more though.

  19. #19
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Brasslite Turbo II-D Good Reviews ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post
    G'day

    I suggest you check out the test reports and owner reviews at http://backpackgeartest.org. Lots of real user feedback there.

    Regards
    Andrew
    I've read three of the reviews, which were all positive. I'm amazed at how light the Turbo II-D is, only 2.6 ounces, which some people complain is a bit on the heavy side. I guess for ultralight backpacking, every ounce counts!

  20. #20
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Tent With Good Water Protection ....

    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    We used a four man tent for three of us on a 73 day tour with no complaints. We had plenty of room. Bear in mind that we leave all of our gear on the bikes and do not bring anything inside except sleeping stuff, our handlebar bags with our electronics and valuables, a book, and clothes for the next day.

    Unlike smaller tents, I have not found in the 4 man size that extra money spent buys a lot more in weight reduction. So we used an inexpensive Eureka Tetragon 8 that cost well under $100. It weighs a whopping 9 pounds but when shared among 3 people it is a more reasonable 3 pounds per person.

    If you can squeeze into a 3 person tent some of them are a substantially lighter. The lighter ones cost a good bit more though.
    I'm not so concerned with a difference of a few pounds (3-9 pounds). I am much more concerned with having a good quality tent that will keep the water out. Any suggestions on which tents to consider ... ???

    I would like to spend less than $200.00 on a two or three man tent (either one at this point is just fine). I want to have a tent that I can count on for many years of use, and know that I'm not going to get wet while inside.
    Last edited by vja4Him; 01-12-09 at 07:40 AM.

  21. #21
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    i had a big agnes bag, like that. I didn't like their inflatable mattress for it, it was not insulated very well or not at all. I DO like the thicker versions of the thermarest pads, be sure to get the insulated ones... to me, this matters a LOT.

    i tried the lightest thermarest pad, and it was just too thin for me. the 2" thick ones are heavier, and are like sleeping on a firm bed... to me at least.

    also, I use a one man tarptent, and I highly recommend their products
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  22. #22
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vja4Him View Post
    Have you used the Trangia Alcohol Stove? I'm curious, exactly how do you get the Trangia to simmer? I was reading several webpages on the Trangia, and that looks like a very good choice? I like the idea of carrying alcohol, because even if some of it does spill, it wouldn't be as bad as spilled gasoline. And seems to be much safer than canisters that could blow up!
    I'm a bit late for this party, but here goes:

    A Trangia with alcohol burner will cook for two at a time. Maybe 3 if you stretch it. The problem is, your boys will probably eat 3 person portions each, being the age they are . I would seriously consider at least two burners for three persons, regardless of what fuel type you choose. It might be more fun for the boys too, being able to cook for themself. It would also allow you to cook two dishes at the same time.

    Trangia alcohol burners do have a simmer ring, which is basically just a cover for the burner, limiting heat output. It's fully adjustable, and here's the procedure to fully adjust it: remove kettle from the stove, put the simmer ring (adjusted to your guesstimate level) on burner, put kettle back on, wait for a moment and find out your guesstimate was wrong, remove kettle, remove the (now scorching hot) ring, adjust the ring, put the ring back, put the kettle back, wait for a moment etc. You need pliers to handle the hot ring (you can use the Trangia kettle handle as well, but then you have to put the kettle down inbetween). Having three hands helps. Seriously, with a little practice it gets easier, but it's never as easy as turning the dial on a gas burner. But in the end it does the job quite well.

    Trangia windscreen is excellent. Regarding fuel, you'll still have to be careful with it. The stove alcohol sold here (denaturated) is made to taste terrible on purpose, to make it undrinkable. A few drops in the kettle will spoil today's dinner - and several next meals as well. Your situation may be different, depending on what kind of stove alcohol is available to you. Some people will warn you about the blue flame of alcohol, which makes it difficult to detect whether the stove is on and also difficult to find out if something else is on fire. I've found normal cautions apply and are enough. It's a (small) live fire, treat it with due respect and you will be OK.

    --J
    Last edited by Juha; 01-12-09 at 07:59 AM.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I got my sleeping bag and ones for my wife and two kids at Campmor. They have sales on last year's models which are quite reasonable. Mine is a Sierra Designs with 3D insulation. I've never been cold.

    When buying a tent, remember that the capacity numbers are always inflated. A 4-person tent is usually comfortable for 2 and okay but tight for 3. Make sure you can find figures for length and width of the floor. Some sellers only publish square feet. I think they do that for a reason - so you won't know how short they are. Remember that you need extra room for your arms. I'm 6'4" and I like a tent that's 8' long. 7'6" is okay, but starts to feel cramped. Also, take a look at the shape. If the walls are vertical or near vertical then the floor space next to them is usable. If they're sloped inward then the space right next to them will be unusable for people - fine for small gear like socks and jerseys, but not for sleeping.

    If you're only going to go for weekend tours, a butane stove is excellent. But if you're going to go on longer tours where you'll go through a cannister and need a replacement, it's a hassle at best, and at worst you may be without your stove for a few days until you get to a place where you can find a cannister. For that reason, I prefer a stove that burns unleaded gas. I don't think I've ever ridden for a whole day and not passed a gas station. I have a Coleman 442 that I bought 17 years ago and it's still going strong. Another highly recommended, unleaded-gas-burning one is the Whisperlite International from MSR.

    I too have back problems. I slept on Thermarests for years. They were better than a lot of things, and I just put up with waking up sore in the morning. Then I found the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core air mattress. I think it's wonderful. It's as light as my old 3/4 length Thermarest, packs up smaller, and is much more comfortable. It has insulation inside, so I don't get cold. The only drawback is that you have to blow it up every night, but it only takes me 2 minutes of relaxed blowing. I don't mind. The comfort is worth it.

    I carry a Platypus water bag. It holds 2 liters and it rolls up flat. It weighs almost nothing. Between that and the 3 water bottles I carry, I'm set. If I needed more capacity I'd carry a second Platypus. With almost no weight and no volume (when rolled), why not?

  24. #24
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    I would also suggest the Big Agnes Air Core, its inflates very thick (2.5") and packs really small. If you have a problem with insulation (some say its colder than traditional closed cell pads) then use a thermarest z-lite or something along with it.

    I bought a Kelty Gunnison 2.1 and have ben very happy with it. The 2.1 is a two man tent, but I have found it has room for two full grown people and a 70 pound dog. So maybe you should check out the Gunnison 3.1. It has two decent sized vestibules (as well as two doors) so keeping gear dry and out of the rain isn't too hard.

    I think you're going to have a hard time finding a quality small packing bag for under $100. In this price range you will more than likely be buying a synethetic with a less than efficent and bulky fill. I would say try to bring this price range closer to $150 - $200 and you will be able to find some very nice bags that are light and pack small enough in the down or synthetic variety.

    As far a stoves go, I think you are reading too far into this. If you aren't doing any really long distances and aren't going to tour for more than a week, there is nothing wrong with a cannister stove! It might be a bit heavier, but if there are several of you, the weight is negligable. I use the Snow Peak GigaPower and love it. With the windscreen you can boil water very quickly and the flame control is exactly like you would expect out of a gas stovetop at home. The cannisters last quite a while, I made meals for 4 for an entire weekend on mine and still have enough for a meal or two in the smallest cannister MSR makes.

    If you are concerned with water I would think carrying two bottles on your bike would be enough for the 15-20 mile ride. If you need water for the campsite you cant go wrong with a Platypus or a Camelbak.

  25. #25
    weirdo
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    Yeah, I recomend going bigger with the tent or getting two also. Especially if you aren`t too worried about weight. For mild weather you shouldn`t have any problem finding nice synthetic sleeping bags under $100- they just won`t be as light or compact as down or super synthetics. Take a look at what`s offered at all the vendors listed above and I`m sure you`ll find something that fits the bill.

    Question for the Big Agness air matress crowd: Anybody know the pro/con differences between the clear style and the regular ones? I`m pretty well decided I want to try one out, but I`m not sure which would be better suited for me.

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