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Old 11-24-09, 10:56 AM   #1
oldsettlerswood
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Advice Needed - Tent size for 3, sleeping bag possibilities, PALM

Hello All!

I have been dabbling in cycling over the last 4 years or so with dreams of Touring. Unfortunately, as a woman, it's a little scary to make the leap and take off by myself. My son is now 11 and he is interested in trying the PALM ride in Michigan with me this summer. Then, not to feel left out, my husband says he would like to go to. I figured this is a good family friendly, supported tour, that will give us a taste. Especially for them... Hopefully it will lead to more supported and also some self-supported tours. SO, I'm looking for some gear recommendations. I have read through posts for hours and hours on this site and really appreciate it. Most posts regarding tents/equipment are geared toward single riders or couples. If it is a family, the kids can take one tent and the parents another. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on a tent for three. My son is 11 but not small. He is probably 5'1 and 125lbs. He is growing like crazy. I considered a separate tent for him and use my Eureka Mountain Pass 2xt for us. BUT, I think the ability to have time in the tent together if raining, etc, would be part of the bonding experience. It seems tents are highly overrated for size. Would a 4 person work for the three of us? I really like the vestibules on my Eureka for keeping gear out, yet in. Although this is a supported tour, I would prefer to get something that would be light enough to go on a self-supported trip if we would ever move on to that. I'm hoping there might be someone out there who has dealt with the same situation.

Next question. Being that this ride is in June in MI, weather is unpredictable, what should we bring sleeping bag wise? Does anyone ever layer, like clothing? Maybe a fleece bag and a liner. We already have a couple of 35 degree bags and a couple of fleece bags. I have read that the silk liners are great. Just not sure how to go with this as I was trail riding (horses) last year that time in Indiana and it was extremely hot and humid. The next week though, we were wearing jackets.

Right now I am riding an 06' Specialized Allez Sport Triple. I'm sure that will be fine for this ride. Maybe in the next year or so I would like to get a dedicated touring bike for self-supported. The boys are riding some older hybrids that we use for camping bikes. Occasionally I see Trek 7.3'fx's used locally. I am thinking that might be the way for them. My husband prefers a little more upright position because he has some back issues. He doesn't like my drop bars. They like the trekking bars so probably put them on right away. Then add some lower gearing if we head for more hills or do some self supported.

Sorry to be so long winded.....any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks!!!

Jennifer
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Old 11-24-09, 12:23 PM   #2
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My feeling on tents is this, a tent designated for 2 persons is great for 1 individual, a tent designated for 3 persons is great for two and therefore a 4 person designated tent works well for 3. Too many good name brand tents to mention here but Kelty is generally considered a good value for your ever depreciating dollar.

http://kelty.com/kelty/products.php?...&cat=61&id=134
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Old 11-24-09, 12:30 PM   #3
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I've done Pedal Across Lower Michigan (PALM) for the past 10 years. It is a great beginners supported tour. Lots of families with kids. Mileages are low (about 50 miles per day average) and lower Michigan is flat to gently rolling. There can be an occasional short steep climb. Since the trucks carry your baggage you only need to carry a few items. All roads are paved so bikes range from lightweight race bikes to mountain bike with smooth tires. You don't need a traditional "touring bike". My wife and I use a "4 man" tent for the two of us. We like a little elbow room. When I tour alone I use a 2 man tent. With our baggage inside, there is little extra room. Rain showers that time of year usually don't usually last long, and if it is raining, many people take shelter in the school. I find the tent very hot until the sun sets. I use a very lightweight sleeping bag as it is usually hot that time of year. For this year's ride it was in the upper 80's and lower 90's. If it were to get cool (rarely happens), I would layer clothing. BTW, PALM fills fast. Make sure that you submit your name and address to the PALM organizers so that you get an application when they are first sent out.
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Old 11-24-09, 01:09 PM   #4
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We used a 4 person tent for three adults for 73 days on the Trans America with no complaints other than me complaining about the weight (9 pounds). I think we would have been fine with one of the less skimpy sized three person tents too though.

Personally I don't bother with vestibules for bike touring. All gear that isn't either needed in the tent at night or needed to dress in the morning stays in the panniers, and the panniers stay on the bike. A bit of overhang is nice just so it doesn't rain in, but vestibules just aren't worth the weight (to me).

If the PALM ride is sagged, take a big roomy tent and don't worry too much about what it weighs, within reason.

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Old 11-24-09, 02:21 PM   #5
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If you don't have to carry your gear on the bikes, take the 4-man for you and hubby, and a smaller one for kiddo. That way, private time is possible for everyone and you still have the big tent for playing cards on a rainy day.

The Wentzel starlight 1.5-man is great for kids. It's tiny, weighs <4 lbs and sells at Campmor for around 30 bones.

The silk liners are nice, cheap, add almost no weight or bulk and several degrees to the warmth of your bag, while keeping it cleaner. I used mine last weekend. Thumbs up from me.
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Old 11-24-09, 06:44 PM   #6
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I have ridden about a dozen supported week long rides and a few self supported rides. On the supported rides I take a four man tent for me (kelty pagoda). I like some room for myself and my bags. Everything comes inside at night since I don't want it wet if it rains. For self supported camping I use a non-freestanding three man tent (mountain hardwear lightpath 3) this has enough room for me and weighs about the same as a two man tent (5 lbs).
I agree with staehpj1 about taking the the roomiest test available on a supported tour, have a large canopy for the days when it is too hot in the sun. A few of the very large tents have separate rooms, that is good for some privacy.

For clothing, layering is the best thing, use a light rain jacket with a light insulating layer over your riding clothes. In the current 45-55 degree weather we are having in Nebraska, I use a riding jacket, jersey, tights and full gloves, it shouldn't be that cold during the day in June.

I like the idea of a touring bike, but you could also tow a trailer. Next year I am going on a self supported trip with a friend, his bike doesn't have a rack eyelets so he may be taking my burly for the trip instead of getting a new bike.
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Old 11-24-09, 06:48 PM   #7
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I don't have any specific advice, but I did notice today that REI is having a big sale on some popular 3 person tents. The quarter dome is $100 off.

http://www.rei.com/category/4500001_Tents+and+Shelters
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Old 11-25-09, 12:14 AM   #8
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We've a Big Agnes Emerald Mountain 3. Fits my wife 5'6", two small children, and myself (6'8") well. Three people would fit reasonably well provided one sleeps reverse the other two, and you're using mummy bags.
There's also an option for an extended vestibule, which can fit two bikes plus gear for security or inclimate weather. Adds a fair bit of weight though, it's one of my not needed but makes the trip more enjoyable items.
Campmor has the tent, vestibule, and footprint on sale still.
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Old 11-25-09, 01:51 AM   #9
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After a great deal of research we decided to go with a 3 person 3 season tunnel tent for the two of us and it proved to be the way to go.
Pros: Easy to put up (goes up in a couple of minutes), inner and outer tents set up together (great when it's raining), large vestibule (we store all our gear inside and have plenty of room to spend a couple of days in and also cook).
Cons: Weight (our current tent is 5,5kgs more when wet, but will be getting either a hilleberg or Helsport tent about half the weight soon, they are expensive)
More details on our page.
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Old 11-26-09, 08:01 AM   #10
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Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for all the replies. That gives me a lot to think about. I asked Kyle about sleeping in a separate tent but he really wants to be in with us. He's not quite at that stage yet where he wants to spend time away from us. He'd rather be with us. SO, we will be looking for a larger tent! Now the choice is, do I spend the money for a nice lightweight one in case we we want to go loaded in the future.....OR.....just get a bigger box mart family tent for now and take the future when it comes. Thanks again!
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Old 11-26-09, 06:59 PM   #11
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Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for all the replies. That gives me a lot to think about. I asked Kyle about sleeping in a separate tent but he really wants to be in with us. He's not quite at that stage yet where he wants to spend time away from us. He'd rather be with us. SO, we will be looking for a larger tent! Now the choice is, do I spend the money for a nice lightweight one in case we we want to go loaded in the future.....OR.....just get a bigger box mart family tent for now and take the future when it comes. Thanks again!
I would say, don't spend a fortune on a family tent, if you don't like touring, or other members of the family don't, then your not out a lot of money. However most family tents at places like wally world are intended for car camping where a 15kg tent isn't an issue, of course if you decide to do family tours, you will need something much lighter.

In your last comment, your son is 11, in another year, maybe two, he will find it much preferable to be in his own tent, rather then stuck in with the folks. Considering he is probably fairly small at that age, you might be able to make a 3 man fit, for now. Then, in a year or two, if you all like touring, then you can add another 2 man to the mix, for junior and extra gear.
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Old 11-26-09, 08:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by oldsettlerswood View Post
Hello All!

I have been dabbling in cycling over the last 4 years or so with dreams of Touring. Unfortunately, as a woman, it's a little scary to make the leap and take off by myself. My son is now 11 and he is interested in trying the PALM ride in Michigan with me this summer. Then, not to feel left out, my husband says he would like to go to. I figured this is a good family friendly, supported tour, that will give us a taste. Especially for them... Hopefully it will lead to more supported and also some self-supported tours. SO, I'm looking for some gear recommendations. I have read through posts for hours and hours on this site and really appreciate it. Most posts regarding tents/equipment are geared toward single riders or couples. If it is a family, the kids can take one tent and the parents another. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on a tent for three. My son is 11 but not small. He is probably 5'1 and 125lbs. He is growing like crazy. I considered a separate tent for him and use my Eureka Mountain Pass 2xt for us. BUT, I think the ability to have time in the tent together if raining, etc, would be part of the bonding experience. It seems tents are highly overrated for size. Would a 4 person work for the three of us? I really like the vestibules on my Eureka for keeping gear out, yet in. Although this is a supported tour, I would prefer to get something that would be light enough to go on a self-supported trip if we would ever move on to that. I'm hoping there might be someone out there who has dealt with the same situation.

Next question. Being that this ride is in June in MI, weather is unpredictable, what should we bring sleeping bag wise? Does anyone ever layer, like clothing? Maybe a fleece bag and a liner. We already have a couple of 35 degree bags and a couple of fleece bags. I have read that the silk liners are great. Just not sure how to go with this as I was trail riding (horses) last year that time in Indiana and it was extremely hot and humid. The next week though, we were wearing jackets.

Right now I am riding an 06' Specialized Allez Sport Triple. I'm sure that will be fine for this ride. Maybe in the next year or so I would like to get a dedicated touring bike for self-supported. The boys are riding some older hybrids that we use for camping bikes. Occasionally I see Trek 7.3'fx's used locally. I am thinking that might be the way for them. My husband prefers a little more upright position because he has some back issues. He doesn't like my drop bars. They like the trekking bars so probably put them on right away. Then add some lower gearing if we head for more hills or do some self supported.

Sorry to be so long winded.....any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks!!!

Jennifer
I had a "3-room" tent made by Coleman when I lived back east and would go white water rafting with a group of friends. We would use 2 of the rooms as shared bedrooms and set up the 3rd to eat in and hang out in if it started raining. After I bought an RV, I gave it to a neighbor. Wish I still had it at times.
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Old 11-27-09, 06:43 AM   #13
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Now the choice is, do I spend the money for a nice lightweight one in case we we want to go loaded in the future.....OR.....just get a bigger box mart family tent for now and take the future when it comes. Thanks again!
It really depends on what you want to do in the future, but I will say that in the larger size range I have not found as much benefit to spending more. Strangely most of the 4 man tents in the higher price range weren't that much lighter than our Eureka Tetragon 8 which we paid about $100 for. They revamped the Tetragon so I don't know how the new one is, but we like our old one fine. It was originally bought for canoe and car camping in the Everglades, but served three of us well on our 73 day trans America and a lot of short trips of various types. Nine pounds seems like a ton, but I guess if you say 3 pounds per person it doesn't seem too bad. It is roomy, pitches easily, was inexpensive, and is holding up well. Something similar might be your best choice.

I would probably have been willing to spent two or three times as much to save a couple pounds after lugging a 9 pound tent across the US, but it seemed like unless we wanted to go to a smaller tent we couldn't save much weight by spending more.
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Old 11-28-09, 06:34 AM   #14
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I had a "3-room" tent made by Coleman when I lived back east and would go white water rafting with a group of friends. We would use 2 of the rooms as shared bedrooms and set up the 3rd to eat in and hang out in if it started raining. After I bought an RV, I gave it to a neighbor. Wish I still had it at times.

Ah yes....this is why we don't have a family tent already! We have had a motorhome for the last 5 years and went up the line from a tent to a pop-up to a 5th wheel to the mh. That's one of the reasons I'm not 100% sure about us all wanting to do this. Tent camping is not really how my husband "rolls". But, if it involves time with the family and he enjoys the other aspects of these trips.....he might learn to like it. Hence my thinking I should just stay with a cheaper family tent for now.
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Old 11-28-09, 07:39 AM   #15
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It really depends on what you want to do in the future, but I will say that in the larger size range I have not found as much benefit to spending more. Strangely most of the 4 man tents in the higher price range weren't that much lighter than our Eureka Tetragon 8 which we paid about $100 for. They revamped the Tetragon so I don't know how the new one is, but we like our old one fine. It was originally bought for canoe and car camping in the Everglades, but served three of us well on our 73 day trans America and a lot of short trips of various types. Nine pounds seems like a ton, but I guess if you say 3 pounds per person it doesn't seem too bad. It is roomy, pitches easily, was inexpensive, and is holding up well. Something similar might be your best choice.

Staehpj1,
In looking at the Eureka website at the Timberlines I did see the Tetragon. It looks like a good option for us. I really like my Eureka Mountain Pass so I would probably be pleased with another Eureka. I'm glad to have heard that this tent worked for you.
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Old 11-28-09, 07:44 AM   #16
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I would get a good solo tent. In the future if you so some solo touring you will have it for that purpose. I have and use three different tents... solo, 2 person and 3 person. Like and use them all. Should be a great experience for the family.
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Old 11-28-09, 07:50 AM   #17
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I agree with the 1st guy. You want a 4 man tent, and the really cheap ones weigh a lot.
They are often other things you don't want as well.
Here's one..
http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/sto...rom=SR&feat=sr

Campor has a good selection of tents. Compare a few, looking at specs like weight and sq footage. After you
find a candidate try to find some reviews to get an idea of how setup is and what the durability is like.
Anybody rent tents in your area?
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Old 11-29-09, 12:50 PM   #18
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I'm 6'4" so I look for large tents. I'd suggest a 4-person tent for three. Eureka has some good tents for good prices. With three people splitting the load, weight isn't such a big issue, but it's still nice to get as light gear as possible. REI makes some good tents. I have an L.L. Bean 2-person tent for just me and I love it, but I don't know much about their lightweight 4-person tents. Sierra Designs makes good tents. Big Agnes makes good, lightweight tents, but they're a little pricey.

Lay your stuff out on the living room floor. See how much length and width you need. Make sure the tent you choose has a rainfly that comes down to the ground. The ones that have a fly with partial coverage, and then the water drips onto the waterproof tent wall, are worthless in a hard rain, in my experience. I want the fly to cover 100% of the tent.

If you go in the summer, the more mosquito netting you have, the better. I often have to hide in my tent from the mosquitoes, and in the afternoon the tent can be like a sauna in the afternoon sun. My L. L. Bean is 100% mosquito netting, covered by a fly. In the summer I leave off the fly, and it's like having my own personal bug shelter.

A freestanding tent is a bonus. I've never had one because other factors have been more important, and it has never been a problem. But I've seen spots where it would be mandatory. If possible, I'd get freestanding.
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Old 11-30-09, 06:30 AM   #19
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Staehpj1,
In looking at the Eureka website at the Timberlines I did see the Tetragon. It looks like a good option for us. I really like my Eureka Mountain Pass so I would probably be pleased with another Eureka. I'm glad to have heard that this tent worked for you.
You definitely could do worse. I cursed the 9 pound weight a lot, but 3 pounds per person is really pretty reasonable if you think of it that way. It has held up well and is plenty roomy.

In high winds be sure to use the little velcro tabs to attach the fly to the poles; they make a big difference. Then again they redesigned the fly since we bought ours so I am not sure the new one is the same in that regard.

BTW: The Timberline 4 is an old canoe camping standby, but the slope of the sides makes it a lot less roomy. I think it is a bit lighter though.
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Old 11-30-09, 09:13 AM   #20
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I have a Tetragon 9 and it has been a wonderful tent. It's still in great shape after countless outings, and I've never gotten wet in it, even in a rain/hail storm at Lake Tahoe. They've changed the design though. The door overhang is different. I'd trust it though. If I was in the market for something similar, I'd go with Tetragon again. It is heavy. It's not a backpacking tent, but split among three (or even two) people you'd probably be carrying the same or less weight than I am with my lightweight tent just for me.
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Old 12-01-09, 04:23 AM   #21
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Sounds like it will fit the bill then.....especially for supported trips. Not a big initial investment and versatile. Otherwise, if we get more serious and are doing more loaded trips we can always upgrade to a lighter tent. After all, that's half the fun of this hobby......shopping for and buying new stuff. ;-)

Staehpj1 - I got my mountain pass out yesterday and set it up in the living room. Haven't had it out in a couple of years. It has those little velcro tabs also.
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