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  1. #1
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    Tentless Touring

    Is it a terrible idea? I really can't afford a tent, but some people insist that I have one. Opinions?

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    Quote Originally Posted by one-headedboy View Post
    Is it a terrible idea? I really can't afford a tent, but some people insist that I have one. Opinions?
    Can't afford a tent? How can you afford touring then ?

    What's your plan for shelter? Some people prefer tarps, those work if you don't mind the occasional wet ground. Nothing wrong with that. It depends on you.

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    Senior Member TrekFix's Avatar
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    You could always just get a cheap tent at Walmart or Target for under $50.

    Here's a good one

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Wenzel-Sta...r-Tent/8136423

  4. #4
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    all-in-one tent sleeping bag

    http://www.wired.com/reviews/product/pr_jakpak

  5. #5
    Hooked on Touring
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    Fancy combo products are usually more expensive than basic products.
    Your basic products will be bulkier and heavier - but much cheaper.
    You can get a Coleman dome tent for $49. A Eureka for $99.
    I find a tent one of the few "retreats" from constant exposure.
    Since bicycle touring means you are always on public display -
    it is nice to have some place where you cannot be bothered.
    (At least for a few hours.)

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by one-headedboy View Post
    Is it a terrible idea? I really can't afford a tent, but some people insist that I have one. Opinions?
    How wet do you want to be? And, trust me, you will get wet at some point in a tour...even in the desert. Some places, you could get incredibly wet and stay relatively warm (southern US in summer). Other places you could get incredibly wet and risk death by hypothermia (mountain west). Google 'tarp tents' to get some ideas on light weight, but not necessarily cheap, tents.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member adaminlc's Avatar
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    A tarp and a hammock have worked well for me. I got a cheap hammock on sale for some $10.00 and a tarp at Wal-Mart for maybe another $10.00. I don't use the tarp unless I need it.
    I like fat tires and I cannot lie...

  8. #8
    Dumpster cyclist
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    Where do you plan on sleeping? If you want to camp, you'll be much happier with something to put over your head. If you're planning on going hobo-style under awnings, pavilions, gazebos, and behind gas stations, no, you don't need a tent.

  9. #9
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sm1960 View Post
    i prefer this one. http://www.patchtogether.com/store/chumbuddy-192.html

    Douse it with some silicone spray. Good to go! For added hilarity be sure to camp on a beach.

    Seriously though, save a bit of cash and try to get a tent or even a hammock... The mosquitos and blackflies would make a real meal of you up here.

  10. #10
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    I've toured with a basic blue tarp. Less than $10. Sleep on top of it on nice nights and wrap yourself in it when it gets ugly. Works best touring in non buggy regions though.
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  11. #11
    Kaffee Nazi danarnold's Avatar
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    Tents are cheap, but you don't really need one. A tarp will do. One of my favorites is a hammock strung between two trees, and a tarp strung over it. You can do it on the cheap, or get a Moss parawing and a genuine Merida hammock. Great for warm weather camping.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I used to backpack with nothing more than a large sheet of 6 mil plastic for a shelter. I got the idea from Colin Fletcher the guy who wrote The Complete Walker. He had some handy little gadgets called tarp locks? But I cheaped out and just tied the guy lines around a small rock trapped in the plastic.

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  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    We met a guy who slept under picnic pavilions. bridges, and in the occasional doorway. He did have a bivy though. How far you are going, where, and when. would all be factors in this.

    Campmor has usable tents as low as $20 on sale sometimes. Quite a few decent tents can be found on sale for under $100. Some very nice tents can be found for a little more. Barring that a rain poncho or a sheet of plastic to keep the rain off.

    I suspect that if you can't afford a $20 tent your should probably count yourself among the homeless rather than the bike tourists.

  14. #14
    Dumpster cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I suspect that if you can't afford a $20 tent your should probably count yourself among the homeless rather than the bike tourists.
    I've always thought the line between the two was blurry. Less money spent on the road means more days on the road. I guess I'm one of the 'homeless' bike tourists.

    And pavilions and gazebos are great places to crash! In the desert states, the odd drainage culvert is great too. I like getting creative with it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weasel9 View Post
    And pavilions and gazebos are great places to crash! In the desert states, the odd drainage culvert is great too. I like getting creative with it.
    I really like pavilions and gazebos for camping but still pitch a tent to keep the bugs off. I leave the rain fly off in those cases (if not using my single wall tent).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I really like pavilions and gazebos for camping but still pitch a tent to keep the bugs off. I leave the rain fly off in those cases (if not using my single wall tent).
    Ah yes, in the east I pitch my tent almost every night because of bugs. I've mostly spent time in the West where I haven't really found that to be a problem.

    In fact, I would suggest the OP get a tent more for potential bugs than rain. They can be a nightmare.

  17. #17
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    If you have an Aldi near you - they have a tent on sale for $29.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    Depending on part of the country where you tour, it is best to sleep in a tent. It's not just mosquitos that will visit you while asleep but other kind of insects, animals and worst, venomous snake. Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night and feel a cold long thing rattling slipping inside your sleeping bag? Think about it.

  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    Can't afford a tent? How can you afford touring then ?
    +1 (but a bit more seriously)

    Tent / shelter is a fairly small expense. As others have pointed out, you can do OK with a tarp, especially in dry areas. But if you can't spring $50 / $100 for a tent, I don't see how you can afford to support yourself on the road.

  20. #20
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    I rode across the west without a tent... Portland to Omaha.... and I would not do it again. A lot of the time it was fine, but when it was not fine it was really bad; the worst of it was the mosquitos, but there were other problems as well. I didn't complete that tour; had intended to get a lot farther east. When I quit, I was dead tired; not sleeping well enough. I don't know how much a tent would have solved that problem, but I'm quite sure it would have helped.

    I have a tent I got at Sports Authority for $15 or something, and it's good enough. Small and quite light. Not as nice as something that cost ten times as much; but way better than nothing.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weasel9 View Post
    ...In the desert states, the odd drainage culvert is great too. I like getting creative with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by wrafl View Post
    Depending on part of the country where you tour, it is best to sleep in a tent. It's not just mosquitos that will visit you while asleep but other kind of insects, animals and worst, venomous snake. Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night and feel a cold long thing rattling slipping inside your sleeping bag? Think about it.
    There are times when culverts make poor choices for shelter:

    http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/...gator-and.html
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  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
    There are times when culverts make poor choices for shelter:

    http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/...gator-and.html
    Not to mention the tendency of arroyos and dry washes to flash flood. I'm pretty sure there's a culvert under this road. Anyone with any experience in the southwest knows not to camp in low lying areas.
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  23. #23
    weirdo
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    As asked above, how long and where? I`m a weekender and frequently leave my tent at home. I`ve been a bit worried before, but never in actual danger due to being shelterless. For a longer tour, I wouldn`t risk the chance of discomfort, but as long as the forcast looks good for the surrounding areas I rarely pack one. Obviously, that wouldn`t be a good idea even for a short tour where serious temp drops in conjunction with wet are likely.

  24. #24
    40 yrs bike touring
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    I have toured with only a bivy and small tarp before the advent of UL equipment. Now the Tarptents and their like weight less than my old combination and provide much more comfort in a shelter under almost all conditions. I use a Tarptent Contrail now and highly recommend any of their designs.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Not to mention the tendency of arroyos and dry washes to flash flood. I'm pretty sure there's a culvert under this road. Anyone with any experience in the southwest knows not to camp in low lying areas.
    Aye, I'm from the Southwest, I'm familiar with flash floods. This particular instance was in Nevada, and it wasn't going to rain anywhere anytime soon.

    Anyway, we made it out alive.

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