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Old 05-12-10, 02:23 PM   #1
one-headedboy
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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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Old 05-12-10, 02:33 PM   #2
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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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Old 05-12-10, 02:37 PM   #3
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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
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Old 05-12-10, 02:38 PM   #4
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all-in-one tent sleeping bag

http://www.wired.com/reviews/product/pr_jakpak
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Old 05-12-10, 02:44 PM   #5
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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.)
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Old 05-12-10, 04:33 PM   #6
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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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Old 05-12-10, 09:00 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:16 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:33 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:45 PM   #10
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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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Old 05-12-10, 09:48 PM   #11
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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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Old 05-13-10, 03:17 AM   #12
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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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Old 05-13-10, 04:52 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 06:39 AM   #14
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 06:53 AM   #15
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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).
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Old 05-13-10, 07:07 AM   #16
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:34 AM   #17
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If you have an Aldi near you - they have a tent on sale for $29.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:25 AM   #18
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:42 AM   #19
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 09:19 AM   #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.
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Old 05-13-10, 09:19 AM   #21
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...In the desert states, the odd drainage culvert is great too. I like getting creative with it.
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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.
There are times when culverts make poor choices for shelter:

http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/...gator-and.html
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Old 05-13-10, 09:36 AM   #22
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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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Old 05-13-10, 10:11 AM   #23
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:00 PM   #24
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:17 PM   #25
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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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