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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Camping gear for bicycle tours

    I need three things for my future bicycle tours:

    1. A very small, lightweight tent, but one that is fairly durable and warm.

    2. A better mattress than the foam thing I brought with me last time ... something that is comfortable, but folds up very, very small, and is light.

    3. Cooking gear including a stove. Again, it has to be extremely small, compact, and lightweight. And it would be great if the stove could heat things without fuel and flames ... perhaps something battery operated????

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    You asked for it
    Stove #1 Stove #'s 2-5 I personally use the MSR Whisperlite International, it will burn multiple fuels but can be a little fussy to make work properly. I also use the MSR cookware. I have one stainless cook set that is still going strong after 10 years of heavy use. I usually only carry part of it. Also use the
    Outback Oven when I am on a wandering tour and time is on my side.

    Tents: I currently use an older version of the Coleman Inyo I used to use an Eureka Timberline Excellent tent but fairly heavy. Also check out the MSR tents, pricey but I have never gone wrong with any of their equipment under heavy use.

    Sleeping pads: Therm-a-rest are the best I have one that is about 12 years old, managed to damage one corner of it, sent it back for repair and they fixed it no charge.

    These are some of the items that I use and have been very happy with backpacking and camping with over the last 15-20 years.

    Here is another company that has come of age in the last few years with some inovative camping cookware

    GSI I have thought about the handcranked Blender nothing like a cold margarita at the end of a long day's ride I usually carry one of their lexan cups, the ones I have are marked for measuring.

    Aaron

    Last edited by wahoonc; 03-06-05 at 04:14 PM.

  3. #3
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I never got comfortable enough with the Thermarest. I'm thinking of switching over to the Big Agnes....more compact also when folded down.
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  4. #4
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    Battery operated stove???

    It takes around 180 kJ to heat half a litre of water to boiling point, from 15°C.
    And that's at 100% efficiency!
    Now, a good rechargeable AA cell holds over 2000 mAh, which is 11 kJ. So to heat the water, you'd need 17 cells. Again, assuming 100% efficiency.
    With a more reasonable 30% efficiency (guessing here), you're at a whopping 57 AA cells just to bring half a litre of water to the boil. If you want to keep it boiling for ten minutes, you'd probably need double that!
    A good 12 V car battery would be able to, at least theoretically, boil the water for you, and still have enough juice to keep it boiling for a while, but just one of those weighs more than many a modern bike...

  5. #5
    cyclist
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    If you can't get comfotable with a thermarest then try to buy a ridgerest foam pad to put under it before buying something more expensive. When you max out your thermarest then the foam pad is there to support you. Very plush.
    I'm a touring wannabe and an AT thru-hiker so I would go with light weight stuff like a Henry Shires Tarptent (www.tarptent.com) and a Trangia alcohol stove (you can find the Mini at REI). Butane stoves are small and very hot but are not refilable (which is not that big of a deal as they last for a while).
    Scott

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    Battery operated stove???

    It takes around 180 kJ to heat half a litre of water to boiling point, from 15°C.
    And that's at 100% efficiency!
    Now, a good rechargeable AA cell holds over 2000 mAh, which is 11 kJ. So to heat the water, you'd need 17 cells. Again, assuming 100% efficiency.
    With a more reasonable 30% efficiency (guessing here), you're at a whopping 57 AA cells just to bring half a litre of water to the boil. If you want to keep it boiling for ten minutes, you'd probably need double that!
    A good 12 V car battery would be able to, at least theoretically, boil the water for you, and still have enough juice to keep it boiling for a while, but just one of those weighs more than many a modern bike...


    OK, so maybe not battery operated.

    I just do not like the idea of working with fuel and fire. A bad burn injury has left me practically petrified of anything hot enough to burn me.

    Aside from going the restaurant route ... are there other cooking options?

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Well if you want to forego the fire you could try Heater Meals I actually keep a few of these in my truck toolbox for emergencies...like being stuck on the Interstate for 6 hours because some idiots haven't learned the basics of physics Like snow and ice are slick and you lose traction at 70 mph...DUH!

    During the warmer months in the south I have literally traveled from farmer's stand to farmer's stand eating fresh fruits and veggies with no cooking, nothing like eating a whole cannonball melon fresh from the vine with the juice running down your face You could also try and time your food stops at convience stores and use their microwaves...if you buy something they usually don't mind if you heat something else up the oven.

    Aaron

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    Well, you can only eat cold foods. That will save you a lot of weight from the fuel and stove.

    For a pad, I'd reccomend a thermarest Z rest or ridge rest.
    Z rest:


    ridge rest:


    The Z rest costs about US$ 40, and the ridge rest about US$20. The Z rest folds up like an accordian as shown in the picture, is somewhat bulky, and is really lightweight. The ridge rest rolls up like in the picture, and is bulkier and slightly heavier.

    For stoves, seriously there aren't any options that don't involve fire or flames. There are meals, which the military uses that use a chemical reaction to heat the food. These are horrendously expensive, have lots of packaging, and don't taste very good.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncscott
    If you can't get comfotable with a thermarest then try to buy a ridgerest foam pad to put under it before buying something more expensive. When you max out your thermarest then the foam pad is there to support you. Very plush.
    I'm a touring wannabe and an AT thru-hiker so I would go with light weight stuff like a Henry Shires Tarptent (www.tarptent.com) and a Trangia alcohol stove (you can find the Mini at REI). Butane stoves are small and very hot but are not refilable (which is not that big of a deal as they last for a while).
    Scott
    Scott,
    Hi neighbor Those are some slick little tents...we used to just use a big piece of 6 mil builders plastic for the same basic results shades of Colin Fletcher "The man who walked thru time."

    Aaron

  10. #10
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    These are pretty nice and lightweight, and the fuel isn't a disaster-waiting-to-happen. Getting one from an Army/Navy surplus store would probably be cheaper than ordering from Rivendell.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I just do not like the idea of working with fuel and fire. A bad burn injury has left me practically petrified of anything hot enough to burn me.
    If you've never tried a Trangia stove, you should.
    It's really easy to use, and you have to mess up pretty badly to burn yourself on one.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    If you've never tried a Trangia stove, you should.
    It's really easy to use, and you have to mess up pretty badly to burn yourself on one.
    Really? I've had terrible trouble with the trangias, they seem too unstable for me.
    I once tipped over my dinner cooking on a trangia, and spilled flaming alcohol everywhere. Did I mention I was in the woods, where there was plenty of dry tinder around?

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I am not a big fan of alcohol stoves for two reasons one the btu output is on the low side compared to white gas or butane, and the flame is hard to see if you spill it and it starts to burn. You might also consider Sterno Stoves which is alcohol fuel in a jelly form but you still have the low btu issue. I would think from your description if you are willing to use a fuel stove at all one of the butane cannister stoves is going to be you best bet. The butane is contained, cannot be spilled, and is very easy to operate.

    Aaron

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    What about a stove using Trioxane ? I see them frequently in cheaper than dirt. A catalog of surplus gear.Trioxane fuel comes in solid bars.It is used with a small folding stove you place the cooking pot atop it.
    Last edited by james Haury; 03-15-05 at 09:36 AM.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Let me also add that I am very accident prone. If I can knock it over, spill it, dump fuel all over the place, light the forest on fire, or injure myself ... I probably will.

    If I go with a fuel and flame sort of stove ... it has to be completely and utterly idiot-proof.


    Also note: I can't cook with a gas stove (like one you'd find in a house) either. The very thought of lighting the burners is terrifying.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=Machka]I need three things for my future bicycle tours:

    1. A very small, lightweight tent, but one that is fairly durable and warm.




    Hi Machka - enjoy your website!

    One thing I teach our Boy Scouts about winter camping: tents keep you dry & out of the wind, but not "warm". They finally believe it when, on winter campouts, those who followed the rule of leaving the zippers slightly open to allow condensation to escape end up dryer (& warmer) than those who zipped tight & got the tent insides covered with frozen condensation-flakes!

    For warmth, depend on appropriate sleeping bag system - any backpacking forum or discussion board will give you LOTS of info on the topic.

    I use an old Performance 2-man tent - I think a similar one is intermittently available in their catalog. Fits in 1 pannier, pretty quick set-up, inexpensive compared to fancy ones (& seems durable enough for the couple of weeks each year I get to use it). Not free-standing, though.

    J.W.
    Grand Rapids, MI

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    Personal opinion here, not to step on anyones toes, but esbits have two bad habits. They smell like buring metal (which they probably are, they give me headaches) and put a horrible grime on your pots. It sounds like a quality butane stove might suit your needs (cheap ones use the large greeen steel propane canisters, avoid these). You can even buy them with self lighters so no matches or lighter for normal use. (you always need to bring a backup but you can get candle lighters with long flame nozels). Stoves with larger burning surfaces cook better but are slightly larger and more bulky (small detail). Camping Gaz use a unique bottle so you might want to try Coleman, MSR, Primus, etc. Something not mentioned yet is they simmer the best of any kind. I would use them but I'm an alchoholic
    Good Luck,
    scott

  18. #18
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I've seen self heating meals at camping stores like REI. I have no experience with them but they are heavy and expensive compared to cooking options.

    That said, you have a couple other options that don't require flame:

    1. Tour with someone who will do the cooking. You could take care of setting up and tearing down camp in exchange for the cooking duties.

    2. You don't have to cook meals in camp. Although a hot meal is nice, for days when you don't, or can't, eat in a restaurant, you can certainly get plenty of calories from ready-to-eat foods like good old PB&J, fruits, raw veggies, and snack foods like chips & salsa. Tour your local supermarket looking for foods you like that don't need refrigerated or cooked.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonFixed
    Well, you can only eat cold foods. That will save you a lot of weight from the fuel and stove.

    For a pad, I'd reccomend a thermarest Z rest or ridge rest.
    Z rest:


    ridge rest:


    The Z rest costs about US$ 40, and the ridge rest about US$20. The Z rest folds up like an accordian as shown in the picture, is somewhat bulky, and is really lightweight. The ridge rest rolls up like in the picture, and is bulkier and slightly heavier.

    For stoves, seriously there aren't any options that don't involve fire or flames. There are meals, which the military uses that use a chemical reaction to heat the food. These are horrendously expensive, have lots of packaging, and don't taste very good.

    I've seen those mats, and they look better than the foam one I brought on my last tour, but they don't pack very small.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    I've seen self heating meals at camping stores like REI. I have no experience with them but they are heavy and expensive compared to cooking options.

    That said, you have a couple other options that don't require flame:

    1. Tour with someone who will do the cooking. You could take care of setting up and tearing down camp in exchange for the cooking duties.

    2. You don't have to cook meals in camp. Although a hot meal is nice, for days when you don't, or can't, eat in a restaurant, you can certainly get plenty of calories from ready-to-eat foods like good old PB&J, fruits, raw veggies, and snack foods like chips & salsa. Tour your local supermarket looking for foods you like that don't need refrigerated or cooked.

    I did Option #1. when I toured Wales and Australia, but I'd like the freedom to venture out on my own.

    And Option #2 might be what I end up doing. Although I'll take a look at some of the other stove suggestions.

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    There aren't any REI stores closer than Atlanta so when I got to my first one in SF,CA. I kinda went a bit crazy, was like a kid let loose at Disney World.
    I bought some of those packaged meals that are cooked by adding boiling water, close them up and wait sev minutes. They all tasted the same, and the salt content was too hi for me. Bought some MREs at a surplus store, expensive and the only thing I found worth a fig was the MnMs in them
    I bought a JetBoil, and have adapted some one pot meals to cook in it, at least the food tastes edible, and like real food,it only weighs 15 oz and the fuel can 8 oz, so I can tote it hiking and stow it in a Pannier when biking, AND it heats FAST

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The closest REI to me is in Montana. But up here in Canada we have something similar: Mountain Equipment Coop: http://www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp

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    I don't know what kind of "foam thing" you used as mattress during your last trip. The blue hard-foam mattress sold for camping is much better than a simple foam... but it still is far from perfect.

    You could also look at Thermarests or look-alikes. there are 2 or 3 different thicknesses, as well as 3/4 length vs full length. Mine is the thin - full-size one. Not perfect for sleeping on rocks, but decent otherwise. Thermarests – even the thick model – also take much less room than a foam mattress, but they weigh 2-3 times more.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  24. #24
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka

    3. Cooking gear including a stove. Again, it has to be extremely small, compact, and lightweight. And it would be great if the stove could heat things without fuel and flames ... perhaps something battery operated????

    Any suggestions?

    Machka,
    Wonderful website you've got there.
    If we wanted a "hot meal" in boot camp, the Drill Instuctors told us to "put the food under yer arm and run around until it got hot!"

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    I don't know what kind of "foam thing" you used as mattress during your last trip. The blue hard-foam mattress sold for camping is much better than a simple foam... but it still is far from perfect.

    You could also look at Thermarests or look-alikes. there are 2 or 3 different thicknesses, as well as 3/4 length vs full length. Mine is the thin - full-size one. Not perfect for sleeping on rocks, but decent otherwise. Thermarests – even the thick model – also take much less room than a foam mattress, but they weigh 2-3 times more.

    My foam thing was like one of these:

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1110165679162

    It was better than sleeping directly on the ground (which is what I did in Wales) but still after about 3 nights my hips and shoulders were in PAIN! I'd like a bit less contact with the ground ... a bit more padding.

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