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tent help in the North East

Old 11-23-20, 11:29 AM
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IAMSpecial
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tent help in the North East

Hello!

I need help, I started bike packing this summer, nothing crazy just a few short trips in NY to test things out. I did some research and off to Amazon I went to order a few things. I've hiked all my life but I've never owned a tent. I went for a cheap $65 hammock that weighs about 4 pounds with the rain tarp and straps, I also got a Marmot Trestle 15 to start off with and thats it. in between hiking and bikepacking ive used this set up about 30 times this year. I like it because it just works, the pieces fit in my one saddle bag and it does not feel so heavy. The sleeping bag is massive but it is out of the way in the front. For the first time I went up state and camped out in 30 degree F, I was freeeezing. It was in front of a lake and I felt the wind all through my back. I barely slept and when i did fall asleep I woke up looking for the sleeping bag zipper as if I were dying underwater lol. I think because I was inside the bag and normally I leave my head out. I wore my winder hat, pants, coat and gloves and still. Maybe I needed a pad? the under quilt might be too heavy for me to carry around.

I was thinking about going with a 4 season 1 person tent but I need something that I can easily carry like my hammock. I thought about the Hilleberg Atko 1 but not sure if I can put that in my saddlebag. I know that this is all over the place but I really want to bikepack/hike all year not just summer.


https://ibb.co/JFvWgng (works)


I've included a pic of my bike and setup but It's not letting me post

Last edited by IAMSpecial; 11-23-20 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 11-23-20, 11:41 AM
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There are dozens of very good tents out there that vary greatly in prices. Have you considered talking to a salesperson in a good camping store, for example REI? They could talk to you about price, size, packed size, different weather conditions, etc.

I do not work at REI, never have, I only mention them because they are national. There also are very good camp stores in some localities that are independent.
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Old 11-23-20, 12:18 PM
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My 2 cents worth -

I have had a hammock since around 2012 I think. When I started using it I knew about the importance of an underquilt/bottom insulation. I tried using pads with my hammock at first - a Term A Rest Trail Lite Reg (inflatable, rollable pad). The hammock I have is a Warbonnet with a double layer bottom. The importance of this is two-fold. First - mosquitoes can't squeeze their snouts through the 2 layers of fabric weave nearly as easy and 2 - you can slide a pad between the layers if you want (which is what I tried).

Trying to stay on a pad in the hammock, even with the double layer so the pad was sandiwched between fabric layers = hard for it to move around, is not very easy or a very comfortable way to sleep. I say it's not worth it.

At that point I made my own underquilt out of fleece material. It worked for warmer conditions but was very bulky and heavy.

Lastly I bit the bullet and ordered a down-filled underquilt from Hammock Gear. I want to say it was around $2-300. I got a full length quilt with the most over-stuffing they offered for both the toe area and the main body. The factory temp rating was 20deg F, but I am not sure what the rating is with the over-stuffing. In any event, I have slept in the hammock with temperatures well below 0 outside before and have been fine. My sleeping bag I use inside is a 0deg down bag.

Even in the summer time bottom insulation is important. If it is warm I use my bag liner (fleece) as a sleeping bag by itself in the hammock, without the down sleeping bag. If it is real warm I don't even cover up. I do, however, always have the bottom insulation strung up. I suppose if I was really uncomfortable I could move it off to the side to get some more air flow underneath but I can't recall needing to do that.

You loose a surprising amount of heat below - and when you are in your sleeping bag the bag is compressed between you and the hammock. So the bag offers very little insulation Same goes for your clothes. So you need to get insulation UNDER the hammock so it can loft and not compress.

For comfort - don't use anything like foam or inflatable pads meant to be under you on the ground. One of the benefits to a hammock is the softness of the fabric. By using a pad under you that takes away that property. If you have pads they may be worth a try, or if you are going to get a tent you will need pads regardless.

As to tents - don't get a 4 season tent. That is - one that is solely a 4 season. They don't vent well enough for warmer weather. You will be a lot better off with a combination 3-4 season that has the ability to close off all the mesh on the main body of the tent. Otherwise, if you go with a 3 season tent they have too much mesh for cold weather. They work well in warmer weather. Yeah the combos are a bit heavier - but the trade-off is the versatility.
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Old 11-23-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
My 2 cents worth -

I have had a hammock since around 2012 I think. When I started using it I knew about the importance of an underquilt/bottom insulation. I tried using pads with my hammock at first - a Term A Rest Trail Lite Reg (inflatable, rollable pad). The hammock I have is a Warbonnet with a double layer bottom. The importance of this is two-fold. First - mosquitoes can't squeeze their snouts through the 2 layers of fabric weave nearly as easy and 2 - you can slide a pad between the layers if you want (which is what I tried).

Trying to stay on a pad in the hammock, even with the double layer so the pad was sandiwched between fabric layers = hard for it to move around, is not very easy or a very comfortable way to sleep. I say it's not worth it.

At that point I made my own underquilt out of fleece material. It worked for warmer conditions but was very bulky and heavy.

Lastly I bit the bullet and ordered a down-filled underquilt from Hammock Gear. I want to say it was around $2-300. I got a full length quilt with the most over-stuffing they offered for both the toe area and the main body. The factory temp rating was 20deg F, but I am not sure what the rating is with the over-stuffing. In any event, I have slept in the hammock with temperatures well below 0 outside before and have been fine. My sleeping bag I use inside is a 0deg down bag.

Even in the summer time bottom insulation is important. If it is warm I use my bag liner (fleece) as a sleeping bag by itself in the hammock, without the down sleeping bag. If it is real warm I don't even cover up. I do, however, always have the bottom insulation strung up. I suppose if I was really uncomfortable I could move it off to the side to get some more air flow underneath but I can't recall needing to do that.

You loose a surprising amount of heat below - and when you are in your sleeping bag the bag is compressed between you and the hammock. So the bag offers very little insulation Same goes for your clothes. So you need to get insulation UNDER the hammock so it can loft and not compress.

For comfort - don't use anything like foam or inflatable pads meant to be under you on the ground. One of the benefits to a hammock is the softness of the fabric. By using a pad under you that takes away that property. If you have pads they may be worth a try, or if you are going to get a tent you will need pads regardless.

As to tents - don't get a 4 season tent. That is - one that is solely a 4 season. They don't vent well enough for warmer weather. You will be a lot better off with a combination 3-4 season that has the ability to close off all the mesh on the main body of the tent. Otherwise, if you go with a 3 season tent they have too much mesh for cold weather. They work well in warmer weather. Yeah the combos are a bit heavier - but the trade-off is the versatility.
This is a 3-season tent, and it works well in cold weather. Our 4- season tent weighs a little over 6 lbs, about 2 pounds more than our light weight 3- season tent. A good sleeping bag helps a lot.


It also works well in warm weather. It is mostly the UL tents where a lot of mesh is used. Look at some of the lighter tents and pick one that is a good compromise between weight and ventilation.


This is our ultra-light tent. It is 1.5 lbs. lighter than the tent above, but is a lot more drafty, and IMO not as durable due to the lighter fabrics used. I would not take it on a ski tour.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-23-20 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 11-23-20, 02:43 PM
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I doubt that a different tent is going to make you significantly warmer. A bivy might be warmer due to the low cubic size. I would recommend some really thick wool socks and a buff.
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Old 11-23-20, 03:12 PM
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I agree with the others, unless you're camping predominantly in the winter, go with a 3 season tent, it's lighter, cheaper, and you have a whole lot more options to chose from and I never found you get that much additional warmth to justify it.
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Old 11-23-20, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
A good sleeping bag helps a lot.
That is true. However, what you run in to with open mesh that can't be covered is drafts. When the wind blows it will get through the mesh. For ventilation that helps, but when you are changing clothes and buck naked cutting out the drafts makes a big difference IMO.

I'd say a "good sleeping bag" is a necessity no matter the season. By "good" I mean one that will keep you sufficiently warm. Everyone is different, but I am a cold sleeper and would much rather have more insulation than not enough. I froze in the Appalachian mountains on my 1st backpacking trip. Temps dropped below freezing and I tried to make do with a summer weight synthetic rectangle bag, a blanket, and a few layers of clothes. No good. The tent didn't seal, either - it was a cheap kids 2 person A frame that used ties on the door panels and a velcro flap over the rear vent window = air still could work its way through quite easy. In any event, after that experience I got a good sleeping bag - 0deg down - and my combo 3/4 season Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead 2 tent. I still use that combo and the tent was my sole shelter for several years before I added the hammock to the gear arsenal.

If it were me, I wouldn't rely solely on a sleeping bag for warmth/comfort in a tent when it is cold. I'd much rather zip the tent up fairly tight also.
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Old 11-23-20, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
There are dozens of very good tents out there that vary greatly in prices. Have you considered talking to a salesperson in a good camping store, for example REI? They could talk to you about price, size, packed size, different weather conditions, etc.

I do not work at REI, never have, I only mention them because they are national. There also are very good camp stores in some localities that are independent.
Funny story, I live 2 minutes away from an REI and I never even thought about asking this lol I should try!

Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
My 2 cents worth -

I have had a hammock since around 2012 I think. When I started using it I knew about the importance of an underquilt/bottom insulation. I tried using pads with my hammock at first - a Term A Rest Trail Lite Reg (inflatable, rollable pad). The hammock I have is a Warbonnet with a double layer bottom. The importance of this is two-fold. First - mosquitoes can't squeeze their snouts through the 2 layers of fabric weave nearly as easy and 2 - you can slide a pad between the layers if you want (which is what I tried).

Trying to stay on a pad in the hammock, even with the double layer so the pad was sandiwched between fabric layers = hard for it to move around, is not very easy or a very comfortable way to sleep. I say it's not worth it.

At that point I made my own underquilt out of fleece material. It worked for warmer conditions but was very bulky and heavy.

Lastly I bit the bullet and ordered a down-filled underquilt from Hammock Gear. I want to say it was around $2-300. I got a full length quilt with the most over-stuffing they offered for both the toe area and the main body. The factory temp rating was 20deg F, but I am not sure what the rating is with the over-stuffing. In any event, I have slept in the hammock with temperatures well below 0 outside before and have been fine. My sleeping bag I use inside is a 0deg down bag.

Even in the summer time bottom insulation is important. If it is warm I use my bag liner (fleece) as a sleeping bag by itself in the hammock, without the down sleeping bag. If it is real warm I don't even cover up. I do, however, always have the bottom insulation strung up. I suppose if I was really uncomfortable I could move it off to the side to get some more air flow underneath but I can't recall needing to do that.

You loose a surprising amount of heat below - and when you are in your sleeping bag the bag is compressed between you and the hammock. So the bag offers very little insulation Same goes for your clothes. So you need to get insulation UNDER the hammock so it can loft and not compress.

For comfort - don't use anything like foam or inflatable pads meant to be under you on the ground. One of the benefits to a hammock is the softness of the fabric. By using a pad under you that takes away that property. If you have pads they may be worth a try, or if you are going to get a tent you will need pads regardless.

As to tents - don't get a 4 season tent. That is - one that is solely a 4 season. They don't vent well enough for warmer weather. You will be a lot better off with a combination 3-4 season that has the ability to close off all the mesh on the main body of the tent. Otherwise, if you go with a 3 season tent they have too much mesh for cold weather. They work well in warmer weather. Yeah the combos are a bit heavier - but the trade-off is the versatility.
Woah! thank you! After looking i am hooked on the Warbonnet, how small do underquilts get? i'm going to read this over! thank you!

Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
This is a 3-season tent, and it works well in cold weather. Our 4- season tent weighs a little over 6 lbs, about 2 pounds more than our light weight 3- season tent. A good sleeping bag helps a lot.


It also works well in warm weather. It is mostly the UL tents where a lot of mesh is used. Look at some of the lighter tents and pick one that is a good compromise between weight and ventilation.


This is our ultra-light tent. It is 1.5 lbs. lighter than the tent above, but id a lot more drafty, and IMO not as durable due to the lighter fabrics used. I would not take it on a ski tour.
One main reason why i thought about a tent is because it's different and it looks roomy lol but hammocks is all i know
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Old 11-23-20, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by IAMSpecial View Post
Woah! thank you! After looking i am hooked on the Warbonnet, how small do underquilts get? i'm going to read this over! thank you!
No problem.

I assume by "small" you mean the packed size. See my gear talk video linked below. 00:18:15 - 00:24:34 is the segment on shelter options. I have everything in the bags rolled up/stuffed so you can see the packed packages. If you watch the slideshow at the end (2:10:48 is the start of the slideshow) there are pictures showing the tent and hammock. On that tour I only used the hammock twice. All the other nights were the tent.


I would highly suggest getting a large/full length underquilt. As to how warm to go (how low of a temp rating) - you know you. I would always suggest erring on the side of warmer than you think you need. I would even say go another 20 degrees less than you think you will want. You can always unzip your sleeping bag or throw a top quilt off of you a bit to vent if you are too warm. If you are bundled up and cold you are going to suffer without more insulation to get you by.

Originally Posted by IAMSpecial View Post
One main reason why i thought about a tent is because it's different and it looks roomy lol but hammocks is all i know
Tents are a lot more roomy than hammocks, yes. They will offer superior protection from the elements also. That isn't to say that you can't camp in the snow or stay dry in a hammock in the rain, but when the wind blows you have a ton of ventilation that can also let the elements in. That is why I took both shelters on my trip in the video (as per the segment above on shelters - I actually had 4 options including a bivy and ground pitching a tarp, but didn't use either as a "shelter" to sleep in - the tarp was mostly the garage for the bike and cook shelter).

For what it is worth, I met up with a couple guys that were rollerblading the route I was riding. They were camping at a shelter I stopped at - in hammocks. They were both bundled up with coats etc in their hammocks and still quite cold. They didn't have any cooking gear, either. They brought snack type foods (bars) - things that could be eaten straight out of the pack/cold - so as to save weight and bulk by not needing mess kits and stoves. I say that was a BAD move. In warmer weather it wouldn't have been so bad, but why put yourself through that torture in the name of saving weight? Something to think about... The point is - think about your trips, timing, weather, etc and plan accordingly. Whether it is shelters, sleep systems, food, what have you - you might not think of some aspect as a requirement and end up well under-prepared when the time comes you need it and don't have it.
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Old 11-23-20, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by IAMSpecial View Post
Funny story, I live 2 minutes away from an REI and I never even thought about asking this lol I should try!
...
Try to pick a time when nobody else is going to need help, if a sales person does not see anybody else needing help, you are more likely to get some of their time. It is my experience that on rainy evenings, people are more likely to stay home, etc. That said, we are getting into the holiday rush when everybody wants to buy stuff, so I do not know if there is a time that is best.

They obviously are more likely to promote tents that they sell, but if you ask a lot of generic questions, you are more likely to get some good answers on things like pole types, different materials and coatings, etc.

I think most people will tell you to carry the same thing on a bike as you would backpacking, but I can tell you that when the wheels are carrying the weight instead of my shoe soles, I am much more willing to carry more stuff, stuff to put in the tent, and a bigger tent. I solo tour with a 2 person tent but backpack with a 1 person tent, I often tour with a heavy liquid fuel stove, backpack with a lighter butane mix type of stove, etc.

I prefer tent poles that are short enough to fit in a pannier, but that might not be the norm, think about how you will carry them.
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Old 11-23-20, 06:12 PM
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You need a warmer sleeping bag and an insulated sleeping pad. The main difference between 3 season tents and 4 season tents is one can withstand the weight of snow, it will not keep you any warmer.

Remember that ventilation is extremely important in cold weather. A poorly ventilated tent will have crazy amounts of condensation in the best of times, in the winter time you can find yourself in a snow blizzard inside you tent.
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Old 11-23-20, 07:17 PM
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[QUOTE=KC8QVO;21803264]That is true. However, what you run in to with open mesh that can't be covered is drafts. When the wind blows it will get through the mesh. For ventilation that helps, but when you are changing clothes and buck naked cutting out the drafts makes a big difference IMO. . . . . . . . . . . [ /QUOTE]

In cold weather I usually change clothes inside my sleeping bag.
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Old 11-23-20, 08:46 PM
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Before you buy a tent at REI, look at the options available from the cottage industry in lightweight backpacking gear. Tarptent.com is my favorite, and there are a few others. REI doesn't sell them. There's another recent thread about Tarptents in this forum.

I tried simple hammock camping once (without an underquilt), and like you I had a miserable time. My nice 20F down bag failed on a 32F night because it was compresssed around so much of my underside. On following nights I camped on the ground under the hammock and was much warmer. I decided not to invest in a quilt system for the hammock, and didn't use the hammock any more. (And I camp in desert, tundra, and other areas sans trees.)
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Old 11-24-20, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
The main difference between 3 season tents and 4 season
And if thereís enough snow to cause issues with snow load on a 3 season tent, begs the question would you be riding in that snow.
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Old 11-24-20, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
You need a warmer sleeping bag and an insulated sleeping pad. The main difference between 3 season tents and 4 season tents is one can withstand the weight of snow, it will not keep you any warmer.

Remember that ventilation is extremely important in cold weather. A poorly ventilated tent will have crazy amounts of condensation in the best of times, in the winter time you can find yourself in a snow blizzard inside you tent.
Agree 100%

Also wonder about how many of us will be bike touring when there is going to be heavy snow. I have seen a little snow at higher elevations and maybe a surprise dusting elsewhere, but if I want to do winter camping it is way more likely to be snowshoe or xc ski camping. I guess maybe if I owned a fat bike....
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Old 11-24-20, 11:32 AM
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When I hammock in the cold, I use a tarp (actually a shower curtain from target- folds up small, cane with reusable bag) between the hammock and my bedding. With wool jammies Iím toasty down to 20F.
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Old 11-24-20, 12:34 PM
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I hope you don't see much of this 4-season tent weather bike packing if you look at the upper left hand corner, you will see our climbing ropes in a frozen pile.

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Old 11-24-20, 07:27 PM
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The Northeast is challenging. I have a NEMO Hornet that is great in the Summer and above freezing Fall. It has a lot of mesh, so it is OK in rain in the Summer, and it keeps the bugs out. It looks a lot like that ultralight REI shown above. For Winter, I would get something with less ventilation, but condensation is still a problem. If it was cold enough to be confident that it would not rain, I might consider a bivvy sack, or just unroll my bag under some conifers.
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Old 11-25-20, 07:01 AM
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Upstate NYer here. I've spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks, Allegheny region and central PA both on a bike and backpacking. Ive winter camped in the Adirondacks in a 3 season tent just fine. Keep in mind that it is incredibly damp here. The Adirondacks are wet all the time and as you move south toward PA it dries out a bit. I think the most important thing to remember is getting all that condensation out of your tent so one with good ventilation is a must. I also have a semi free standing tent which is kinda annoying when the ground it tough to get a stake in. I know people who use single wall tents but it looks like a much bigger pain then a double wall. You really need to think about what you need when buying a tent. I would avoid the cheapest tents on the market but really evaluate what your getting. There is a point of diminishing return. If the only difference between a 200$ and 500$ tent is 2 oz is it worth it? Get a good insulated pad, even when its warmish out the ground here tends to be cooler and damp. Synthetic insulation is fine and works well when damp but its much heavier and bulkier. Dridown products and wool layers are the way to go but remember that its damp here so if your wool gets wet it will take a long time to dry if at all. This is the perfect time of year to get some new gear with holiday sales. I would also recommend REI, no I don't work there. They maybe a little more but the 1 year return policy cannot be beat.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:00 AM
  #20  
balto charlie
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For extra warmth I use a bivy sack. I also use a down quilt, insulated sleep pad, and tarp. A single wall tent will be warmer as it blocks the wind but retains moisture. I find the damp humid conditions to be the biggest problem. Thus a tarp handles these conditions best. Different strokes for each of us.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I hope you don't see much of this 4-season tent weather bike packing if you look at the upper left hand corner, you will see our climbing ropes in a frozen pile.

Ugh! Those are nasty conditions. FWIW: I also climb, rock not ice
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Old 11-25-20, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Agree 100%

Also wonder about how many of us will be bike touring when there is going to be heavy snow. I have seen a little snow at higher elevations and maybe a surprise dusting elsewhere, but if I want to do winter camping it is way more likely to be snowshoe or xc ski camping. I guess maybe if I owned a fat bike....
I agree, snow biking while commuting was so difficult. I kinda get the mnt biking in snow BUT not bikepacking. Back country skiing or backpacking camping is fun though.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:18 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Chris! View Post
Upstate NYer here. I've spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks, Allegheny region and central PA both on a bike and backpacking. Ive winter camped in the Adirondacks in a 3 season tent just fine. Keep in mind that it is incredibly damp here. The Adirondacks are wet all the time and as you move south toward PA it dries out a bit. I think the most important thing to remember is getting all that condensation out of your tent so one with good ventilation is a must. I also have a semi free standing tent which is kinda annoying when the ground it tough to get a stake in. I know people who use single wall tents but it looks like a much bigger pain then a double wall. You really need to think about what you need when buying a tent. I would avoid the cheapest tents on the market but really evaluate what your getting. There is a point of diminishing return. If the only difference between a 200$ and 500$ tent is 2 oz is it worth it? Get a good insulated pad, even when its warmish out the ground here tends to be cooler and damp. Synthetic insulation is fine and works well when damp but its much heavier and bulkier. Dridown products and wool layers are the way to go but remember that its damp here so if your wool gets wet it will take a long time to dry if at all. This is the perfect time of year to get some new gear with holiday sales. I would also recommend REI, no I don't work there. They maybe a little more but the 1 year return policy cannot be beat.
I can see your points. I have backpacked and canoe camped in the Daks and in various parts of PA and yes the rocky ground and wet climate can be a pain. Still it wasn't all that terrible to deal with a bivy or a single wall tent and a regular down bag. I think if I wasn't already very used to dealing with my equipment from using it other humid and rocky places in the past it might have been an ordeal. If I lived there and/or spent most of my time there investing in a dridown bag may be worthwhile, but I already have an expensive regular down bag that I bought shortly before dridown existed. It does have a DWR shell. It has worrked very well there and elsewhere. So for someone who already spent several hundred dollars for a nice bag and has a single wall tent or a bivy that they are experienced at using they may get along fine in the Daks. On the other hand, I'd agree that buying new gear for there it is worth considering dridown and double wall tents or at the least very well ventilated single wall ones.

On another note... A few places in PA with nothing but rocks and boulders everywhere were among the very few times I ever envied the guys who had hammocks.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
I agree, snow biking while commuting was so difficult. I kinda get the mnt biking in snow BUT not bikepacking. Back country skiing or backpacking camping is fun though.
Yeah, going out on the trails to ride for an hour or two in the snow can be fun if it isn't too deep, I miss that here in Tallahassee, but snow bikepacking doesn't interest me. That does leave the chances of surprise snow at high elevations when on a long tour that we may need to deal with even into late spring or early summer and again in the fall, but I am inclined to tough those out by watching the forecast and choosing where and how I camp prudently. That may mean planning stops to avoid stays at the higher points, pitching camp under some kind of shelter, or getting a room if necessary. I have not yet resorted to getting a room because of cold or snow, I typically just tough them out, but would if necessary. I have often changed plans to camp lower.
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Old 11-25-20, 06:15 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yeah, going out on the trails to ride for an hour or two in the snow can be fun if it isn't too deep, I miss that here in Tallahassee, but snow bikepacking doesn't interest me. .
I would suspect that bikepacking in winter, snow added in or not, is difficult as itís just a pain to carry all the gear. One of the interesting things about bikepacking, vs. full blown road touring, is that the more limited space in the bag system means lighter and less gear. Lends itself very well to warmer temps, not so much to winter temps.
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