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Tents, Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads, Need Advice Please!

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Tents, Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads, Need Advice Please!

Old 08-28-12, 10:59 AM
  #26  
MK313
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
On the sleeping bag and mat, I'd need to know your budget and the conditions you want to camp in. Then there is personal preference... That said I love my Thermarest NeoAir and Mountain Hardware Phantom 45. I have used both down to at least 18F and been comfy with one layer of pile and two pairs of socks.
Staehpj1,

How small does the MH phantom compress down to? I'm in the market for a new bag & that one looks like it could be the perfect bag.
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Old 08-28-12, 11:01 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
What do you all do with your bike in the evening? Drape a tarp over it? Do you lock it up? Anything you do to prevent it from being stolen while camping?
I carry a small cable lock, works on a tree.
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Old 08-28-12, 11:30 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
What do you all do with your bike in the evening? Drape a tarp over it? Do you lock it up? Anything you do to prevent it from being stolen while camping?
We lock it up to a tree or picnic table. Carried a tarp on one trip down the coast to cover bikes at night, but it really wasn't all that important as long as you can keep the contents of your panniers dry.
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Old 08-28-12, 11:56 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by MK313 View Post
Staehpj1,

How small does the MH phantom compress down to? I'm in the market for a new bag & that one looks like it could be the perfect bag.
The supplied sack is 6"x10". With a compression sack it could probably compress more (maybe grapefruit sized), but I don't see it as worth it given how small it already is.
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Old 08-28-12, 12:06 PM
  #30  
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For footprint, sheet Polyethylene , is cheap , and easily replaced,
A loop of tape where the stake loops on the tent are keeps it in place
so not needing to be laid down separately..

A plastic bag over the saddle for the rain, and a long cable [a dIY hardware store project ,
got a 10 foot long light plastic coated one, for trees and picnic table attachment]
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Old 08-28-12, 12:39 PM
  #31  
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Assess risk based on existing conditions. I rarely lock my bike up because I rarely camp in places where the general public is going to have easy access, and I cannot remember worrying that that other campers might steal my bike or gear.

During my last week+ tour, we camped 7 nights. Locked the bikes together with a relatively light cable once because the camping area was very close to the sidewalk and road and our tent, etc., was pretty much visible. Didn't even bring a lock for my 3-day back in May.

Footprints are a waste of $$, IMO. A $4 synthetic tarp dioes the same job as a $40 footprint.
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Old 08-28-12, 12:43 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
I should ask, what are "footprints" used for? And is it recommended to have one?
It is recommended to prolong the life of the floor of your tent. It has several functions -- as a first barrier against moisture, so that if you do accidentally puncture the floor, the risk of getting stuff inside wet is reduced.

They can help stop things like goat head spikes and other similar plant weapons, as well as sharp stones from puncturing the tent floor.

During the day with intense sun and heat, they can be used as shade, if they are made of anything other than clear plastic.

I am a firm believer in doubling, or even tripling the uses of stuff like this, so we use a tarp that is sold as an emergency blanket -- red on one side with a reflective aluminium surface on the other. So it serves as an emergency blanket, a tarp, and a tent footprint.

The other thing is that the tarp can be used with silver side down in hot weather to reflect ground heat away from the tent floor, and silver side up in cold weather to reflect our body heat back into the tent. It works well in the latter case, especially with the Exped mats.
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Old 08-28-12, 12:48 PM
  #33  
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As to bikes, as indyfabz says, assess the risk. But even then you can't be certain. Machka's favourite bike was stolen from less than 3ft away from our tent, propped up against our vehicle with my bike, one night in a sleepy little town that we were told afterwards never had anything like this happen before. We lock bikes all the time now, using two locks through frames and front wheels, and on occasions, I have tied them to the tent so if they are removed, we will know about it.

I bought some bike alarms that fit under the water bottle cages on the downtube before we left Australia, but we've found them to be pretty well a waste of money. We haven't used them, mainly because when we did, they didn't seem to want to work as they were supposed to.
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Old 08-28-12, 12:57 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
Did you have any issue with your tent being tall? I am about your height and am curious about this. If you had to, would you buy all the stuff again?
The tent is actually a great fit. I can sleep in it with my wife and we fit well, and I don't hit the ends, which is great for staying dry in the rain. It is also the perfect solo tent for me. Plenty of room to move around in if you're spending extra time in it due to rain.
Yes, I would buy them all again. Being big leads to trade-offs. Big guys = big gear = more weight. Everything is a compromise between weight and fit and comfort. I really like the tent and the sleeping bag. Neither is minimalist, but they aren't on the high end of weight. For a sleeping bag, I really like the Exped for its weight and versatility, but would like a Feathered Friends Wren. Similar to my Exped Dreamwalker, but much lighter and more expensive. But again, it is cut for a smaller framed person, so I'll never own one.
For the Exped downmat ul 7, the jury is still out. It is very comfortable, fairly light for its size, and easy to fill up. I am wondering how the down will do in extended wet weather. With the total set up coming in at less than 10 lbs, I am very happy with it. Some would say it's still to heavy, but it is just right for me at the moment.
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Old 08-28-12, 01:58 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by surfjimc View Post
The tent is actually a great fit. I can sleep in it with my wife and we fit well, and I don't hit the ends, which is great for staying dry in the rain. It is also the perfect solo tent for me. Plenty of room to move around in if you're spending extra time in it due to rain.
Yes, I would buy them all again. Being big leads to trade-offs. Big guys = big gear = more weight. Everything is a compromise between weight and fit and comfort. I really like the tent and the sleeping bag. Neither is minimalist, but they aren't on the high end of weight. For a sleeping bag, I really like the Exped for its weight and versatility, but would like a Feathered Friends Wren. Similar to my Exped Dreamwalker, but much lighter and more expensive. But again, it is cut for a smaller framed person, so I'll never own one.
For the Exped downmat ul 7, the jury is still out. It is very comfortable, fairly light for its size, and easy to fill up. I am wondering how the down will do in extended wet weather. With the total set up coming in at less than 10 lbs, I am very happy with it. Some would say it's still to heavy, but it is just right for me at the moment.
This may be a stupid question but when you buy a sleeping bag, is the bag it fits into waterproof or is that something else that will need to be purchased?
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Old 08-28-12, 02:06 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
This may be a stupid question but when you buy a sleeping bag, is the bag it fits into waterproof or is that something else that will need to be purchased?
The ones they come with are usually not waterproof. I bought some waterproof compression sacks for my bike touring and backpacking needs. They compress the sleeping bag really well and keep them dry. I also stuff a small throw pillow along with the sleeping bag.
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Old 08-28-12, 02:10 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
This may be a stupid question but when you buy a sleeping bag, is the bag it fits into waterproof or is that something else that will need to be purchased?
Most sleeping bags come with non-waterproof stuff sacks. You can buy a dry bag stuffsack, or the cheap ways is to use the stuff sack it came with and put it inside a trash bag to keep it dry. Cheap and simple.
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Old 08-28-12, 02:28 PM
  #38  
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Have you considered using a hammock? I know a few bikepackers use a hammock instead of a tent for several reasons: portability, weight, the ability to sleep where a tent can't go and most importantly for you and your wife, comfort. After I tried a hammock, I haven't slept on the ground since. My $.02
Enjoy your research.


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Old 08-28-12, 05:26 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
I should ask, what are "footprints" used for? And is it recommended to have one?
I used to use a sheet of plastic or tyvek, but stopped using anything. I did that to save weight, but have not missed the ground sheet. The floor is usually not where my tents fail any way. I figure that I can patch or recoat the floor if I need to and if it gets really shot, I'll start using a ground sheet at that time.

I don't use anything now, but if I did I wouldn't even consider buying a fancy footprint.

Some people are fussier or worry more about protecting their tent floor, so it is a personal choice.
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Old 08-28-12, 08:02 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Your call, but no way would I carry a 4 person tent for just me. I carried a 4 person tent for three of us on the TA and cussed the weight every single day.

I like the Eureka Spitfire 1 a lot. It is a great tent and very inexpensive. Since it sounds like you want or need more space I would advise looking at the Spitfire 2.
The Spitfire1 or 2 (if you want more room) is a good choice. There are several other models, like the Sierra Design Clip Flashlight. A little lighter... not freestanding, which would be OK as long as you are not camping on cement.

My guess is that starting with the smallest tent you could would be the best way to go. Myself, I started with an 8 pound, 3-person REI tent. It was freestanding and good quality, but the bulk as well as the weight made the Spitfire 2 a better choice for me.
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Old 08-29-12, 06:57 AM
  #41  
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I just lay mine down. Never carry a lock. Rarely, I'll run a string from the bike to my ankle if the vibes aren't quit right. If wild camping where there might be a chance of car lights hitting reflectors, I am careful where I lay the bike, and cover reflectors with whatever.

I strongly endorse the Spitfire 2 as the best bang for the buck. 38 sq ft of floor space which is huge for a 2 person. At 5'7", I can step in/out of it. No crawling. Durable.
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Old 08-29-12, 10:18 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
Rarely, I'll run a string from the bike to my ankle if the vibes aren't quit right.
LOL, seriously?

I've never heard of that.
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Old 08-29-12, 11:22 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
What do you all do with your bike in the evening? Drape a tarp over it? Do you lock it up? Anything you do to prevent it from being stolen while camping?
Most often I lean it against a tree or picnic table in camp. No tarp needed, its already in the weather all day. In the fairly rare case where I am trying to be stealthy I lay it down and cover any reflectors.

I carry a light cable lock and use it if I feel it makes sense. Often I do not bother locking. Sometimes where the risk is especially high (usually in a city, not in camp) I just don't let it out of sight. I have wheeled it around in a grocery store when leaving it did not seem prudent.
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Old 08-29-12, 12:01 PM
  #44  
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Prior to having my bicycle stolen from right outside my tent ... sometimes I locked it, sometimes I didn't.

Now I'm verging on paranoid with our bicycles.

You just never know. It was stolen out of a very quiet little campground in a sleepy little town ... who would have thought.
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Old 08-29-12, 12:09 PM
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yeah, i generally lock up as well.
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Old 08-29-12, 12:13 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
I just lay mine down. Never carry a lock. Rarely, I'll run a string from the bike to my ankle if the vibes aren't quit right. If wild camping where there might be a chance of car lights hitting reflectors, I am careful where I lay the bike, and cover reflectors with whatever.

I strongly endorse the Spitfire 2 as the best bang for the buck. 38 sq ft of floor space which is huge for a 2 person. At 5'7", I can step in/out of it. No crawling. Durable.
When we pulled into the tent area of the campsiite from hell in Germany a couple of weeks ago, we were met with an array of reflectors that were astounding. There seems to be a trend in some places to coat spokes with a reflective finish. Combine that with the reflective stripe on the sidewalls of Schwalbe tires, it was like Christmas decorations all over the place.
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Old 08-29-12, 12:21 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
When we pulled into the tent area of the campsiite from hell in Germany a couple of weeks ago, we were met with an array of reflectors that were astounding. There seems to be a trend in some places to coat spokes with a reflective finish. Combine that with the reflective stripe on the sidewalls of Schwalbe tires, it was like Christmas decorations all over the place.
Its common in the US for commuters, especially since people get sued just for looking at others wrong.
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Old 08-29-12, 01:38 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by surfjimc View Post
Being a big guy changes the way you look at gear. Often times weight has to take a backseat to fit. I have looked at many light items, but find they are mostly built for small or average size people. I also like to be comfortable. I am 6'5" and 285lbs with very wide shoulders. Given my size and parameters of fit, comfort and weight, right now I am using an REI Quarter Dome t2 plus tent (fairly light and great length) an Exped DreamWalker 450 sleeping bag (35 degree and very spacious, also super versatile) and an Exped downmat UL7 XL for warmth and comfort. The whole setup is about 8 lbs and fits in a pannier.
I was patient and bought each item at about 1/2 price, so it didn't hurt the wallet quite as bad as it seems.
+1 to the above. I am tall, thin, and claustrophobic, so all of my sleep gear is bigger. I have the T2-Plus mentioned above and I love it. I don't have to sleep diagonally, I don't feel like my head is about to graze the top of the tent, and there is room for my panniers. Some people just desire a tiny tent to dive into at night and sleep but I tend to need a wind down period at night (e.g., reading, journaling...) and the tent has got to be comfortable.

Another thing to think about is the width of your sleeping mat. The standard width is 20 inches and I don't know how people do it. I got the long/wide NeoAir Trekker and at 25 inches wide it works well for me. Again, measure a 20 inch width out on your bed to see if that's something you think you can do.

Try not to pay full price at REI because their prices start rather high but they have sales year round and the dividend program mentioned above. If you live near an REI they also have really good deals on used gear. What makes REI so great is that their return policy. You will have returns as you dial your gear in and it's nice to be able to do it without hassle. Nashbar also has a great return policy.
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Old 08-29-12, 01:52 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
And what do you do with your bike when you are sleeping at night? Say you are camping at a camp grounds. Do you carry locks with you and such? Did you have paranoa the first time you left the bike outside while camping?
Most tourers on the forums use light locks to save weight and to "keep honest people honest." I ended up going with a heavier cable lock for peace of mind when sleeping and grocery shopping. I also use the "Click Stand" kickstand, which comes with brake bands, which might slow a thief down a little bit. Combo locks are good so that you don't have to worry about losing keys.
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Old 08-29-12, 02:52 PM
  #50  
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I cable lock my bike and cover with garbage bags for rain protection and to make it look less desirable. Another crime deterrent is to remove the front wheel skewer, after locking the wheel.
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