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Lightweight tent, sleeping bag, etc.

Old 02-13-13, 07:33 AM
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Lightweight tent, sleeping bag, etc.

This summer will mark my first attempts at some light bike touring. I'll be going pretty lightweight, as I only plan to begin with 2 - 3 days, covering 60 - 75 miles per day, and the weather should be pretty decent. Rain would be the worst thing, and if things appear dicey then I'll probably just rearrange my plans.

I'm beginning to research small 1-man tents and other lightweight gear. I've done some searching around here but can't seem to get it narrowed down enough for my specific situation.

I'll have 2 smaller rear panniers and a front handlebar bag. I've seen some tents that will hook up pretty easily to the handlebars as well, so that's a possibility.

A couple other things that would be nice are a small pillow and sleeping bag pad.

A tent that used to be available at REI, but is no longer, was made specifically for bike touring and even had a vestibule for your bike. It was just over a $100 too - really wish I'd picked that up before it became hard to find.

Other ideas or thoughts???
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Old 02-13-13, 07:45 AM
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There are (at least) two ways of approaching this: either keep everything at minimum, or carry a bit more for comfort. For example, getting a 2+ person tent will allow you to store some gear inside your tent. It will also be more comfortable if you stay in camp during rainy days.

If its the bare minimum approach you want, you might consider a hammock. I have a Hennessy myself, the good thing about it is it packs in a small space and has no poles or other rigid structures. You can pack it in pretty much any shape you want. You will need extra insulation if you're camping out in cold weather though. And it's really a shelter for overnight sleep. I guess I could spend a couple of hours reading in there, but that's about it.

Also, in bare minimum approach, don't get a pillow, even an inflatable one. Put some spare clothes in the sleeping bag stuff sack, or wrap them in a towel, and use that instead.

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Old 02-13-13, 08:12 AM
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If you can be assured of trees, then you can rig a hammock or tarp without poles.
Tarp camping is a cheap way to get into ultralight cycle camping.
You need a sleeping mat and bag but the compression sac can be stuffed with clothing for a pillow.

There are some people touring huge distances with very little kit. There is a blog specializing in ultralight cycle touring.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:13 AM
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Look at tarptent.com for some excellent lightweight and relatively inexpensive shelters. I've been using the Contrail for more trips than I can count. There are some very light and very expensive pads like the NeoAir, but I don't have that kind of budget so I just use a Ridge Rest which is just good enough for me and very durable. I use my clothes as a pillow. I invested in a EnLightened Equipment quilt, instead of a sleeping bag, and that works great for summer bike touring.

I fit everything I needed for a two-month trip last year into two panniers, with just the pad on top of the rack, so it can be done. Some cyclists are even going rackless now, with everything packed into large saddle and handlebar bags
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Old 02-13-13, 08:14 AM
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A Eureka Spite 1@$100 has served me for years. I've modified it to a single wall, enlarging the living space and reducing the weight/bulk. (Beware of single wall tents for use on hot nights when air circulation is a priority, unless you're unwilling to compromise your privacy.)

Still looking for a blow up pillow, as I don't need the clothing required for a stuff sack pillow for warm weather touring. Gonna check out the Exped. Thermarest also makes one.

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Old 02-13-13, 08:17 AM
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Regarding a sleeping bag, if you are touring in the summer you may not need a bag at all. A sleeping bag liner or a blanket works great. This really cuts down on weight and space in your panniers. When purchasing a tent, look at packed weight and the length of the poles if you plan to put them in a pannier. I went with a non-freestanding tent- a little weigh saving and cost saving. So far I have had no issue driving stakes.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Gonna check out the Exped [pillow].
I've got one. It's comfortable and very light. Highly recommended.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
A Eureka Spite 1@$100 has served me for years. I've modified it to a single wall, enlarging the living space and reducing the weight/bulk. (Beware of single wall tents for use on hot nights when air circulation is a priority, unless you're unwilling to compromise your privacy.)
Yes, the Spitfire 1 is a great bike touring tent. I love mine and they can be found cheap. I prefer to use a tarp and bivy if I want to go lighter than the unmodified Spitfire 1. Whwn I do that I sleep under the stars a lot of nights rather than bother with the tarp.

looking for a blow up pillow, as I don't need the clothing required for a stuff sack pillow for warm weather touring. Gonna check out the Exped. Thermarest also makes one.
The Exped was way more comfortable for me than the Thermarest and in fact the only inflatable that passes muster for me.

To the OP, IMO you dodged a bullet by missing that bike touring tent. It is a very poor design if it is the one I am thinking of.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by robert schlatte
Regarding a sleeping bag, if you are touring in the summer you may not need a bag at all. A sleeping bag liner or a blanket works great. This really cuts down on weight and space in your panniers.
That may work depending on where or when you tour, but I wouldn't do that in the mountains any time of the year. I have found that I can get by nicely with my 17 ounce Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 down to a bit below freezing and down in to the teens with a layer of clothing. In a pinch I could get down to at least 0F with all of my clothes on. The Phantom 45 packs tiny and is way warmer than a lot of 32 F rated bags. I do sleep pretty warm so you may need more for the same conditions.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:44 AM
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With a little imagination you can use you spar inner tube as an inflatable pillow.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Western Flyer
With a little imagination you can use you spar inner tube as an inflatable pillow.
Now that's the kinda DIY thinking I like. Would be a nightly leak test. I'd need two, but I carry two, so no problem. Pump up, stuff in sack. Hmmm....
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Old 02-13-13, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey
This summer will mark my first attempts at some light bike touring. I'll be going pretty lightweight, as I only plan to begin with 2 - 3 days, covering 60 - 75 miles per day, and the weather should be pretty decent. Rain would be the worst thing, and if things appear dicey then I'll probably just rearrange my plans.

I'm beginning to research small 1-man tents and other lightweight gear. I've done some searching around here but can't seem to get it narrowed down enough for my specific situation.

I'll have 2 smaller rear panniers and a front handlebar bag. I've seen some tents that will hook up pretty easily to the handlebars as well, so that's a possibility.

A couple other things that would be nice are a small pillow and sleeping bag pad.

A tent that used to be available at REI, but is no longer, was made specifically for bike touring and even had a vestibule for your bike. It was just over a $100 too - really wish I'd picked that up before it became hard to find.

Other ideas or thoughts???
For a single tent, a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 is a very good tent. Very light but a bit pricey. Big Agnes also makes very good bags and pads. They even make a really good pillow.

A couple of points on suggestions above:

First, if you plan on touring in the mountain west, do not look for a tent that you can store your gear in...especially if that gear is food. We do live in bear country and you don't want an unwelcome visitor at night. Second, while you might be able to get away without a sleeping bag in Ohio or anywhere east of Denver, you'll spend a damnably cold night anywhere over 9000 feet. I have a 20 degree bag and spent a damnably cold night in the middle of summer at 11,500'...and I sleep warm. The lake I was camped at even had ice on the edges which just indicates how cold it can get.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:57 AM
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To get started with lightweight backpacking you could get an 8x10 tarp, a ridgerest (decent foam pad) and a good 32F down sleeping bag. The ridgerest will go on the rack. The tarp packs up small and you can get a bike under it. But spend the money on the sleeping bag. A good down bag will last for a long time and it compresses down so much smaller than synthetic (important for panniers). My favorites are the jacksrbetter.com quilts (25F and 40F) since they have a headhole and you can use them as a poncho to stay warm before sleeping. But there are at least 10 brands that make great bags/quilts so you can go with one that is having a sale. With a tarp it's probably best to get a lightweight bivy sack. I found one once that has zippable mosquito netting for the head area and is completely enclosed so no bugs can climb inside.

The Hennessey Hammock is also quite popular and would work well in CO.

The important thing about getting gear for camping is to KISS (keep it simple stupid). Your tent and sleeping bag are the big items but you'll be tempted to bring along all kinds of crap that you don't need. This crap adds up fast and I get frustrated at even myself when packing for a trip.
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Old 02-13-13, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by KirkBeiser
T
The Hennessey Hammock is also quite popular and would work well in CO.
I don't agree. Yes, we have forests and trees but not everywhere. Kind of hard to set up a hammock above timberline or in a ponderosa pine forest (10 to 15 trees per acre). A lodge pole forest might be too dense and not all that safe to camp in anymore...pine beetles and about a 90% tree death rate.
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Old 02-13-13, 12:02 PM
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If you are on the front range, a quick search gives:

https://boulder.craigslist.org/spo/3546158928.html
https://boulder.craigslist.org/sgd/3607377981.html
https://boulder.craigslist.org/spo/3582121009.html

I like a 2 person ultralight tent myself, so I can bring my clothes in, get organized, read, etc. But, I'm not ultralight when I camp. If I was going for 2-3 nights only, I would use hotels.

I wouldn't put a tent on your handlebars, the combo of heavier rear racks, no front panniers and heavy stuff on the bars is the fastest way to bad bike handling. You can strap stuff on top of the rear rack.

You don't need a vestibule or cover for your bike.

Where ya going?
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Old 02-13-13, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
Look at tarptent.com for some excellent lightweight and relatively inexpensive shelters. I've been using the Contrail for more trips than I can count. There are some very light and very expensive pads like the NeoAir, but I don't have that kind of budget so I just use a Ridge Rest which is just good enough for me and very durable. I use my clothes as a pillow. I invested in a EnLightened Equipment quilt, instead of a sleeping bag, and that works great for summer bike touring.

I fit everything I needed for a two-month trip last year into two panniers, with just the pad on top of the rack, so it can be done. Some cyclists are even going rackless now, with everything packed into large saddle and handlebar bags
I agree with almost al of this. i've used the Contrail for a while and the only issue I have with it is that rain can collect on the flatish rear section if you don't set it up perfectly, but an extra rear strut can solve that and I think the newer model is better in that respect.

For bags look at 40 F down ones, there are lots around, but I went with a Montbell becasuse I like it's stretchiness. There are lots of lists on the web so look around and find what suits your budget and style. Here is my gearlist with links to what I use.

https://wheelsofchance.org/2012/12/25/gear-list/
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Old 02-13-13, 01:02 PM
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I 2nd that on the Big Agnus Fly creek U.L.1...38 oz. with 7 ti stakes and footprint.Not a whole lot of room inside,especially if you'll be bringing your panniers in.Works for me though and I have big o'l panniers.On the sleeping bag,I use the Montbell UL super down hugger no.3...30 degree bag,used down in the low 20s.This stuff is crazy expensive though.
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Old 02-13-13, 01:08 PM
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That was the super spiral down hugger No. 3.Just under 21oz.
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Old 02-13-13, 01:35 PM
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You can set up a hennessy as a bivy/tarp with your bike as the pole, no trees is still no problem as long as you're willing to just use it for rain, bugs may be an issue.

I'm probably going with a double rainbow from tarptent I think. Pitches dry in the rain, is 2.5 lbs packed, and costs way less than a big agnes fly creek. . . sil-nylon is nice. You can get an insert to make it "double walled" as well. Way more room than a big agnes too, 43 inches of headroom.

Let's face it, even free standing tents need to be staked out. There are some that don't, but now there are things like the fly creek that can technically be free standing, but a 5 mph wind gust will knock them over if nothing is in the tent.

word has it that the rainbow can take very heavy (35+ mph) winds as well.

Sierra designs has a new tent (Flash 2, 3, 4) that pitch dry, but I don't really like the blue color.

Bang for your buck is going to be the half dome 2 from REI, or an ALPS or Eureka.
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Old 02-13-13, 02:46 PM
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I feel that the question of budget is more important here than the actual discussion of gear. OP, what is your price range and how serious do you seen yourself getting into cycle touring/hiking (similar gear)
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Old 02-13-13, 03:58 PM
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Great replies so far - just soaking it all in!

SparkyGA: I'd like to not spend over $250 on the tent. I'd very much like to get into touring much more in the future, but I can always upgrade gear down the line. My children are still small, so I don't like to spend a lot of time away from home, which is mainly why I'm thinking 2 - 3 days.

Really appreciate all the insights and hope there are more to come.
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Old 02-13-13, 04:27 PM
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I like my Montbell Crescent 1 tent. Its a little pricey at $180 but it weighs just 2 pounds and has only two stakes that really need to be staked out. You can use up to 5 if you really want to but I find that three is enough for even crazy storms. I wouldnt buy it thought if you are 6 feet or taller since the tent gets narrow at the foot/head. I love this tent though. The hybrid design means that it vents really well in hot weather but also that since the rain fly is attached I can set up the tent in a down pour and not get any water inside! Huge plus for me. The vestibule is only really big enough for shoes but there is actually plenty of extra space inside the tent for me to put panniers at either side of my hips because of the diamond shape.

https://www.backpacker.com/gear_guide...iew/gear/12974
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Old 02-13-13, 04:56 PM
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Cool,

I'm going to have to say that in OP's case, maybe consider a 2 or 3 man tent, and be able to have the option of brining a family member in the future along. Plenty of options in the relatively lightweight affordable options.

I am also a huge fan of the Big Agnes SL series. I have a SL1 and can honestly say it's my favourite piece of kit I own. Takes up little space if you throw in the soft stuff into a compression sack. Extremely durable, and providing your not a huge monster, rather comfy even in the 1 man version.

Try wandering around in REI's clearance department and https://www.departmentofgoods.com . You might be able to piece together a nice tent/sleeping bag/mat combo for under $250 total.
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Old 02-13-13, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey
Great replies so far - just soaking it all in!

SparkyGA: I'd like to not spend over $250 on the tent. I'd very much like to get into touring much more in the future, but I can always upgrade gear down the line. My children are still small, so I don't like to spend a lot of time away from home, which is mainly why I'm thinking 2 - 3 days.

Really appreciate all the insights and hope there are more to come.
That Craigslist posting for the Fly Creek is a heck of a deal. You should jump on it like flies on...well, you know.
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Old 02-13-13, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by juggleaddict
You can set up a hennessy as a bivy/tarp with your bike as the pole, no trees is still no problem as long as you're willing to just use it for rain, bugs may be an issue.
I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying to just use it as a rain cover? If so, tents here in Colorado do more than tents at in other places. I don't sleep out under the stars here because of the bugs...there are a few...but because of the conditions. A tent at altitude goes a long way towards keeping you dry and warm. The tent traps a lot of heat when used with the rainfly and that is a definite plus when the temperatures can drop to freezing even in June, July and August. And snow isn't unknown in any of those months in the high country.

The trapped heat is also a reason that I try to use smaller tents. Less space to heat up. My gear can stay outside.
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