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I’m not a camping person, I like a decent bed, hot running water and an electricity supply but lately I was thinking I should have a look at it before the bones are too old and weary to consider such lunacy. I camped once when I was about 10yrs old and all I remember was the incessent rain and the massive marquee tents 20+ of us were packed into flooding to the extent we were nearly washed off the campsite before us all going home early- wot fun.

Looking at camping and knowing nothing about the gear, what camping entails or how to try to ensure a pleasant first experience led to the usual wading around the internet with its conflicting advise, wildly varied pricing and no obvious path to go down so I thought perhaps tmbf might have some canny advice. I don’t want to spend a lot as it’s likely at the first sign of inclement weather I’ll be googling the nearest premier inn but I also don’t want to skimp to the extent it leads to a poor experience and (this is something that bugs me a lot) the rebuying of gear because the first stuff I’ve bought is cheap rubbish and not up to the job.

Any recommended gear, websites or thoughts/experiences on the best way to start off would be appreciated.

ps I have a bulky tent leftover from my sons school camping trip but tent suggestions would also be welcome. Ta

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Is this camping with bike or camping and car.


Main things are tent and sleeping gear, warm weather just about any half decent sleeping bag will be fine depending on how uncomfortably hot you want to be, sleeping mat/bed will make ground more comfortable and reduce condensation between you and ground, some folk can't get away with airbeds, depends on what your comfort levels are.


Tent, something that is big enough for your needs but stable in winds, plenty of ventilation as warm and wet weather creates lots of condensation, don't be taken in by hydrostic head for waterproofing, narrow it down to your needs then Google a couple for comparison.


You can spend a fortune but you don't need too, but if you go to great outdoors or the like and buy the cheapest of everything then it's unlikely to be overly enjoyable when the elements start to take there turn.


I have camped in all weather's, the best but of kit is a bottle of wine

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I love camping :lol:


Genreally if you look for stuff with the Duke of Edinburgh logo you are getting good quality products that will last, at a decent price.

https://www.dofeshopping.org/expedition-kit/tents/


They provide lots of info on that site. Bare in mind they are geared towards walkers, so light weight equipment is a main focus for them. Weight is less import if you are using a bike or car, but physical size of packed tents can become and issues for bikes. However you can just buy waterproof stuff sacks and spilt the tents up!

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Start with first principles.


So.. look at your bike. and its width... Im assuming you have panniers. and will be riding solo.


Put the panniers on the bike and measure the width.. so thats from the outer edge of one pannier to the outer edge of the other.


This is the space you have to work with.


What I did was measure that width and then I bought a waterproof bag.. a holdall, that fiited within this width. I then chose a tent that would fit within the bag. Plus a sleeping bag and mat, I actually chose an inflatable air bed.. my one major luxury to aid in a restful nights sleep. The reason for the bag is to keep everything "Camping" in one place.. easier to pack than multiple bundles.. and I have the bag bungeed to the rear seat.. with its 'ends' resting on top of the panniers. Buy a bag with enough capacity and you can fit more into it than the 'bare bones' of camping... for instance you can use it for dirty clothes.. to keep them seperate from the clean. it also gives you a bit of extra space for the essentials.. like a towel and soap/shampoo, etc.


For a tent.. if you are camping alone, then a 2 man is perfect. it will give you some extra space for stuff off the bike to be brought inside so its 'handy'. if camping with your partner.. then go for a 3 man tent. The ideal is one that can be put up and taken down in minutes.. as fast as possible. If you can watch a YT video of this being done then thats great. Nearly all tent manufacturers give the dimensions of the tent when put up... and the dimensions of the tent in its bag - packed. If the tent is sold with an optional footprint.. get it. This will stop condensation and protect the groundsheet from sharps that you might have missed. if no footprint is available.. then you can bodge one for just a few quid.


get a tent peg mallet... these are soooo useful. especially in summer when the ground might be baked dry. so is a peg 'puller'.


Consider what time of the year you are going to be camping... you dont need a winter sleeping bag if you are camping only in the summer.. most give a rating a 'comfort level' temperature range. In summer a bag with a full length zip up the side is best so if its a very warm night you can unzip it for extra ventilation... some have two zips so you can make it less close fitting.. again for extra comfort in warmer weather.


I chose one of these. http://tinyurl.com/y9tvdb3j or, rather.. the same one from a few years ago. its great.


Tents are down to personal choice.. based on space available to carry it.. and what features are desirable for you. price ranges are vast.. cheaper ones may only last a few trips. more expensive should last for years.. if you can afford one with aluminium poles.. these are better than fibreglass. (my opinion)


Sleeping mat.. or airbed, is again a personal choice. Mine was really quite expensive.. but will last me years and is extremely comfy. Im fairly demanding about getting a good nights sleep. And a decent bed.. is something I refuse to scrimp over. same goes for a pillow.. I would rather use a proper pillow than an inflatable, I use a memory foam.. it crushes down quite nicely in the bottom of the bag with the rest of the camping stuff piled on top. But... obviously all this depends on the space you have available.


Goes without saying that you should practice, before setting off.. so you know how everything works how the tent is put up and taken down and how everything packs away.. before camping for the first time.


Here is a picture of my bike.. with all my camping stuff in the bag.. so the panniers are carrying other essentials, clothes shoes and so on.

Bear in mind.. my bike is quite big.. and so I have the luxury of a lot of space to play with.. the bag is 89 Litres.. and at the start of a trip, only 2/3rds full.


 

DSCN0049.thumb.jpg.8d79a4e9d7eeb607a29106ee06c4a3fd.jpg

 


One last thing.. i don't bother cooking. but. i do insist on a proper cup of coffee in the morning, so.. I take a small stove, kettle, cafetiere, travel mug, spoon and ground coffee.. so I can make my own. A luxury I wouldn't do without. these go in the camping bag.

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If you're on a tight budget tent wise look at the Quechua Quickhiker series of tents from Decathlon. They're pretty decent for the money. The MSR Elixir 2 is what I use but it's a bit more expensive. It has genuinely enough space for 2 to be comfortable unlike most two man tents. Great bit of kit for the money and so easy to erect. Higher end stuff comes from Terra Nova, Hilleberg and Wild Country. I also prefer Aluminium poles.


Decathlon also do some good compact sleeping mats for 35 quid. They're fine for general use but maybe not insulating enough for cold weather. If you want better be prepared to spend circa 100 quid on the likes of an Exped Downmat, Synmat or Thermarest Neoair.


Cooking systems - I really like the Trangia set up. Works well in the wind and is really flexible. Also pretty light weight. I also have an MSR pocket rocket and small MSR Titan kettle which I use if space or weight is at a real premium. There are cheaper clones of the pocket rocket available for around a tenner.


Some photos of my Elixir on a recent trip to Skye. I also like a tarp and bivi bag.

IMG_20180707_081608.thumb.jpg.38d7bcb776e90e738edc6c1db1625680.jpg

IMG_20180708_073202.thumb.jpg.e601647bb341dd4958d6ad6f3ffb40fa.jpg

IMG_20180627_155411_230.thumb.jpg.f21bfe3dd027c6949fd9058259c410d2.jpg

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I had a similar experience when I was about 12, I said never again, and never again it will be for me. I did think about camping but I kicked myself and the urge went away.

 

Its fairly safe to say that things have improved somewhat over the 50 years since your last camping experience. When people say they are spending a night under canvas.. its no longer a literal description.


Im not sure that your style of touring, which seems to consist of riding from one town or city to the next, really lends itself to camping anyway.


people who use a tent.. are the types that want to get as far away from population centres as possible. (usually)

Edited by Gerontious
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You know it’s marvellous to have access to a forum with knowledgeable helpful peeps. Thankyou for the great advice. Anymore of you with any opinions or advice keep it coming, it’s appreciated.


[mention]Bender[/mention] thanks. I assume the larger the tent the less stable in winds? Are big tents much less stable? Don’t know what hydrostatic waterproofing is but I’ll avoid it anyway! If you can’t get away with an air bed what’s considered the step up comfort wise?

The wine sounds like a wise move but I’m hoping I won’t need sedation to tolerate it!


[mention]mikestrivens[/mention] I’m hoping to increase my tolerance levels but and suspicious of my own softness!


[mention]Arwen[/mention] thanks for the link I was thinking the more compact the gear the better but then there’s usually a trade off on robustness so I’ll give the DofE stuff a whirl. Did you do DofE?


[mention]Gerontious[/mention] thanks for the detailed info. A logical approach resulting in the easiest solutions is exactly what I’m after. I hadn’t thought about measuring the bag then finding a tent to to fit in it, it would certainly give serve multiple purposes and make life easier. Oddly enough it was a yellow Ortlieb duffle bag I was looking at! I have a roll top dry sack made by Ortlieb and have found it satisfyingly robust.

The sleeping comfort concerns me more than most things. I don’t want to have a rubbishy day because I’ve had a rubbishy night. There are so many air bed choices and prices, don’t suppose you could let me know what one you landed on? I had decided I would take a real pillow but couldn’t see a way around it taking up lot of space, the memory foam idea is excellent.

I always think of sleeping bags as being horrible sweaty things so I’ll give that a look. Your bike doesn’t look overloaded so that’s probably the way to go.


[mention]Meggark[/mention] thanks for all the product names I’m looking forward to having a proper look at those. The cooking stuff will definitely be needed, I don’t speak at all or move much before a cup of tea in the morning! The photos are great, did you take actual camping chairs with you? Is that usual? I’d forgotten about decathlon, they do have some reasonably priced stuff so I’ll give them a look.


I think having read the replies so far a bit of compromise will be in order on my part where Ill have to buy some items that will have to be replaced if it suits me eg the tent but I’m not prepared to skimp on the bedding or cooking (I like food) so spend some there.

Tent prices are all over the place so perhaps something the right size n waterproof with ventilation until I know what I like.

Also perhaps a fair weather start would be good so just go when the suns out!

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The sleeping comfort concerns me more than most things. I don’t want to have a rubbishy day because I’ve had a rubbishy night.

 

That was my thinking exactly.. I tend to ride fairly long distances.. or have a final destination that can take days to reach, and so each night must be comfortable. I cant tolerate the idea of waking up sore.


The bed I went for was a pretty outrageous price compared to some.. but it really is a case of you get what you pay for. Around a £100 depending on where you buy from (and what time of year) The one I use is long enough for me.. Im 6'5 standing.. and wide enough so I don't feel constrained. It has an integrated pump.. so no blowing. it takes about 3 minutes to inflate to my comfort level. The mat is filled with synthetic down.. which means its a great insulator. And it packs up really small. Its a cheaper version of one that is used for camping in the Arctic or the Himalayas and is actually made in Switzerland.. that last alone goes someway to explain the price. But.. its the rolls royce of airbeds and should last for years. You will have no complaints at all about comfort.


Im sure many would think its daft to pay more for a bed than you might pay for a tent. But.. I set a very high bar on comfort. I need to.


found this one discounted... http://tinyurl.com/ydy4db54


You might think its too expensive for an experiment in camping.. i would suggest that if you want your experiment to work out.. you cant buy better. and if you decide against. This is the sort of item that will not lose much if any value after just one use. stick it on ebay and it will sell quickly.

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[mention]Gerontious[/mention] thank you very much. Sound reasoning from my point of view, I’m not happy with poor sleep and I do want the experiment to go well so for it’s already ordered and will be winging its way to me shortly. Suddenly feel a lot happier about trying out camping!

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I agree with Gerontious's recommendation. The Exped synmat or downmat are excellent and what I'm looking to get in future. The Thermarest Neoair series are also good.


Any of the tents I listed will give years of service if looked after. Treat them with nikwax UV proof and air them out when you get home - never store them wet for any length of time. The OEX tents from Go Outdoors look good too if you look at their EV (higher end, lighter) range. Might be worth getting some extra pegs suited to rocky ground though. I like the MSR needle set.

The size of the tent isn't too important to stability, the design makes more of a difference but obviously a big one will catch the wind a bit more. Again any of the ones listed will do the job but I prefer one that can be free standing and doesn't require the guy lines to stay up.



Hydrostatic head is the measurement of waterproofness. Goretex has a hydrostatic head of 10000 for example. Most tents are much less but that's fine. Flysheets will normally only leak through if you touch them from the inside.


I don't usually have space for chairs when taking the bike, I took the car for the above trip with the tent as we wanted to do some walking and I brought along an engagement ring. There's ultralight chairs that will work but I've not bought any yet.


The Trangia, IMO, is one of the best complete cooking systems out there for not a massive investment. It does take up a bit more space than a small pan/kettle with a gas canister and burner inside though.

Edited by Meggark
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@Arwen thanks for the link I was thinking the more compact the gear the better but then there’s usually a trade off on robustness so I’ll give the DofE stuff a whirl. Did you do DofE?

 

 

No, but my partner was a DofE leader and used to teach(?)it.


Personally, I have always rated Vango tents highly. They are usually simple to put up, very well made and after care/support and availability of replacement parts if need is ace.

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I had a similar experience when I was about 12, I said never again, and never again it will be for me. I did think about camping but I kicked myself and the urge went away.

 

Its fairly safe to say that things have improved somewhat over the 50 years since your last camping experience. When people say they are spending a night under canvas.. its no longer a literal description.


Im not sure that your style of touring, which seems to consist of riding from one town or city to the next, really lends itself to camping anyway.


people who use a tent.. are the types that want to get as far away from population centres as possible. (usually)

 

I'll play it safe :P

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I also rate Vango tents.....We've got a 3 bed tent with front porch ( no pampas grass though) which has plenty of room for bike kit.....it's pretty quick to put up too..... 8-)

Also consider Khyam biker tents......https://www.khyam.co.uk/tents-c174/type-c388/motorbiking-tents-c391


https://youtu.be/Y5ZcwxtHGKc

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Camping .... You spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person... don't get it .

 

Flexibility. I love the fact I can blast up into th Highlands any morning I feel like it without having to book any accommodation. It's damn hard to find places at short notice sometimes.

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If you want to push the boat out and not worry about the weather


https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/hilleberg-nallo-2gt-tent-D1312070.html?colour=98



Loads of peeps make the following design which is fairly compact with lots of porch room.

https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/the-north-face-heyerdahl-double-cab-tent-D1314026.html?colour=991


I have loads of different tents and although cheaper ones are OK you can tell the difference as you go up in price, weight usually comes down with quality of materials going up, it's not worth stumping up 2k to decide you don't like it, although I don't know why any one wouldn't like it, just avoid over crowded campsites in the middle of the school hols.

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If you want to push the boat out and not worry about the weather


https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/hilleberg-nallo-2gt-tent-D1312070.html?colour=98



Loads of peeps make the following design which is fairly compact with lots of porch room.

https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/the-north-face-heyerdahl-double-cab-tent-D1314026.html?colour=991


I have loads of different tents and although cheaper ones are OK you can tell the difference as you go up in price, weight usually comes down with quality of materials going up, it's not worth stumping up 2k to decide you don't like it, although I don't know why any one wouldn't like it, just avoid over crowded campsites in the middle of the school hols.

 

Blimey you can spend that much on a tent? I like the design of the second one. I’ve seen similar designs that where you can park your bike in the middle bit which is probably pointless but I still like the idea.

Is there any way of knowing where won’t be crowded? Is it particular types of campsite? The schools break up on Friday so theyll be off for pretty much the rest of the potentially warm weather when I’m planning to make my debue!!

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I think the secret to camping is to make sure you are comfy, so a tent that has a high HH rating for waterproofness, a decent sleeping mat (the thicker the better), an appropriate sleeping bag for the temperature and a decent pillow.

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A chair is also very welcome......We've got a couple of these.....not cheap, but fold down small and are very light.....and surprisingly comfortable. ....http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/oex-ultra-lite-camping-chair-p362066?gclid=CjwKCAjwhLHaBRAGEiwAHCgG3kZgooA9jjPybWdFPyv4SVY5dlz6TAvK7jQ3NxJxopgXD24XGmQbERoCdEUQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJ2PsJKypNwCFdEg0wodZKUPuw

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Hilleberg tents are hand made in the EU.. and signed by the person who made them, they are a favourite for round the world travellers and built for the most extreme conditions. if exped make the rolls royce of camp beds.. Hilleberg are on the same level for tents. You cant buy better.


I would love one.. but I simply cannot justify that amount for something that might only be used once a year.

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A chair is also very welcome......We've got a couple of these.....not cheap, but fold down small and are very light.....and surprisingly comfortable. ....http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/oex-ultra-lite-camping-chair-p362066?gclid=CjwKCAjwhLHaBRAGEiwAHCgG3kZgooA9jjPybWdFPyv4SVY5dlz6TAvK7jQ3NxJxopgXD24XGmQbERoCdEUQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJ2PsJKypNwCFdEg0wodZKUPuw

 

The Aldi version;


https://www.aldi.co.uk/ultra-light-camping-chair/p/083364224516600


£17.99. There was still a couple for sale in my local shop yesterday.

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Hilleberg tents are hand made in the EU.. and signed by the person who made them, they are a favourite for round the world travellers and built for the most extreme conditions. if exped make the rolls royce of camp beds.. Hilleberg are on the same level for tents. You cant buy better.


I would love one.. but I simply cannot justify that amount for something that might only be used once a year.

 

Each to their own, but .... until you at rally and it pisses down the entire weekend and blows a gale and yours is the tent which is fine. I would buy the best tent possible unless you know you will only go out in decent weather. If you know you are committed to camping certain weekends and have no idea what the weather will be, I think it is worth investing for once a year. It will still be good in 10 years time (so long you pack it away dry).

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