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  1. #1
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    Newb has questions

    Hey, I've been thinking more and more about bikepacking lately to combine longer rides and the camping outdoors aspect vs just racing around for speed on my local singletrack (it's not fun). I've got a pretty solid clothing setup, can easily get all the gear I need as I work at a bike shop. I will only be doing s24o's until I get some more exp under my belt.

    I was just wondering about shelters, bag, and computer as I think these 3 items play a huge role in remaining comfortable and safe. I wanna keep the packing to a minimum as I don't want to have like 100 bags for an overnighter. I was looking at Marmot Pulsar 2 for shelter and Marmot Plasma 40 sleeping bag as well as a Garmin Touring plus gps.

    Any insights would be excellent. I have access to Nemo, big agnes, marmot, some northface and sierra designs.

    Thanks,

    PFox
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  2. #2
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    Sounds like you work at REI.

    I would get the lighest one possible for the price you can afford.

    Shelters: The Eureka Solitaire and Eureka Spitfire are both light solo tents of decent quaility for good prices. The Eureka outlet has great deals. I got the Spitfire for $66 shipped. If you get a discount on Marmot, you can do the math and make the choice. You can also use a tarp or bivy, but I prefer a tent. I dont like sleeping with bugs.

    For a bag, I use a Teton Trailhead. Not the best, but I paid $40 and its rated to 20*, which is plenty for me. You will have to make your choice based on your conditions.

    I would also look at pads. A good pad will keep you warmer and get you atleast a decent nights rest.

    For GPS, I honestly just use my phone.

  3. #3
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    Big Agnes air core insulated is a good balance between light weight and not freezing your ass off. Where do you live and where/when will you be riding? You might want to opt for a lower temp sleeping bag depending on location/conditions.

  4. #4
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    This might be a helpful read: MTBikepacking

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfox90 View Post
    I was just wondering about shelters, bag, and computer as I think these 3 items play a huge role in remaining comfortable and safe.
    Not necessarily. Bag (or blankets or quilt), yes. Computer is nice, but not generally a saftey thing. Shelter, it depends. I don`t think many people would recomend going out in likely wet weather or bug infested areas without a decent shelter, but maybe there`s a window where you can easily get away without one?

    Not really my business, but it sounds like you`re getting ready to spend some big money on really nice stuff, which I think is risky for somebody with little experience, and might not even like the idea when it comes down to it. If you already have camping gear, just buy a trailer and use whatever you happen to have- trailers are relatively inexpensive, easy to pack, great for lugging around less-than-ideal bulky and heavy (ie:inexpensive) gear, and will come in handy even if you find out your don`t like bike camping or later set yourself up with cool toys. If you don`t have any camping gear yet, especially if you`ve never camped, I`d be especially wary of bling sleeping bags. You may find out that you don`t like camping period, or even that you do like camping, but hate mummy bags or are allergic to down, or whatever. I`d say look to Coleman, Eureka, or other inexpensive stuff for your first go-round. Or better yet, see if you can borrow some. You can always upgrade down the road, and even keep the cheap stuff to loan out to your gear-less buddy when you try to talk him into going out with you.

    EDIT: +1 to a good pad. That can very easily make the difference between a miserable experience and an awesome weekend.
    Recalculating....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScaryJerry View Post
    Big Agnes air core insulated is a good balance between light weight and not freezing your ass off. Where do you live and where/when will you be riding? You might want to opt for a lower temp sleeping bag depending on location/conditions.
    I live in Michigan and would only be doing day trips and overnighters during decent whether in late spring, summer, early fall. So a 0deg bag probably isn't necessary.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Not necessarily. Bag (or blankets or quilt), yes. Computer is nice, but not generally a saftey thing. Shelter, it depends. I don`t think many people would recomend going out in likely wet weather or bug infested areas without a decent shelter, but maybe there`s a window where you can easily get away without one?

    Not really my business, but it sounds like you`re getting ready to spend some big money on really nice stuff, which I think is risky for somebody with little experience, and might not even like the idea when it comes down to it. If you already have camping gear, just buy a trailer and use whatever you happen to have- trailers are relatively inexpensive, easy to pack, great for lugging around less-than-ideal bulky and heavy (ie:inexpensive) gear, and will come in handy even if you find out your don`t like bike camping or later set yourself up with cool toys. If you don`t have any camping gear yet, especially if you`ve never camped, I`d be especially wary of bling sleeping bags. You may find out that you don`t like camping period, or even that you do like camping, but hate mummy bags or are allergic to down, or whatever. I`d say look to Coleman, Eureka, or other inexpensive stuff for your first go-round. Or better yet, see if you can borrow some. You can always upgrade down the road, and even keep the cheap stuff to loan out to your gear-less buddy when you try to talk him into going out with you.

    EDIT: +1 to a good pad. That can very easily make the difference between a miserable experience and an awesome weekend.
    I like camping so even if I am not bikepacking as often as I would like I would most likely use the gear in the future with friends and family. I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for in most cases so buying a good set up the first time is what I would rather do. Again, I work at a bike shop so the brands I listed would have a substantial discount vs buying cheap stuff at a bigger box store. I would say that would make sense to not shell out 500+ on a bag system as it would only be used for bike packing. I have Thule racks and panniers that I would use for that. But again I don't know that much.
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  8. #8
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    +1 on the Big Agnes air core insulated. I upgraded to this from a 3/4 length thermarest. Best night's sleep camping I have had in years.

    I think any of the brands you listed will be great for a bag of your desired warmth. They are all solid companies. I have an REI 45 degree bag and a North Face Superlight (20f). Looking at getting a SOL Escape Bivy for really warm weather or to make the 45F bag a little warmer when needed. very small and light.

    I use a tarp shelter but I live in a mosquito-free environment. Anything Marmot is going to be great. But being something of a cheapskate, I have been looking at the Eureka Solitaire which costs around $80-100 and weighs 2lbs 9oz (as the name implies, its a one person)

    Eureka Solitaire Tent - 1 Person, 3 Season :: CampSaver.com

    For overnighters (which is mainly what I do) I use my phone as GPS (iPhone 5) and printed maps. I mainly use the phone to confirm my location when I need to and for photos (and to send a message to the family if I have service). I recently got a little charger for it (recharges entire phone around 3 or 4 times) but have yet to take it on a trip.

    Personally I wouldn't worry too much about getting the best gear. You might even borrow some items the first time before shelling out some dough. My first few times out I used a utility tarp, an old Blackburn rack and my rigid 1990's Gary Fisher. Had a blast! I didn't even cook - just brought cold foods. Winter is a good excuse to obsess over the details and plan, plan, plan. But don't forget its mostly about the experience. Good enough is usually, well, good enough.

  9. #9
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    I've got a Solitaire and will say that for $80, it's a great tent. It's roomy inside and easy to set up. The only downside is that it's a tube/bivy tent, so you can't sit up in it. It makes changing clothes or adding/removing of layers in the tent a bit cumbersome. I like mine a lot, but got the Spitfire to see if the added height will be a better match for me. First impression of the Spitfire is that it is not as roomy inside as the Solitaire.

  10. #10
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    I use the spitfire when bikepacking and it is minimal for sure. It's kept me dry in all night rainstorms but when I get back to the car and back into my big agnes 3 person tent it feels huge and I'm wondering what I'm going to do with all the extra room. The backup battery for the phone is great and mine is made by ankar and will recharge my phone and gps at the same time. I tested it and it charges a flat iphone 5.25 times on a charge which is good for many days and lets me use the phone for music in camp if I want. Watch the ounces and the pounds take care of themselves. Experience will teach you what you don't need. I find a jetboil lets me have two things that are worth the weight and hassle. Hot food (freeze dried) and hot coffee are worth more out there than they are at home. Create a kit of light things that get you out of a jamb. 12" of duct tape, 3 zip ties, needle and thread, paper towel, and anything else that is light and small and worth much out there. For first aid, you can improve the experience with Aleve, zyrtec, bandage and wipes. If you wake up with your back all jacked and 50 miles to pedal you will thank me for the aleve. Others can chime in on the tool kit but a chainbreaker and spare link can save your butt.

  11. #11
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    I'll look into a phone recharger.. sounds like a good idea, I don't have to buy a computer and I can use the recharger in normal living situations as well. I dig it. Has anyone had experience with the nemo air supported shelters as far as breaking and packing the foot pump, as well as overall exp.
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  12. #12
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    They're crazy expensive and honestly not that huge of a weight savings, imo.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfox90 View Post
    I'll look into a phone recharger.. sounds like a good idea, I don't have to buy a computer and I can use the recharger in normal living situations as well. I dig it. Has anyone had experience with the nemo air supported shelters as far as breaking and packing the foot pump, as well as overall exp.
    No experience with the Nemo, sorry. But for charging stuff, I picked up 2 of these:

    Portable AA External Battery Emergency USB Charger for MP3 Player iPod iPhone Oh | eBay

    They are SUPER cheap and work great. They also have a small LED light which works fine in an emergency. They also make a 4 cell version. I use rechargeable AA's most of the time, but Lithium cells will give you more power. These work fine for short trips and overnighters, but I certainly would not rely on one if I were riding around the world! Can't go wrong for $1.75 shipped!

  14. #14
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    I like my eno double nest hammock, still a light setup if you include bug net ( 8 oz) and sil tarp ( 8.5 x 9.5 ') for cover. You do need trees. Also nice is you can sit in it sideways too.

  15. #15
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    Seems to me form where I'm standing (and I'll qualify this by saying I have never done an actual bikepacking trip, but I have done lots of car camping), it shouldn't be that big a challenge to get enough of your gear on a bike for just an overnighter. Small tent, bag, some food, some supplies... seems that you can get this in a couple pannier bags and a bar bag without too much trouble.

    Are you going anywhere that has running water? Right there, you can knock off a bunch of weight by sticking to dry food or food you can reconstitute with water when you get to your camping spot. That is going to save a ton of weight and volume right there.

    I'm planning to bring my iPad in a Pelican case when I go... for reading material, music, vids, a diary and such. The whole thing is pretty compact, light and durable in the case. Then again, I might not. I don't think I would bring an actual laptop, tho. Too delicate and too big. I could probably get away with just my iPhone for this, but trying to keyboard on it sucks for more than a few words.

    For power, there are a bunch of cheap external USB batteries that can recharge your phone or tablet. You can get them on eBay for under $15. For a s24o, that should be plenty.

  16. #16
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    I do already have Thule panniers and their new rack that I use for commuting and can easily just use that and my Thule bag or a hydration bag on my back. I am concerned with tents and sleeping bags with the brands that I listed. I can probably even navigate a sleeping bag on my own. The tent is the most important. Again I would use it for camping anyways and get a good discount which is why I asked about the nemo air supported ones for basically the same price as a mid level rei brand.
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  17. #17
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    I had a non-insulated Big Agnes Air Core pad for a long time. I loved it but I would feel the chill once I hit around 20 degrees F or lower. If you stay above that, then you can shave a touch of weight to go without insulation. But I did end up getting an insulated pad (Klymit Static V) to replace it. But would totally buy another Big Agnes one. Just went with a deal and wanted to try out Klymit.

  18. #18
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    Re: Newb has question

    I slept on my Klymit Static V insulated pad last night in my living room. Don't ask why. Man, was that thing comfortable. Keeps my hips off the ground, I am a side or stomach sleeper. I also just ordered a Eureka solitaire 1 person tent. My first bikepacking trip comes up next month.

    I got the pad for $70 at Costco and the Eureka solitaire tent for $71 from Amazon. Total weight of my bag , pad, and ground cover is about 4 pounds and fits nicely into a handlebar sling. If I take the tent I'll have to find a spot for it, probably behind the seat. The tent is only 2 and three quarters pounds. Still not sure if I'm going to take it. Not a super uber uber light setup, but plenty light enough for an overnighter.... On the cheap. And so far everything I have purchased will have dual purpose and not be bikepacking specific. Important for me since I have no idea how often or ever I'll continue this adventure.

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