What tent and gear to pack for a long-distance long term trip?
Most overland motorcycling trips can be done with the minimum of camping gear, except when your ass is freezing off in the colder parts of the world. And since taking camping gear on the bike means more weight and valuable space, the decision and choice of equipment is not to be neglected. Taking a tent, sleeping mat & stove means more independence and the ability to roam freely – especially in the more remote locations.
The crib – tent or whatever you call home.
Having spent enough time in a tent camping in our life’s there are a few things that we found to be important:
- Must be waterproof! Make sure the rainfly extends all the way down to the ground.
- Have an entrance on either side. Reason for this is when you stay in a tent for a week or two or like us going now 15 months, it is not a pleasant feeling to be kicked in the plumbs when the mistress wants to get up at night for a walk crawling over you to get out. 1 man tents it is also more convenient to have the entrance at the side and not having to crawl into a tent-like a mole.
- At least have one side vestibule. It’s obvious, to sit and cook when it is raining cats and dogs.
- Use of aluminium 7001 T6 poles. Carbon fibre tends to splinter when they break. Alu poles bend or split at the ends and it is easy to cut shorter with you Leatherman and still use the pole or just bend it back into shape.
- Be lightweight, preferably less than 2.5kg – 3kg max for a 2-3 man tent. The 5kg+ tents with the motorcycle garage is an absolute waste of space, is more complex to pitch and only adds unnecessary weight.
- Best is to buy one size bigger. Only small Chinese actually fit inside a 1 or 2 man tent. For 2 people a 3 man tent allow some packing space inside the tent for bike gear and luggage.
- No need for a 4 seasons tent when only travelling in Africa. Preferably a tent with a removable rain fly. Enjoy the billion-star hotel. No one ever wakes up in a tent and says, “What I love about camping is that clammy feeling of your sweat dripping on my face”.
- Price does not reflect the quality of a tent! But generally speaking a cheap-ass Game Massmart store tent will not last you the trip.
- More in detail information about tents here.
Sleeping pads and sleepers:
It’s mind-boggling how people sleep on a 3 cm mattress. I guess some cope better than others and body weight and size also matters, but with long term trip 3cm mats is hard on the body. The 7cm or a 10cm are the only pads to consider for extended trips. The newer design mats from brands like EXPED are compact and lightweight and will not take up much space. We also use the ATG Ribz camp sleeper for when we camp in a place for a few days. One important note: Make sure you have a patch kit for the blow-up mattress. It is a given that a blow-up mattress will deflate at 4am on a cold night!
EXPED SynMat UL 7 is designed for the ultralight backpacker, cyclist, traveler or anyone who needs sleeping comfort and warmth with a minimum of weight and bulk. Kaj shows us the details.
The mummy-style sleeping of a sleeping bag is to say the least claustrophobic. We have found the lightweight sleeping bags that can be completely zipped open to be used as a blanket better. Why a sleeping bag? The inners used in sleeping bags can be compressed for saving space and it offers superior insulation compared to just blankets. Then we also use a thin fleece blanket on top of the sleeping pad or camp sleeper. It means we use one sleeping bag instead of 2 and one blanket instead of 2 which is a great benefit to weight and space-saving.
Easy, use your clothes inside the roll bag, or take a normal polyester fibre filled pillow and cut it in two. Sow up the end and the half-pint size pillow can be stuffed in a carry bag just bigger than a man’s fist. This poor tech solution also makes for a night of much better sleep than the travel pillows from some famous brands.
Why a groundsheet should be part of your kit:
- Keeps moisture off of you from below and aids with insulation.
- It prevents damage to your tent bottom from rocks, twigs, thorns etc. For example, let’s say you camp on desert sand or on a sandy beach. The bottom of your tent will probably experience some minor wear and tear as a result of scratching against the ground. Will make your tent floor last longer
- It keeps your tent bottom cleaner.
- Perfect, clean work area when fixing your bike or repairing a tyre. It is easy to lose nuts and bolts in the dirt and mud.
- Can be used to make a rain cover, sunshade tarp.
- Protect luggage on the bike from damage caused by vibrations of bolts and sharp objects when used as padding.
Our first chairs were the Walkstool a Swedish made near-indestructible camp chair. It packed compact and lightweight but had one very big drawback. The chair had no backrest and the triangle design seat would eat into your balls.
Then we got onto the Helinox chair. Amazingly, this one having a backrest, easy to set up and super compact could also carry a 140kg person. They have proved their metal this last 7-month stint in the USA and Mexico. The chair uses the famous DAC Aluminium poles.
The Chair one combines comfort with an extremely low weight. With a small pack size and a weight of just 890 gr. this chair is the absolute must-have for every cyclist, hiker, camper and outdoor enthusiast; in short for everybody. Made by DAC, the leading manufacturer of tent poles, Helinox® products incorporate many of the advanced features and quality found in our DAC tent poles.
We bought the NIGOR chairs now as they tweaked the design and improved on the Helinox. They are a bit bigger and wider but still compact and lightweight but sit better than the Helinox and seems even better made.