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Wife and I are planning a long camping trip next year (our vacation for this year is already planned!). We were thinking maybe grand canyon. But neither of us have camped for years (though as a kid we did every summer and I loved it, plus camping during deer season when I used to hunt), and we are starting from scratch gear wise. Later this year we're going to do some 'short' camping expeditions, locally. Just to get used to our gear and figure out what we need before we head out on a big trip.

So, I've got a trailer hitch coming, will be getting a trailer later this year (not in a big hurry on that one since I won't use it until next year sometime). A small cargo trailer to pull behind the bike. I've got a purcolator and a few other little things, lanterns, camp stove, etc., from when I used to deer hunt. (Haven't gone the past few years). But back then we actually hunted out of an old single-wide trailer that somebody actually FOUND on their property (the guy who hunts with us who owns the 100 acres). We all got together and fixed it up, left it out in the woods; that was our 'tent'. So shelter wise I have nothing.

So we're looking for a tent, any suggestions? I want something big, preferably not $500. I'd like to stay in the $300 and below range if it's possible. Something tall enough for a 6'2" guy to be able to stand up and get dressed (be able to put my rain gear on if I wake up and it's raining!), big enough for me, my wife, and our gear. There are some cool motorcycle specific tents, there are also lots of good; and inexpensive 6-man tents. I know nothing about tents. Anything I should stay away from, any suggestions? Going to start building a list of things we'll need, and buying things here and there, and later this year and early next year start packing it up and going places. Hopefully, by next summer, be ready for a nice 2 or 3 week camping trip!

Thanks



John
 

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We've always had good luck with Eureka tents for car camping. Not the lightest tents on the planet, but no problem unless you're going backpacking (I like Big Agnes for that, but pricey). We take good care of them - clean and dry them before putting away - and we easily get 10 years, camping a couple or so weeks a year.

Stay away from the cheapies unless you enjoy sleeping in water. Our Eurekas have never had more than a few drops in the corners. Whatever you get, be sure to seal ALL seams that aren't factory tape sealed and are exposed to water, don't scrimp around the floor level and stress points. Make sure it has a rain fly. Set it up at home shortly before your first trip so you're not out in the woods with dark falling trying to figure out which pole goes where. Guy out the corners if there could be wind. You will have to make these guys at home and take extra stakes. I take a supply of those long "giant nail" stakes - you can drive them into most any ground that will destroy most other stakes. Be sure to have a hammer and a stake puller.

Get a ground sheet (footprint) to go under the floor, a few inches smaller than the tent floor. You can make one cheaply out of 4-6 mil plastic or Tyvek. Take floor mats to put outside the door and inside (we use old carpet samples inside) to help keep the inside clean and protect the floor. (You will still be amazed how much dirt and grass you will track in.) I also put carpet under any feet of chairs or stools to protect the floor. A small whisk broom and dustpan is nice for cleaning up. A battery powered fan is good if you are in warm weather. Don't forget a battery powered lantern and flashlights. Headlamps come in very handy as well.

Many options for sleeping - we used to take air mattress, sheets and blankets, but that is bulky and heavy and not as warm as you might think. I'd go with insulated, self-inflating mats (Therm-a-rest, Big Agnes, etc). They come in various thicknesses and comfort levels, can also get thicker ones you have to inflate, but make sure it's insulated - you can lose a lot of heat through the ground. Get sleeping bags rated for 10-20 deg colder than the lowest temps you expect. If you like to snuggle with the wife, you can get them that zip together. If it's really warm, it's nice to have a sheet or light blanket - lay on top of the bag and cover up with the sheet. If space is tight, you can stuff clothes, etc into pillow cases for a pillow.

That's about all I can think of now. Here is a link to a Eureka tent for reference. I don't have this one, but have had similar ones. Basic tents with simple shapes tend to be much simpler to set up. Campmor and REI have good product reviews.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___28640

Here is a larger, heavier-duty one (notice that the floor material is thicker and heavier). Pack size and weight though can become an issue when M/C camping.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___28334
 

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We've always had good luck with Eureka tents for car camping. Not the lightest tents on the planet, but no problem unless you're going backpacking (I like Big Agnes for that, but pricey). We take good care of them - clean and dry them before putting away - and we easily get 10 years, camping a couple or so weeks a year.

Stay away from the cheapies unless you enjoy sleeping in water. Our Eurekas have never had more than a few drops in the corners. Whatever you get, be sure to seal ALL seams that aren't factory tape sealed and are exposed to water, don't scrimp around the floor level and stress points. Make sure it has a rain fly. Set it up at home shortly before your first trip so you're not out in the woods with dark falling trying to figure out which pole goes where. Guy out the corners if there could be wind. You will have to make these guys at home and take extra stakes. I take a supply of those long "giant nail" stakes - you can drive them into most any ground that will destroy most other stakes. Be sure to have a hammer and a stake puller.

Get a ground sheet (footprint) to go under the floor, a few inches smaller than the tent floor. You can make one cheaply out of 4-6 mil plastic or Tyvek. Take floor mats to put outside the door and inside (we use old carpet samples inside) to help keep the inside clean and protect the floor. (You will still be amazed how much dirt and grass you will track in.) I also put carpet under any feet of chairs or stools to protect the floor. A small whisk broom and dustpan is nice for cleaning up. A battery powered fan is good if you are in warm weather. Don't forget a battery powered lantern and flashlights. Headlamps come in very handy as well.

Many options for sleeping - we used to take air mattress, sheets and blankets, but that is bulky and heavy and not as warm as you might think. I'd go with insulated, self-inflating mats (Therm-a-rest, Big Agnes, etc). They come in various thicknesses and comfort levels, can also get thicker ones you have to inflate, but make sure it's insulated - you can lose a lot of heat through the ground. Get sleeping bags rated for 10-20 deg colder than the lowest temps you expect. If you like to snuggle with the wife, you can get them that zip together. If it's really warm, it's nice to have a sheet or light blanket - lay on top of the bag and cover up with the sheet. If space is tight, you can stuff clothes, etc into pillow cases for a pillow.

That's about all I can think of now. Here is a link to a Eureka tent for reference. I don't have this one, but have had similar ones. Basic tents with simple shapes tend to be much simpler to set up. Campmor and REI have good product reviews.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___28640

Here is a larger, heavier-duty one (notice that the floor material is thicker and heavier). Pack size and weight though can become an issue when M/C camping.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___28334
Thanks for the info Gary!

As far as size/weight, it's not THAT crucial, since it'll be trailered. That gives me a lot more room. Within reason, of course.

My only concern about those is being able to change. I'm imagining waking up at 6AM needing to hit the road and it pouring down rain outside, needing to get dressed, put warm clothes on, rain gear, boots, etc. I either need to do that inside the tent or out in the rain. (Unlike car camping where I could just throw a poncho on, pack stuff up, take the poncho off and go)

Those look kind of short; are they?
 

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Those are both 7' tall in the center. (Click on the "Specifications" tab to see all the details.) If you keep your sleeping bags to one side, that gives you room to stand up near the center. It helps to have a small chair or campstool to sit on for dressing, too. I was just looking at that Copper Canyon - has a lot of nice features at a good price. I could talk myself into it, but we got a similar size REI tent a few years ago - only 5' interior height, but bomb-proof and has a full fly with vestibules. Also has a lot of poles and takes a little longer to set up and stake down. Not really a problem if you are staying for four nights, but if you're moving every night, you want to keep it simple.

The 8 x 8 is a good size for two people - most are in the 5' - 6' range in interior height. In some campgrounds, the larger tents can limit where you can set up, besides being heavier and more difficult to set up. Will also act more like a big sail in the wind. Like pretty much everything, it's a trade-off; just have to figure what your priorities are.
 

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I mentioned keeping it simple; of course, a lot of the things I mentioned above are just niceties and not really necessary. We are more comfort-driven when we camp, but you can go as basic as you like to simplify set-up and take-down.

I'm sure others will chime in on this, everybody has their preferences. Even though I'm 6'3", after spending a week in a 3' high backpacking tent, a 5' tall tent seems spacious!
 

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So we're looking for a tent, any suggestions? I want something big, preferably not $500. I'd like to stay in the $300 and below range if it's possible... I know nothing about tents. Anything I should stay away from, any suggestions?
My best suggestions are to look for a tent that has a full rainfly cover. If you just get a partial cover, you're likely going to end up getting wet if the rain is falling diagonally.

Craigslist is your friend. Both of my tents are from Craigslist and were hardly used and in excellent condition (for about 1/5th the cost of new!). I'd buy one this summer to camp in the backyard and don't be afraid to change to a different model if the first one doesn't work out. It's a personal thing...

Stuff I'd ask about in the stores is how long does it take to setup? Can it be setup by one person (that will make setting it up with two people even easier and allow for any on-road squabbles ;) )? Does it come with a full footprint ground-cover for under the tent? Also check for proper ventilation and niceties like an entry mat (place to slip muddy shoes off before entering) and any storage compartments.

I prefer three season tents, even in the summer, as they are built to withstand the cooler temps and blustering winds and are usually of higher quality. The wall materials are thicker and the zippers are heavier gauge.

Be sure to grab some seam seal before you leave the store as well. None of the seams will be waterproof without it. No use having dew drops on your forehead in the morning because the seams leaked. :rolleyes:



Have fun!
 

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With a $300 budget, that's about 8 nights, tv, coffee pot, wifi, shower and you can put your pants on anywhere in the room.

BTW ... they will leave the light on for you.


 

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With a $300 budget, that's about 8 nights, tv, coffee pot, wifi, shower and you can put your pants on anywhere in the room.

BTW ... they will leave the light on for you.


Yeah. And I could also drive my air-conditioned tires-last-75k leather-seats car. But I would more enjoy the wind and the openness of "roughing it" on my bike!

Same with camping. I could do the motel thing. Or I could stay home. I do hotels/motels throught the year for various conferences and trips. I haven't done it in a few years but I really do enjoy camping, and so does the wife!
 

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I've been searching for a Bike camping solution, I'm looking at http://www.bikertent.com

It looks great. I may have to tilt my head a bit to get dressed, but bike and me are covered. Only issue may be that the sleeping section is only 4' wide, so might be tight for two people. 10' long, so I can stretch out it in, so that is good.
 
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