So you've got a few hundred miles under your belt and you're ready for a weekend outside of the city. Just hop on your bike and go! wrong. Especially if you have fairly limited camping experience. Today we are going to talk about what you need to enjoy your weekend adventure. There are loads of things you will need to embark on your backroad boogie so I implore you to do more research here I will be talking about the big three.
First and foremost you are going to need shelter. I generally recommend a two man tent, better known as the "brokeback" setup because there is no way you can actually fit two grown men in one of those without it becoming a Jake Gyllenhaal seminar. The upside to using a two man tent is that it gives you space to keep your clothes and helmet inside and out of the elements. When it comes to riding weight and space are everything so I would lean towards a backpacking style tent like the Nemo Galaxy 2. In terms of setup it's hard to get more simplistic than a half dome tent. The Nemo runs a cool $249 from REI but there are many other options.
I'll be completely honest with you. There are SO man sleeping bag options out there that even I even hate shopping for a new one every 5 years or so. With prices ranging from $100-$800 its hard to know where to start so I'll tell you. Don't buy a walmart bag and don't buy and $800 bag. Unless you are camping in your backyard or you happen to be planning your next trip north of the arctic circle neither apply to you. I usually spend about $200 on a quality bag and it will last you 5-8 years of seasonal use if you take care of them. In this price range REI, Marmot, and Mountain Hardware all have great options to keep you warm in a variety of seasons, but I cannot stress this enough; when you want to buy a new bag go to the store and try them out in person. Fit is everything. Go to your local REI for more.
So you have all this new gear now and you have to figure out how you are going to get it to your mountain getaway. You might have a nice backpack like the one I used for over 100 miles this past summer in the picture above. Though it does work, be prepared to amputate your arms from lack of circulation while you get there. The packs are intended for hiking and rest the weight of your gear primarily on your hips with a little bit of support from your shoulders. When you are hiking your body remains very upright aka the opposite of what you do on your bike especially at highway speeds. Hello backpack goodbye circulation. The best option you have are rigid panniers built for your bike. They are strong, water tight and you don't have to worry about your gear getting beat up by the elements. Oh and they can cost upwards of $900. Ill pass on paying twice the cost of my motorcycle for storage. The most cost effective option comes from a company by the name of Green Chile Adventure Gear. For between $99-$200 they can kit you out with a completely modular rack system that will affix to your bike's frame and allow you to use whatever bags you want. This system is amazing because it allows you to transfer your carrying capacity from bike to bike with no compatibility issues. GCAG is well established in the offroad world and if it's good enough for the trail it's good enough for me. There is a lot of other gear to consider when camping so make sure to do your own research and always remember to expect the unexpected.