Author Topic: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?  (Read 8737 times)

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Offline SwampYankee

Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« on: May 06, 2021, 12:52:47 pm »
So, I am obsessing about 20lbs. that's the weight of camping gear. Is it worth the flexibility? It's not the cost and we'll be doing half or more of our nights in hotels/motels anyway, its about the experience and flexibility of warmshowers and spontaneity of being able to stop when needed/wanted. Tell me what's been your experiences out there my friends?

Thanks, SY
Travel well, kjr

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2021, 01:11:46 pm »
It all depends on what you want and are able to do physically, the route, and what you can afford personally. 

Most people can not afford to hotel it every night that a WarmShowers is not available or they are not able to do the required distance. Sometimes, even if you could afford a hotel every night, there just are not any available.

I am fortunate enough to be able to get a hotel when I want one.  Some of my tours are strictly hotel only.  Others are camping only.  Most are a mix.  For me personally, it usually boils down to route.  For me, the camping gear offers a lot of flexibility for only about 6-8 additional pounds or less (assuming you have good, lightweight gear) for the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.

That said, you said you are obsessing about 20#.  My wife of 31 years pointed out that I could lose 20# of body fat (she put it nicer) and I would be healthier and it would not cost anything.  At first I blew that off until one day I lugged a 12# watermelon and am extra gallon of water (8#) to camp.  I was amazed how difficult it was with the 20 extra pounds.  That experience made me want to lose the weight.  However, it was the onset of diabetes that really kicked me into high gear and I have lost 25# to date.  I climb better, feel better, etc. 

As a friend says, brings what makes you smile.  In other words, if the extra work required to bring the stuff that makes you smile starts to take away the smile, re-evaluate what you bring.  Otherwise, don't obsess.

Tailwinds, John

Offline jamawani

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2021, 01:37:34 pm »
Dear Yank -

Who is "We" and what might the other half of "we" prefer to do??

30+ years of touring here.
I like dirt. I sleep well on the ground. I love being as remote as possible.
But not all people feel the way I do.

When you stay in motels you tend to isolate more and to start later in the day.
Even if you are staying at the municipal campground at the edge of town,
you tend to search out what there is to do in town - cafes, the library, the bar on Main St.
That kind of stuff happens far less often once you shut the motel room door.

There's a big difference between remote camping, campground camping, and town camping.
I don't mind camping by myself in grizzly country. I love the solitude.
You can camp on most public lands in the West almost anywhere.
It's worth doing at least once or twice for the feel of it.
Of course, you have zero facilities - learn how to dig a cathole.
But the sunrise in the chilly high desert - just a mile from pavement - is worth it.

Busy campgrounds can be irritating.
People always arrive late - and have no problem carrying on shouted conversations with flashlights.
But you can also have partiers next door at a motel.

One other thing, depending on what route you are doing and how far you are going -
there are lots of places out West where motels are few and far between.
Further east, small towns are losing their mom & pop motels esp. with the pandemic.
So, having camping gear gives you more route and stopping options.
Not to mention weather that keeps you 30 miles from your destination at 6:00p??

Just some observations over the years.

J

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2021, 02:31:52 pm »
When you carry camp gear you tend to camp more. Sounds silly but we were going to do an all B&B tour but one area was completely booked and no matter how we juggled days on wither side the only option was to camp. As they saying goes "in for a penny in for a pound". When you load up the tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, cooking gear, food, maybe a warmer jacket, you start to wonder why carry all of that stuff for one night. So we we added more nights of camping and saved a few hundred bucks in the end.

Also, we do tend to linger longer in hotels and B&B's. Waiting on breakfast, an extra morning hot shower, one more cup of coffee. When we camp we are on the trail by 8:30 or 9:00. In a B&B or hotel we work hard to get on the road by 11:00 :)

I love to be outdoors, build a fire, hear nature, fall asleep next to a babbling brook, etc. The flip side is pouring rain, mud, train whistles all night, etc. which can also happen camping. I would say if you are going out for weeks, not days, bring the camp gear. If your wallet can handle it, take rest days in hotels, and go inside when it is going to rain.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline SwampYankee

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2021, 05:28:04 pm »
As always, you folks are the best. Excellent thoughts here. So I just went through and rearranged gear again. For about 40th time I might add. If I take all the kitchen and cooking gear out of my packs, along with a few extra clothes I pair off about 11 pounds. This means I camp without cooking which seems like a pretty good compromise for my wife and I. It allows us to camp, take advantage of warm showers, and hotels all while the entire bike weight is 70 pounds or less. We’ll eat out or without cooking while camping.
Travel well, kjr

Offline LouMelini

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2021, 05:37:52 pm »
SwampYankee; Your last post came through as I was formulating a reply, so here is the edited version. You seem to have made a good choice for your needs. My kitchen is 2-3 pounds for my wife and I from which we cook very nice meals. Sitting with other campers with a cup of coffee is part of the campground ambiance, though over the past 45 years I find that more and more, people tend to stay in their motorhomes watching television. FYI; If you travel through national parks, your food selection will be pricey and perhaps limited. Enjoy your tour, no matter how you pack as there is always another tour if you change your mind.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2021, 05:48:16 pm »
Do you like to camp?  How convenient is it to find rooms or hosts where you will be?  Those will play heavily in any answer.  Personally I found arranging for warmshowers hosts to be a scheduling pain and a limit on trip flexibility.  I don't like to decide where I will stop for the day until I am there.  That pretty much means camping for me.  Plus I much prefer it any way.

As far as weight.  It is possible to camp with a lot less than 20 pounds of additional gear.  May base gear weight is well under 20 pounds and obviously some of it is stuff I'd carry if I wasn't camping.  I have gone with as low as a 9# base gear weight not counting food or fuel, but I carry very little of either when touring.  My last coast to coast my base was 14#.  Personally for myself I can't imagine leaving the camping gear home on a long tour.  At the very least I'd take my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, bivy and tarp even if getting rooms just to have another option.  That adds up to 2 pounds and 9 ounces and means I can sleep in comfort if I need to camp.  For another 6.4 ounces I can have a stove and cooking/eating stuff, but I'd need to add a few ounces of alcohol for fuel and some food to cook.

BTW, that isn't even with the lightest of my gear.  It is with the bivy instead of the bug bivy and also with the big tarp including stakes and cords.

So basically I am talking about an extra 3 pounds to be able to camp.  Pretty much everything else I'd carry any way.  Even if I went with a tent and other heavier choices I could still stay under 10 pounds of extra weight.

Link to gear choice spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1P9XSZlVaaKj3GORYfcfCaJGFRqVAlinP4M3EKfv-fq0/edit?usp=sharing
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 05:52:00 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline zzzz

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2021, 09:08:56 pm »
I’ve done 7 trips, each around 30 days, each 2.5-3.5k miles, and I’ve camped a total of 2 or 3 nights. The balance of nights I was in a hotel. I like traveling really light, I like sleeping in a bed, I like a long hot shower, I like a restaurant dinner and breakfast. And unlike some previous replies extolling camping, I typically will walk around town after I clean myself up to see what’s there and i’m up at dawn and on the road typically before 8.

But after my first trip (coast to coast) where I only brought a emergency bivy, I have since taken a ultra lite tent, bag, and pad. It totals 3 lbs and the insurance is worth it.

You don’t mention where you’re riding but there are several places out west and riding to Alaska that required a really tough day to get to the next hotel. Psychologically, even if you’re already beat and there’s still another 20 miles till town, it doesn’t feel like a death march if you know you can stop if you want/ have to.

Pete

Offline jamawani

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2021, 10:03:50 pm »
I am grateful that most people don't get out at 6:00a.
But if you are in Yellowstone or Glacier or Banff or Denali -
It really is the difference between nice and magical.

Leigh Lake - Grand Teton N.P.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2021, 07:15:32 am »
Yeah, I quietly roll out of camp early, often well before daylight.  The early hours are the best.  That is true whether you camp or get a room.  For me getting a room can mean getting out a bit later unless I want to miss the free breakfast.  I love to stop for a diner breakfast after 10-30 miles if there is a diner at an appropriate spot after what was probably just a granola bar or at most instant oatmeal in camp.

Offline jamawani

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2021, 07:48:05 am »
Yo, Staehp -
Exactly. And yes, you can do it in a motel, but it is harder.
In a tent you can sense the sunrise. Not so in most motel rooms.
No question, I love me them "Ahhhhh!" showers, but I'd rather camp most nights.

I, also, like to ride an hour or so and then have breakfast - just a granola bar and water before.
I usually tour solo - so that also might be a reason for both.
Makes it easier to get going and I like the company of a cafe.
But early morning riding is like dessert before breakfast.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2021, 08:25:42 am »
In a tent you can sense the sunrise. Not so in most motel rooms.
And if you have heat or AC on the drone of the fan makes me disoriented in time as well.  I feel like I have no idea what time it is.  I really hate the feeling of blackout curtains and white noise.
Quote
Makes it easier to get going and I like the company of a cafe.
I think I recall that you are another guy who likes the communal table at the diners.  Right?  For those who don't know they are a great way to meet the locals.  I just say, "Mind if I join you guys?" when I see a communal table and it has made for interesting conversation.

Alternately sitting with the long haul truckers at the counter in mid west truck stops has yielded some interesting conversation.  People who have been on the road all day typically like to talk whether they are cyclists or truckers!  As a bonus if they give you any road info it will usually be accurate.  I have found that a trucker might say something like, "That town is about 23.6 miles, but don't hold me to that.  The last 6 are uphill fairly steeply.  The shoulder for that last 6 miles is in pretty bad shape".  Ask a car driver the same question and he'd say "That town is exactly 10 miles, dead flat the whole way and a good shoulder".  When you ride it you'd find the trucker hit it all down to the tenth of a mile.

The other pretty reliable sources that might be at the communal table are farmers.

Offline SwampYankee

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2021, 02:05:11 pm »
All exceptional points. Thanks very much. I too like to get out early and favor the communal table. For me riding on a tour is all about meeting the people. This discussion helped me sort out the difference between camping and camping with all of the year I need to cook and food prep. We will be leaving soon for the West Coast from NEw England and mixing it up as you suggested.
Travel well, kjr

Offline jkbrooks

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2021, 01:07:44 pm »
Safe travels SwampYankee! Sounds like a fabulous trip. I'm so impressed with the people here. Legit badasses all :)

I'm more of a hotel person than a camper but the camping conversation was enlightening for me and made me think differently about my preferences :)

Offline BikePacker

Re: Camping or not? Is the weight worth it?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2021, 07:24:12 am »
So, I am obsessing about 20lbs. that's the weight of camping gear. Is it worth the flexibility?
Yup, for me, it is.