Author Topic: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff  (Read 1683 times)

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Offline New Jawn

Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« on: October 11, 2021, 10:36:23 am »
Some disparate questions that really are connected.

My broken record intro: I'll be doing a modified TransAmerica, starting May 2022 -- the Eastern Express to Kansas, traditional TA the rest of the way.

1.  I have a good ultra-light hiking tent that I'm happy with but it's not free standing.  I've the impression that free standing is preferable so that when camping in places with a picnic shelter, for example, it's common to set up your tent inside the shelter.   I plan to camp whenever possible.  So, do most use free standing?  If not, are you happy with your stake-requiring setup or, if you had to do things over, would you opt for free standing?

2.  My previous bike had a kickstand.  I loved it.  My new bike doesn't.  The extra weight for a kickstand seems like it would be weight well spent.  I'm hesitant to add it because I'm new at this and keep thinking that there must be great reasons that most (?) don't use one.  For those who do, is there a specific brand/model that you'd recommend?

3.  Locks.  Currently I use a chain lock.  When camping, I see myself chaining my bike TO my tent so that hopefully I would hear someone messing with it and wake up.   For those who camp a lot, how do you protect your bike from theft while you're sleeping?

4.   When camping in city parks and campgrounds, do you remove your panniers,  handlebar bag, etc and keep your gear inside your tent at night?

5.  Finally, my goal is to use the Ortlieb  6 liter handlebar bag and the Back Roller classic panniers for all of my gear, except that I plan on attaching with bungee cords the tent and sleeping bag on the rear rack, and my repair tools carried in a small case under the seat.   However, my bike shop expert tells me that having all of the weight on the back is a bad idea -- less ride stability; instead, he recommends using front panniers AND rear panniers to distribute weight more evenly.
BUT, I've done a lot of distance hiking and I'm 99% sure that I can carry all of my gear using just rear panniers, so adding front panniers would also mean adding 5-8 lbs just for the front  rack and front panniers.
So....?  Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2021, 11:00:01 am »
I carried a Big Agnes SL 2 on my AT hike. It is currently at Big Agnes for warranty repair. If they replace it I will probably get their Copper Spur HV UL2 bike tent. I ordered the UL-1 version and returned it - too small for me - my shoulders rubbed the sides.

Kick stand - I bought a click-stand and love it.

I have carried a cable lock in the past when biking with my wife and a longer cable. I bought a standalone combo lock but rethinking the weight. I am a very light sleeper so I am never super nervous at night.

I keep my panniers under my fly and my handlebar bag inthe tent with me. Bear country is different - use bear lockers or hang your food.

I added a front rack and panniers for my TransAM next year. It did add weight but got me better balance, a more organized bike, and no crap behind my seat to have to swing my leg over or hit my butt when I push back on the saddle. Everything I have fits inside the 4 Ortliebs and 6L handlebar bag. Noting on the rack tops except my Crocs. One pannier for setting up camp. One front one with inside tent clothes, one with cooking and food. I keep rain gear on warm jacket in right rear - non-traffic side. I like the rear because I find it easier to get into while balancing my bike.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline John Nettles

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2021, 11:04:19 am »
Here are my thoughts after 45 years of touring.

1.  I have never had a totally freestanding tent.  My most used tent is a BA Seedhouse 2.  Other tents are similar in that they needed to be staked.  I have never not been able to pitch the tent.  Very rarely I have to "stake" the tent to the bike, picnic table, a tree, something.  I carry about 10-20 feet of paracord if I think there might be a case where I might need to "stake" the tent to something above the ground.

2. Kickstands are a very personal decision.  Since your new bike does not have one, ensure that it can.  A lot of newer bikes use lighter, thinner metals for the frame and the frame can be damaged or even cracked by a loaded bike resting on the kickstand.  My favorite (though heavy) is a Greenfield Rear Mount kickstand since it distributes the weight over more frame tubes.  Also, drill a hole into a golf ball and use Gorilla Glue and glue it to the end of the kickstand (may need to cut and extra ~1/3" off the kickstand).  This keeps the kickstand from burying into loose soils. Looks quite dorky though. But so does a bike falling over. Others use a clik stand (spelling) and love it.  I was neutral on it.

3. For decades I have used a long 10' thin (maybe 1/8") plastic-coated cable and small lock (basically a luggage lock).  This is a fairly lightweight lock.  I am in the camp that believes that, outside of major metro areas, most bike thefts are opportunity thefts.  By that I mean the thief had not prior thought of stealing it until he saw the unlocked bike just sitting there and thought about stealing it.  A cable wrapped around both wheels and around a tree, post, makes it really hard for a opportunity thief to steal it. A professional thief can cut through most anything. I always stay indoors in a major metro area.

3b. In a somewhat related area, I use a GPS.  To hide it while I go inside a store or cafe, I put my dew rag over it and then my helmet over that.  I have heard many more people get their electronics (bike computers, GPS, phones, etc) stolen from the handlebars than anything else.  If I am going to be gone from the bike a while, I will take the GPS. I usually don't since it will add miles sometimes or keep beeping that it has lost its signal.  If I turn it off, it throws off my overall averages. At times, I really long for the days of the old cyclometer and a watch.

4. Overnight, depending on the tent I am in, I may or may not bring packs in.  I always bring my handlebar bag in as it contains my valuables.  If  I am concerned about thefts, I use the above cable.

5. I strongly agree with the bike shop.  If you put all your weight on the rear wheel, there is a high probability that your bike will shimmy on high speed descents.  I frequently use front packs on both the front and rear because I am the type of person that if space exists, I will fill it. I also use regular front and regular rear but keep my tent and sleeping bag in a pannier.  Only a rack pack is put on the rack and that is mostly empty.  I use it to store frequently accessed items like jackets, hand sanitizer, etc.  It acts as a fender somewhat and usually has extra space in case I am buying more groceries or water that I should, which happens to often.

Have a great trip, John

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2021, 04:02:25 pm »
No kickstand. That's what trees, guar rails, rocks, benches, etc., are for.

Did two weeks on the road last moth. I carried my fairly light cable lock with a combination. Can count on fewer than 2 hands worth of fingers the number of times I used it. Only place in camp was in Burlington, VT because of its size and relative ease of public access to the municipal campground.  Even when grocery shopping I almost never used the lock. Wallet, phone and camera inside the tent with me every night.  In Burlington, I stashed the panniers and valuable stove behind my tent in the shelter so they were not readily visible.   All other nights my stuff gear stayed outside except when stored for bear purposes. A few years ago I was very exposed at a city park in a small Montana town. I was not super worried, but out of an abundance of caution I threads the cable lock through the bike and all four pannier carry hand straps and put my stove under my tent vestibule.

That's SOP for me. Situational awareness.  Make a realistic assessment of risk. Not what could happen (just about anything can happen), but what are the chances that something will happen? Why am I going to bother secreting gear and/or locking up my bike when I am, say, sharing a campground that is nowhere near a public road with a few seasonal campers who have their own trailers?  Same question when I am popping into some country store in a sparsely populated area for a couple of minutes. With all that said, do what feels comfortable to you.

I spent three nights in Adirondack shelters during my last trip and have stayed in others. I have also camped on other mad-made surfaces to escape the weather.  Having a semi-freestanding tent is helpful in situations like that.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2021, 04:47:13 pm »
2. I'm in the pro-kickstand camp.  John's tip about a golf ball glued to the bottom is spot on.  I wore through my Greenfield rear kickstand's rubber bottom on tour; it was half pathetic, half hilarious watching it sink into the grass.

3. I use a similar 10' coated cable and combination lock when I want a little extra security.  It's hard to beat a locked motel room for more security.

4.  I have the Ortlieb handlebar bag.  When I go shopping, it goes with me.  When I go to sleep, it sleeps in the tent with me.  I don't worry too much about the rest of my gear most of the time (except when my Scooby-sense is twitching), but with camera, wallet, cellphone, and GPS (when applicable), all my high value high mobility gear stays with me.

Offline ray b

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2021, 10:26:56 pm »
1. Unless you have money to burn, your ultralight tent will work. Under the picnic shelter, you can always tie your tent off to the tables if bugs or privacy are an issue.

That said, I use a 10 y old Mountain Hardware UL-2, which has a self-standing net and floor, but a fly that requires stakes - therefore, good for keeping the bugs off under a picnic shelter, but requires stakes when out in the elements.

As an aside - I've learned that especially in the mountains, a few stakes will save one from chasing their tent down the hill when the wind blows - even if they have loaded some weight inside.

2.  Kickstand - see previous threads.  I've never used a kickstand; I've assumed I would take it off after climbing the first hill along with all the other weight I wish I hadn't brought. Walls, curbs, big rocks, stick, and the grass are usually good resting places.  If you use a kickstand, and there are those who have great arguments about their use to save time, I suggest caution. As a mechanic, I saw a lot of crushed seat stays due to fastidious tightening every time it loosened a little.

3. Locks - see previous threads. I use a lightweight Assus or Kryptonite retractable cable, which is only a meter long. The idea is to prevent walk-offs. Ride-offs are almost impossible as I use old (discontinued) Speedplay Frog pedals from my collection. A pedal that requires a cleat, like Eggbeaters adds some protection. I also make sure I leave my Garmin InReach mini in the top pannier pocket. If the bike actually disappears, it will give LE some time to find it. I agree with John about covering GPS units - though most cycling or hiking-specific models like the Etrex don't look very valuable with their 2 inch screens..., and in the big scheme of things, they're not. Wallets, knife, and flashlight that visible on the bike generally go with me. In the end, you won't want to leave your bike unsecured for too long in places that make you nervous. If I go out to eat, the bike - my companion - usually eats with me (or stays in a motel room).

Also, if you're in the mountains in big bear country, you might want to keep some distance between yourself and the bicycle, in case a bruin feels the need to sniff around those panniers that recently carried tortillas, peanut butter, and honey.... Although I've occasionally had the urge to take my bike into the tent and out of the rain or snow, I've never had the urge to lock it to my tent..., and especially now that I am running ultralight nylon, I try to keep my bike, with all it's weight and sharp parts, well away from the tent.

4. My panniers are ziplocked to my rack. They don't come off, and I don't worry about what is left in them at night. Small packing bags with my electronics, computer, phone, battery brick, etc., usually join me in the tent where I put my feet up to recover, while reading and taking care of business and communication. Folks don't generally steal, and they certainly don't lust after bicycle tools and small, extra parts.

5. I think your pannier set up will work fine. If you keep your heavy tools and electronics and maybe an extra water bottle in the handlebar bag, your steering should be fine. Personally, I usually run only small rear panniers and a small handlebar bag for everything I need for the road. If you need more, grab a Revelate Tangle (top tube partial frame pack) or equivalent. When off-road with some desert conditions (I just finished the GDMBR), I add a full frame bag to centralize weight with tools, food, and a large water bladder, and drop the handlebar bag down to a well-secured portage rack. I have never used front panniers..., yet. I have, however, occasionally used a heftier rear wheel and tire than in the front. (Think about how we load our motorcycles - keeping the weight in the rear over a bigger tire - so that the steering in front remains light....)

All that said about loading or even overloading the rear wheel, one of the popular multi-day racing set-ups on the mountain bikes is front panniers or heavy attachment to the handlebars, a frame bag, and barely nothing on the rear - usually a only a minimal down comforter and coat in the seat bag. These folks then run a larger tire up front than they do in the rear - especially with the older frames that don't take 2.5 inch tires. As most of these young riders can kick my ass, I can't find any flaw in their set-up. It certainly keeps the front from becoming too light and wheelieing up the steep hills.

In sum: No hard rules other than to avoid wheelies while touring up hill (I mean unless you're really good at it). Try to keep the weight central and low and have respect for the load you ask your wheels and tires to carry.

I've attached a photo of my overloaded (50 pounds of tools, parts, gear, and water) Karate Monkey at the top of Hoosier Pass - on the Trans-Am. (Yes, that's a spare tire under the down tube....) Hopefully you'll have a similar photo at some point to share when asked how you carried your kit.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2021, 10:55:43 pm »
1. Freestanding is nice, but not a showstopper. Freestanding does not mean that you don’t need to stake it. It only means that you can move it after setting it up. Even under pavilions, you can tie your tent to something. Take the tent you have.

2. I prefer a click-stand to a kick-stand. One or the other makes loading the panniers easier.

3. I prefer a lightweight “keep honest people honest” lock, and then be careful where you leave your bike. No matter what, some acceptance of risk is required. Just keep it reasonably low.

4. I leave my panniers on my bike at night and keep the bike close to the tent. In bear country, I put all smellies in one pannier and hang it from a tree far from my tent.

5. I strongly recommend front panniers for better bike handling, unless you go ultralight. Yes, there is a weight penalty for this, but it’s worth it.

Online staehpj1

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2021, 06:56:24 am »
I'll tack my comments on to John's since they are concise and close to what I would say anyway

1. Freestanding is nice, but not a showstopper. Freestanding does not mean that you don’t need to stake it. It only means that you can move it after setting it up. Even under pavilions, you can tie your tent to something. Take the tent you have.
Yes you can manage without freestanding.  There is always a way to tie out the corners... picnic tables, stakes off the edge of the pad, whatever. I generally didn't bother with a rain fly when I used a tent under a roof and if the bugs aren't bad cowboy camping is an option.  These days I use a hoopless bivy or a bug bivy that isn't much more than a baggy sleeping bag cover.

2. I prefer a click-stand to a kick-stand. One or the other makes loading the panniers easier.
I am in the no kick stand camp myself.  I don't generally use panniers these days.  Depending on what bags I use they may be loaded before they are on the bike (I have used a number of unorthodox baggage styles).  Back when I used panniers they stayed mostly loaded with whatever wasn't in use.

3. I prefer a lightweight “keep honest people honest” lock, and then be careful where you leave your bike. No matter what, some acceptance of risk is required. Just keep it reasonably low.
I have pretty much the same approach.  I am very careful in places I consider higher risk and pretty casual where I see the risk as low.  Some places I don't lock and some I won't leave the bike out of my sight.  I accept the fact that at some point in my life the bike and all my gear could go missing.
 It helps that I own bikes and gear that I can afford to replace with out too much pain.  I figure that I could get going again even in the middle of a trip if I was motivated enough to do so.  On a shorter trip, I'd bail, but if I was in the middle of a multi week/month trip that I was really motivated to finish I'd buy new stuff or have things sent from home.


4. I leave my panniers on my bike at night and keep the bike close to the tent. In bear country, I put all smellies in one pannier and hang it from a tree far from my tent.
I have less gear these days and no panniers on most trips, but do some approximation of this as well.

5. I strongly recommend front panniers for better bike handling, unless you go ultralight. Yes, there is a weight penalty for this, but it’s worth it.
When I used to carry gear in panniers as I progressed through lighter packing styles I used front panniers only with the tent on top of the rear rack at one point and liked that setup pretty well.  I think that was with a base gear weight in the low 20s

Offline TCS

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2021, 03:05:06 pm »
The cats traveling on the Alaskan ferry Gorilla taped their tents to the deck.  Clever.

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yvuzwB_WycM/VYRB1-sgopI/AAAAAAAAE8Q/ckKMkK7YqtU/s1600/IMG_0305.JPG

I tour with an aluminum u-lock. It's not very heavy, it looks the business, and it's more theft resistant than a cable.

Most of your dunnage on a rear rack and in rear panniers?  With a lush budget and setting up initially, there are other, arguably better ways.  That said, it worked okay for Hemistour.  Got Fred Birchmore around the world.  By far the #1 set up on Bikecentennial in '76:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/sites/default/assets/Image/blog/2019_Blog/Bikecentennial_Summer-of-1976/BillWeir_TransAm-Group_1976(1).jpg
« Last Edit: October 14, 2021, 07:32:42 am by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline canalligators

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2021, 07:14:07 pm »
Go ahead and test-pack it rear-only.  If you are packing light, you’ll probably be ok.  BUT make sure it handles ok.  Some bikes will go into a wild shimmy if the weight isn’t balanced.  If it has problems, you’ll likely discover it in short order.

There are other ways to shift weight forward.  Put heavy things like your tools in your handlebar bag or a small frame bag in the front triangle.  Mount your water bottles as far forward as possible, under the down tube or you can get bottle carriers that mount on the fork.  Strap your sleeping gear to the handlebars.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2021, 09:29:18 pm »
If you are testing bike stability, make sure you do a fully-loaded ride up and down the steepest hills you can find.

Offline New Jawn

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2021, 12:21:13 pm »
All replies are extremely helpful.  I have zero bicycle touring experience, and I really appreciate the information and various opinions.

Just a few comments.  First, coming from the distance hiking world where it is not unusual to hear of hikers cutting off ends of toothbrushes or trimming away clothing tags and white margins around maps, I'm always thinking about weight and keeping things as light as possible.  Soooooo, that's my intro into being hesitant to add a front rack and panniers.  The Surly front rack weighs in at a bit over 3 lbs., and the Ortlieb Sport Roller Hi-Viz bags come in at 25 oz.  So to add front capacity, I'm adding 5 lbs just to carry...????  I don't know yet, but my goal is to have no more than 35 lbs of gear.  I totally get that ride stability is critical, and I get that having gear divided into 4 groups would be easier, but...   I have until May to get everything in order, so I'll keep chewing on it.   I never thought about hauling my tent/sleeping bag on the front, and never would have thought about carrying water on the front forks.   My distance hiking "skin out" weight was 32 lbs, which included 2 liters water and 4 days food. 

I have a 2021 Surly Disc Trucker, which can accept a kickstand.  Old habits are hard to put aside.

I'm not rich, so I'm going to tinker with my Shires Tarptent and see if I can add two collapasable poles rather than buying a new freestanding tent.

I had no idea that locks weigh so much, some upwards of 6 lbs.  I have a 30" Arbus chain lock that weighs 2.5 lbs.  I don't know whether to make do or upgrade.

It seems that everyone agrees to keep valuables in handlebar bag and take it with you when away from bike.  I already removed the shoulder strap, so now I'll add it back.

Last Sunday I did at 52 mile ride in 3:40.  No gear, gentle hills, light traffic, but still I was happy 'cause it was my first 50 mile ride and I didn't die.   Progress!

I'll shut up now before I get on everyone's nerves.  I have a $300-400 question that I'll pose later in the week and I want to keep in your good graces.

Thanks again for all the great info and ideas.



 

Offline John Nettles

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2021, 01:44:47 pm »
Pete is the resident weight weenie (saying that nicely and with some admiration!) and I am sure he will help you out.

As far as the shoulder strap goes on the HB bag, I would keep it off if you can carry it without one.  I use an Ortlieb and it is fine.  If I go into a grocery store or walmart, I get a cart.  If I go into most anywhere else, I can put it down beside me like in a cafe.  If at a museum, I ask if they have a locker and they usually do or will keep it for me.

The cost of a custom made lock as I described above is somewhat inexpensive, i.e. around $15 I think.  A lot of mom & pop hardware stores will make it for free assuming you buy the parts from them. Again, unless you are traveling in heavily populated places, a lock won't be used that much, maybe 10% of the time.  Rarely do you hear of an entire bike being stolen in a small town; occasionally just the electronics or something small easily removed from the bike. I personally would not carry a 2.5# lock unless traveling in a known high theft area frequently.

Ask your $400 (or $50k) question.  It is doubtful you will wear us out as long as you treat us as kindly as we treat you.

Tailwinds, John



Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2021, 03:25:17 pm »
As a thru-hiker and not a total weight weenie per se - I know what everything weighs to the gram -  I will still take it if I want or need it - I just know what the weight cost is.

I like the strap for my handlebar bag enough that I will pay the 1 oz. price.

You can by a plastic tarp at the local dollar store and with a couple of web straps make a waterproof tent or sleeping bag roll for you handle bars - could also double as a foot print. That would get some of your weight forward.

I have also seen plastic buckets, coffee containers, kitty liter buckets, etc strapped to the front forks for light and cheap front storage. Sparge tubes, tools, etc, can really add weight but don't take up much space.

Going back to the click-stand - that would also work as a tent pole and it fits in my handle bar bag. Not sure what length tent pole you need, but look at hollow plastic plant stakes at Home Depot or you garden center. Won't collapse but probable strap to your frame or rack. Cheap and light.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Online staehpj1

Re: Tents, locks, kickstands, gear protection, and hauling stuff
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2021, 05:00:14 pm »
The Surly front rack weighs in at a bit over 3 lbs., and the Ortlieb Sport Roller Hi-Viz bags come in at 25 oz.  So to add front capacity, I'm adding 5 lbs just to carry...????  I don't know yet, but my goal is to have no more than 35 lbs of gear.
Yeah, don't do that just to ballance the load.  For one thing the Surly rack is crazy heavy IMO, but even adding any front rack and panniers seems a bit much if that is your only reason as opposed to actually needing the space.  Lots of folks manage with two panniers on the rear only.  You can put a little of the weight forward with a large handlebar bag or a bar roll.

It is a little less conventional, but front only panniers is an option too.  I find the ride rock solid.

Quote
My distance hiking "skin out" weight was 32 lbs, which included 2 liters water and 4 days food.
Well unless you are going off the grid you can actually carry less when touring.  You need very little food since it is better to buy as close to where you consume it as possible.  Four days of food has to be at least 8 pounds and in most cases is probably closer to 10.  In any case food was probably a pretty good portion of your gear weight.

Quote
I had no idea that locks weigh so much, some upwards of 6 lbs.  I have a 30" Arbus chain lock that weighs 2.5 lbs.  I don't know whether to make do or upgrade.
It may depend on how/where you tour, but I have gotten by with 7 ounces of cable lock or other very light locks.

Quote
It seems that everyone agrees to keep valuables in handlebar bag and take it with you when away from bike.  I already removed the shoulder strap, so now I'll add it back.
That is one way to go and it can work well.  I have done that sometimes.  I have also used a bar roll and worn a tiny backpack.  I never carry enough in the backpack for it to be uncomfortable.  I have used the Sea2Summit 2.5 ounce Ultrasil one and have used an 18 liter one that weighed 12 ounces another time.  People say they don't like backpacks, but I found that I liked it as long as I kept it light other than on the rare ocasion where I needed to haul extra for a long stretch with no restock for 24 hours.  I'd have some extra water and food in it those days.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2021, 05:04:25 pm by staehpj1 »