Going camping by bike is our favorite thing to do here at RideApart. Whether you’re riding far out into the woods to camp, swim, climb or just saving money on travel expenses, there’s nothing quite like riding your motorcycle all day, then cuddling it all night. Here’s the basics you need to go motorcycle camping on a budget.
The Half Dome 2 is incredibly popular for a reason: it’s a good value and it works. Two vestibules and two doors make it easy to store your smelly gear outside where it won’t get wet, while the frame creates the most interior volume possible in a tiny footprint. Almost perfectly square inside, you can sit up on the edges just as well as you can in the middle. It’s also easy to set up or take down, even in the dark or in bad weather. This “Plus” version is 10 inches longer and four inches wider than the standard Half Dome 2, meaning there’s more than enough space to stretch out, even if you take a dog or extra gear along. RideApart staffer, Wes Siler just carried one up Bishop Pass into Dusty Basin and says this thing works like a charm. We recommend the accompanying footprint as well.
Wes has used one of these for nearly three years now, on at least a dozen adventures and used it in temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. While he says that night got pretty cold, the 20-degree rating means it’s comfy down to about freezing. If you’re planning colder temperatures, add a cheap fleece sleeping bag liner for some additional warmth. Down sleeping bags like this one are great because they provide the highest warmth to volume ratio (they pack down small), but the downside to down is it loses its insulative ability if you get it wet. Wes packs his into a Kriega US-10 drybag to prevent that.
The Snow Leopard is my sleeping bag of choice as the plusher synthetic insulation is far more plush than the very-thin down alternative. Plus, its rated to 12 degrees, meaning it’s comfy down to about 25. The tradeoff is that it’s heavier and larger than its down counterparts, but I bought it as it was the biggest one I could stuff into a 20 liter Sea To Summit Compression Dry Sack. That makes it a great alternative if you want added warmth and comfort, but don’t plan on hiking and space isn’t at a premium.
The Therm-a-Rest Z lite sleeping pad is a full length, foam sleeping pad. One side is aluminized to help reflect body heat back to you, and the egg crate pattern was designed both for comfort and to trap pockets of warm air under your sleeping bag. We don’t think the Therm-a-Rest is quite as comfortable as an inflatable pad, but love that we don’t have to inflate/deflate it on those long trips where we’re just stopping to sleep for the night and then getting back on the road the following morning.
We were extremely skeptical that a pillow could pack down small enough to make it worth carrying along, but this Therm-A-Rest proves us wrong. Not only does it pack down to the size of a small burrito, but it provides all-night comfort. It takes a while to puff back up to size after you un-stuff it, but once it’s back up to size, it’s as comfortable as the pillows on your bed at home.
At just $10 more than Black Diamond’s base model, the Cosmo brings Lumens up to 70 with a 40 meter throw. Multiple brightness settings make it practical whether your preparing food or hiking a dark trail and its swiveling design allows you to dial in the angle. The three AAA batteries give it a life of 43 hours on high and 250 on low. It’s water-resistant, but not water-proof.
A knife is one of the most versatile tools you can carry. Camping, you can use them to open cans, remove splinters, cut your food, hammer in tent pegs, dig holes or to scare off the odd mountain lion. Fixed blades like this Clipper won’t break or jam, making them much more practical outdoors. And Mora’s high-carbon steel manages to be easy to sharpen while holding a wicked edge. This thing is seriously rugged, low price or no.
And that’s really all you need beside food, water and maybe some entertainment. Been bike camping recently? What worked tools, tips and products worked for you? Also, where did you go?
Gear: Spidi Expedition 103 Tent
Road Trip: Sean’s Westcoast Roadtrip - Part 1
Road Trip: Sean’s Westcoast Roadtrip - Part 2