Eat well and Sleep well. Travel with a smile

A listener to Adventure Rider Radio RAW show was in touch asking for thoughts on camping gear. He’d listened to the relevant show and wondered if there were any more tips.
He asked, ‘What type of tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag have you found to work best for temperate to “warm” weather & rain? 8C to 20C overnight.

Well, my motto is ‘Eat well and sleep well and you’ll travel with a smile.’ I try to plan for more extreme conditions with gear that will adapt. Here are some thoughts:

Bush Camping in Tanzania

Bush Camping in Tanzania


TENT:
• If I’m solo I always go for a 2 person tent. 2 of us, and a 3 person tent. Space for gear etc. It’ll be your home.
• It has to have two entrances with mosquito netting on both so a breeze can blow through. Perfect for hotter climes.
• I don’t like tents with more netting than that because in dusty areas they let the smaller particles of dust float in over me and my gear on windier days. A true grit experience : )
• All that netting is also cold – a ‘solid’ inner keeps an amazing amount of warmth in.
• If the weather is cold, any condensation (breath) forms on the tent fly and then drips through the mossie netting onto you. No fun eh.
• The fly sheet needs to go down almost to the ground. This cuts down on unwanted breeze, rain splatter onto the inner, and stops snow build up drifting in if you are unlucky with the weather.
• Try to find a tent with two porches – great for storing wet gear.
• Try to find a tent that has at least 8″ to a 1 foot overhand over the tent inner doorways. That way in stormy weather you’ll not be dripping so much into the tent. (On that subject, in rainy weather I always roll up the contents of my tent and put it away from the entrance. That way if I do drip inside, I have a plain groundsheet to wipe dry – I’ve not dripped on my sleeping bag etc.
• I much prefer a dome tent as its free standing. That means whatever the ground is like you are not totally dependant on pegs. A dome tent is also great to use in car parks and on flat hotel roofs. Inside new friends garages etc – you can keep the bugs out by using at least the inner.
• I also look for a tent that isn’t tall. I need to be able to comfortably sit up in it but I don’t want it catching the wind in storms etc.
• I pay a lot of attention to the number of guy lines and where they are positioned. The more the better frankly.
• What I’ve described usually fits within the 3 Season tent category.
• Oh and the best quality Y shaped tent pegs are the go. They cope with just about anything.
• A final thought. If you are heading for mostly warm country then go for a lighter coloured tent. It soaks up less heat. Cold country and a darker tent. If you are into photography and less into wild camping then go for a brightly coloured tent. It’ll show up better in landscapes

SLEEPING PAD/MAT:
• Mats are important not only because they give you something softer to lay on but they are warmer – when it’s cold, much of the cold seeps into you from the ground.
• Conversely, when its hot, and the ground has been soaking up the sun all day, a good mat will stop you feeling like you are laying on a griddle!
• I usually go for a Thermarest. There’s one that self inflates to approx 1 1/2″ in depth
• 3/4 length only because it rolls up smaller which makes a huge difference re carrying it.
• I use my bike jacket for the missing quarter. Does the job and gives you a good storage space for it. I also use a fleece pullover as a pillow and that also helps with the missing 1/4
• One of the reasons I like Thermarest is that they don’t crunch and squeak when you roll over.
• There’s also a sort of ‘sling’ from Thermarest that you can use to turn your mat into a chair.
• One final reason for a 3/4 length. When its really cold I can use my aluminium water bottle as a hot waterbottle in the feet area without risking damaging the sleeping mat.

SLEEPING BAG:
• I like a mummy shape bag but there has to be room for my feet to move.
• Check the length of the bag suits you. Does it have a drawstring hood and will it fit over your head.
• I prefer a 3 season down bag – they fold up much smaller than a manmade one that’ll give the same warmth.
• If it gets damp, I just hang it up at the first opportunity. I travel with it in a waterproof bag which means that if my luggage leaks I don’t have to worry and also I can get it from my bike into my tent without it getting wet.
• I always use a silk or light cotton sleeping bag liner – both for additional warmth when needed, and for something to lay in when its hot. I just slip a corner of the sleeping bag over me in the cooler night hours.
• A liner also doubles up as a sarong for midnight toilet dashes or morning meanders to the showers.
• And its really easy to wash and dry along the way – unlike your sleeping bag.

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