NEW TO THE CLUB AND WANT TO COME ALONG TO A RALLY ?
Not camped before ? Here's a rough guide to camping....
One of the most popular events and pastimes within the club has always been camping at one of our fantastic rallys. It is a great way of getting to know people, enjoy a great ride - out, have a few beers and mix with good like minded company. However choosing the right gear that can be safely loaded onto a motorcycle and still give you home comforts can be a formidable task. I remember John Robinson saying to me "you will soon get to know what's hot and what's not and it will cost you a few quid in doing so! " John was absolutely right but it needn't cost the earth if you get it right to start with .Camping with a pillion can be an even more daunting affair and some of the clubs GS riders astound me with what they can actually get on their bikes ! But evetually you get it all down to a fine art.
This section is a rough guide and by no means a singing endorsement of the products listed, but hopefully if you are new to the club and feel like you want to come along and join in all the fun of a rally , then this guide may be of help , particulary if you have not camped before.
Great advice is always on hand so please dont be afraid to ask.
TENTS. Modern day tents are fantastic, they pitch quickly and are 100% waterproof, they are also very light. Ideally for space and biker gear storage, I would look at a 3 man tent with a porch that weighs under 5 kilos. Also look at the Hydrostatic rating, the higher the better but that usually means a higher price too! A HH rating of 3000 would be ideal. Some bikers are way past doing roly polys to get their clothes on and off and prefer to have a tent that you can stand up in, again this is a compromise because these tents usually come in at around 10 kilos and pack up fairly large but many of our members use large tents and manage to get them on a bike two up ! But technology is getting better all the time and manufacturers are now out putting some great ligtweight and small pack size tents that you can stand up in.
Above : Kyham Biker a firm favourite with bikers.
FOR: Goes up in minutes being part of the Kyham rapid pitch range.
AGAINST : Reasonably heavy and bulky for its size and no supplied ground sheet in porch area.
Above: Vango Alpha 300
FOR: Lighweight, cheap around £60 with Sewn In Ground sheet and small when packing away.Porch area for storing gear, spacious interior.
AGAINST : Pitches inner first not everyones cup of tea.
Above: Vango Galaxy 300
FOR: Unbelievably compact tent that was designed
and created based on feedback from youth group leaders. Constructed with a large front porch so you can stand up, storage and keeping dry, whilst the bedroom is lower therefore keeping the user warmer through the night. The clip in riser porch ground sheet allows a clean dry storage area whilst reducing draughts.
AGAINST:. The raked front is not good when it is raining so you will probably still need to buy a tarp. Rather odd looking.
Above: Wild Country Etesian 4
FOR : A tent you can stand up in all the way through, lightweight weighing in at just 6kgs. Sewn in ground sheet that can be unzipped in the front . Small pack up size . Excellent quality . Extra light Aluminum poles. 4 person so plenty of room for gear.
AGAINST : Not cheap with an RRP at just over £400 and probably pitches best with two people.Users have also reported that the sewn in ground sheet allows water ingress when compressed against the ground.
Above: Vango Omega 250/350
FOR: A very spacious tent that again is a firm favourite at bike rallies,there is only a small amount of difference in pack size and weight between the 250 and 350 with most opting for the more spacious 350. Probably the most popular tent for rallies and touring on a bike.
AGAINST: Again not the most petite of tents for motorcycle touring and side entrance only.
SLEEPING MATS. Again just three words Modern Day Technology . Modern sleeping mats are fantastic , most inflate on their own , roll up small when packed away, keep you warm whilst keeping the cold out with some going down to as low as minus 17 ! They also give a very comfortable nights sleep. This is one area I would not skimp on. Staying warm and getting a good nights sleep is a must. DO NOT be tempted to buy one of those inflatable flock matresses, they look very comfy but draw in all the cold from the ground, after a few hours on one of those you will be frozen to the core.Self inflating thermal camping mats are specially designed to reflect the cold , keeping you warm and the cold out . Many bikers swear by Exped mats ( most are not self inflating but have a built in hand pump ) such as the downmat 9 or the syn mat 7 or if its real comfort you are after then the Exped megamat 10.Yes they are expensive but have a proven track record and are the number one choice for all year round camping,I use a synmat 7xl ,other great mats are made by Thermorest and Vango.
Above. Exped Synmat 7
Above: Exped Synmat 7 Ultra Lite fits in the palm of your hand.
Above: Expeds exceedingly comfy Megamat 10. A 7.5cm version is also available.
Above: The Luxurious Outwell Dreamboat Single, a 7.5 cm thermal self inflating mat.
SLEEPING BAGS & PILLOWS This is another area that should not be skimped on. However you must decide how often you are going to camp. If you are like some seasoned hard campers then it will be all year round and this will mean using a four season bag. I dont like the mummy style bags as I feel too constricted but I only camp during the summer. Sleeping bags vary enourmously in price with some costing more than a double divan. A two season bag should be just fine if you camp only in the summer months.For pillows, some people just stuff clothes into the sleeping bag sack or you can buy a self inflating pillow or take a pillow from home, they lay reasonably flat in a roll bag and can give you that at home feeling for a better nights sleep. At the end of the day it horses for courses.
Above: Typical Mummy style sleeping bag by Vango
Above: A more traditional square xl bag from Vango.
Above. Self inflating pillow.
Above: Vango self inflating pillow in its bag.
DITCH THE TOP BOX . Yes seriously that £500 top box is only good for storing a couple of helmets and is about as useful as a chocolate fire guard when camping/touring on a motorcycle. A great way of getting all your gear on your bike is to replace the top box (temporarily of course ) with a large water proof roll top storage bag. A firm favourite is The Outboard Ninja, its 100% waterpoof and has a massive 130 litres of storage. You can get all of your gear into one of these pups, leaving your side panniers for carrying essentials like beer ! Many people make up a board to go across the rack and strap their bags down onto this. If travelling solo they can also easily be strapped to the rear seat. Other popular makes of roll bags are Lomo and Ortlieb.
Above : Outboard Ninja a monsterous 130 litre beast of a bag
Above: Lomo 60 litre Motorcycle Dry bag. Very well made and a good price and extremely popular.
Above : Ortilieb 60 litre Duffle Bag.Expensive but very popular.
TABLE & CHAIRS. Ok you are going to need something to sit on and you will want some kind of table to sit at to cook meals etc. But modern technology comes to our aid again. Helinox make chairs and tables that pack away to no more than shoe shine size bags and are extremely popular. Those folding chairs you see in garages etc for around £6.99 are ok if you weigh under 10 stone, if not, they will not last the day out. I use a flat folding chair that sits on my rack and my roll bag sits on top of it weighing it down.The Helinox chair ones are not cheap at around £80.These little chairs are made of DAC aircraft aluminum and have a 23 stone weight rating so incredibly strong. If you are under 14 stone then you can get Chinese knock offs on places like EBay for around £29.99.
Above: The fantastic Helinox Chair One
Above: The Chair One fits into the palm of your hand , weighs only 900grams or 2lb in old fashion money.
Above: Common old garden chair ideal because it folds completely flat and costs around £10
Above: The Helinox Table One.
Above: Fold away lightweight aluminium table with slatted top this one is from Argos and all packs away in a draw string bag.
STOVES. Did you know that there is a huge group of people called fettlers who love to restore and use old fashioned camping stoves ? In fact I use one, a fantastic little Optimus 8R petrol stove. When it comes to your cooking medium the world is your oyster. If you want to keep it simple then opt for good old gas canisters, however you can quickly get through them in no time at all. Many people use multi stoves, these can run on a whole range of fuels and are great if you are wilderness camping. A firm no frills favourite is the good old Trangia, I also have the complete Trangia UL25 set with 1 litre kettle but replaced the frying pan with a non stick one from Tescos ( I removed the handle ) this still acts as the lid when it all gets packed away like Russian dolls. I had a non stick Trangia set but the non stick coating came off very easily so I exchanged it for a plain aluminum set. Trangias run on meths in their original form but the downside here is that they tend to burn an awful lot of the stuff. Trangia in recent years have introduced a gas burner and a multi stove that will fit inside their kits. Another popular stove is the Coleman 533, a Tonka toy of the stove world which runs on unleaded petrol or Coleman's own fuel which is expensive. Many people use car body panel wipe ( Naphtha )which is used in the car spraying trade as it is the same stuff but far cheaper to buy. But of course the great thing about a petrol stove is that you always have fuel with you. At the end of the day its what ever is best and most convenient for you.
Above: A Trangia 25 UL set with 1 litre kettle everything packs away like Russian dolls.
Above: Trangia with traditional meths burner.
Above: A typical multi fuel stove this one is an Optimus Nova.
Above: An Optimus Hiker an updated version of the now classic Hunter 8R , expensive but small and compact and runs on petrol. Russian versions can be found on the net at a fraction of the price and work very well.
Above: Coleman 533 Dual Fuel Stove. Very popular choice runs on Coleman White fuel or unleaded petrol.
Above: The very familar camping gaz stove.
TARPS. Tarps are a great way of extending your living space if you have a small tent and have become very popular over recent years. Usually they come with a single pole and guys so take up very little room.They can give you welcome shade when its hot or somewhere to sit when its raining .Without doubt, currently the Vango adventure tarp seems to be a firm favourite . However there are a few great choices out there and one of the largest and best is the Zempire dome awning which is seven feet high at the front, expensive at around £75 but a great addition.
Above: The very popular Vango Adventure Tarp.
Above: Zempire Dome Awning Tarp in conjunction with a Vango Alpha 300 dome tent.
STRAPS. For securing your bag and other gear to the bike I am only going to reccommend one product, ROK STRAPS!
ACCESSORIES: Dont forget a plate / bowl / mug and cutlery/beer glass . A torch ( head torches are good )or a small LED lantern to hang in the tent. Something to light your stove. Some additional guys and pegs. A peg puller and someting to knock them in with ( I use a small rubber mallet)