A seasoned camper knows his stuff. He knows how to handle the elements, work with the conditions at hand, and be resourceful. He also knows what he needs from his kit, and in the case of a motorcycle camper, he knows how to pack light. Such is a seasoned camper. I’m not one of those.
I have camped four times. Twice in the wild at the ABR Festival and at the Overland Event, and twice in the back garden. My experience at ABR was bordering on a disaster which led to a more successful experience at Overland. I thought I’d look back at Camp 2.0 and review what I now use.
With so many choices of tent out there it comes down to personal preference and style of camping. I’m not someone who is going to travel and camp at every stop. This would require a small tent that could quickly be erected and stowed each day. My camping is more of a necessity at the aforementioned events. Attending the event properly requires you to be on-site and camping.
I knew I wanted a larger tent that I could stand up in. One particular tent stood out as it was aimed at the motorcycle traveller. It was the LoneRider MotoTent. There are other similar tents both in size and appearance, and cheaper options. The MotoTent does come with a whopping price tag by comparison, but so does buying multiple tents because you can’t make the correct choice.
Carrying it on the motorcycle
The packed size is probably as big as anyone would want to go on a motorcycle. It can fit comfortably across the rear seat, but I had found with my Oxford Aqua T-50 roll bag, that the overhang interfered with the opening of the aluminium panniers. I had already started to address this with stacking luggage that would sit clear of the lids. Because of this, my preference was to strap the tent to the pannier lid.
When you unpack the tent you realise what you are getting for your money. Everything about it feels quality, from the aircraft-grade aluminium poles and pegs to the pouches that contain them. The erection instructions are barely needed although it is worth a quick watch of the tent going up on YouTube. The two red poles go up the red tubes and the black pole up the black tube. The black loop defines the rear of the tent and should go in the direction of the prevailing wind.
Getting the tent up
At this stage, the tent is flat on the floor with three hoops. The rear of the tent with the sleeping compartment is pegged which allows you to shuffle the whole assembly forward. I tug on the ropes and the loops lift and you have your tent structure. Bang in a few more pegs, clip in the ground sheet and you are done.
It’s the little details I like about this tent. On the outside, there are little pockets to stuff the guide ropes when not in use. Inside there are pockets in well-thought-out places. On the wall of the sleeping compartment, there is storage and also inside the sleeping area with handy low-level pockets for stashing phones, etc. Even the ground sheet can be flipped over and displays an SOS sign should you run out of beer.
I never intended to put the bike in the tent although that’s what it was designed to be capable of. Instead, it gives me plenty of space for myself and my gear. There are a number of hooks for the hanging of gear or lanterns. With three large access flaps and the rear opening, there is plenty of ventilation and when open gives the tent a spacious feel. I opted for the awning kit which is essentially just a couple of extra poles and ropes but it works well and gives you additional sheltered living space.
Parking the rear
Early on in the camping thought process I was looking at seating and spotted a crowdfunding project by Sitpack for their Campster seat. Packing away to about the size of a litre bottle of water the seat claimed to give you the upright height of a standard chair. I got one on order and waited.
Waiting for a crowdfunding project, and one that was slightly delayed at that, meant I was still looking at other options. I was seeing a lot of love for the Heliox Chair One. Using the justification that I might have company sitting with me I bought the Heliox also.
Sitpack Campster vs Heliox Chair One
The packed Heliox is slightly larger than the Campster but not overly so. The Campster is quicker to put up. Think of it like putting up an umbrella. The Heliox is assembled as a frame and the seat fabric is then attached. The Heliox seems more stable but you are lower to the ground. Getting up is like getting up from a squat. The Campster is taller but with more movement, almost like a bum hammock. The movement was initially a concern both in the sense of stability and sturdiness. You get used to it and it’s proved not to be a problem.
There is no clear winner and I find that I throw the Campster in my panniers with its handy shoulder strap for day trips. The Heliox is better for longer sessions sitting outside the tent.
To sleep, perchance to dream,
Other than the tent the main issue to be solved was my sleeping arrangements. The mummy sleeping bag was not suited to my sleeping style. I need movement and I spend most of the night doing a Crocodile death roll. Additionally the cheap inflatable mattress I started with really wasn’t cutting it (and that was before it popped).
The camp cot
I had taken advice and bought an FE Active cot bed from Amazon. At least two of my contacts swore by these as a game-changer. The problem was that while not particularly bulky, it was an additional item to carry and the sum of the parts was increasing.
The next item chose itself. I had been given the advice to look no further than the Thermarest mattress and with a possible winter camp on the cards, I was looking at the NeoAir Xtherm Max ultralight winter mattress. It’s the long wide one to accommodate my frame and that bugger ain’t cheap, certainly not compared to your budget Amazon alternatives. I agonised over the decision and placed it in the basket and removed it a couple of times before committing to the purchase.
I shouldn’t of worried. As with the tent you get what you pay for. The quality is lush. The construction and the material it’s made of are very sturdy and the valve is excellent. We aren’t talking about some lilo inflation valve. This has been engineered. It will lock in place for easy inflation and deflation. While it comes with an inflation sack and I have since bought a micro pump, I can easily inflate it by mouth without going blue and passing out.
The size and thickness are perfect and when paired with the camp cot bed we are bordering on home comforts. The final part of the puzzle would be to find an acceptable sleeping bag to match my criteria.
This would prove to be a hard one to solve. It had to be rectangular. It had to be three seasons. Most of all it needed to be able to be packed away relatively small. I was collecting ‘essential’ items at an alarming rate and I was conscious that these needed to be carried on a motorcycle safely without hindering my riding.
The sleeping bag
The answer came in the form of the Berghaus Transition 200C. For a rectangular bag it will pack down to an acceptable size and there is plenty of room inside for movement. I don’t feel restricted in it in any way. What else is there to say about it? It’s red and I’ve had a few good night’s sleep in it now.
An honourable mention should be given to my pillow which I love. It’s a little inflatable pillow from Jökel of Sweden. It’s very small when packed and when inflated it’s very soft and almost like a normal pillow.
One more thing…
No write-up can be complete without an appreciative mention of the toilet. Especially so for us gents of a certain age.
4 thoughts on “On the road with camp 2.0”
I admire your perseverance. In cost terms,
When will the payback/ breakeven point be compared to staying in relative comfort at a nearby Travelodge?
It made me laugh that one of the Internet sensation vloggers at ABR would rather have his teeth pulled out without anaesthesia than sleep in a tent!
The payback will never come in monetary terms. I’m a five star hotel guy but I have to believe that there is an overland adventurer inside. 😁