So, one of my goals for taking trips on the bike is to do so in a self-sufficient manor. Along the lines of the cowboys riding with their herds taking only what they needed to survive and camping out under the stars when they are too tired to ride any longer. There are a few ways to do this, and lots of people stay in cabins or hotels/motels along the way, but I wanted to camp. Full on tent and fire and dehydrated camp food at the end of the day.
In order to do this, I had to rethink my existing camping strategy, which has been to take a mansion of a tent (10-man, 3 rooms), drop it on the ground, take the hour to set it up and then start loading it with a double-height queen-sized air mattress, sheets, carpet for the tent floor, table and chairs (still in the tent) and bedside table. Works great when you have a car, but there is no way I could fit all that on the back of Raven. I had to downsize on everything.
First thing, and main thing, was to get a new tent. All that was going to be needed from the tent was a place to lay down and sleep away from bugs and rain. It needed to have a vestibule to store the gear when I took it off the bike for the night. Just somewhere to store it out of the direct rain.
Next was the chairs and tables. There is no way I could pack up the full sized folding chairs and the large table and strap them on the bike. The table itself was 6 feet across and weighed over 30 pounds. So a new chair was searched for and found. When packaged, it is less than 14″ long and 4″ square! I decided the old bedside table could be used, it was the same size as the new tent folded up. I can still use the same sleeping bag and floor mat (though that will be replaced this year, it has a leak.)
A couple other things I am putting together is 2 fuel bottles that will be able to carry gas for the bike as well as a camp stove that runs on anything flammable, including unleaded gasoline. This means I can not only use the stove fuel to cook with, but I can have 60 ounces of reserve gasoline for the bike. I also picked up some quick-dry camp towels; one large for a shower, 2 smaller ones for face/hands and such. There is a small camp pot with 2 cups for boiling water – I am using the dehydrated packets from Mountain House, which only needs hot water. I am thinking of getting a small coffee press for coffee that is better than instant. I also need to get a water bladder for carrying water to use at the camp. I still need to pick up the stove and a camping pillow, but those will come long before I am ready to actually camp.
As you can see in this photo, things compress pretty well. The blue roll is the sleeping mat. The Helinox is my chair. the green bag is the tent and the black bag under the tent is the dry bag. The black bag on the left is my current sleeping bag. Unfortunately, that is as small as it gets. At some point, I will probably get a proper backpacking bag, but those can get expensive. The small table is not in this photo but it is about the same size as the blue sleeping mat that is in the front. The large dry bag will probably carry the clothing and other textiles. My cold weather gear (for now), rain gear, extra clothes, towels, TP (in a ziplock) and other things that must stay dry.
Seeing as how everything has to compress down quite a bit to load on the bike, some will go in the saddlebags, I have a large dry bag and there is plenty of room for some of the smaller stuff in Raven’s “frunk” or Front Trunk. I have a nice backpack which has been working great for commuting and has hydration capabilities. I have a small drybag that mounts on the backpack for the electronics I plan on taking (phone, camera, charging cables and batteries and memory). All in all, I know everything will fit (people have fit more) but it will be a puzzle for me. Once the saddlebags arrive, I can start working on how to mount everything on the bike. Should not be too much of an issue. Just have to get the right cords.
I actually spent very little as everything was received from sale prices on previous year gear to trades for work. Even the towels were buy one, get one free. All in all, it was more about wrapping my mind around seeing this as an extension of backpacking. Small, light gear with minimum comfort to be safe. I’m getting there.