Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

All the different ways of solving the shelter problem. To be static or mobile? Roots, legs, or wheels?
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frugaldoc
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Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by frugaldoc »

I am heading to Vermont in May. Instead of staying in hotels for the entire 10 days I thought about doing some camping. My thinking is that a foregoing 4-5 nights in a hotel should pay for my camping equipment bought new in VT at REI or some other outdoor store. I have a lot of camping and backpacking equipment but I can't be dragging that around from Japan to all the locations I will be traveling to before ending up in VT. What I purchase in VT I will just leave in VT at a friends house for future use. All of my equipment is 10-15 years old so I am not sure what the good stuff is anymore. Does anyone have recommendations for the following:

1. Tent: 3 season two person
2. Sleeping pad: I am 6'2"
3. Down sleeping bag: rated down to 20-30F

Total budget $600-800 but less is better.

While I'll be transporting this equipment around in a rental car, ideally it will be light/compact enough to be used on future backpacking trips.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

jacob
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by jacob »

If you already have a lot of equipment, you could mail a package of what you already have to your friend in VT.

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Jean
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by Jean »

You sound like you already know how to chose good camping gear.
I don't understand what kind of advice do you want.

frugaldoc
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by frugaldoc »

@jacob: I am on a ship currently away from my home in Japan and will not have the opportunity to pack stuff up and mail it. Plus it takes about 21 days for mail to go from Japan to US.

@Jean: when I bought my gear years ago (I am guessing it is now 15+ years ago) there were not so many brands. When I go on REI's website I am confronted with a plethora of choices beyond North Face and Kelty. Also, technology changes. Probably not in camping gear but who knows. MT Bikes changed substantially while I wasn't looking: disc brakes, single chain rings, etc. I thought someone might have some gear they love that they would recommend.

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Jean
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by Jean »

Most notable change is that synthetic sleeping bag are now much better than before, so you might consider them over a down sleeping bag, because they are cheaper, and still much less sensitive to humidity than down sleeping bags.
Besides that, I'm not very aware of what brands are availlable in north america.

mir
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by mir »

I am preparing for a bikepacking trip and I am browsing reddit for info, the bikepacking group. Maybe search for similar groups.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by AxelHeyst »

Tent: REI brand half dome. On the heavy side but it’s easy to blow you’re whole budget on light tents.
Sleeping pad: Zlite closed cell foam (accordian folding pad). Some people love these, some hate. They are cheap and impossible to destroy. With the skill of ground selection and possibly rearrangement of leaf litter you can make the sleep softer. Some people sleep very poorly on them, though, and ‘need’ inflatable.
Sleeping bag: you might consider a quilt. Many people do these now. I have a UGQ 20F quilt and love it. [UGQ Outdoors Bandit Quilt 20 Degree 800 Fill, found 50% off on ebay.]

Caveat: I’ve not backpacked in Vermont climate.
Last edited by AxelHeyst on Mon Apr 01, 2024 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jean
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by Jean »

my zlite would qualify as destroyed for most people i think. i bought it in 2010.
It was a very good buy.
It works fine down to about freezing temperature.

frugaldoc
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by frugaldoc »

mir wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2024 9:35 am
I am preparing for a bikepacking trip and I am browsing reddit for info, the bikepacking group. Maybe search for similar groups.
Thanks. Unfortunately the DOD blocks websites like reddit so I am utilizing the collective wisdom of this crowd.

And thank you all for the input. I'll take a look at the items you mentioned when I have more bandwidth.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@frugaldoc - There have been a lot of improvements and innovations with ultralight gear over the last 10 years. That may be why you are seeing so many more options. You might approach looking at potential gear in three buckets (camping, backpacking, and ultralight backpacking). There have been some impressive DIY ultralight examples on the forums, but that likely isn't an option for you at this point.

One option you might explore is looking at second hand gear stores in Vermont. There are many of these stores in the PNW, and I'm guessing they are around in the NE or Vermont as well. They usually have good quality stuff with helpful staff. You might even be able to rent gear, or purchase it with an understanding that they'd buy it back after your trip. Of course, another option is just to ask any local friends if you could borrow their car camping gear - and potentially invite them along.

If you are looking to buy and hold onto new gear, it is probably important to know your min/max potential base weight for your kit. I've slowly started purchasing ultralight gear because shedding pounds feels so much better as I get older. The tradeoff is that a lot of the ultralight gear isn't as durable, so you might not be able to rely on it for 10+ years like you did in the past.

The Half Dome that @AxelHeyst mentioned above is a classic backpacking tent. I've used it on trips with my BIL and his family and it is very durable and roomy for a 2-person tent, but I think it weighs about 5 pounds. I used a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight for about 15 years and it weighed a little over three pounds. While the Half Dome looked nice at a good price point, I couldn't justify the extra two pounds. I ultimately upgraded to a Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 person tent when REI had a sale a couple years ago. The purchase was somewhat dictated by what kind of tents were available during one of REI's 20% off sales. The weight and size are great, but it is very thin and required purchasing a footprint.

I use a Nemo Sleeping pad which I picked up used at an REI garage sale. I can't recall the exact model, but it is basically a really lightweight inflatable pad (almost like a pool floaty). I've probably used it for at least 6-7 seasons without any issues. DW uses an REI brand with an internal pump that is very comfortable, but still a reasonable weight and packs down fairly small.

I've never spent much on sleeping bags. I still have an old Sierra Designs entry level bag, and I picked up a Merrell synthetic bag for $50 at a REI garage sale years ago. They both work for 3-season camping as long as I have some warm clothes and a stocking cap.

Also, REI has a great return policy, so you could potentially try out some gear and return it if it isn't what you are looking for in the future.

At your price point, you could probably buy a really nice lightweight tent and sleeping pad, and just get an entry level sleeping bag. It is only worth spending the money IMO if you know you are going to use the gear at least a few times a year in the near future.

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Ego
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by Ego »

I sell a lot of second-hand gear, which gives me insights into what fails and what is underpriced.

I would feel comfortable buying a second-hand sleeping bag from afar. Consider searching ebay/mercari by loft then sort by price. Both of our sleeping bags are short-lived/unusual brands or from the 80s- 90s that used 800-900 loft down, high quality zippers and lightweight nylon in their bags. Super high quality, but few people search for them. These were made before planned-obsolescence hit the outdoor market, so they were built to last.

Some brands to watch for are Snowlion, A16, Adventure16, Trailwise, Berkeley Ski Hut, Powerhorn Mountaineering, Holubar Mountaineering, LaFuma, Marmot Mountain Works, Moonstone, Salewa, Bugaboo, Sierra Designs (with funky colors), and MEC. Make sure they look puffy in the photos as down can get crushed if stored compressed and will lose its loft.

I've sold about sixty tents since the end of covid. A good REI half-dome like AH said above cannot be beat for all around use. They fail in a variety of ways so if you buy second-hand be sure to buy it in person and set it up.

You can get a simple Thermarest inflatable very inexpensively second-hand. Their older models are good, a bit heavy and made to last forever. They can be repaired. The newer models are super light, fragile, surprising loud to sleep on. The cheap walmart mats are pretty good value.

Also, I believe you are in Japan? Right now the yen is weak so you may be able to find high-end Japanese products, which are generally very good quality, for a great price. Snow Peak and Montbell in particular.

https://www.fieldmag.com/articles/japan ... oor-brands

Some of the obscure ultralight brands on that list provide a good opportunity to arbitrage. For instance, the Locus Gear tents sell for a few hundred dollars in Japan but fetch hundreds more on ebay.

jacob
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by jacob »

frugaldoc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2024 9:03 am
@jacob: I am on a ship currently away from my home in Japan and will not have the opportunity to pack stuff up and mail it. Plus it takes about 21 days for mail to go from Japan to US.
Okay, I'll make one last stand for an alternate strategy. While it probably won't solve this problem this time, it might work next time for a similar problem or maybe for some other forumite. So, here's to whom it might be helpful...
  • An effective strategy for getting your stuff sent to you is to have a trusted person with a key and a camera and the willingness to do you a favor. Ask them to take pictures of your stuff. You pick the stuff you need from the pictures and have them send it to you. This approach is usually pretty robust in terms of signal/noise. Of course, now you owe them a big favor 8-) Otherwise, it requires planning ahead and sending your stuff to yourself.
Side-note: I/we personally mostly do car-camping, so going heavy is not a huge cost although it still sucks to pack and unpack the car. If that's the goal, I think Walmart and/or military surplus stores are rather underrated in terms of value for money. Indeed, we often bring non-camping equipment when going camping. For example, my preferred sleeping mat is a normal quilted bedspread from a normal bed but "folded just right". Likely better than any partially misspelled brand name pad in terms of comfort. As with everything, camping comes in a range from fast-paced ultra-light ... to pioneering. Ignoring that range, people often tend to settle on a fashionable solution (currently high-techy and expensive) even when it's not optimal for what they're actually doing in the woods. If you're car camping, you don't need to spend extra dollars on ultralite. I mean, you're driving to the site; you're only carrying the gear from the car to the tent, extra volume or weight is not a big problem. (I might be missing parts of the/your plan though. That's okay.)

Ideally maybe that's a better way. It's cheaper than a hotel and you can always dump it to a shelter or goodwill after you're done with it. You still save money. Heck, it might even be deductable for charity. Unless this is a strategy to replace old but probably still functional stuff with new stuff,.. :? ... but then I feel like I might need to provide an intervention as it may be ;)

thef0x
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by thef0x »

I'd strongly recommend buying from the subreddit "ULgeartrade" given your budget parameters as you'll get 2x the quality for the same price (obv you have to be cool with used gear). Plenty of MYOGers (make your own gear) who sell their stuff there as well.

Everyone is different but I personally prefer foam pads instead of air pads. They don't pop, you don't fall off of them, no slipping, and I like being closer to the ground / my arms and legs flay out most nights so it feels more comfortable. Having tried a ton of pads, my favorite is still a Stansport 5/8ths inch full length. It's only ~11oz too, so I'd call that ultralight (e.g. easy to get to sub10lbs baseweight with this pad). $30.

If you do backpack, you keep the pad on the exterior of your pack, so when you're taking a break, slap it down and sit comfortably with friends.

If you have time, you could try sourcing sleeping bags from Aliexpress but I'd do some research on r/ultralight before buying. I've liked the brand "Naturehike" -- they make an insanely warm 6oz puffy jacket I swear by. There are ethical implications for the sourcing of down so worth researching.

Quilt vs bag -- like @Axel I prefer a quilt b/c of it's flexibility. I'd check out the "Burrow" by Hammock Gear (no need to use a hammock) as an affordable entry outside of aliexpress. Two buds have purchased and enjoyed theirs.

Tent: I'd either go ultra low end / heavy / cheap and donate it after OR grab something worth reusing multiple times. I think "The Two" by Gossamer Gear comes in at an affordable price point for what you're getting and would try to sleuth a used one.

If you want to really develop skills, find someone with a sewing machine, check out r/MYOG and get started! Feel free to steal my 2p bug tarp design, I tried to make it as simple as possible re cutting / sewing: https://imgur.com/a/ccxQjAw

frugaldoc
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by frugaldoc »

I wanted to thank everyone for the thoughtful suggestions provided. It was a whirlwind of activity and travel since the end of our spring patrol, so I have not been very active online for the past two month.

It appears there have been some advances in equipment in the last two decades. I actually discovered one of the pilots on our ship makes his own ultralight backpacking gear. He even has a sewing machine on the ship so that he can keep at his hobby while underway.

jacob
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by jacob »

frugaldoc wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2024 7:20 am
It appears there have been some advances in equipment in the last two decades. I actually discovered one of the pilots on our ship makes his own ultralight backpacking gear. He even has a sewing machine on the ship so that he can keep at his hobby while underway.
Brilliant! So did he give you some tips/did you make something?

(I'm curious how much personal stuff are people allowed to bring aboard? I presume it's not infinite, so the limit would enforce a certain level of prioritization/minimalism for those who like to DIY. It would even seem like a good idea if large ships had some kind of makerspace for the crew.)

frugaldoc
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Re: Tent and sleeping bag recommendations sought

Post by frugaldoc »

Alas no, I haven't acquired any skills from him. But it was interesting to learn that people have that as a hobby.

As an officer we have more space than the enlisted, but it still isn't much. Most staterooms house 1-4 people depending upon rank and position. Department heads have their own rooms....except for me who has to share my room with someone from the fleet surgical team (FST) when the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is on board. But at least I have the bottom bunk. There is probably 35 square feet of walkable space and we each have our own wardrobe for our many uniforms and a few civilian clothes. And we each have a desk which folds out from another wall storage unit. The desk would have space for a sewing machine. We share a bathroom with the room next to us. When I have my room to myself, which I do most of the time, I actually don't mind it except for the noise. There are ventilation ducts going through my room that produce a pretty constant 70 decibel background noise. And then there are the chains dragging over the flight deck by the Air Department. Don't even get me started on that.

But Jacob, if you can make your way to San Diego in November/December of 2025, I'll give you a tour before we go into drydock.

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