What Do I Need to Bike Camp With OOFD?
The Bike. Tent. Sleeping Bag. Sleeping Pad. And the Rest.
You, yes you, can do this. You can figure out a way to get your camping gear onto your bike and ride with it. And you do not need to spend a ton of money to do so.
Attitude towards gear as sustainability and learning
Honestly, whatever works for your budget. You can go to Target today and buy a tent for $50 that will be on the lighter side and definitely will work for bike camping. And ain’t no one at OOFD gonna look at you funny. This isn’t a place where that happens. If anything, you’ll be applauded for simply making it happen.
And that is how we learn. We start with some gear, whatever we can afford. Don’t start with the cheapest of the cheap ideally. Because that thing is only gonna last you maybe one year before it ends up in the landfill. And don’t buy the most expensive because you might try it out and realize, oh shoot, actually, I now realize I would have bought something different with all that money.
Read more for suggestions and attitudes for each piece of gear needed to bike camp from your bike to tent to mug.
Get what you can afford. And make it happen. And then you will learn, from others, on the rides, about the gear they use. And you can see it in action. And get ideas for what kind of gear you want to get next. What your next upgrade might be. Or how you can actually travel with less. It is a naturally built in learning experience of bike camping with others, because you get their specific feedback on what gear they chose and why. Another reason why starting with more simple gear is better, because you know yer gonna see so much cool stuff from your riding companions, so you want to leave some space (on your bike and in your budget) to maybe get a new piece of gear that you learned about on the ride.
Some of our family rides, Sullivan (Aug ) and Shabonna (July ) have camp gear all included. Just pack a bag with your Bike, Clothes, Mug, Utensils, and Tools (as listed below - no tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad).
Same gear provided situation for youth rides. We’ll have at least one this year in collaboration with our Youth Program Partners - Bikes N Roses, West Town Bikes, The Recyclery, Chicago Adventure Therapy.
Whatever bike you ride is welcome. That is what you feel comfortable riding, right? No specific tires needed. No specific style required. We’ve had everything from light racing bikes to a 30 year old, creaky old tricycle come bike camping with us.
Certainly that 20 year old, 6 person, 20 pound Coleman tent isn’t gonna work. Just too bulky. I mean, if you can figure out a way to get it on your bike, by all means. We kinda wouldn’t mind seeing that. However, as a very rough estimate, you want a tent under 10 lbs. And ideally not much bigger than 8” x 8” x 24” packed. And that would definitely be on the bigger side. If you go to a local outdoor retailer and let them know you want a smaller, lighter “backpacking” tent (or just tell them exactly what you want it for - bike camping), and they will likely point you towards a tent that is half that size, maybe only 5 lobs and 6” x 18” when packed up.
And seriously, we have folks that bring hammocks that get as small as a 6 pack of eggs. Or others that just bring a tarp and string to keep them out of the rain. All to say, any and all shelters are welcome on OOFD rides.
The Sleeping Bag
These things are just bulky! And can be one of the harder things to figure out. Again, get what fits your budget but the more compact, the better. I usually feel like at least a 30 degree bag is good because oftentimes, those temperature rating on a bag is a bit exaggerated.
That said, if you wait for a ride in the middle of summer, you might be able to get away with a good blanket.
The Sleeping Pad
I camped for years without one. Though I will say, these are very good to have. And it's not just to have a comfier sleep (which is important - especially because oftentimes, campsites have the tent pads made of hard limestone gravel or dirt). Usually, more importantly, the pad keeps your body off the ground, and even when it is warm out, the ground can be a bit chilled and can suck the warmth right out of your body.
Bring one. Ideally not glass. Those tin camp mugs are great. Needs to be able to handle hot liquid. We really, really try to avoid single use cups. So unnecessary. So make friends with your mug. It will be with you on many adventures to come.
The Eating Utensils
A spork will do. Or grab a spoon and fork from your kitchen drawer. A plastic or metal plate or bowl or something along those lines. Again, single use plastic ain’t cool. We’ll have something for you to use in an emergency, if you forgot, but get or designate yourself a camping eating utensil. They too will be your adventure companions for years to come.
2 inner tubes that fit your wheel in case you get a flat. That’s it.
The guides are ready to help with the rest of the tools needed. That said, if you have a wrench, 2 tire levers, patch kit, and a small air pump, you are next level. Bring them. And from there, you really shouldn’t need much more. Between the guides and other riders, there usually are many more tools than needed. And if you have a major mechanical breakdown, we can help get you to the nearest bike shop which usually isn’t too far away.
More ideas for tools/repair items to bring here.
Clothes - Yes. Rain jackets are quite important. Rain pants a plus. In cooler weather, lean towards the warmer option along with gloves to keep your hands warm. Swim gear in hot months. SWMI no doubt bring your swim trunks.
The attitude - We at Out Our Front Door believe in the radical inclusion of all people on our bike camping trips. Regardless of your race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, economic status, or even the types of bikes you ride, we want you rollin’ with us. We want everyone to feel welcome. As a participant of an Out Our Front Door event, you are inherently agreeing to Ride and Let Ride.
If you exhibit any micro-aggressions observed by leaders, such as being judgmental of another’s bike, touring experience/skill, mansplaining, or generally being unfriendly you will be politely yet firmly corrected by OOFD leaders. If you commit any serious offense such as repeated unwanted flirtation, sexual harassment, overt racism, etc., you will be asked to leave the tour without a refund and will no longer be welcomed on future rides.
Learn more about the Attitude and the Atmosphere here.
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