Sierra Designs Vapor Light 2 Man Tent (Packed size: 6 x 20 inches; Weight: 3 pounds 11 ounces; $299): I love the Vapor Light series by Sierra Designs. Most ultra-light tents lack the durability and weatherproofing that the Vapor Light 2 offers. The walls of the freestanding tent are steeper than most, which maximizes the usable interior space. The 8-square-foot vestibule is just enough for your boots and helmet. It’s quick and easy to set up; less than three or four minutes when you learn how to do it. Being macho biker types, we brought along two tents. The other was the Vapor Light 1 that’s a little smaller (Packed Size: 4 x 19 inches; Weight: 3 pounds 3 ounces; $250). If you want to go even lighter, buy the one-man version, which was still long enough for my 6-foot 2-inch frame, but offers no internal storage (still enough room for boots under the vestibule). The Vapor Light series has plenty of pockets and places to store gear and hang a light.
Sierra Designs Ridge Runner 30 (Packed size: 7x16 inches; Weight: 2 pounds 2 ounces; Fill: 600 Fill-Power Down; $169): The three-season Ridge Runner sleeping bag has an EN rating of 30 degrees. It also comes in 15- and 0-degree models which are a bit bulkier. It has most of the features we look for in a good bag: snag-free zippers, ergonomic hood and footbox with a zipper draft tube, and enough room in it to keep you warm without feeling overly claustrophobic. Sierra Designs has been making bags since 1965 and have won many awards in leading outdoor magazines.
Kelty Light Year 20 Down Long (Packed size: 8x15 inches; Weight: 3 pounds 2 ounces; Fill: 600 Fill-Power Down; $189, +$10 for Long version): This mummy bag is temperature rated at 20 degrees (EN tested). It is a great deal for a three-season bag rated at this temp. It adds tons of features without the weight. A contoured hood with an insulated baffle, an insulated top baffle collar, and a draft tube behind the hip-length zipper combine to further insulate against the cold. It also has a handy zippered chest pocket to store money, keys, or anything else you may need to keep close. The included compression sack has straps to cinch the bag down even smaller than most.
Kelty Recluse 2.5 NI (Non-Insulated) Self Inflating Sleeping Pad (Packed size: 11 x 6 inches; Weight: 1 pound 15 ounces; $69.95): We have always been fans of the thin semi-self inflating Therm-a-Rest pads, but things have changed in the past few years and this new pad provides more comfort while camping. The Kelty Recluse is a quick-pump-inflating air-channel-designed pad that deflates in seconds. The last thing we want to do after a long day of riding is to spend 10 minutes blowing up an air mattress. The pump is built into the actual pad so it won’t get lost. It features the comfort and small packaged size expected of a warm-weather inflatable pad. The mummy-cut makes the Recluse 2.5 ideal for warm weather. It comes with a stuff sack and a repair kit. We suggest buying an insulated version for about $10 more if you plan to camp on colder nights. The only drawback is that the insulated version does not pack as small. It takes less than two minutes to pump up the Recluse.
There is nothing like sleeping under the stars. When I am sure it will not rain, I sleep without a tent. We always carry some sort of shelter in case of rain or for some privacy on the rare nights we get lucky. When looking for a tent you want something that is light, packs small, and is quick to set up. The key features are size and weight, a full-rain fly, durable materials, waterproof-ness, and ventilation. A tent should have enough room under its vestibule, similar to a covered porch, to store your boots and helmet when it rains.
Having an extra piece of material, a tarp or footprint, will make your tent last longer. Just make sure that your ground covering does not extend past the bottom of the tent. Otherwise, the tarp will collect water and you will end up sleeping in a puddle. A one-man tent is extra light and packs smaller than a two man. A two-man tent has more room for gear, but adds weight and size. A good tent will keep you dry and keep the bugs out.
Tip: when in bear country DO NOT store any food in your tent. You will get eaten.
Tip: Make sure your tent is completely dry before putting it away in storage or mildew will form.