Saturday, May 23, 2015

Motorcycle camping refinements


This is how Maria and I loaded my bike for two-up riding and camping in October, 1996 at the Return to Shiloh BMW Rally.

The silver stuff sack holds my Eureka! Special Edition tent, then there are two Thermarest air mattresses, all lashed down with a couple of tie-down straps. And on top we secured a couple of sleeping bags with a cargo net.

We haven’t done much two-up touring in recent years, but my camping gear has gone through several refinements in the nearly two decades since this photo was made.

The Eureka! Special Edition died in a storm at the 1998 BMW MOA Rally in Missoula, Mont. It was temporarily replaced by a gigantic 10x10 tent from a Missoula sporting goods store, followed by a dome tent from REI in Portland, Ore., and a Galyan’s Special Edition tent by Eureka! in 2005 that I used up through last OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOctober when it became apparent that the floor was no longer completely waterproof. I replaced it with a Eureka! Tetragon 5.

I retired my Thermarests in 2012 and switched to a much smaller, yet much more comfortable Big Agnes Q-Core that is small enough to fit into my saddlebag along with a battery powered inflator. Before the Big Agnes and the inflator, I’m pretty sure my Thermarests could not pass a breathalyzer test when I deflated them at the end of each rally.

Last weekend was the first trial run of my newest version of camping gear, the big improvement being the Tetragon 5 (the 5 indicates a capacity of 5 people) tent with a 9x9 footprint and a ceiling high enough for me to stand, even with my little LED chandelier dangling from the peak and expansive enough to tent and chairaccommodate my camp chair.

The other first-time refinement was indoor plumbing, something I resisted for years even though several of my contemporaries now carry a bottle to pee into. I have to admit, not having to pull on pants and boots and hike to a port-o-let when nature calls at 2 a.m. is far more luxurious than I had imagined.

I finally worked out a way to use criss-crossed ROK Straps to firmly attach a $10 Walmart canvas chair to the luggage rack so it doesn’t flop around en route.

I’m sure things will evolve further, but last weekend’s camping experience in Burkesville, Ky. was the most comfortable and hassle-free ever and my bike looks less like an overloaded pack mule than it did 20 years ago.

And I neither want nor need a trailer.

packed tightly