The Joys of Camping: Choosing a Campsite

Feb 18, 2012 View Comments by

I don’t have a problem with nice company. But when traveling by myself on a bike, I love the “get away from it all” feeling of wild campsites. No RV generators, no cell phones, preferably no noise at all, apart from nature sounds like creeks or birds. Location is important. I always look for great views, even if I have to compromise comfort (like sleeping on rocky ground or in wind in exposed areas). But sitting in front of the tent and watching the sunset with a beautiful vista before you can provide unforgettable moments on a journey.

Sleeping beside a creek or lake is another fine option. It makes matters of hygiene very simple, and the sound of water is the best melody to fall asleep. If the prospect of water isn’t good, I bring an Ortlieb water bag filled up with about 2.5 gallons of water before searching out a place for the night. That’s enough for a decent shower and cooking.

Experience makes it easier to find the perfect spot; you get better and better. Mountains, deserts, and forests are always nice. They usually provide public land, little population, and the best geographical features. I usually try to end my day in one of them, preferably as far from the highway as possible. It is less a safety concern and more a necessity for a good night’s sleep. First, you avoid traffic noise. Second, being invisible from the road cuts off the chance of a visit by some drunken lads or a curious policeman at one in the morning. A couple of hundred yards venturing along a forestry road often can make a difference. But the farther you get away from asphalt, the better. A dual sport bike is a big plus when traveling these wild ways.

Tent: Hilleberg Nammatj 3

Made by the professional tentmaker Hilleberg, this tent is the best solution for motorcyclists who want to keep their luggage as light as possible and still have plenty of room. The Nammatj 3 is a tunnel tent, a layout that offers the best weight-to-space ratio. Pitching the inner and outer tent at the same time is one more great advantage, especially in bad conditions. You can secure the tent to the ground with as little as four pegs, but there are 14 guy-line points if needed for strong wind. It’s a three-person tent, so it offers ample space for two people and luggage. Although its high-end workmanship and material make it as light as possible, this is a four-season tent. It only has two poles, which saves weight and time. After a short while, I needed less then five minutes to pitch it. 6 lbs 6 oz, $615, www.hilleberg.com.

Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Nitro 30

For moisture-transport, insulation, and weight, no other material matches the performance of down fillings. The Nitro 30 by Sierra Designs proves this fact. With a bottom-end comfort limit of 28 F, it’s still very light in weight and has a small packing size, thanks to innovative features such as flexible material between shoulder and knee and a foot-box vent, which saves the weight of a full-length zipper. While camping in September in Colorado’s high country at 10,000 feet—where hoarfrost on tent and bike gave proof of the freezing temperatures—I had the chance to test the low-end specifications thoroughly. I slept only in thin underwear, but I always felt very cozy. The Nitro 30 keeps the manufacturer’s promise. 1 lb 10 oz, $289.95, www.sierradesigns.com.

Text and Photography: Uwe Krauss

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