Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

Tents and sleeping bags... the ultimate thread.

Discussion on how to enjoy the outdoors.

by v7guy » Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:22 am

I live in the north east. The cliff notes are that it's cold and shitty. I'm a southern man, grew up and lived in warm weather until a few years ago.

I've been looking at 4 season tents, sleeping bags and camping, because quite frankly half the year is cold as old shit up here. I've seen trail ride pics of guys going up in the snow so I know there are guys that do it. I'm just lookin for advice from that group.

Do most guys bring snow chains?

What tents and sleeping bags do you use? I've been looking at these bags...
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=0+degree+sleeping+bag&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1662&bih=863&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=8964806896673833746&sa=X&ei=9FrPTub2BKT00gG6gvEM&ved=0CLABEPMCMAA
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=0+degree+sleeping+bag&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1662&bih=863&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=501510375536617474&sa=X&ei=9FrPTub2BKT00gG6gvEM&ved=0CNUBEPMCMAQ

I've also been looking at various tents... from the super cheap that broke in the wind when I was a kid, to these...
http://www.amazon.com/Eureka-Alpenlite-2XT-Tent-sleeps/dp/B000EQAU2S
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=4+season+tent&hl=en&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1662&bih=863&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=18303147167540241060&sa=X&ei=WnjPTo30J4T30gH04vkl&ved=0CN8BEOUNMAE
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=4+season+tent&hl=en&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1662&bih=863&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=14804998056622845581&sa=X&ei=WnjPTo30J4T30gH04vkl&ved=0CNMBEOUNMAA

while a few of these would really hurt the budget, I'd like to be warm and fairly bullet proof. Are there alternatives?
does no one really go out in the winter so preparing for it is silly? I'd like to think we still wheel in the winter, but if not, no biggie. I am getting pretty anxious to get into the woods though.
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by Diacom » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:30 pm

One thing to look at in a sleeping bag might be a Modular unit. I have seen these from Slumberjack. You are able to remove portions of the bag to have it usable from 20 below and up. This will allow more versatility than having to keep multiple bags for different weather.
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by bartonmd » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:57 pm

One thing to remember is that a "-20" sleeping bag is really a "you won't die at -20, if you're wearing long underwear in the sleeping bag"... A -20 bag will be comfortable at 0 as long as you're wearing dry long underwear (like put them on right before you go to bed), or it will be comfortable at +20 in shorts and a T-shirt...

I'm seriously looking at picking up a set of these: http://www.amazon.com/Matched-High-Peak ... 537&sr=8-3
If you get the pair, they zip together for "couple camping"...

I currently have a Coleman Peak -10 bag that I've slept in to -5, but that was 15 years ago, when it was new... It's NOT a -10 bag now, but it's probably a 20 bag... Hence why I'm looking at getting another cold weather bag...

I also LOVE these pads, even on top of an air mattress... The air mattress gets you off of the ground, but doesn't actually insulate... http://www.amazon.com/Mountaineering-Li ... 492&sr=8-4 Either way, you NEED at least the foam version... These are just warmer, more comfortable, and roll up tighter...

I like my 7x9 "4-person" tent for 1 or 2 people and gear... It fits a queen air mattress just fine... It's a "field and stream" that I got for like $40 on end of season clearance, that they don't make any more...
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by navigator » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:22 pm

Dicks has some of their higher end tents and sleeping bags on sale right now if you have one in your area and hurry.
I'm looking for a new tent but want one that is easy to set up. Dicks has a coleman that advertizes that it can be set up in 1 minute or less :-)
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by HARDTRAILZ » Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:36 pm

Mike does your field n stream leak? All the reviews of them I find say the do...at least ones dicks carries. They are super cheap and tempting now though.
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by bartonmd » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:13 pm

HARDTRAILZ wrote:Mike does your field n stream leak? All the reviews of them I find say the do...at least ones dicks carries. They are super cheap and tempting now though.


Nope, mine has been fine... It is from Dick's, but not any of the models I saw there, online...

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by navigator » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:41 pm

mine is an old cheap one from walMart. If you don't put it up tight with all the stakes down and all the posts (3 cross posts) down water will puddle and eventually leak around the bottom. If you put it up tight it didn't really leak.
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by v7guy » Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:57 pm

I haven't camped in about 10 years but back when I was camping I had always used the cheaper tents ($30-$40). I had problems with getting water inside, condensation, the bottoms tearing relatively easy and I even had a couple poles break during some good storms . I'd like to avoid repeating those experiences if possible, the two times I had poles break made for long long miserable nights.

Obviously I'd prefer something cheaper, but searching online for four seasons tents only showed the more expensive options.

So for a sleeping bag I should be looking for one with a -20 rating...

Like navigator pointed out, I'd also like something that was reasonably quick to set up
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by The Roadie » Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:07 am

You might try ExPo for higher-end used tents, and craigslist. And if you aren't aiming to tent and get snowed on, you can look for a 3-season tent. 4-season are for going out in the snow on purpose. With a 3-season, you can do cold just fine, a bit of wind, and if it's going to snow heavily with high wind, just throw a $20 tarp over the top of it. That's what Teebes does.
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by v7guy » Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:52 am

thanks guys, good data points. It also trims down the cost significantly.

As I search more there seems to be a lot more options for a bag.
Bass Pro has this extra sized bag for a good rating and price, I like the extra room... http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-20%C2%B0-Oversized-Duckcloth-Sleeping-Bag/product/10210379/86325

It seems like all the serious bags are in the same relative ball park. The convertible bags are in the $300 a piece range... OUCH!!!

I am not looking at "high end" solutions exclusively. But I'm trying to get a woman that grew up in NYC to appreciate the outdoors, it'd be nice to bring her along and share the outdoors. But the first time a tent collapsed/ or she was miserably cold/laid on the hard ground... would be last time she ever went offroading/hunting/fishing etc with me. I'd like to make it as comfortable for her as possible.

Her knees aren't so good so a roof top temp isn't realistic... I really wanted to do one.

I'm just looking for the best solution on the cheapest budget, maximum comfort for her has been a criteria. I figure I can lower her standards over time. lol

I've extended my search to the 4 person tents.

I used a two person back in the day and was comfortable with my buddy but I wasn't 5'11" and 220 either lol
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by Trail X » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:22 am

The foam pad I have from Cabellas keeps us pretty warm. Might take up a bit of space inside a vehicle, but it could be worth it. It definitely is warmer than an air mattress.

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunting/ ... t104484780

You also never know about women, they can surprise you. The first time I took mine out, it got down to 30 degrees, and we were NOT ready for that. We froze all night. Yeah, it took another year of prodding before she agreed to go camping again, but she did. Heck, that's the main driving factor for me trying to get my camping setup figured out... trying to make things go smooth. But no matter how hard you try, you'll always run into issues here and there. Just expect them... they make good stories later.
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by navigator » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:26 am

if you are trying to break a city girl into the great outdoors make sure to get some kind of air mattress/pad/cot to sleep on.

Make sure if you take her out in cold weather camping (<40degrees) that you have some kind of pad between the ground and the air mattress. It seems like the ground cools the air in the mattress and makes it cold. On our last trip I slept on an old futon mattress and stayed much warmer than my wife and the kids on the air mattress. I would have switched with them but they were so bundled up they didn't want to move.

I think I would do several mild spring/fall trips before doing a cold weather one. Even the summer trips with the heat and the bugs can be too much.
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by madmanvillain » Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:13 am

I know it isnt really any help right now, but Eureka (http://www.eurekacampingctr.com/eureka/) in Binghamton New York has a HUGE sale every spring. Even their regular price is phenomenal. I get all of my "high price" items there. Both of my backpacking tents have been bought there, one a Solitaire, the other is the Zues 2. Neither are a 4 season tent, the solitaire I never liked taking out if it was cold or rainy, but I would not hesitate to use the Zues in the winter. With the Boy Scouts, I participated in at least 2 winter camping trips each year, and if you do it right, its the most fun you can have camping in my opinion. I have 4 sleeping bags, depending on weather, a 50*, a 15*, a -10*, and a wool bag I made, and depending on temperature I plan with them. I have been comfortable with the 15* bag at -27*, with the proper planning. Dont clear the snow out from under the tent, snow is a very good insulator. It was mentioned earlier, but even if you feel dry, wipe yourself down with a towel and put on fresh clothes before getting in your sleeping bag. Even the tiny bit on moisture on your skin will chill you. A trick I learned before everyone found out about the side effects was putting boiling water in nalgene bottles, wrapping them in a towel or shirt so you dont burn yourself, and putting it at the bottom of your sleeping bag works great. little extra heat and doubles to hydrate yourself. I believe Bill mentioned about sleeping pads and air mattresses. "Dead Air Space" is what insulates you, so you want to make sure you have something under you, closed cell foam pads work great, but they take up a lot of space. THERM-A-REST makes inflatable pads that pack down a lot smaller and give you a little more dead air space. They also make some that are 3/4 length for backpacking, they make them tall, and they make some that are I believe 3" thick. I try to stay away from air mattresses because they take up a lot of room and dont benefit you (insulating wise). Other helpful tips, get a pair of winter boots with removable liners and bring them in the tent with you, lay those and your outer gear on your sleeping pad, put a water proof barrier on that, then your sleeping bag-it helps keep everything from freezing and a little warmer for you when you wake up, DRESS IN LAYERS! Try not to sweat and remove/add layers as needed. Try to avoid wearing cotton, at all. Synthetic fibers wick sweat away, keeping you dry and warm. Wool has some special property with a fancy name I dont remember, but it means it maintains its insulating abilities even when wet. Cotton soaks up water and holds on to it. Always try to wear a hat. Your body naturally keeps your head and torso warm, the rest of your body is second. If your head gets cold, your body will pump more blood there, and less to your fingers and toes, causing them to be cold. Many times Ive dealt with people complaining about cold hands, bundled up with the warmest jacket and snow pants and boots and mittens, and no hat. Oh ya, Mittens are a wonderful thing if you can deal with no fingers. I usually either wear or at least have both when Im doing the whole cold weather thing. If you couldnt tell, winter is my thing. Grew up in Upstate NY right in the middle of the lake effect snow belt and did a lot of camping up in the ADKs. Wow. I typed a lot.
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by lil_freak_66 » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:33 am

i use one of the bags you posted in the first link in a different color, but the same temp rating. its a good bag, im using it tonight actually(though its unusually warm for December, lows for tonight in upper 30s)

unless your in a snow belt, a decent 3 season should stand up, while costing a bit less
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by HARDTRAILZ » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:16 pm

I just picked up a nice 3 season 2 person Kelty tent from Dicks for under $60 bucks. Clearance to under half normal price. Cant beat that for a lifetime warranty and nice rainfly that completely covers and includes vestibule.
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by v7guy » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:10 am

the misses has finally agreed to going camping.
This is pretty epic considering she's never even remotely considered it before... and she let me know it.

we looked at some craftsman tents the other day while picking up a snow blower and they gave absolutely no indication to their season rating etc so I passed. Do tents typically give ratings or is that just an bass pro/amazon search type of thing? I don't want to end up like Kyle with a broken pole! They had foam pads there which I'll probably pick up this week.

I've been avoiding Dicks and Sports Authority because of the holidays so I haven't checked out their offerings..
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by Trail X » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:18 am

I think most places will list their tents as 3 or 4 season, but from what I've read there is no real standard for it.

I'm not sure what price range you're looking for, but I've read a lot of good things about springbar tents, also Keltys seem decent for a little bit lower cost.

I'd also recommend getting the largest tent you can afford (min 4 person to sleep 2 people on pads). That will make her feel more comfortable, give her room to put all her stuff and room to change.

Make sure she realizes that camping is a constant learning experience. Every time you go, it gets a little easier as long as you learn from your mistakes.
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by navigator » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:46 am

make sure you have some kind of thick pad on the ground in addition to an appropriate sleeping bag. My wife was miserable here a few weeks ago on an air mattress and sleeping bag and it only got down to about 40 degrees.
I was on a futon mattress with a bag and was much more comfortable. I think I would have slept ok if I wasn't so worried about her and the kids being cold.

if it were just me and my wife I might would put the gear in the tent and sleep in the TB with an air mattress.
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by navigator » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:48 am

also, on the tents, my next tent will be easier to put up. We had one that had the steel poles and it would sleep 6-8 people but you couldn't put it up alone (well i could but it was a real pain) and it took 15 mins or so.
My next one will be easier to put up.

If you find one you think you like look at websites and reviews.
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by OregTrailBlazin » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:20 pm

JamesDowning wrote:I'd also recommend getting the largest tent you can afford (min 4 person to sleep 2 people on pads). That will make her feel more comfortable, give her room to put all her stuff and room to change.

Make sure she realizes that camping is a constant learning experience. Every time you go, it gets a little easier as long as you learn from your mistakes.


:Iagree:


Since its your first time getting her out, I wouldn't go all out spending too much on it. But get a large cheap tent, so she has lots of room like JD said, it really helps them be able to relax and feel at home. If she ends up liking it, get a nicer one.


Make sure you go somewhere with a good table, or bring one. She won't like fumbling over stuff trying to learn to use a camp kitchen, it can get frustrating quick.
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