open topic, for anything cycling related.
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I'm looking at getting back into doing some camping as its a great way to relax and a good excuse to go riding! Its been a while so I'm out of touch and want to get an idea of all the options available...are there any camping experts on BNA?
I like the idea of a camping trailer as they seem pretty neat, keeps the car free for trips when you are away and are nothing like as bulky as a caravan, but I don't know anything about them or how easy it is to take two MTB's as well. I have a tow bar bike rack but I assume a car roof option is best if you are towing a trailer? I did see some roof tents that attach to the car roof but I assume you'd have to pack up the tent if you wanted to drive somewhere. Maybe with the bikes on hand we shouldn't need the car? Or the traditional tent option is another way to go but I'm not sure what the downsides of that are against something like a trailer?
Naturally I've found a lot of info online with checklists on what to ask when you are buying etc etc but I'm not sure if I should consider hiring something first to see how successful it is?
Any help much appreciated.
Let me share some thoughts and experiences. Firstly, I can think of nothing better than to get out there in new places, camping and cycling. Just sensational, however if travelling with bicycles is a chore, then you just make excuses to leave the bikes at home or you don't use them during your travels. In other words, your solution *must* be quick and convenient.
We regularly travel into remote regions and either vehicle based only if it's going to be really rough or with an off-road van however regardless of the configuration, my goal is that the bikes *must* always be easy to deploy and not contribute any hassle at all to the journey. This way you use the bikes at the drop of a hat and they become part of the journey. My wife and I often drive with our cycling shoes at the ready and for example we take turns to hop on the bike at the top of a long hill while the other drives. At country towns we stop and ride one street over off the main road and back on the other side. You get a feel for the real town and locals engage with you because you're a traveller and not a tourist. Great local info is shared and over the years that's how we have discovered some fantastic camping and fishing spots that are known only to the locals. It really is a great way to get to know an area.
Now, up front, we manufacture special bicycle carrier solutions however rather than promote a product, the intent is to share the experience in an effort to encourage everybody who enjoys the outdoors to have a go at getting away from the city and to feed the soul.
If you're going to be trailer based then my experience has been to avoid carrying the bicycles on the car or on the tow bar. Ideally securely mounted to the trailer, convenient to deploy the bicycles and most importantly, convenient to set up camp. When we're with a trailer, we travel with this configuration:
The bicycles are carried on a purpose built carrier and this satisfies the above requirements.
However there are many other options depending upon your trailer's configuration.
I do prefer the convenience of trailer based camping. A flushing loo, hot shower and ice cocktails after a big ride is heavenly but it does restrict where we travel. We keep the car ready and set up for a quick exploration trip if we come across something good that we can't get to when dragging the trailer. The bicycle carrier moves from the van to the car and the bikes come with us. Again, the same requirements prevail.
In the case of the van, the carrier pivots forward to gain access to the front storage box.
However on the car mount, it is desirable to have the carrier pivot to the rear in order to have easy access to the back of the car.
We also find that the bikes are invaluable when the going gets tricky. It's easy to hop on a bike and cover ground quickly to scout out the best way around a difficult situation or to shoot out ahead and have a look before committing the car and van. A recent trip up along the Murray river had us on and off the bike often and regularly. If the bikes were a pain to deploy then we'd have just turned back and missed out on a fantastic journey. Have a look at http://www.isi-carriers.com/customers/g ... cling.html if you have a few moments of time to waste.
Actually, while we're at it, a recent trip up into the Northern Kimberley was just outstanding and all because we had easy access to the bikes. Again if you have a bit of time to waste, perhaps this will inspire further: http://www.isi-carriers.com/customers/g ... -trip.html
There are many lifetimes of lifetime experiences out there. The best advice I can offer is to keep it as hassle free and versatile as possible. If you do it right it is addictive and very very satisfying.
Happy to help with advice or product but in fairness to all here, I really don't want to bring any commercial input to the forum.
Thanks George, thats a pretty impressive trailer you've got there! I was thinking more along the lines of the last of your examples but I guess thats the cheaper end and with that comes sacrifices?
Hey Walrus, I reckon it depends on how long you're planning on staying away for. For short trips of 1-3 nights it's hard to beat the economy of a quickly erected tent (canvas centre poled types are awesome) and one of those easy-up style gazebos for shelter. Add a couple of folding chairs and a big trestle table and you should be set up for less than $1k and it'll all fit in a standard box trailer along with your bikes. For trips further away or trips of a longer duration, a caravan or camper makes a bit of sense but you'll be spending a fair bit of coin to set yourself up and you then have to consider having the right vehicle to tow it as well as an appropriate place to store it. Over 25 years we've almost gone the full cycle with our camping now, from the back of the ute under canopy with awning, to a tent/tarp setup with box trailer, to a camper trailer with canvas tent, to a small poptop caravan. The van is fantastic but at 15 times the price of a basic tent setup i sometimes question the value.
Sounds like you've tried and tested most options? I'd love to see any pictures you may have of your setup.
We'd use it for anything from a weekends to a couple of weeks, and given that I do like my comforts I'd like something that had a bit more to it than effectively sleeping on the floor!
I like the look of the box trailer types. I'm not sure but are the one labelled 'Ultimate' in George's post also called trailers? Or maybe I've got that wrong? Anyway, I prefer the more rugged looking one, it feels a bit more like camping!
No idea on budget but I think a toilet and a shower would be worth the extra cost!
I’ve done most types of camping since I was a kid, from fully self sufficient multi day hiking in remote wilderness areas to camping at caravan parks surrounded by people with generators, tvs etc and all kinds of things in between.
Id strongly advise against anything where you arent able to move your car after setting up camp (eg a rooftop tent). Having a car is super handy, whether it be ducking into a town for more supplies, driving to a firetrail head for a ride, or driving up the road to get firewood rather than decimating the bush directly adjacent to the campsite. And it also means you’ve got wheels in an emergency situation if you need too. Basically it really limits your options in terms of where you go camping and what you can do.
For me I’d most likely recommend starting with a regular tent set up. The cost is lower if you’re just getting into it and not sure how much you will want to do. There are also a lot of campsites which don’t allow you to drive right up to where your tent is set up, which makes it much more difficult and less appealing to use a trailer based set up. Again if you’re just getting into it, I think its good to keep your options open and your costs low. The disadvantages of going with a traditional tent is they are more prone to overland water (like when it really pours, with a trailer you are high and dry). There is a perception they take longer to set up, but we’ve got a tent like the one below and with two of us we can set it up in about 10-15 minutes. You could set up a smaller dome tent and do it even quicker. There are also options for camp showers if you want to as well, also pictured below. I’d also recommend investing in a good air bed and electric pump. If you do go the tent option either get one with a decent awning or purchase a separate shade structure. One you want to be able to keep things outside like the gas stove, table etc, you also want to be able to be under cover should be it raining, and you also want somewhere undercover but outside where you can chill with a drink and relax. I should also note I’ve got a station wagon so I’ve got sufficient room for all our camping gear and have our bikes on a rooftop bikerack.
If you do look a trailer option, there’s a few options from full caravan to pop up caravan, to pop up tent on a trailer, to a box trailer as basically more storage. The more durable and convenient it is, the more it will cost! The question is what level of comfort and ease do you want, how much are you prepared to pay for that comfort, and how often will you use it? You need to look at how suitable it is for taking offroad, depending on where you want to travel. You should also look at how much storage the trailer has as well. Can you stash stuff inside it (like a caravan has heaps of space), or are there separate storage areas? How big are the storage areas? A lot of camp stuff is solid (tables, stoves, pop up marquees etc) and doesn’t necessarily work when you’re trying to juggle pieces into small areas. Does the trailer contain a spare tyre, room to attach your bikes, can you lock it? Etc etc. Again I’d recommend having space where you can chill out under cover but outside, so does it have an awning or something similar?
In terms of toilets and showers, it depends on where you want to go camping and what time of year. I’ve done hiking where you don’t shower at all and your toilet is self dug with a spade! I’ve also done car camping where there have been no facilities at all. To be honest these days I prefer campgrounds with toilets and showers for the convenience, but its not always needed. For example at Christmas we went camping in Queensland, the site had toilets but no showers, but it did have a swimming hole. I had a swim once or twice a day and that was enough to keep me clean and refreshed (no I didn’t use any soap in the creek!). With national parks facilities you can get to some pretty nice places and still have toilets and showers.
I’ll try and get some pics of our camping set up from Christmas.
I'll try and get some piccies, but we now just own a little old viscount seabreeze poptop for most of our camping, it doesn't have a toilet or shower and just has an awning out one side and we generally only go to places with facilities even though we've got plenty of battery power and gas refrigeration anyway. We tow it with a 105 landcruiser wagon and if we take our bikes we just take the front wheels off and chuck them into the back of the car as there's only three of us, putting them on the roof or some sort of a rack on the van might be a future option for us. We still have our tent which is an Oztrail Tourer 9 and use it with a foldup gazebo if we go somewhere where it's too hard to take the van, and it all fits comfortably in a box trailer. One thing I can recommend for camping is one of those Weber Q barbies, i always thought they were only for hairdressers but now i have one they are the best camping barby for sure. I agree totally with Hewey, steer clear of setups that attach to your vehicle, it's a pain when you want to go somewhere.
You don't need much equipment at all to get away and remain comfortable. For over 30 years we've just used swags and only used a tent when the weather looked threatening. With the tent, it's always been a sturdy single pole, high quality and Australian manufactured from Australian materials. Oh the stories our tents could tell....
The reason for more substantial accommodation like the van has been because of the spread of crocs up north and we can no longer relax at night when sleeping in canvas.
.....Like that cheeky bugger in the lower right of the photo above
Walrus, if you're going to venture into the world of camper trailers then http://www.campertrailers.org/ will be of value to you - though it's old school email group which is kind of fun really. They will share horror stories about low cost Chinese camper trailers through to advice and suggestions for new and used equipment.
The thing with off-highway trailers is that you need to get past the purchase price and look at the cost over the period of ownership. It is not uncommon for a handful of models to sell used after several years of ownership for the same if not at a higher price than when purchased new. In other words, it's the cost of the money while you own it rather than the purchase price that is important. As a cyclist, this is a totally foreign concept....
This is probably the wrong forum to be discussing camper trailers though....
Regardless, carrying bicycles when travelling is a must - and easy to do right.
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