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MC Camping on the Cheap

Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,223
Location
Arlington
OK Thrift-meisters. By popular demand, here it is. A thread for those who like to Moto-camp on a minimalist (aka cheapster) budget. Here's your chance to tell us how you do it. For instance:
- Budget-priced farkles for your bike.
- Budget camping gear that has (or maybe hasn't) worked out for you.
- Camp sites for free or at budget prices.
- And when you really go crazy and spend a few bucks for a night's rest, moteling on the cheap.
How do you do it?

Those of you who sleep in $500 Big Agnes tents are welcome to stand on the sidelines and laugh at us. We'll just laugh back as our 401Ks grow fat on our nurse-a-nickel habits. We're cheapsters, and we're darned proud of it.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
16,896
Location
Lampasas
Well for beginners or cheapskates like me Wal-mart has reasonable gear on the cheaper side of life.

Tent from the Thurber run $25 not a north face or Kelty but shelter.
Just picked up a sleeping bag deal for $14 that is for summer only. Really it is a blanket sewn together with a zipper.
A Coleman auto inflate air mattress for $32 but way better than the blue foam pad that I still have.
I have cooking pans and pots from garage sales.
Craigslist and yard sales for thrifty purchases.
Sales at Academy and on line.
Free curb side goodies and friends freebies that are cluttering their garage space.

For a hundred dollar or less you can get a tent,bag,pad,and misc for starters. Not top of the line but workable.

Individually owned motels seem to be most reasonable and the owners seem more appreciative than chain places.

Trip advisor or word of mouth for food and places to hang your head are normally right on.

Lets see your ideas.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
16,896
Location
Lampasas
Reasonable and clean motels in New Mexico and Colorado:

Here are places that I enjoy.

1. Western Skies Inn and Suites Los Lunas,New Mexico Ask for Brandi
2. Long Holiday Motel Gunnison.Colorado
3. Branding Iron Motel Chama,New Mexico
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
3,337
Location
Clear Lake
I usually stay at Texas State Parks. About $20. Is that cheap enough? Good scenary, clean, free shower, free toilet, protection by armed guard. Good deal.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
8,834
Location
Fort Worth
In Raton, the NRA Whittington Center is cheap. If there are several of you, you can usually get a youth cabin with bunk beds. Clean, dry, warm.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,223
Location
Arlington
My primary moto camping gear:
- Eureka Tetragon 2-man tent. Bought on blow-out sale from Dick's Sporting Goods for $50.
- Swiss Gear mummy bag. K-Mart online had them for $35, but my wife paid $45 on Amazon, for the convenience, as a Christmas present.
- Stansport air mattress. $22 on Amazon. Very comfortable.
- 12V air pump for air mattress. $8 at Walmart.
- Thermarest pillow. $26 on Amazon. Packs small, fluffs big. Well worth the price for a night's sleep.
- 5-piece aluminum cook set. $20 at Academy Sports.
- No-name backpacker stove. $9 on Amazon. Tiny, but packs a bunch of BTUs.
- Thermal cup w/ sippy lid. Donated by a software vendor before I retired. Keeps coffee hot and Crystal Lite cold.
- 5x8' blue plastic tarp for all purposes. $10 at Academy.
- Folding hunter's armchair. $5 at Academy.

For about $200, I'm outfitted for eating, sleeping, and lounging. This gear has survived multiple trips over three years and is holding up quite well. I had to replace the air pump in New Mexico this past June, but hey - there's always a Walmart somewhere.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
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5,372
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At the back of the pack and out of the dust
Not sure these ideas belong on this thread, but I'm still using much of the backpacking and climbing gear that I bought in the 70s and 80s as motorcycle camping gear. It was all top dollar equipment at the time and is still as durable and functional as ever. As a student of Colin Fletcher I tend to leave more at home than bring with me. Trips of two or three days generally means no cooker and unless I'm sure it is going to rain or might be cold the tent and sleeping back may stay at home as well, replaced by a blanket and a plastic sheet. I did buy a cheap stool from wally world for the F1 race, but I doubt that it will ever get a ride on my bike.

TPWD parks pass is $95 for me and the wife for a year.
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/parkinfo/passes/

The Corps of Engineers has some camping too.
http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/states.cfm?state=TX

One thing I never do is hop a fence and make a camp site on some rancher's property. That's asking for trouble.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,223
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Arlington
I love state parks, but they're kinda pricy these days if you don't have the annual gate pass.

I'm a fan of Corps of Engineer parks. A water-elec site at Navarro Mills is something like $14 a night.

And when in the mountains, you can't beat the National Forest system. NF campgrounds aren't the $2/night bargain they once were - actually, about $14-17 is pretty typical these days. But that's still not bad. And if you're 62, you can buy a senior discount pass - good at all National Forest Service and National Park facilities - $10 for a lifetime pass. That gives you 50% off on NF campgrounds, 50% off (or sometimes free) on NP entrance fees, and 50% off on NP camp sites. And that, my friends, is some pretty cheap camping.

As Danny (Redpill) pointed out, New Mexico state parks are still very modestly priced. I believe Hyde State Park outside of Santa Fe is still $12 a night, and no entrance fee.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
8,834
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Fort Worth
As Danny (Redpill) pointed out, New Mexico state parks are still very modestly priced. I believe Hyde State Park outside of Santa Fe is still $12 a night, and no entrance fee.
The Whittington Center isn't a state park. It's owned by the NRA. Still very nice.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
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8,834
Location
Fort Worth
I remember sleeping on one of the tables at a roadside park when I was in high school. I wouldn't dream of doing that now.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
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At the back of the pack and out of the dust
Why buy the extra card for $25 for the wife if she camps with you?

Do they require one per MC?
The wife's an outdoors woman in her own right and she'll camp without me in a heart beat. I carry one pass in my jacket pocket so I can take Park Road 1 between Smithville and Bastrop. She keeps one in her purse so that when she and her friends are birding they don't have to pay to visit a park. Anyway, I'll donate $25 to the State parks. I like the cause.

Aren't the BLM lands free camping?
Yes, many are. Some are not. Out in the western states where 50% of the land is federally owned and it's not uncommon to find people just parked out in the desert living in their RVs for months on end.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
1,032
Location
Wallis
Why buy the extra card for $25 for the wife if she camps with you?

Do they require one per MC?
We tried camping in an Arizona State Park. They wanted $20 per Motorcycle!
A family of 4 in an RV towing a car is $20 but bikes..Everybody pays. I attempted to plead my case to the nitwit with the weekend badge and well he basically told me that If I kept talking I was going to make "the list"? :shrug:
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2004
Messages
153
Location
Carrollton, TX
My personal advice after lots of camping - actually, if you gave me a free room at a 5 star hotel - I'd still look for a nearby state park and pay.

Bottom line, if you don't get a good nights sleep, you won't be 100% the next day on the bike when it matters.

So don't compromise on an air mattress - there are several nice once - exped dlx9, big agnes core, thermorest neo-something.. they have high R ratings so if it gets cold, they'll shield you from the ground.

That being said, walmart used to sell a 4" air mattress that was pretty comfortable, sevylor also used to sell one - zero insulation but comfortable as long as it doesn't get cold... if you get one of those, get the fleece sleeping bag liners at walmart to put them in and that will help - still not as good as the good stuff but ok for beginners.

Beyond that, you can get a cheap 40 degree bag and tent at walmart, a cheap pillow and an led headlight and you're done.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,223
Location
Arlington
We tried camping in an Arizona State Park. They wanted $20 per Motorcycle!
A family of 4 in an RV towing a car is $20 but bikes..Everybody pays. I attempted to plead my case to the nitwit with the weekend badge and well he basically told me that If I kept talking I was going to make "the list"? :shrug:
Wow, that's crazy. I wonder what happens if you get on "the list".

Oklahoma state parks, on the other hand, are quite the bargain. Water/electricity sites are about $18-20 a night with no entrance fee. Last fall, I moto camped at Talimena State Park. Tent sites were only $10 a night. And by simply flashing my drivers license to show my decrepit age, that was discounted to $5/night.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
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Arlington
BTW - I think Texas does the same thing to bikes. You pay per bike. Within the National Park Service, bikes are given a significant discount. The regular $25/week gate fee drops to, I believe, $10.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
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16,896
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Lampasas
Pie run camp outs at parks will charge an entrance fee and extra vehicle fee. Even if four motorcycles fit in the space of one regular sized car. The fee is still unavoidable. Seems a tad silly. Camped out south of town in Ouray and it was $32 per night. Nice most enjoyable night of a weeks vacation.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
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Arlington
Within the National Forest Service system, you can find a number of campsites that are either free, or very cheap. That said, you get what you pay for, and it won't include water. But I've done this multiple times and been quite comfortable.

Example -- When camped at Cloudcroft last year, I used a NF free campground about a mile west of Mayhill. Picnic table, outhouse, but no water. No problem, though. I was carrying a collapsible water 5-gallon water bottle and there were plenty of places willing to let me fill up.

Or this June, there were two different campgrounds just west of Taos for $5 per night ($2.50 with my senior card). Same water solution.

All of these campgrounds were nicely maintained. They just didn't happen to have water.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
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I'll bookmark that one for sure. Thanks.

Also, in my experience, you can call any National Forest Service office and they'll give you loads of information. The Cloudcroft station told me about half a dozen commonly used informal campsites in the area, along with how to get there, and road conditions. NFS offices are, in general, super helpful to anybody who calls.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2008
Messages
214
Location
Austin
Remember "cheap, fast, good, pick two?" I've got good (mid-grade) gear, but it took me several years of shopping the sales to get it all for a decent price. If you have time to accumulate gear, be religious about paying attention to sales, and you can snag some pretty good stuff.

I used to work at REI. I'm not really fond of big-box retail stores, but since 99.9% of camping gear is made in the far east, it's only going to be retailed out of big box stores anyways. So, most lucrative advice I can offer: get an REI membership. If your credit score can tolerate another credit card, they've got a members-only visa card that nowadays comes with a $100 gift card.

The reasons to get a membership are that you get 2-3 20% off one full-priced item coupons each year, and you also get access to their garage sales, where you can score some barely-used returned gear (that they can't put back on the shelves for whatever reason) for up to 90% off. Got a pair of light hiking shoes once for $11; they retailed for $80. Also you get 10% back annually on every full-priced item you buy (store credit, or you can just cash it out in July).

If you don't want to shell out the $20 for the membership, shopping there still has advantages: as long as you save your receipt, you can return any piece of gear for any reason, no time limit. They might not give you a 100% refund on, say, a 10-year-old well-used tent, but if you buy something and use it two or three times over the course of two years and just decide it's not working well for you, take it back for a refund. This is especially useful when buying stuff off their online outlet store that you can't try on first. Rei-outlet.com has all their overstocked or discontinued stuff at often hefty discounts, and frequently has coupons (you may have to sign up for the mailing list for some of these) that can apply to sale items. Free shipping if you pick up at a store, or sometimes if your order is over a certain amount.

If you get the membership and/or visa card, please ask a cashier or floor sales person for the applications - these people usually make less than $10/hr, regardless of how much expertise they have, and they have quotas on selling memberships.
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
766
Location
Plano
Remember "cheap, fast, good, pick two?" I've got good (mid-grade) gear, but it took me several years of shopping the sales to get it all for a decent price. If you have time to accumulate gear, be religious about paying attention to sales, and you can snag some pretty good stuff.

I used to work at REI. I'm not really fond of big-box retail stores, but since 99.9% of camping gear is made in the far east, it's only going to be retailed out of big box stores anyways. So, most lucrative advice I can offer: get an REI membership. If your credit score can tolerate another credit card, they've got a members-only visa card that nowadays comes with a $100 gift card.

The reasons to get a membership are that you get 2-3 20% off one full-priced item coupons each year, and you also get access to their garage sales, where you can score some barely-used returned gear (that they can't put back on the shelves for whatever reason) for up to 90% off. Got a pair of light hiking shoes once for $11; they retailed for $80. Also you get 10% back annually on every full-priced item you buy (store credit, or you can just cash it out in July).

If you don't want to shell out the $20 for the membership, shopping there still has advantages: as long as you save your receipt, you can return any piece of gear for any reason, no time limit. They might not give you a 100% refund on, say, a 10-year-old well-used tent, but if you buy something and use it two or three times over the course of two years and just decide it's not working well for you, take it back for a refund. This is especially useful when buying stuff off their online outlet store that you can't try on first. Rei-outlet.com has all their overstocked or discontinued stuff at often hefty discounts, and frequently has coupons (you may have to sign up for the mailing list for some of these) that can apply to sale items. Free shipping if you pick up at a store, or sometimes if your order is over a certain amount.

If you get the membership and/or visa card, please ask a cashier or floor sales person for the applications - these people usually make less than $10/hr, regardless of how much expertise they have, and they have quotas on selling memberships.
I think they just changed their return policy to not allow the unlimited return time anymore. Guess why?

I like REI, it's just way overpriced in my opinion (again keep in mind I'm on the end of broke and not loaded). It's nice stuff and decent quality, I'll give it that, but I can find the same stuff in an off brand for a lot less.

I have rarely had to returns stuff throughout my life, so I don't really care about return policies, etc. Since we don't spend enough money in there (read expensive), the return on the money spent is also pointless. If you drop a ton of dough, then I guess it's worth it. We went to one of their early garage sale things (can't remember what it was called) and nearly got ran over by everyone storming the store to grab stuff that was missing parts or pieces, incomplete items (like a hydration pack but no bladder), etc. and frankly still didn't seem like it was a good deal price wise. I just look at REI as "Really Expensive Items" and as a yuppy camping store. Just me mind you ;-)
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2010
Messages
648
Location
North Texas
If your looking for some real great buys and have a Cabelas nearby, go to the bargain cave. You can find some great deals at the change of seasons and really throughout the year.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,886
Location
Bryan, TX
Free camping

1.Turn right a few miles north of Salida, Co. on 194. Watch for the sign,”Dan’s Land, Free Camping.” Sign is on a 1
x4 that is about a foot long. Just pull in and camp. Beautiful scenery. Keep going on the same road and there is an organized campground right on the Arkansas river.

2.Turn left on the first road to the left after going over Molas Pass on the million dollar highway, heading north. Little Molas Lake campground, free and breathtaking.
IMG_1168.jpg


3.Maybell Colorado-Free camping in the city park, at least it was in 1993. Close to Dinosaur Park.

Our motorcycle camping gear tends to be on the expensive side since most of it doubles as our backpacking gear.
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Messages
3,796
Location
Santa Fe, TX
My take on moto camping is... Buy top of the line gear then save dinero on campsites. Nothing worse than saving a couple bux on gear only to be disappointed after spending a miserable night at a high dollar campsite with cheap amenities. This is the makings for what turns out as the next day (for what you are really doing this for, the riding) long, miserable and looking to spend big BUX for a nice nights rest.

I also buy a State Park annual pass which makes any park in Texas accessible to me not only on the moto but also in the cage with the family. Money well spent. :thumb:
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
766
Location
Plano
If your looking for some real great buys and have a Cabelas nearby, go to the bargain cave. You can find some great deals at the change of seasons and really throughout the year.
Yeah, I've found some decent stuff in there. I found my waterproof MC Garmin GPS in their bargain cave for $150. It had been selling for close to $600, but I guess they marked it down because it had been opened. That's one of the few places where I do see pretty good prices on used/opened stuff. As for their new stuff they sell, the Cabela branded stuff costs more than some major brands that I've seen and it's not anything different. From that respect, I place them up there with REI price wise (as far as camping and clothing stuff goes. I don't hunt or fish, so I don't know how that kind of stuff compares to other places price wise).
 

TX_northstar

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
643
Location
Denton County, TX
The Caddo and LBJ national grasslands are all open to free camping. However, most of the roads and have been blocked so you have to leave your bike at a trailhead and walk in a little ways.

I still use most of my backpacking stuff from back in the days I would carry around everything on my back that now load on a motorcycle.

Looking for cheap deals and do not care about last years nylon color? I regularly pick up very inexpensive top-end gear at the REI outlet online.

Since I don't think it has not been mentioned yet, stealth camping is free :-) I have seen a few good threads on stealth camping at motocampers.com


Sent from my NSA monitored iPhone using Tapatalk
http://www.twowheelsandatankfullofgas.blogspot.com
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
2,072
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Temple, Texas
My take on moto camping is... Buy top of the line gear then save dinero on campsites. Nothing worse than saving a couple bux on gear only to be disappointed after spending a miserable night at a high dollar campsite with cheap amenities. This is the makings for what turns out as the next day (for what you are really doing this for, the riding) long, miserable and looking to spend big BUX for a nice nights rest.


I also buy a State Park annual pass which makes any park in Texas accessible to me not only on the moto but also in the cage with the family. Money well spent. :thumb:
Agree! I love Texas State Parks! One of my favorites is South Llano River State Park.
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2010
Messages
648
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North Texas
Yeah, I've found some decent stuff in there. I found my waterproof MC Garmin GPS in their bargain cave for $150. It had been selling for close to $600, but I guess they marked it down because it had been opened. That's one of the few places where I do see pretty good prices on used/opened stuff. As for their new stuff they sell, the Cabela branded stuff costs more than some major brands that I've seen and it's not anything different. From that respect, I place them up there with REI price wise (as far as camping and clothing stuff goes. I don't hunt or fish, so I don't know how that kind of stuff compares to other places price wise).
Yep, I don't normally shop in the main store, although I have bought some nice fishing reels that were on sale at a good price.
The Bargain cave is the best for me.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
16,896
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Lampasas
Many Texas cities and towns have camp grounds and RV parks. I've camped at Robinson Park in Illano for $1.00 a night. The Illano PD station is physically inside the park and patrol the area at night.
http://www.twtex.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-41365.html

Here is link for Fredericksburg Municipal Park(allows tents) . Havent camped there yet.
http://www.fbgtx.org/index.aspx?NID=343
How did I forget LLano park? Me mikesoldvirago and Beemin camped there after the Marble falls pie run. I think it was two bucks and that is plenty cheap. Thanks for reminding us kojack06. See you there when your ready.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2008
Messages
214
Location
Austin
I think they just changed their return policy to not allow the unlimited return time anymore.
Yep, it's now down to a year. :thumbd:

I like REI, it's just way overpriced in my opinion (again keep in mind I'm on the end of broke and not loaded).
I'm also on the end of broke, and I agree that the non-sale stuff is overpriced. I just never pay full price for anything from there / online outlet.


As far as actual gear recommendations, I've already commented on this elsewhere but it can't hurt to repeat it: use a plastic painter's dropcloth as a tent footprint. Cut to size to save weight / space, or just fold to size for more protection from multiple layers. Cheap and easy to replace on the road in any town large enough to have a hardware store. A tent footprint is there to take abuse for the bottom of your tent, so why drop $$ on something that's meant to be destroyed?

You don't need fancy lexan water bottles (well, maybe have one that will survive a wreck in a soft bag or backpack) - just re-use quart-sized or larger ones that come with water in them to begin with. Wrap some duct tape in key spots to reinforce them.

Some things that you can buy at REI or other sporting goods stores, you can get at wally world for significantly less.

You can get cheap good flashlights at Target or from Amazon - look for Energizer brand LED ones that run on 2AA, single LED, aluminum body, like this: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Energizer-High-Intensity-Flashlight-Battery/dp/B004WN5ZCO"]Amazon.com: Energizer High Intensity LED Flashlight with 2AA Battery: Sports & Outdoors[/ame] That particular kind will throw a spot quite a ways (150 lumen) and has decent batt life (2.5 hrs). It's a cheap 'tactical' flashlight. When my mom was in the market for an affordable bright light, I had her get this.

For a smaller, dimmer version (1AA) of about the same quality, try this: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Energizer-Tactical-Handheld-Flashlight-1-Watt/dp/B0018OUWQO/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1377058107&sr=1-1&keywords=energizer+1aa+flashlight"]Amazon.com: Energizer Tactical Metal Handheld LED Flashlight, 1-Watt: Sports & Outdoors[/ame]
I own two of them. Found one in an auto parts store, the other in Target (that was a couple years ago, though).

I won't touch maglites; it took them years to catch up with the LED tech and I don't trust any company that is so slow to adapt to a new and obviously better tech. Incandescent lights of any brand aren't worth your money. I don't look at Xenon bulbs anymore either, because the LED technology can equal its brightness and uses less battery. Flashlights with multiple LEDs in them I also avoid, because that means they're using older (dimmer) LED tech. Also they typically can't throw a spot for crap and are only useful as very close-in floods. More is not better when it comes to LED bulbs in a flashlight, but they are okay in headlamps, which are designed specifically for a flood-shaped beam and put the multiple LEDs to good use.

For folding chairs, the smallest adult sized one wally world has is without arms (which only get in my way and bug me anyways) and costs <$10. Last time I bought one I think it was $6.
 
Joined
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11,223
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Arlington
Interesting you mentioned maglites. I've used them for years - big ones, small ones. I've always carried the little guy with 2 AA batteries as my reading and go-to-the-outhouse light. Then I discovered these stubby little LED lights. About 2 1/2 inches long, they run on 3 AAA batteries, have 5 little LED bulbs, and put out enough lumens to conduct night landings on an aircraft carrier. And Autozone sells them for $5 at the checkout counter. I carry a couple of those, and my Academy Sports headlamp, and I'm set.
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
472
Location
austin texas
Kelty Dome4 tent from REI garage sale was $8 with a broken pole. I called Kelty on their 800 number, told them I would repair the pole myself if they would send me two sections. They came in 4 days later (free) and I spent 10 minutes stringing the bungee cord into the new ones. PVC ground cloth cut from left-over 6-mil used under concrete pours.
Camp stove is a GREAT butane 1-burner from WALMART, folds up like a 'fly'. $20!!!
Use a $4 Melita coffee filter holder over a $2 staiinless cup (Walmart)
Bag is a 16-year-old Holofil from JCPenneys, and an REI 1 1/2" compressable pad. Summer bag is a piece of Fleece blanket mterial with an additional wedge in it to make the tube big enough to bend my knees in, and some velcro tape on the closure.
Academy cook set pot makes a good boiling pot AND 1-course cooker, holds the filter cone and stove.
1-gallon canteen from Academy that I added a 40" leather belt to with added holes so it either hangs over my sissie bar, or on my shoulder. It's 15 years old.
Several LED flashlights, bought during the Christmas sales at Home Depot- 10 of 'em with batteries fro $19, so I could give some as gifts.
A 3-d-cell LED MagLite, doubles as a night stick. (Who needs a big breakable lantern?)
BLM lands are free. I slept on the same ground as Lewis & Clark several nights in 2011.
California's budget woes make it too expensive to stay in their state parks. I got a good motel for 5 bucks more than the park.
But, the Outback Oasis Motel in Sanderson on the way to BigBend is $50, and YOU GOTTA SEE the poisonous snake collection they have just inside the office! SERIOUS STUFF!
On the other hand, the $26/night motel in Tenopah, NV was a last ditch thingy. When the sheets still had pubic hairs from a previous engagement, I unrolled the bag on top of the covers.
And the hail storm that turned into snow in SanteFe did cost me a chunk at the Best Western.
Finally, I've 'speed-napped' on a park bench at a rest stop in Kansas at 2AM, and I've pulled into the protective 'cone' near a high-power line during an afternoon monsoon outside Kingman, AZ and stretched the rain fly from my tent over me and the bike after the ignition flooded out. (Marconi effect= protected within an angle of 45 degrees from the protecting structure.
(Oh, yeah. Almost forgot the shelter to the lee of an abandoned store in Carrizzosa, NM during the 70+MPH dust storm. The moon that night was awe-inspiring.)
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
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Lampasas
Kelty Dome4 tent from REI garage sale was $8 with a broken pole. I called Kelty on their 800 number, told them I would repair the pole myself if they would send me two sections. They came in 4 days later (free) and I spent 10 minutes stringing the bungee cord into the new ones. PVC ground cloth cut from left-over 6-mil used under concrete pours.
Camp stove is a GREAT butane 1-burner from WALMART, folds up like a 'fly'. $20!!!
Use a $4 Melita coffee filter holder over a $2 staiinless cup (Walmart)
Bag is a 16-year-old Holofil from JCPenneys, and an REI 1 1/2" compressable pad. Summer bag is a piece of Fleece blanket mterial with an additional wedge in it to make the tube big enough to bend my knees in, and some velcro tape on the closure.
Academy cook set pot makes a good boiling pot AND 1-course cooker, holds the filter cone and stove.
1-gallon canteen from Academy that I added a 40" leather belt to with added holes so it either hangs over my sissie bar, or on my shoulder. It's 15 years old.
Several LED flashlights, bought during the Christmas sales at Home Depot- 10 of 'em with batteries fro $19, so I could give some as gifts.
A 3-d-cell LED MagLite, doubles as a night stick. (Who needs a big breakable lantern?)
BLM lands are free. I slept on the same ground as Lewis & Clark several nights in 2011.
California's budget woes make it too expensive to stay in their state parks. I got a good motel for 5 bucks more than the park.
But, the Outback Oasis Motel in Sanderson on the way to BigBend is $50, and YOU GOTTA SEE the poisonous snake collection they have just inside the office! SERIOUS STUFF!
On the other hand, the $26/night motel in Tenopah, NV was a last ditch thingy. When the sheets still had pubic hairs from a previous engagement, I unrolled the bag on top of the covers.
And the hail storm that turned into snow in SanteFe did cost me a chunk at the Best Western.
Finally, I've 'speed-napped' on a park bench at a rest stop in Kansas at 2AM, and I've pulled into the protective 'cone' near a high-power line during an afternoon monsoon outside Kingman, AZ and stretched the rain fly from my tent over me and the bike after the ignition flooded out. (Marconi effect= protected within an angle of 45 degrees from the protecting structure.
(Oh, yeah. Almost forgot the shelter to the lee of an abandoned store in Carrizzosa, NM during the 70+MPH dust storm. The moon that night was awe-inspiring.)
I have seen that tent he took it down in like seconds! Was trying to get a pic for the ride report and Mike is a speed demon getting packed up,he don't mess around. Nice to see you chime in. Thanks for the company at the last camp out in LLano park. You going for pie this month?
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
2,221
Location
Waco, Texas USA
I've got some decent equipment but am still using the $20 academy pup tent.

My Big Agnes pad cost 4x that but it was a massive comfort upgrade
over the thermarest and packs much smaller.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
16,896
Location
Lampasas
In the scouts I remember making a tube tent out of plastic with a rope strung between two trees for support. I also remember a guy there using cut tree branches to hold up the inside of his tent.
 

SL350

Forum Supporter
Joined
Oct 12, 2005
Messages
13,140
Location
Mesquite
No doubt in my mind that tarp camping in a free park is the cheapest way to camp. And it fits MC camping cause it is so small and lightweight.

Tarps


Hudson Bay pack

Then there is the fishing kit I always have. It is a pill bottle with a wine cork, a couple of small hooks punched into an end, and line wrapped around the cork. And fishing at state parks does not require a license.
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2005
Messages
1,731
Location
Lindale
6x8 tarp, separate from my tent ground cloth. I've used mine as extra waterproof layer on the tent during really heavy rain. Also as a bike cover, put on the ground if I had to work on the bike, extra thermal layer on cold nights, shade. Packs small for as much use as it is. My avatar shows my packed camping gear I take for moto-camping, the pic is me coming back from the Chain Gang rally at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Yellow bag is tent, sleeping bag, 6x8 tarp, and air mattress, red bag is Wal-Mart chair
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,223
Location
Arlington
I wrap my tarp around my sleeping gear while traveling. Makes a nice, tight bundle, plus protects it from occasional rain.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
16,896
Location
Lampasas
Lots of people find success without buying expensive gear. That's what this thread is about.
Yes not every camper has a big budget. Get the best gear you can afford but not all need a $300 two man tent or high dollar sleeping bag. My Tim approved set up is all under $100 total. Thats tent,bag,chair,pad,tarp,and misc. It has been on a least six pie runs and has held up well. I do want not need a lighter better tent but that is on hold right now. Ask friends for stuff they do not use anymore. Yard sales for extra cheap gear. Goodwill and salvation army will have tents and coleman stuff also. Craigslist is full of stuff that folks have used and decided they do not like to camp. More costly is nice but not always that much better.
 
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