More tent/camping advice, please?

This thread gave some great advice, but I have narrowed my search down a bit. The REI Half Dome looks great, but it doesn’t seem to be on sale yet and my camping trip is coming up in mid September. I looked around and found this Kelty Silver Moon 2 at REI outlet at a good price. I also like this Eureka Apex 2XT and it is on sale. The Apex 2 is even cheaper, but my SO said I’d probably want the larger vestibule the 2XT has.

So what do you experienced campers recommend? I like the color of the Apex 2XT. I know color is a dumb reason to choose a particular tent, but with all other factors being the same color could come into play. But I like the fact that the Kelty has a footprint made especially for it, it looks like the Eureka doesn’t have one that specifically fits it.

I will also need a sleeping bag and some sort of sleeping mat/air mattress. Some of my future trips could be in colder conditions, maybe even below freezing, but probably not middle of winter below zero conditions. Any opinions?

I’d go with the Apex 2XT. I’ve owned Eureka tents before, and have always been very happy with them. My Timberline tent has gone from the beach at Homer, Alaska in April (windy, cold, wet, windy, wet) to the Mohave desert in October (hot, dry, hot). It has never let me down.

As for a sleeping pad, get yourself a Thermarest pad, the thickest you can find. You want something that won’t conduct heat, so an air matress is contraindicated. REI has any number of good 3-season sleeping bags. The big question is mummy vs semi-rectangular. Mummy bags always give me claustrophobia, so I settle for the extra weight but more comfortable semi-rectangular. Check out Cabela’s for a good selection of bags and pads. I recommend their Ultimate sleeping pad and the Boundary Waters sleeping bag. But check out REI too.

I have a great suggestion, you should buy this tent

And tell me how good it is. :slight_smile:

I’ve kind of been watching it. It’s really cheap, bigger than a standard 1 person tent(25 Sq ft opposed to <20 for most single person tents). As saves a decent bit of weight over most two person tents. But I really know nothing about the brand, And I’m suspicious why it’s so cheap, so I need you to be a guinea pig, OK?

As for sleeping pads, Thermarest is pretty much the standard. They have different lengths and thicknesses.(With my bad back I have a 2.75 inch think one for car camping, but it takes up way to much space for any kind of pbackpacking. Usually the 1.75 thick ones are used for space limited situations. The space of the things is the big problem, you will never get it anywhere near as small as it is when you buy it, so make sure you plan for the actual size it will be after use.

Trying tent link again :smack:

:dubious: That seems to be a 1.5 person tent, wolfman. I’m female, so I actually need all the (little as it may be) extra space a whole 2 person tent will afford me. :wink: I don’t want to go larger than a 2 person because I don’t want to asked to share my tent with anyone. Otherwise, that is a good price.Although the tent looks like some sort of creepy insect.

I am going to be a failure at camping. I just know it. I am such a girly girl.

Are you going to have to shelp the tent yourself?
If the answer to that is yes either on a bike or backpack then I either votre for the REI Half Dome, or wolfman’ s tent for the reason of weight.

No. I won’t need to carry it far myself. This tent will be for school field trips - we travel by van so space is limited, but not so bad that an extra pound or three will make a big difference.

Thanks for the advice. Ther are too many choices out there as far as tents and sleeping bags go, and it make picking one out difficult.

Any of those three tent choices will be fine, you won’t go wrong with any of them. I’d go with the Half Dome, I had one ages ago (earlier design) and it was a fine, basic tent. Vestibules are good, don’t underestimate them.

You don’t need to go super thick for a Therm-a-Rest pad. The standard should be fine for car camping. If you want to spend a little extra and get the Camp-Rest, that’ll be a bit of luxury.

For sleeping bags REI sells some basic models that will do you good. Look for a women’s specific bag, they tend to be cut more for women and will tend to be slightly warmer for a few reasons. A 30 degree bag will get you through most anything you are likely to see. Since you’ll be car camping you can just carry along a blanket to drape over you. Also, wear more clothes to bed and wear a hat if it is colder than you expected.

How much do you figure on spending?

The Apex tents linked in the OP have poles that cross over, forming a dome that is inherently stable; the tent linked by wolfman has two separate ‘hoop’ poles, making a tunnel that is entirely dependent on the guy ropes to keep it upright - neither of these is necessarily better than the other if erected properly and carefully, but the stable dome is likely to be more better in windy conditions and more ‘forigiving’ if you have to throw it together in a hurry (not to mention if there is any possibility of pranksters).

I meant to say ‘more betterer’, of course.

I like my North Face Blue Kazoo sleeping bag for temperatures around 30 degrees and above. At $200 it might sound pricey, but, in my opinion, a good down bag is the only way to go. The common mistake, which I made, is to try to save some money by buying an $80 synthetic bag. The $80 bag doesn’t do the job; you end up buying the $200 bag anyway, and now you’re out $280 instead of $200. Not the best way to save money.

I suggest adding ten to fifteen degrees to the bag’s temperature rating. For example, the Blue Kazoo is advertised as a twenty degree bag. To me, that means it’s a 30 to 35 degree bag. The idea is that you have to be warm enough to sleep through the entire night. Waking up at 2 AM and running in place to get warm every fifteen minutes sucks. This is especially true if your feet get cold easily.

As silenus mentions, mummy bags can be a bit claustrophobic. They are tapered to keep warm air close to your body, and they have a hood that closes around your head. So, when you go to sleep, you sort of have to lay there like you are in a coffin. A rectangular bag takes up more space and weighs more.

Also, double-check the bag size when you go to buy it. Bags usually come in long, medium, and short sizes. Obviously, you don’t want a bag that is too small, but a bag that is too big can be a problem as well. Your body heat is wasted heating the bag’s unused space.

I was planning on $300-$400 toatal, but it looks like stuff is going to be more expensive. At least I won’t need to bring cooking stuff on this trip, meals are planned away from the campground.

I am thinking about witing until after Labor Day to do any actual purchasing, maybe stuff will be on sale then. I have been looking on eBay, but used equipment is going for almost as much as used, and I would like the instructios to be included, not always guaranteed with eBay purchases of used equipment.

This quote confuses me. Are you definitely committed to going on a bunch of camping trips or are you considering bailing if you don’t enjoy the great outdoors? Because before I’d sink $500 into a hobby, I’d definitely test drive it to see if it’s something I enjoyed.

So my advice is to buy neither at this point, but to borrow a tent and a sleeping bag from a friend, if at all possible. Then, if after the first time, it’s something you’re incredibly stoked about, then consider investing in your own equipment. The great thing about waiting a bit is that you can investigate other people’s tents on your first outing. Crawl in them. See how easy they are to erect and take down. If it rains, make notes about which tent let in the least amount of water.

If you simpy must purchase one before your first trip, then I’d go to an outdoors store and physically crawl into the different tents. If you’ll be camping in extremely hot weather (highly unlikely given that you’re from WI), then you’d look for big screened windows that will let a breeze in. If you’ll more likely camp in cold weather, then a decent rain cover is essential, as well as a tent that can handle and repel high winds. Also consider that generally speaking, the more square footage the tent has, the colder it will be. Those huge tents with three different rooms are great for family camping in the summer, but pretty darn cold on a frosty October evening. Be sure to test the zippers!. You want zippers that don’t snag and that zip closed every single time. Because once the zippers gone, there goes your rain protection and there goes your mosquito protection.

There are some decent quality medium priced tents out there that are fine for the casual camper. Our 2-man Coleman tent has lasted for 15 years. I wouldn’t take it to hike Mt. Everest, but it’s fine for the type of camping we do.

Good luck on your camping trips. I wish I could go more often. Nothing’s better than sleeping out in a tent on a (somewhat) cold night, with just your nose sticking out of the sleeping bag. :slight_smile:

I’m a geology major, I am required to take field trips. I love being outdoors, but I am a person who likes her comforts. I like being able to take a bath or shower after being covered in sweat and bugs. I like soft beds. I like warmth. I have camped before when I was younger, but all my recent (like the last 20 years) adventures have involved a motel room at the end of the day.

I have asked friends for a loaner tent - one might come through before my first trip. He sold the tent to another friend and is seeing about borrowing it back for me to use. I asked some family members about using their tents, but it sems like nobody has a smaller tent - they all have these huge multi-room family tents, and I’d rather not have to cart all that around for just me. I have a friend who said she’d loan me her motor home, but I don’t think that will fly on my school field trips. :wink:

I’m going to need camping equipment sooner or later, I might as well have my own stuff now.

Take a look at some of these:

Also I just received an REI flyer in the mail yesterday. They’re starting a major sale over Labor Day…

I’ve had very good experiences with Marmot tents. I have a 4 year old model that I took up to the BWCA last year where it rained for 3 straight days. There was practically a rushing river under us and the tent remained dry the entire time. Staying dry is a major concern of mine, so I try to look for “Bathtub” Floors. Essentially the floor of the tent is one whole piece of frabic rather than several seemed together.