Monday, 17 January 2011

Carry On (Cycle) Camping

I am looking forward to cycling in 2011. I have a few days in April when the wife and child are away, 4 days in the summer to do a coast to coast crossing with my brother (route yet to be decided) and a whole week or so in late summer for a longer solo trip - likely travelling the length of Wales although the west coast of Scotland or even the Outer Hebrides may be the final choice. I will also be trying for some local one nighters to knock off a few localish BCQ checkpoints I cannot get to and back from in one day. All in all quite exciting within the confines of my middle aged, married with a child, employed lifestyle. 

So today I have started preparing. Last year on the Pennine Cycleway trip I realised two items let me down a little - my tent was too bulky, past its best and heavier than I would like (isn't everything too heavy when you have to carry it?) and my sleeping bag was only just OK for summer use (it is a hosteling bag rather than a decent camping one and so really was never meant to be used under canvas). So damn the VAT rise, I've gone and done my bit for the economy and splurged on some new camping gear. 

I am now the proud owner of a Vango Force 10 Helium 200 tent and a Mountain Hard Wear Lamina 35 synthetic '2 season' sleeping bag. I wanted both to offer reasonable quality without costing a fortune, be small to pack yet roomy to use and of course be light to carry. No one variable totally achievable without impacting on one or more of the others. So after some research via t'inernet I had a rough shortlist but wanted to actually hold the products in my hand, try them out and compare before making my final decision so I went for an actual physical shopping experience rather than ordering online. 

Cotswold had a number of tents in stock, was happy to have them erected and crawled through by yours truly and one of the assistants was also a cycle tourer of 2 years worth of world travel so could add his useful experiences into the mix. After the help they gave me I decided to purchase from them even though I normally go for the least expensive outlet, however I got a 15% discount by virtue of being a CTC member so there wasn't actually much price difference in the end.

No more B&Bs for me now!*

*unless the weather if really awful or I don't feel well

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