Posted from Shirley, England, United Kingdom.
Segal’s Law, for those of you who care about such things, states that a man with a watch knows what time it is, but a man with two watches is never sure. Clearly less is more. As you might expect with me, having spent an inordinate amount of time pondering and planning the Rally over the last ten months, I nevertheless managed to fall foul of this, big time.
I hate camping, as some of you may know, but it was obvious from the start that I’d need a tent at various points during the trip, so reluctantly I started looking around for the perfect solution.
First stop, the loft. Out came the Tesco 2-man tent I’d used on a short motorcycling trip to Europe a couple of years ago. That was a case for Trades Descriptions if ever I saw one, as I could only just fit in it on my own, leaving my toes virtually poking out in the breeze. It was as flimsy as anything, so really not suitable. Cost? Under £10.
I then saw a Redverz Gear Ténéré Series 2 Expedition Tent, the winner of the Ride Magazine August 2011 group test. Perfect! A 6kg 3-season tent, it cost me £349 and would protect the bike under cover at night, with plenty of room for me and the gear too. And I could bring it back from Mongolia and use it again and again. However, when I got it home and erected it, it was huge (1.95m high, which I hadn’t really pictured from the magazine), and in reality way too big for the trip. If the wind had gotten hold of it on the Pamir Highway, I’d have ended up parasailing half way up Everest.
So, a good quality but far smaller tent was the order of the day. After endless online browsing, I settled for the Vango Force 10 Titan 200. A massive spec, weighing in at 5.2kg and a mere 1.15m high, along with a pitching time of 12 minutes. Cost? A snip at £500, but the perfect setup. Or so I imagined.
A couple of weeks ago I attended an excellent one-to-one motorcycle expedition planning course with Richard Jeynes of Trailquest, based in Malvern, to check how (un)prepared I was for the trip. The bike itself was Richard’s biggest concern, but only because it was so overloaded with spare tyres and other assorted bits of nonsense he didn’t think I’d make it to the start at Goodwood, never mind Ulaan Baatar. (Actually he was rolling on the ground with laughter when he first saw it, so think Cadbury’s Smash Martians here.)
After convincing me to get rid of the two spare tyres and redistributing the rest of the load, Richard persuaded me that my fine Vango was too heavy, too bulky and would take too long to erect after a long day’s riding. So? A Quechua 2 Seconds I Tent was prescribed. Instant pitching, with flysheet, and only weighing 2.4kg. Price? A measly £30 from Decathlon. Pitching it’s easy, but you just try putting these popup tents down! (Took me 45 minutes the first time. I’ve now got it down to a mere half an hour.)
So this whole business has been a sort of Occam’s Razor, with the simplest solution being the best (and pretty well the cheapest).
Anybody after a cheap tent?