Air matresses don't leak in my experience. Mine is a cheap queen size with built-in manual pump (a spring with a check valve thingy).
They do lose pressure after you set them up, that's true, but I think it's due to the temperature drop between noon-time setup and bed-time.
Air mattresses however suck, and that's because they have nothing in them to absorb your heat and radiate it back to you. On my first night on one, I was cold, from underneath. After I realised that the blanket had to be undeneath my sleeping bag, and not on top, I was fine.
Here's the advice I can think of right now (I'm by no means an expert, and I'll probably remember a thousand things I forgot right after I post this):
- Buy good quality camping gear (as long as you know you'll use it more than once)
- Build yourself a tarp system that's easy to set up and take down as soon as you get to the site (sucks to setup/takedown a tent, or cook in the rain)
- Plan on having two tarp systems, one near your tent, and one for your cooking area. Siltarps are grat, they pack into the volume of a can of coke, and while you do not need poles per se, I like to have them and have made my own out of 1/2" aluminium tubing (they collapse into 18 identical 1' sections that can be assembled into any configuration I need and take up little room in my sidecases)
- Get a propane/butane/isobutane stove; the fancy multifuel ones are only useful at high altitude (or for looking cool) and expensive for nothing (as well as being high-maintenance)
- Pack dehydrated meals (some are quite good in taste/quality/nutritional value/price), water purification tablets, a collapsible water container, and small cookware. Get a water filtration system if you can.
- Get a drip coffe maker that fits inside the bottom of your 225g stove canister (it's easier to pack 2 small fuel canisters than a large one). Good coffee is worth it; I drink instant at home, but when camping, I like the real stuff.
- Always have bear spray on hand, and don't carry food (other than sealed dehydrated meals).
- Keep your garbage at least 100m away from your tent (and pack it out with you). Same goes for your latrines (the 100m, not the packing out).
- Do NOT keep any food in your tent, and do not sleep in the clothes you cooked in.
- Set your cooking area up at least 100m from your tent (in the opposite direction from your garbage; I usually set them up in a triangle), and never cook on a campfire (which should be near your tent); do all your cooking in pots and pans that you will wash with biodegradable soap before packing them into your sidecases. Wash at the cooksite, pack at the bike near your tent.
- Get yourself a good LED headlamp (with adjustable beam intensity), and plenty of spare batteries.
If you are staying at populated campsites, some safety precautions are less necessary, as other campers will probably be more sloppy than you and "distract" the wildlife.
My wife and I go camping on the wee, and we fit everything in the 2 sidecases except the tent, the tarps and the air-mattress. The sidecases are givi e-36. I waterproofly roll the tent and air mattresss into the tarp and strap that to my luggage rack with simple nylon non-ratcheting tie-straps (I normally have a givi topcase there, but it's better to strap the tent on it; the rolled-up bundle fits nicely ontop of the givi mounting plate)
I'm not going to go into the list of everything we carry, but it's quite adequate, and it all fits neatly onto the bike.
This forum actually has a pretty good camping section. I'm thinking of posting pictures of my tarp setup in it (maybe).
Oh yeah, one more thing: last time I went to a campsite, They didn't charge me anything. I went with friends who had cars, and we got a double site, 3 cars and one bike; the cars had to pay but the bike was free. Maybe if you can hook up with people that are coming in they might let you setup on their site if you offer to pay half their fee. Who knows, you might even make some friends...
Last edited by SittingDuck; 06-14-2010 at 05:03 AM.