After our first crack at camping off the bikes in the Snowy Mountains in January, we realised that what was missing was a dry area – other than the tent – if it started to rain. Somewhere to sit and chill or cook and drink! I started playing around with some sketches using the bikes as the “frame” for the tent (strangely, I couldn’t find anything about this kind of thing online) and trying to work out just how to make the structure work. I then got some excellent input from my dad – dad’s know everything, or at least that’s what I tell my kids – and it was on to the next phase.
Once the basic plan was in place, it was down to finding the right tarp/fly to use, which was way harder than I thought. Those hardware store tarps are just too bulky in the larger sizes, and while there are some amazing ultralight tent fly tarps they come at a crazy cost (like $300 plus!). Eventually I discovered a local company, OzTrail, that has a “Hiker Fly” that’s 3.5m x 2.1m and only costs $35. It’s also nice and light at 1kg. I then managed to pick up a couple of fiberglass tent poles at a camping store for $10 and we were in business – and here’s the result.
The good? It rained, and we stayed dry! But it wasn’t perfect. It definitely needs to be a bit longer so that we’re not a susceptible to the wind changing direction and sending rain in the rear opening. We also need to work on a better way of keeping it taught so the water doesn’t pool and make it sag. The next step will probably be to get Oztrail’s “Camper Fly”. This one is 5.9m x 3.6m but it does cost a bit more ($85) and is obviously a bit heavier (1.9kg). I’m not so concerned about the cost because at least I know I’m onto something that really works, but while the 3.6m will be perfect for covering the bikes front to back, the 5.9m width is massive and I may need to come up with a new pole solution to support it. Guess you’ll just have to watch this space!