Having never bikepacked before, I realized that there are a lot of unknowns for me to deal with. One of those unknowns is packing my bike, by far, the largest part of that pack will be my sleeping system.
I got interested in the idea of endurance rides and bikepacking by watching the likes of Mark Beaumont, Jenny Graham, Mike Hall, and more recently, Lael Wilcox. They all have done some amazing things on bikes. I’d love to duplicate some of their efforts, but I’d just go three or four times slower or shorter than them! Having watched these riders, I originally thought I might go the same sleeping route they did and just go for a bivy bag and skip the weight and bulk of a tent all together.
I started window shopping and even found a bag at REI that would zip over my head but had a small hoop to give you a little breathing room. I talked to some friends that have backpacked and they HIGHLY recommended a tent. One reason is that a bivy bag can be rather constricting. In a tent you can stretch out, get your gear out of the elements, and you even get a bit of modesty for changing and the like. Not to mention, with a CPAP, the little extra room for equipment and battery would be nice.
Okay, I’ll use a tent
Wanting to try out the experience before buying gear, I borrowed a tent, sleeping bag, and pad from a friend. I hadn’t camped in over a decade. I thought a sleeping pad was silly bulk and weight. It’s not. I pitched the tent in my living room (this was my first time using a tent that isn’t freestanding so I used some Voile straps attached to furniture to hold it up. I plugged in my cpap and went to sleep.
This clinched it, I had borrowed a two person backpacking tent and the room inside was nice but the packed size and weight was pretty small. To me, the added luxury and space will be absolutely worth it over a bivy bag, especially if there is overnight precipitation. I haven’t picked out my sleeping bag or tent yet but I did pick up a sleeping pad on clearance from REI using my gift card strategy.