I just spent a few days with Spidi's new Expedition 103 tent, which was designed specifically for taking along on bike trips by one of THE big names in European safety gear. Could this be your next tent?
The Expedition 103 tent ($299) is 3 person tent and weighs 9.25 lbs. It has doors on both the front and back, and the roof of the tent itself is mostly mesh. The Expedition comes with a thermo insulating aluminized polyester rain fly with a decent sized vestibules at the front, as well as a large waterproof pocket off the side of the tent where you can store your riding gear. All of the seams are taped to prevent water from entering the tent. The structure includes a pair of preassembled fiberglass poles that hook to the tent for fast assembly, as well as a liftable ground water table, ventilation ears, steel stakes and inside pockets for holding objects.
The nice folks at Spidi were kind enough to include their 01 Sleeping Bag ($120) and 01 Sleeping Pad ($65). The sleeping bag is made of polyester and cotton with a thermal fiber performance padding of 200 gr/m2. Is equipped with an adjustable hood and padded thermo collar to prevent cold drafts, a two-way zip with zip cover, a storage pocket and compressible carry bag. The sleeping pad is a self-inflating mattress made of strong Polyester 190T fabric coupled with foam resin. It is 3.5 cm thickness and is supplied with a bag container, repair kit, and nice elastic straps to help keep it rolled up while you stuff it in it's stuff sack.
Spidi was very clever in their design of the stuff sacks for the three pieces of equipment. All three sacks are the same length and roughly the same size, and the one for the tent comes with extremely long straps attached so you can wrap it around all three items and attach them together. The length of the three sacks is also very convenient for strapping to the back of a motorcycle so, even though this isn't one of the lightest set ups available, it is definitely the easiest to secure to your bike.
Both the tent and the sleeping bag and pad were designed with the help of an Italian company called Ferrino, established in 1870, who have been a pioneer in camping equipment throughout Europe. No seriously, they make gear for the U.N. and Italian Government.
So How'd it Do?
The Spidi Expedition 103 Tent and the accompanying sleeping bag and pad are a wonderful idea....that leave some room for improvement in execution and refinement. Overall I actually really like what they did, but I would still probably take my Poler 2 Man tent on most motorcycle trips. [By "my" Sean means my tent — Ed]
Including a compartment for gear is a brilliant idea, but with the compartment built into the rain fly you have to unzip a large window into the main tent to get to it which leaves a gap and a large area for water or dirt to get into the tent. I would have liked to have seen that compartment just built into the side of the tent instead, and then covered by the rain fly.
The size of the tent is more like something you would take car camping than bike camping, and it dwarfs other options we frequently use. I originally got this tent for my trip to Seattle but it was just too massive for just one person. It's technically a 3 person tent, which means the footprint was just about perfect for my girlfriend and I as well of all of our stuff, but it's quite tall which means there is a good deal of unnecessary fabric, both in the tent itself and the rain fly is massive. The tent packs down decently small for how big the tent is, but the only way I could really see it being worth the space over a smaller 2 man tent is if I was on a bike where space wasn't really an issue or I was sharing it with someone on a different bike, and I could offset some of my gear on their bike.
The sleeping bag was fine for this trip, but was a little chilly during the nights which got down to the mid to high 40's. It definitely didn't strike me as a very quality bag, though with a pricetag of only $120, I don't think I should have expected much more. The sleeping pad was fine and, while slightly narrower than my other standard ones, it held air throughout the night helped insulate some warmth.
All of the materials throught the tent seemed to be fairly high quality, much higher quality than the price tag would suggest. The stakes were quality and they rain fly has numerous places to stake it into the ground, as well as a few places where they attached some lanyard to tie to trees or other stakes for added stability. We left the rain fly off and enjoyed the fact that the entire roof was mesh and we could sleep with an unobstructed view of the surrounding redwoods and stars.
Overall, this is an excellent tent for the money. It's an excellent tent... for car camping with your significant other. It's an excellent tent...if you have panniers and a top case on your motorcycle for your other gear and you can strap this to the top of the cases. The sleeping bag is an excellent sleeping bag...for mild temperatures and for summer camping and the sleeping pad is an excellent sleeping pad...if you don't roll around when you sleep and you aren't very wide.
Personally, I think there is room to increase the price a little (and improve the design and quality) of all three components and would be more excited about a $400 tent, a $200 sleeping bag, and a $100 sleeping pad that fixed some of the issues I had.