For me, the worst part about taking a big trip is deciding on the equipment to purchase. I know very little about outdoor equipment, which is typically pretty expensive. So I spend hours researching and debating what I need, what would be nice to have, and how much I am willing to pay for different qualities/features.
The two biggest purchases that I needed for the cycling trip are a tent and a sleeping bag, and I’m happy to say that I’ve already purchased both.
For the tent, I went with the ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 1.0 Tent. I was looking for a tent with low weight and a small packing size but with enough room on the inside of the tent to fit myself and a few bags. I considered the 1.5 person model, but being only 5 foot, 8 inches tall, I think I can make it work in the 1.0 model. This is one of the few times I am happy to be short (this is the other example). I feel I got a good deal for $110 with tax.
I ended up with the REI Radiant Down Sleeping Bag rated at 20 degrees F. The main debate here was size vs. temperature. I looked at the REI Travel Down bag, which is rated at 45 degrees and fits into a stuff sack about 60% smaller than the Radiant Down. However, I’ll probably run into overnight temperatures in the 45 degree range, if not colder. Being cold at night is not something I am willing to risk, so I decided on the 20 degree rated Radiant Down bag. REI had a deal going in which you get 20% off one item after signing up for their lifetime membership (not a store credit card, which are bad ideas). I paid $187 for the sleeping bag after taxes and now with their lifetime membership.
After arriving back home, I set up the tent, threw my sleeping bag and Therm-A-Rest inside, and camped out in the backyard. With good luck, we had strong winds and rain. With bad luck (and user error), a bit of water came in through the side as the rainfly was flapping around in the wind. That’s why we call it a practice run.