Road tripping on a bike is just like backpacking when it comes to deciding what gear to bring. I obsess on trying to pack as little as possible and still have everything I need, plus a little bit. Each trip the load plan gets slightly modified, but certain things like a canteen cup, fire, coffee, headlamp and tools always go. Recently we got the hook up from the fine folks at Poler.
Now, other than a brief stint with an el Cheapo Wal Mart tent a couple years ago, I have always preferred a bivy sack if there is a chance of getting wet or just went commando with a wool blanket or light sleeping bag in the desert. Setting up a typical tent in the dark and tearing down with a hangover in the morning gets old about day three and the superfluous stuff gets chucked. A bivy packs down nice and tidy, may include a single pole, (or may not). I dig the efficiency and the lack of moving parts, but the stoicism can lose it's charm pretty quick. Now that I've had a few nights in this Poler unit, the bivy is stowed and I've embraced the luxury of a quality tent. I used it on the Gypsy Run last month and my kid poached it from me last weekend in Baja.
The whole tent is really just a fine net if you choose to leave the fly off, which is perfect for the desert and beach camping we enjoy. If there is a chance of rain or heavy dew, the fly goes on over the top. The benefit is superb ventilation and less set up, with a back up plan of water-proofing only a minute or so of extra work away. With the fly on there is a small vestibule for stashing stuff out of the rain, but also out of your tent, ie: dirty boots, helmet, etc. Unlike a lot of single-person tents that have an entrance on the front, this one has it on the side so it's easier to crawl into after a long day and there is ample room for getting situated.
The support poles are all hooked together with shock cord through a couple lightweight joints so there is less fumbling around in the dark. It all packs down to a reasonable size and compression straps mean you can actually fit it in the rip-stop bag without wrestling and then cinch it down to it's minimum size. $170 is a heavy hit for a tent, but like good boots, quality motorcycle parts or other stuff you can make last a long time, it's worth saving for and treating well.
Yes, I endorse a Therma-Rest pad and unicorn Pillow-Pet for ultimate comfort.
Check out Poler stuff here.