Life on the road comes easily to our Store Manager Ollie.
He was only ten years old when he bought his first bike, an old Russian MZ 250, and was a camper way before then.
Ollie’s second bike was a result of a very early purchase from a popular online auction website, in it’s late nineties prime. Turning up on his doorstep via land and sea, a crate from China housing a ‘build your own’ Yiben Wolfboy, with a 29mph speed limit and small 49cc engine.
This slower pace gave Ollie a chance to really take in his surroundings when he was on the road and appreciate being in the outdoors. He took back roads, avoiding the motorways, allowing himself to enjoy the amble and take his time. Being from a small town Ollie began biking more and more to explore, his Dad helped him with the bikes, teaching him to understand the inner workings of these smaller-engined companions.
When Ollie talks about moto-camping, essentially motorbiking with a tent, he talks about the practical - how to balance your ride, where to camp, what wear - but there’s so much more to his practice than just the logistics. He explains that we spend all of our time looking at screens, even when you’re in a car - it’s no different, you’re looking through a screen at the world - but when you’re on a bike, you’re much more connected to everything. He tells me about the moment on a ride when the bike becomes an extension of oneself. There’s something about the raw mechanics of the bike that gives the rider the ability to feel everything, every turn and every screw.
There’s a sense of joint partnership with something that separates you only slightly from the open road. The vulnerability of the rider forms trust and connection. This understanding and philosophy is a necessary one, a bike is much more likely to falter than a car or a van and that symbiotic relationship is something that will keep you on the road, safely. Ollie has learnt well, he likes to tinker and feels capable to fix his bike if something shifts, as it can do. This survival instinct is something that bears welling his camping habits: pack lite and well, be prepared and then the rest is just you and nature.
There is a large group of people who make up the lightweight camping community: bikers, cyclists, back-packers and having this survivalist nature is something that helps when you are facing the elements. Aside from being kinder to the planet, the bike allows for more flexibility and freedom than just walking or taking a car. Ollie’s stories about taking his Honda 1999 125cc through the Alps is enough to make you buy a one way ticket to Calais and drive down. Or visit the ruins in Italy, or catch a glimpse of forgotten Olympic sports stadiums in Eastern Europe. The friends he has met and roads he’s taken seem so remote and yet so available, it seem as though camping was always meant to come with a motorbike.
Yet with limited space, it can seem impossible for it to all fit on one bike… but of course, it all does. The creativity of the planning is definitely part of the adventure and a big part of the community. Each trip is different and needs planning for accordingly; each fabric so considered and safety always at the forefront.
Ollie sleeps in a Snow Peak Minute Dome Pro 1 Air. He describes it as a-man-and-his-dog sized tent, perfect for protecting his gear and safe from the rain. The small canopy gives him a bit of space for checking his bike at night and it’s lightweight enough to fit in his panniers.
The sleeping bag is often down to debate: down or synthetic. Down is lighter and warmer but if wet, it will take a long time to dry. Ollie sleeps in the Bacoo 550 sleeping bag which is light weight but will protect him down to temperatures as low as -7 degrees celsius, it's a perfect all year round bag that packs away easily on the bike
Your sleep mat is as important if not more so, than your sleeping bag - if you think about laying on the earth, your energy is sucked into the planet. Ollie’s motto is ‘A good layer under you is the equivalent to 2 good layers on top of you’. Take an insulated air mattress, one that’s no bigger than two baked bean tins on top of each other. You don’t want to be carrying around a volume of foam when you need to be economical with space.
Ollie always packs his Snow Peak Titanium Aurora Bottle Silver 800 as it can double up as a hot water bottle. Before bed, he heats up some water in his bottle on the stove, puts lid on, wraps it into a sock and heats up his sleeping bag with it at night. The bottle sits straight on the stove, you don't have to worry about transferring it to another vessel and then in the morning you can drink the cooler water when you wake up.
Cooking is an essential part of any camping experience but when space is so limited, you have to find a pot or a pan that does it all when you're on the road. Ollie opts for the Cast Iron Duo. Fitting perfectly on his Pack & Carry Fireplace S he and partner Hideko, are set on any adventure with this compact kitchen set up.
One last piece of advice... pack your bag, book a local campsite and have a go!
For more lightweight camping ideas, follow here.
Keep up with Ollie's latest adventures on his Instagram @oputtick
Photos courtesy of Ollie Puttick and Markus Brown.