I haven't bought or field tested anything, but I visited a local camping/backpacking store and seen so much stuff I could have loaded my bike to breaking point. There so much cool stuff out there. But it defiantly opened my eyes to what is out there. I seen a camping cook set that had stove with fuel bottle and everything you would need to cook... Pot, pan, plates, some cups, silverware. The whole deal that packed into something about the size of a medium size pot and weighed only a couple pounds. I've found that bags vary in packing size depending on the warmth they provide. So if you are not going to be in very cold conditions then that will save you some space. What sort of tent are you looking into? A single or multiple sleeper?
efigalaxie, I recommend heading to one of the three REI stores in VA. They have an excellent selection with a wide price range as well as knowledgeable employees. Even if you just go in to get "educated" on tents and bags, its worth the trip. I use a Sierra Designs Comet CD tent. It has served me well for years as a three season tent and has even kept me comfortable when 4" of snow fell while in Colorado. I use a Marmot Sawtooth Down 15° bag and enjoy the fact that it was available in a long length. My sleeping pad is an Exped SynMat 9 and it totally blows away the Thermarest self inflating job that it replaced - no comparison (two different approaches to sleep pads). Buy the best you can afford. If you are just bike camping and don't plan to hike in anywhere, weight isn't a huge factor.
The problem with "cheap" is that it'll do just fine until you get caught in weather that isn't ideal..
Avoid the Walmart tents.. Nothing sucks more than getting rained on while inside a tent, trying to sleep through the rain..
I've always had good luck with Eureka tents and I sleep like a rock on those inflatable beds that you find at Walmart for $20.. I carry a cheap blower that runs off the bike, blowing up a twin size mattress in a minute.. I like those mattresses because they get you 5" off the ground, and if you get caught in a bad rain, just toss your stuff up on the bed, where it's going to absolutely remain dry..
I carry a 15 degree Cabela's retangular down bag, and one of those $13 Walmart Fleece bags.. If it's warm, sleep in or on the fleece, and if it's cold, you can use the fleece as a blanket or a bag liner.. Or even a pillow.. Get a SealLine waterproof bag to stuff the down and fleece bag into so they're always dry when you need them to be.. Even after riding all day in rain, they'll be dry as they were when you put them in the bag.
Others here will chime in with other suggestions.. Remember that none of us are wrong.. We can't all try everything, but we've all had good and bad luck with gear..
And if this is your first time MotoCamping, remember that carrying stuff you'll never use is a waste of space.. Also, visit http://www.motocampers.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=1 for TONS of info.. I've been camping on bikes for over 25 years and I love it!! My favorite is camping in the middle of nowhere, or Stealth Camping.. But there's nothing like sitting around a campfire with a bunch of other guys after a day's ride...
And remember that if the weather turns really bad, get to shelter.. Sometimes a good nights sleep in a cheap Mom and Pop motel, letting your stuff dry out, and getting a good shower in the morning is well worth that $45..
Might also think about what size tent you want. As a general rule a one man/solo tent is just that...you in the tent and your gear outside. A two man tent has room for you and your gear inside and a four man has room for two people and their gear.
After what Paper said I can add little but here goes......... I use a Big Agnes air mattress because it rolls up into a 4 X 10" stuff bag, a bit of a pain to inflate without a pump but comfy. Other than that Paper has it nailed, I have been doing it since 1980 and when it gets really ugly the part about staying in a Motel and drying out is Golden!
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