One of the most incredible experiences a rider can have is going on a multi-day motorcycle camping trip. Hopping from campsite to campsite carrying only what fits on the bike is incredibly freeing. However, if it’s the rider’s first time hitting the open road in search of adventure, there might be some hiccups and snags along the way. Trial by error is incredibly common and sometimes “stuff happens” so revel in the process, improvise when you can, and keep a great attitude through it all. Check out our “must have” packing list with a few tips and tricks for setting up camp that will help you make the most out of your motorcycle camping trip.
Pack like a pro
Packing light is critical since motorcycles don’t afford you a lot of space. And, thanks to waterproof compression sacks, your bedding and clothing can be compressed into tight bundles that can easily be secured to your motorcycle. We recommend loading everything a day early and doing some hot laps to ensure your tie downs are in fact tied down. A loose canister can turn into a missile, a rogue towel in your wheel can bring your bike to a screeching halt going 80 mph, and unzipped bags can scatter your personal items across miles of road if you are not careful.
A few items that can be compressed:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Small camp pillow (put inside sleeping bag so it compresses with it)
- Minimal clothing options (plan accordingly and wear heaviest layers while riding)
- Microfiber towel
You can also pack up other small items that can’t be compressed, but take up little room when packed properly. Here’s what we recommend:
- One person tent
- Multi tool – make sure it has a can opening device
- Fuel canister w/ extra fuel
- Water bottle with clip
- Fire starter with matches
- Zip ties
- Tool roll
- Pair of junk flip flops – great for wearing around camp
- Baby wipes
- Bring cards or dice to start up games and make friends
- Travel size rain poncho – doubles as a covering for your seat in case of rain or morning dew
- Travel size toiletries – God bless the drugstore mini aisle
- Sunscreen & bug spray
- Credit cards
- Insurance card – check to see what is available for roadside assistance prior to heading out. For example, if you get stuck or your bike is disabled, Progressive will tow it to the nearest repair shop as long as you’re within 100 feet of the road. Adding roadside assistance like this is crucial and can be less than a $1 a month.
- Phone charger and USB
- Plastic baggies – great for keeping your phone dry in case of rain
- Post it note with emergency contacts, insurance card #, and address of where you are going. Can’t tell you how many riders leave their phones in random gas stops or forget that their phone is in their back pocket.
Since bikes afford little options for storage, especially food storage, we like to pick things up as we go. If there is no food where you are going, the last gas stop is your best resource for dinner options. I have personally shoved a can of gas station chili down the front of my moto jacket before and I have to tell you, it was one of the best meals I have ever had after riding through freezing rain to get to camp.
Setting up camp
It’s half the fun. When looking for a spot to settle in, try to find a high and dry area that is clear from debris and ant piles before you throw your tarp down. Your one or two person tent should be a breeze to set up (practice in your backyard before you try it out for the first time on the road) but if the elements are against you with rain and wind, ask for help, stake it down as fast as possible, and throw all your gear inside to weigh it down. I’ve seen tents lift and disappear within seconds into the night sky which can be funny to everyone but the person who was planning to sleep in it. Make sure to park your moto on high, solid ground at least six feet away from your tent. Once your tent is properly set up, sleeping pad inflated, and sleeping bag situated, start unpacking your other items and placing them strategically inside of the tent. I always hang my headlamp like a lamp and designate the pockets of my tent for specific items. For example, I store my phone and keys in the right corner near the head of my sleeping bag, left corner is for cash, credit cards, wallet items, and baby wipes. I keep my clothes, towel, and other toiletries at my feet. If you get into a habit of this, no matter what time you awake in the middle of the night to use the restroom, you will be able to grab what you need fast and efficiently. I always keep my helmet and boots inside the tent (personal preference after a scorpion encounter).
Now that camp is set up, get out there and explore the area, meet new friends around the campfire (LCR dice game will help), and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. If you have any tips and tricks you’d like to suggest, leave them in the comments below as there is always room for improvement no matter how many times you’ve packed up and hit the open road.