Motorcycle Camping, like any trip, needs some thought into what you bring with you. Here’s a motorcycle camping checklist I’ve compiled based on my experiences. As a general overview the most important things to consider is size and weight. While we as motorcyclists can carry much more than hikers, the kitchen sink is a bit of a stretch.
Riding gear: It might seem obvious but it’s worth a mention. While it’s not a legal requirement everywhere, good quality gear is a must. Often times you’ll be reasonably isolated and away from built up areas. The proper gear can, like in most situations, be the difference between life and death.
Weather gear: Depending on the time of year you’ll want to carry waterproof gear. If you’re expecting rain you can save some space by having waterproof riding gear. Also important to think about is thermals for colder climates. At the other end of the spectrum. If you’re expecting heat and a good dose of sun, dress accordingly. Jackets with high air-flow are a good option.
First aid: Something any adventurer will already have. The basics (Bandages, pain killers, tweezers, etc) go a long way. Bug spray and sunscreen are also wise investments.
Food and water: There are a lot of options for motocamping meals. The main thing is usually to avoid perishables. Water in a good quantity is recommended and a must in hotter climates.
Sleeping setup: I use the term sleeping setup quite a bit. I use it to refer to everything you need for a good nights sleep. As always, pick based on your conditions. A good tent or swag, sleeping bag, pillow, and mattress are a must. In colder climates I like to include a thick woollen blanket for extra warmth.
Cooking equipment: There are some really great gas burner stoves out there. Before any trip always make sure you have enough gas. You might opt to cook over a fire. Either way, pots and pans that pack down and some cooking utensils to make campsite life easier are a great idea.
Toiletries: All the basics you’d take anywhere. If you’re like me and like to get off the beaten path to some degree, a small shovel / spade and a roll of toilet paper cannot be forgotten!
Fire making gear: This can range from a fire striker to a simple cigarette lighter. A good idea is to bring some fire starters to get the ball rolling with extra ease. A light axe or collapsable saw are also a good idea. A good quality knife is useful as well, which has plenty of other uses.
Entertainment: Once you’ve settled down at camp a few creature comforts never hurts. There is plenty of fishing gear that is designed to be collapsable. A good book also goes a long way.
Light source: While a fire is a great source of light at camp you never know when you’ll not be able to have one or need to get around in the dark. A head torch is great because it leaves your hands free.
Off-bike clothing: You don’t want to be stomping around in riding boots and pants. Packing an appropriate change of clothes is essential. Especially if you planning on exploring the area you’re camping.
Electronics: If you’re like me you’ll have a phone and camera at the very least. A decent sized battery bank and the appropriate charging cables are worth the weight. Note: Don’t rely of electronics for navigation. If you’re going to be leaving cellular reception a paper map and a compass as backup are critical for navigation in a sticky situation.
Extra fuel: If you’re setting off on a longer trip it’s important to know your bikes range. If you’re travelling beyond that between service stations extra fuel is required. Here’s a quick comparison of common adventure bikes and their tank ranges:
With all your bags packed you’d think you’re ready to hit the road. But wait! there are some things you should run through before getting in the saddle:
Bike Pre-Ride Checklist
Check your luggage: Once you’ve packed and loaded your luggage on your bike you should do a thorough walk-around. Make sure everything is secured and not going to move around. Also make sure that nothing is obstructing the handlebars. You should do this every time you load your bike up. A mate of mine lost his tent poles half way through a long weekend camp. You don’t want that to happen to you.
Oil and other fluids: This is something you should be doing regardless. Before a big ride make sure your fluids are at a good level. You don’t want to find out a couple hundred kilometres from home that you need an oil top-up.
Chain: Similarly to fluids, something you should already be in the habit of. Check your chain and if necessary give it a good clean and lubrication.
Tyres and tyre pressure: Check for damage. Depending on the kind of tyres you’re running and the kinds of surfaces / conditions you’re expecting, adjust tyre pressure accordingly.
In summary there are a few things to consider when packing and preparing for a trip. This motorcycle camping checklist should serve as rough outline for the beginner and seasoned veteran alike. I’ve created a downloadable and printable version of this list, complete with checkboxes, which you can download here (Opens PDF).
I hope this you can find this list useful. So get out there and start motocamping! As always, ride safe.