How To Go Motorcycle Camping On a Budget

How To -



Going camping by bike is our favorite thing to do here at RideApart. Whether you’re riding far out into the woods to camp, swim, climb or just saving money on travel expenses, there’s nothing quite like riding your motorcycle all day, then cuddling it all night. Here’s the basics you need to go motorcycle camping on a budget.


REI Half Dome 2 Plus
REI Half Dome 2 Plus Tent — $219
The Half Dome 2 is incredibly popular for a reason: it’s a good value and it works. Two vestibules and two doors make it easy to store your smelly gear outside where it won’t get wet, while the frame creates the most interior volume possible in a tiny footprint. Almost perfectly square inside, you can sit up on the edges just as well as you can in the middle. It’s also easy to set up or take down, even in the dark or in bad weather. This “Plus” version is 10 inches longer and four inches wider than the standard Half Dome 2, meaning there’s more than enough space to stretch out, even if you take a dog or extra gear along. RideApart staffer, Wes Siler just carried one up Bishop Pass into Dusty Basin and says this thing works like a charm. We recommend the accompanying footprint as well.


Sleeping Bag:
Kelty Cosmic Down 21
Kelty Cosmic Down 21 — $139.95
Wes has used one of these for nearly three years now, on at least a dozen adventures and used it in temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. While he says that night got pretty cold, the 20-degree rating means it’s comfy down to about freezing. If you’re planning colder temperatures, add a cheap fleece sleeping bag liner for some additional warmth. Down sleeping bags like this one are great because they provide the highest warmth to volume ratio (they pack down small), but the downside to down is it loses its insulative ability if you get it wet. Wes packs his into a Kriega US-10 drybag to prevent that.

The North Face Snow Leopard
The North Face Snow Leopard — $159.93
The Snow Leopard is my sleeping bag of choice as the plusher synthetic insulation is far more plush than the very-thin down alternative. Plus, its rated to 12 degrees, meaning it’s comfy down to about 25. The tradeoff is that it’s heavier and larger than its down counterparts, but I bought it as it was the biggest one I could stuff into a 20 liter Sea To Summit Compression Dry Sack. That makes it a great alternative if you want added warmth and comfort, but don’t plan on hiking and space isn’t at a premium.


Sleeping Pad:
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad – $44.95
The Therm-a-Rest Z lite sleeping pad is a full length, foam sleeping pad. One side is aluminized to help reflect body heat back to you, and the egg crate pattern was designed both for comfort and to trap pockets of warm air under your sleeping bag. We don’t think the Therm-a-Rest is quite as comfortable as an inflatable pad, but love that we don’t have to inflate/deflate it on those long trips where we’re just stopping to sleep for the night and then getting back on the road the following morning.


pillowTherm-A-Rest Pillow
Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow — $22.95
We were extremely skeptical that a pillow could pack down small enough to make it worth carrying along, but this Therm-A-Rest proves us wrong. Not only does it pack down to the size of a small burrito, but it provides all-night comfort. It takes a while to puff back up to size after you un-stuff it, but once it’s back up to size, it’s as comfortable as the pillows on your bed at home.


Black Diamond Cosmo
Black Diamond Cosmo — $29.95
At just $10 more than Black Diamond’s base model, the Cosmo brings Lumens up to 70 with a 40 meter throw. Multiple brightness settings make it practical whether your preparing food or hiking a dark trail and its swiveling design allows you to dial in the angle. The three AAA batteries give it a life of 43 hours on high and 250 on low. It’s water-resistant, but not water-proof.


Mora Clipper
Mora Clipper — $14.99
A knife is one of the most versatile tools you can carry. Camping, you can use them to open cans, remove splinters, cut your food, hammer in tent pegs, dig holes or to scare off the odd mountain lion. Fixed blades like this Clipper won’t break or jam, making them much more practical outdoors. And Mora’s high-carbon steel manages to be easy to sharpen while holding a wicked edge. This thing is seriously rugged, low price or no.

And that’s really all you need beside food, water and maybe some entertainment. Been bike camping recently? What worked tools, tips and products worked for you? Also, where did you go?

Related Links:
Gear: Spidi Expedition 103 Tent
Road Trip: Sean’s Westcoast Roadtrip – Part 1
Road Trip: Sean’s Westcoast Roadtrip – Part 2

  • Cody

    I stack it high and never know it’s there. Now I have LeatherUp soft saddlebags I throw on there too.

  • Justin McClintock

    If I can take it backpacking, I can take it on a bike. If I can’t take it backpacking, I don’t need it on a bike.

    • sean macdonald

      Yes and no. Most of the gear I bought was purchased knowing I wasn’t really going to get into backpacking, so i was able to buy gear without worrying about weight as much. The Spidi Tent we reviewed, or the Snow Leopard posted above are awesome for motorcycle trips, but way bigger or heavier than you’d want on your back.

      • Justin McClintock

        I suppose that’s true on some level. It’s just that, if something is heavier, more often than not, it also takes up more space when packed up. And space is typically at a premium for either application.

        • Wes Siler

          I actually consider bike camping to be luxury camping since I can take so much more. Backpacking brings some serious weight restrictions if you’re doing miles or altitude. You can pack a bike down with a case of beer, extra blanket, whatever you want.

  • Scott Sweeney

    Spent the summer and 10k miles on this bad boy. Best time of my life.

    • sean macdonald


      • Scott Sweeney

        Rebuilt the whole thing, engine and all, my self. Rode it solo through the deep south to NJ without touching an interstate. Left beginning of May. I Worked on a lobster boat for 3 months, then road back a different route. Camped 90% of the time, stayed with friends I made along the way for the rest. Just got back 3 weeks ago.

        • sean macdonald

          you’re a man among boys.

    • Lourens Smak

      (funny how the luggage-rack has nothing on it… doesn’t that bag on top belong there?)

      • Scott Sweeney

        It was but having all my gear that far back and out in the wind really screwed with the balance. I flipped it around where it is now and it doubled as a super comfy back rest.

    • Cody

      Nice backrest.

  • Lee Scuppers

    ++ on the tent footprint. Your tent will last longer and stay drier.

    In foresty places, consider a camping hammock in warmer weather.

    Mora makes a great knife. Learn to baton smaller firewood. Get the Sandvik stainless, the high-carbon is a maintenance PITA, in my experience.

    My Thermarest pad is the small hip-to shoulder type. Comfy and bulletproof. Don’t brother with a full size one unless you know already that you need it. I wouldn’t waste bike space on a pillow, that’s for canoe trips. Don’t you have spare clothes to roll up?

    Get a Snow peak type isobutane/propane backpacking stove and a 3-cup Bialetti espresso maker.

    • sean macdonald

      I love that people can do the hammock thing, but way too many people have back issues to make that my recommendation for everyone.

      The pillow is really, really, REALLY, nice. it takes up barely any space, and I sleep SOOOO much better with it than using clothes.

      Don’t spoil my next article with the cooking stuff :)

  • jjank

    trip down to Newport Folk Festival, 3 days, 2 people and small quarters. was a ton of fun. Kriega US 20, Ogio Saddlebags, Nemo 2 person ultralight, a tarp and a BUNCH of bungie cords. in summer, grabbing a cheap queen bedsheet makes packign much easier than sleeping bags.

    • KriegaUSA

      Nice tail pack!

      • jjank

        thanks a lot! you guys make an amazing product, just wish i had a few more dollars to send your way. I really wish i would stop losing all of the straps essential to getting the most out of the bag. My tank bag adapter really feels more at home since it melted onto my exhaust haha

  • Will Mederski

    Rather than focusing on buying new gear, let’s talk about how motorcycle camping is different from regular camping.
    In September the family rented a cabin in Maine. Rather than just fly into Boston or something, I turned it into a month-long, 4k mile tour from Texas to Maine and back.

    How I Camp on Two Wheels:

    Ride till dusk.
    Camp on the side of quiet state routes or public lands.
    Eat a huge diner breakfast while you map out that days route.
    Always chat up the local gas station attendant.

    And wave down other riders to as for the best local roads.

    Forget a list of gear I and everyone else that camps already has. Let’s talk about how you’ll spend less on gas riding from Texas to Maine and back than those first two listed items add up to…
    Here’s my FZR with BMW hardcases:

  • Bryan Zebleckes

    What’s the best way to strap gear down? I bought bungee cords from Home Depot but I am paranoid that there is to much shifting of the gear and it will fall off. The cords are also starting to come apart despite only using them a handful of times. Any suggestions for a little Honda Rebel?

    • sean macdonald

      I’ve been using motorcycle tie downs lately if I have a decent place to attach them. Kind of bulky, but I like knowing everything is secure. I’ve heard great things about ROK straps, but haven’t had a chance to get my hands on them yet.

      the Bungee nets work well, just make sure you replace AS SOON as they start to look frayed (i learned the hard way)

      • Rameses the 2nd

        +1 on ROK straps. I bought high viz version on eBay for $10 and it holds my laptop and other junk securely on the passenger seat without any issues. Bungee cords stretch too much to safely secure anything on a motorcycle.

    • ThruTheDunes

      My vote would be to just use a lot of bungees. I usually double-bungee stuff so that if one happens to give out, the other is still there. And, I clamp it as tight as I can so it does not shift. However, I am nowhere near as loaded as Scott Sweeeny!
      When packing stuff on top of the wife’s SUV, I tie with a rope, and then top it off with bungees to keep it tight. That might work for keeping it on the bike if a bungee breaks, but we are talking heavier stuff, here, like bicycles, etc. Also, if you need to get into something while on the road, dealing with the rope would be a pain.
      Only other thing I can think of would be some type of ratchet strap, which my kayak rack has for keeping the kayak on. But you would want to get one that is the right length, otherwise you will have umpteen feet of extra strap to deal with, depending on your load. And having that come loose a get wrapped up in your rear wheel/chain would certainly make you wonder what had gone wrong with your ABS… =;-o

      • Davidabl2

        Excess strap can be cut off, just fuse the cut ends so that they don’t unravel, and sew a seam into the end if it had one in the first place.

    • SteveNextDoor

      I would definitely use ROK straps in place of bungie cords; I also toss a bungie net over my stuff as a backup means of securing things because I’m paranoid. I got my straps from Amazon, though you might find some locally in a moto store or a place that carries camping gear. To see exactly what they look like and how they’re used, checkout the following youtube video with the always funny ‘halfthrottle’:

    • Jens

      Have a look at ROK Straps and Kriega Cam Straps. I use both and like them equally. The Kriega Cam Straps seem to be more durable but the ROK Straps have a bit of stretch if that fits your luggage solution better.

    • Phil Mills

      Another vote for ROK Straps. Mine have held full-size suitcases, 5-gallon pots, computers, a Christmas tree… VERY secure.

  • Mark D

    Rolled-up rain gear tends to make a pretty decent pillow. I usually use bungie nets as opposed to cord to hold down bags, etc. Packing a bike cover is usually a good thing to do; you can use it as a tarp over all your non-waterproof gear while riding in the rain, and use it to keep the bike dry when you are off. Just be careful if the kickstand is on dirt! When it turns to mud, your bike falls over.

    • Justin McClintock

      Rolled up rain gear is an excellent idea. And if somebody really wants that “normal pillow” feel, bring an empty pillow case (takes up almost zero room) and stuff the rolled up rain gear (or anything else soft) inside that. Boom, instant pillow.

  • HoldenL

    Maybe this goes without saying, but Ziploc bags of various sizes (from gallon to the little snack-size ones) and baby wipes. And Rok Straps instead of bungies.

    • Davidabl2

      Hopefully, Ziploc bags that are thicker than sandwich bags…

  • Jason

    Camped for weeks with this set up. I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to camping, but I was never uncomfortable! Great article, by the way! Best thing to do with a bike is to GET OUT OF THE CITY! :)

  • ThruTheDunes

    Say Sean,
    Is that photo up above taken in Yosemite at the overlook by the tunnel, between Wawona and the valley?

    • Wes Siler


  • Guzzto

    This was with tent and cooking gear etc after this trip I got some ex Danish army backpacks that have a waterproof rubberised lining from the army surplus and fashioned some cheap soft panniers. I splashed out for a givi 35 litre waterproof duffel that fits my tent and sleeping bag , a lot tidier than this arrangement. Summers coming can’t wait.

  • Kyle Allen

    A great little book filled with tips for touring by motorcycle

  • Khali

    I use small cargo cinches (orange) to secure everything. They hold up to 50kg of cargo each.

    Plus, my strom rocks more than yours!!! hahah

  • Miles Prower

    I carry a line, because invariably, I find myself having to tie things down/together in a manner that a regular-length strap or bungie wouldn’t work. I also carry one of those plastic-card knot guides, because every now and then, a simple bowline knot — which is the only “real” knot that I can do blind — isn’t appropriate.

    I also bring along a Frogg Toggs Chilly Dana. When you’re riding in hot weather, you can soak the Dana in water and use it as an evaporative-cooling neck-wrap. When you shower or climb out from a dunk in a river, you can dry yourself off with it. If you squeeze the water out of it, it dries within an hour. And it packs away into a plastic container that’s the size of a burrito.

    • Lee Scuppers

      Those Frog Toggs bandanas are amazing. Love mine.

      I always have a bunch of odd lengths of paracord handy. Infinite uses. Helps if you’re a knot nerd though.

  • Bill

    I travel lite…

  • grindz145

    I recommend this tiny pillow:

    Also, I’ve used a $20 ebay tent for 8 years, and approximately 100 camping evenings… You can go cheap if you have to. Utilize seam-sealer on cheap tents.

  • markbvt

    Packed for two weeks in Labrador and Newfoundland. Tent was a Eureka Apex 2, sleeping bag was a Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35, sleeping pad was a Big Agnes inflatable, pillow was an inflatable one as well. All fits neatly into the luggage, most actually into the small dry bag on top.

  • stephen

    so what about those poler tents?
    how do they compare to the above tent?

    • sean macdonald

      Love them! Very similar.

    • Wes Siler

      Great tents. That MSR design was solid and it’s nice they’ve managed to license it and apply good graphics at a lower price.

  • Will Mederski

    seeing all the bikes in the comments stacked high with gear makes me cringe…
    i mounted a pair of BMW hard cases to the tail of my FZR.
    keeping weight low and secure makes ALL the difference in the world.
    and waterproof…

  • Von

    thanks for the post, i definitely want to camp when I get a bike!

  • Guest

    I like to travel light…this is good for 7 days.

  • thebudman

    Food, cloths, tent, tarps, sleeping bag, camp chair, cooking gear, water filter, rain gear, tools, etc.

  • Joel Sparks

    Spent the last 6 months doing weekly two-up touring/camping trips on a CB400 in South Korea, and I feel I’ve pretty much nailed it down now.

    - Those foam mats are junk; a proper inflatable (the type that fold in half before rolling) take half the space when packed (2-up camping!) and inflate/deflate in under a minute if you add a couple breaths to the automatic valve.

    - A silk sleep tube, the kind you use for hosteling, work great around your body or slipped over your mat. When they go over the mat, you can use your sleeping bag as a blanket instead. This drastically reduces your packing load for 2-up in warm/hot weather. Plan your expected temp in advance and take only the bedding you need.

    - Vestibules are crucial. If your saddlebags have solid rain covers, keep extra stuff in them over night once your camping gear is out to free up space in the tent. I lock valuables in the small storage space on the bike when out hiking/swimming/etc.

    - Jetboil makes a fantastic compact cooking system for water-based foods (primarily ramen here, but we’ve used it for beans, couscous, etc). Their coffee press makes for a great start to the day and disappears into the system when packed.

    - Definitely replace that fixed blade with a solid multi-tool, especially if you’ve limited space on the bike to store tools.

    - Installing a lighter or USB charger on your bike takes all of 10 minutes and will prove invaluable on weekend trips, especially if you need your phone for navigation.

    - Kelty Salida 2 is an excellent cheap tent for 1 person. We make it work for 2, but the limited vestibule space is tough in heavy rain.

    - Inflatable pillow or a clothing sack with a nice texture saves space.

    - Bring water.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Guest

      Packed for 2. 2 or 3 nights along the coast in summer.

  • zombarian

    So were up to nearly $500 for 6 things? What sort of budget are we talking about? I’ve bought whole running motorcycles for that much! Never mind getting the stuff to sit still on the bike and stay dry or eating once you get wherever though, or even adding a link to some Kriega bag review you did earlier.

    I vote you turn this into a multi part series like preparation, packing and any extra things you should checkup on before you head out, like how to deal with your chain after you’ve put some very dirty extra miles on it in the middle of nowhere.

    • Wes Siler

      Goods and services cost money.

      We’ve always covered the ins and outs of motorcycle camping pretty seriously and will be doing that more so in the future.

      • zombarian

        So true, but this article is more of a very short shopping list for REI than an actual how to.

        • runnermatt

          There are places other than REI. Check these out:

          LifeView Outdoors sells a pretty good 2-disc DVD survival video (I have it.) for beginners. They have a lot of other good gear and books too.

          Blue Ridge Mountain Sports started as one retail store that is local to me. They are expanding to other retail locations, but they carry a lot of good gear online too.

          Not trying to be critical, I just like to support the “little guys” if I can.

        • sixgunsteve

          Dude, it’s a starting point. Use what you have first before spending a ton of money. On short notice of a trip, and without a tent, I bought a $19 “toy” tent from WalMart just to keep the dew off me. I ended up using that tent for two seasons.

          • Davidabl2

            Also see my zero dollar tent suggestion: a piece of scrap poly sheeting with a large washer or pebble tied into each corner so’s you can tie cords to them or attach bungees.

            • Sid_of_Id

              This is the winter of our discount tent.

              • Davidabl2

                And as I’ve mentioned before, the rope can serve as a tow rope if you break down. And for any roadside repairs you want to have a tarp under the bike to make ABSOLUTELY sure that you don’t lose any nuts and bolts, cotter keys, small tool bits etc..

  • kevin

    Excellent list. Although I’d add a good reliable revolver in .357 or .44 mag if you’re camping anywhere with bear or an abundance of otherwise potentially dangerous animals. Of course please refer to all your local laws and what not first but I can tell you from first hand experience that when you wake up to smokey the bear sniffing around your campsite it’s nice to have something a little more substantial than a knife in your hand.

    • Piglet2010

      The most dangerous animals you will find anywhere are bipedal primates.

      • kevin

        Absolutely. I didn’t mean to suggest we go all gung-ho out into the wilderness blasting away at anything that moves, my only point is that a firearm can be a useful tool. Have I ever had to use my gun on a camping trip? No. But if one day I do need it, I’ll be glad that I chose to pack it. It’s all about responsibility.

      • Davidabl2

        Clarification: He’s NOT talking about Bigfoot here :-)
        Although bagging one would be proof positive that Bigfoot does exist….

  • BillW

    I pack a credit card and a Motel 6 directory. That’s camping, right? :)

  • Piglet2010

    Does the weight of the camping gear smooth out the harsh ride of the Bonnie?

    • jjank

      The only time I’ve had issues with the ride are the frequent small, but impossibly deep potholes that litter the Boston roadways, otherwise I love the ride on my bike, put 9000 miles on it in the past year, no complaints!

      • Piglet2010

        I rode a section of ancient slab-faulted pavement standing up on the Bonnie, due to the annoyance of being slammed over each crack-control joint. On the Honda Deauville a couple of weeks later, rode the same road sitting down with no problem.

  • Vytautas Dalibagas

    From other side of the pond (Europe):)
    Me and my friend bike in a trip Lithuania – Slovakia.
    We stayed in a tent and ate food which we took from home. So the spend moneys only for gas :)

  • noah leger

    That Therm-a-Rest pad looks great. Anybody know the dimensions of its pack? Opinion on its weight?

  • Chris Cope

    Here’s a kind of dumb question I have about camping: How best to park the bike on gravel or field? I get panics about that. Should I be using the center stand? Should I using a side stand and deploying the trick of resting it on a crushed beer can? Honestly, this is one of the issues that keeps me from going camping with my bike.

    • sean macdonald

      A rock or can work great. AltRider sells a larger footprint for your kick stand as well, for just that problem.

    • el_jefe

      Get a bunch of plastic kickstand plates (google them) and keep one in your luggage and one in a jacket pocket so you never forget them. In fact, if you take an MSF class or go to some races, you can often score them for free.

    • Phil Mills

      I’m always worried that half of my centerstand will find a softer patch of dirt than the other half.

      Beer can works fine, largeish stone (as Sean mentioned) can work (don’t get one that’s too tall, though, or you run out of “lean”), split piece of firewood… creativity helps. Me, I keep a couple of electrical junction box covers in the bottom of my tailbag – thin, flat, sturdy and a buck buys you two of ‘em (in case you want to use the center stand instead).

    • HoldenL

      Half a tennis ball works, and it’s easier to find in your tank bag than a flat piece of plastic.

      Cut half a dozen tennis balls in half, and you have a nice set of mini-pylons to use in parking-lot practice.

    • Piglet2010
    • appliance5000

      I use a metal electrical outlet blank – $1.99. – with string tied to it so i can reel it in when starting up the next day. Sidestand.

    • Davidabl2

      The most basic answer is that you should know how to pick up your bike anyway. Try it some time
      on a nice lawn.. i have done it as part of the test ride before I buy any bike heavier than the one I had before it.
      For ADV riding most bikes seem to have guards that would keep you from being pinned under it if it fell with you on it-which is the real problem that you fear,I think.Frame sliders on sport bikes,highway bars on cruisers hopefully can serve the same purpose. If trapped under the bike you have to straighten the handlebars enough so that you can extract your leg from under the bike. The only time i ever needed to do this I’d broken my leg in the fall and was going into shock..I had not practiced the move in advance.

  • james

    hmm, budget? really, nah. Budget camping is where you bring a tarp and make a lean-to with your bike on its sidestand, tie the tarp to the mirror and to the tail, then stake it in the ground with your took kits screwdrivers, and fold the rest under the bike as a ground sheet. Perfect every time so long as the rain does not get too sideways. Here is my bike ready for a 4 day ride to Brisbane from Sydney, about 2000km all up.

    • Davidabl2

      Free tarp, custom sized: cut some poly sheeting to the size you need, knot a pebble into each
      corner so you can easily tie cords or attach bungees to each corner.

    • Davidabl2

      One seldom mentioned benefit of this arrangement is that you have a tow rope, if needed. And a way to hang food away from your campsite, in bear country. Hopefully the local bears will not have learnt the bite-thru-the-rope-trick..

  • runrunny

    Stuff piled on the seat behind you makes a great backrest and looks very cool, but there is a downside. Make sure that you can still hop off in a hurry if you need to.

    I had a tail bag with duffel atop it, when my ride died going uphill on a busy interstate. I had just passed a semi slogging uphill but still had enough momentum to coast back into the right lane ahead of him. Unfortunately, the uphill meant that I was rapidly losing any speed, and the truck was bearing down in an alarming manner. Trying to hop off in a hurry to push the bike out of his way was a real bitch.

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    This was good for a long weekend heading up from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, also worked going to Dust2Dawson, and would work for weeks on the road with a few extra changes of clothes/ Walmart tent, Sea to Summit dry bag with an Exped Synmat 7 UL pad (worth every penny, comfy and packs to the size of a 25oz beer can) and thermarest blanket, a few changes of clothes, a rain suit, and spare tubes, plug, etc.

  • appliance5000

    A subject near and dear to my heart.

    On tents etc.: ALPs makes good gear and you can find it for a very reasonable price. One tip – Buy a size larger – ie – 1 person, get a 2 person tent – 2 persons get a 3 person tent. Not much added bulk or weight and well worth it.
    For me having mesh on the roof makes star gazing a wonderful thing. On a dark clear night it’s like you’re in a spaceship.

    Sleeping pad – get one regardless of the type. I have a self inflator that’s good – smaller than foam and much more comfy. I got an insulated inflator because it’s small as a bottle of beer when rolled and doesn’t take too much to inflate.

    Sales: If you’re patient all this stuff can be had for shorter money – last years model is usually 50% off. Got the tent, 32 degree bag , and inflato pad for $240 total. REI has a lot of sales and a great return policy. I also think they treat their workers well (profit sharing) and if you join you get a rebate at the end of the year.

    Bags: I got a medium Dry Pak duffle and a Sealine waterproof bag for a total of about $80.00. They hold all I need. The sealine can also be hung from a tree (bring nylon rope) if you have food. Once it’s sealed no food odors escape – hang em high.

    Sealine and other companies make stuff for kayakers – boating gear is a good place to look for inexpensive durable bags.

    I bring and axe – I like campfires and without an axe it’s not going to happen. I also bring Fire Starters and a ( i usually just use a lighter but the flint makes you feel rugged and it’s always there). If the wood is vaguely damp a fire starter saves a world of pain. (cotton balls and Vaseline can also do the trick.)

    Coffee – If I can’t have coffee in the morning why even live. I have a small gas stove and canister and a small pot. Along with a collapsible filter holder everything fits in the small pot. These gas canisters last a surprisingly long time. The stove cost $5.00.

    Nalgeens – they hold water and you won’t grow breasts.

    Dr Bronner’s soap and a wash cloth – non polluting and zesty soap — with a wash cloth and a small bit of water you can feel amazingly clean. It can double as dish washing soap and toothpaste.

    Griddle: a cheap small mesh griddle can make cook many things – It lies flat on the bottom of tha bag and takes up no room.

    Cheap tarp – good for so many thing – for $5.00 why even think about it.

    Headlamp: A must – but if it doesn’t have a RED LED it’s no good. Red does a few things – it doesn’t annoy your neighbors – you don’t lose your night vision, you don’t attract bugs. I use an Energizer headlamp I got at home depot for $13.00. It’s lasted for 6 years – it’s great.

    Small lantern – very handy – I have a black diamond or something – it’s the size of half a bottle of beer – you can hang it or stand it, dimm it or switch it to flashlight mode – just something that makes like easier – you need a flashlight anyway. I wrap it in warming photo gel because leds can be cold and – once again – I don’t want a pin light source that distracts neighbors or myself from the night sky.

    I’ll stop now.

    • Davidabl2

      There’s a device called a solo stove that runs off twigs&woodchips etc etc and generates a very hot flame,due to air vents under the burning wood. I plan to get one.

      I have never needed an axe to split firewood for campfires. Use a rope to pull down dry branches
      (keeping yourself on the other side of the tree trunk) When down, put one end of the branch on a rock and jump on the middle to break it. If it won’t snap it ain’t dry. Good MC boots are good branch

      The axe WOULD be useful for zombie attacks…but a large broken branch should also work;-)

      • appliance5000

        In most places tearing limbs off trees is illegal. I’m a guest in the woods and it’s one place I follow the rules to the letter. I’ll get branches from the ground for kindling, but usually buy a bundle. A good fire takes a bunch of wood. Also some places don’t have wood.

        in the evening I like the process of starting a fire – splitting wood etc. But in the morning I just want coffee and a gas stove is king.

        A camping ax is $20 – small and invaluable.

        Different strokes – but after years of camping there’s ideals and what you can put up with. Also zombies….

        • Davidabl2

          “In most places tearing limbs off trees is illegal.” How things have changed since i was a whippersnapper- we’d just assume that if it cracked it was dry and dead, if it bent it was live & wet. Pine forests,Western USA. If I were to split wood without an axe, I guess I’d have to use my large tire levers-and a big rock ;-) Now that i think about it, I think we may have carried a small folding saw..but I don’t recall ever using it.

          • appliance5000

            Yeah – There’s a lot of people out there and if everyone was pulling tree branches it wouldn’t be pretty. You sound like you know what you’re doing but a whole lot of people would just be taking a chainsaw to everything in sight.

            Some people bring old furniture etc – which is OK but they leave the hardware and scatter it around with the ashes – so you have a site littered with 3 inch nails and screws. It’s amazing what people do.

            Most of this sort of stuff seems to happen in Utah – lakes rimmed with Budlight and mountain dew cans – burnt logs rolled over nesting sites… Utah – strange but true.

            • Davidabl2

              I’ll admit that the majority of my camping experience has been in places where you had to walk to get there…but the idea of burning your old furniture for campfires still seems beyond strange to me.

  • RaboKarabekian

    I have the Kelty Cosmic Down bag and the smaller one person version of the REI tent and love them both! The REI tent especially impressed me as I bought it used and it held up great for about four weeks of traveling on my old K-bike (See below, bought it as a parts bike about a year ago, 10K miles later no problems). I will say that I bought a nice 40L GIVI waterproof duffel bag and a tank bag from them that I liked a lot too. Anything GIVI has been top-notch from my experience. Best advice on this list though, HEADLAMP. Best investment for the trip you’ll make.

  • KriegaUSA


    … But seeing I’ve just come out of a multi-week geek-a-thon on this very subject – refreshing my camping gear, heading out on a test run and documenting it – this very weekend, I figured it would be remiss of me not to chip in.

    This is for two people traveling on a big bike, with a fair level of comfort (which pretty much amounts to backpacking chairs). It was only a 350-mile gravel / forest / fire road weekend trip and we had access to drinking water etc, so I took a few things I didn’t strictly need just to see how it packed and performed. But the idea was to see if I had it covered for pretty much any location / situation / eventuality.

    That said, if we’d been disappearing off for a few months, I wouldn’t have needed much more than this (and would have left the decent camera and tripod at home) – maybe another compression sack of extra clothes, but that’s about it. No more than an additional US-20 or 30 on the rack for sure. When off on my own, I obviously leave half the sleeping tackle at home and take a much smaller tent than this one. With the free passenger seat space, I can mount the US pack there and sling the depleted contents of the roll bags onto the rear rack. The Kube 1 pods there contain all the camp tools, spares, repair kits, paracord, flashlight / headlights, fire starters… all that good stuff.

  • Mark38

    Great gear options. I camp at least twice a month and with time have learned to appreciate the art of packing light. It can get expensive to get all the gear you need though. Found this post on ultra light, budget friendly gear that also provides great tips