How To: Motorcycle Camp

Motorcycle camping can be a rewarding and seriously fun adventure. Riding a motorcycle allows you the reach places a larger vehicle just can’t get to. This lets to you start a base camp further into the woods, which allows you to hike further into harder to reach areas. If you don’t already have camping gear getting started can be a little expensive. Unlike a car you need to be cognizant of weight and packed size so you can carry everything you need on your motorcycle. What follows is a list of what I use, it’s on the lower end of money spent to get a decent camping setup. You can spend less by going to Wal Mart for everything and you can definitely spend a lot more on high end gear.

The Carry Bags
It is imperative to have a bag, or bags, that will protect all of your equipment. You do not want your gear wet when you arrive to setup camp. I use the large Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel, $105. This 47+ liter vinyl construction roll top dry bag has four compression straps, two tie down straps, and a two part carry handle. It is utterly massive yet can be stored and carried extremely small. It’s welded seam construction is built right here in the USA. I also have the medium sized dry duffel in case I need to carry more without using panniers. Full reviews of these to follow.

Motorcycle Camping

Depending on the type of motorcycle you will have different options for side cases, panniers, or saddle bags depending on what you want to call them. They can be hard bags, semi hard bags, or soft bags. My current setup are hard bags from Holan. They are a 45 liter case paired with a second 45 liter case that features a cut out to clear the exhaust and keep the bikes width as narrow as possible. This cutout drops the useable space down to 38 liters.

What’s Inside The Bags?
Kelty Hula House 4 person tent, $250 on close out. This tent is massive overkill for two people. I went this big to get the one feature I really wanted, to be able to stand up. A side benefit of all the extra space is it does offer the ability to store the side cases and anything else you need dry. Equipped with the rain fly you can also leave your shoes or other items just outside the tent door and still protect them from the elements.

Dimensions: 96 x 72 x 96 inches when pitched, 26 x 10 inches packed

Weight: 12.4 pounds

Motorcycle Camping

Kelty footprint $59.95. This is large enough for the entire tent and the rain fly coverage. Giving you something nice to stand on and remove shoes before entering the tent.

Motorcycle Camping

GSI Bugaboo Cookset, $99.00. The kit includes 4 polypropylene plates, 4 bowls, 4 insulated mugs, 4 Sip-It lids, a 2-liter pot with lid, a 3-liter pot with lid, a frypan, a pot gripper and a stuff sack. The stuff sack doubles as a sink for carrying water and cleaning the other pieces. The frypan and pot are non-stick making clean up easier. The set is super small and light making it ideal for both motorcycle camping but also backpacking. It’s 9.1 x 5.8 inches packed into it’s carry container.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light knife and spork set, $12.95. Since I almost always travel with my wife I carry two sets.

Jetboil Jetset Utensil kit, $9.95. This set includes a cooking fork, spatula, and spoon. The slide into the handle making them very small to pack and yet long enough to make cooking a breeze.

GSI Cathole plastic sanitation trowel, $4.99. I carry two of these in case one breaks. They are pretty sturdy, but every once in awhile they just break when you hit something wrong. The Leave no Trace guidelines are listed on the back and $1 supports the program. I try very hard to leave the environment how I found it.

Motorcycle Camping

REI Travel Sack sleeping bags, $65.00. Lightweight sleeping bag designed for temperatures above 50 degrees but can be used in cooler temperatures with some clothing layers. It can also be used as a liner for a heavier sleeping bag for really cold weather. Packs into a 6.5 x 12 inch size.

One of the most versatile items is a good blanket. We use a one that my wife’s father purchased in Mexico while on vacation years ago. It’s lightweight, super strong, and doesn’t hold water, so if it gets wet it drys quickly. It’s also surprisingly warm for how thin the material is. It can be a pillow, a sleeping pad, something to wrap up in around the fire, and an extra layer for warmth when sleeping.

Always carry a good compass you know how to use, a knife that’s comfortable and versatile, and a flashlight with fresh batteries. I don’t currently have a tent lantern but this can very useful. You can get small LED lanterns that put out a lot of light and pack very small.

Everything listed above fits in the large Expedition Dry Duffel with room to spare. Which is good because things like toilet paper, wet wipes, towels, and other items may be needed depending on where you are camping. Campgrounds will have bathrooms on some occasions but more wilderness style camping requires you to carry everything you need.

The Holan panniers are used for clothes, shoes, gear, and personal items. The second dry duffel is usually packed to carry really dirty items home, and to pack food items for the trip out. I have to be careful to balance everything so the back does not get too high and cause the bike to become unstable. I don’t have the luxury of using the rear seat cut to having a passenger so it definitely creates a secondary challenge when trying to travel several days on one bike. Eventually I will purchase some smaller dry bags to mount to the pannier lids for food and other items so I don’t have to put so much on the top plate.

Do you motorcycle camp and what do you take? 

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