Motorcycle camping offers a unique and thrilling way to visit new places and immerse oneself in the wilderness. Unlike traveling by car, motorcycles provide the advantage of covering long distances with ease while being less cumbersome, offering a level of flexibility and freedom that four wheels simply can’t match.
However, motorcycle camping also presents unique challenges, including limited space for packing gear and increased exposure to the elements. In this guide, I will walk you through the essential gear required for motorcycle camping, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your two-wheeled adventure.
From personal experience, I’ve had a range of motocamping escapades, from nights spent sleeping on my coat on cold asphalt to enjoying the comforts of a plush glamping tent by a serene lakeside. This article will explore what lies between these extremes and delve into the essentials that every standard motorcycle camper should consider.
If you are interested on all articles on Motocamping you can check my list of articles on this page: The Freewheeling Camper’s Guide: Mastering the Art of Motocamping.
Essential Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist
- Protective jacket
- Riding gloves
- Riding pants
- Riding boots or shoes
- Waterproof gear (over-kit)
Bike Maintenance and Tools:
- CO2 air cartridges or air pump
- Tire patch or plug kit
- Cable adjustment tools (specific to your bike)
- Pliers (Vise-Grip)
- Metal wire
- Ratchet and socket set
- Duct tape
- Electrical tape
- Zip ties
- Tire pressure gauge
- Adjustable wrench
- Multi-bit screwdriver
- Hex/torx key set
- Roadside assistance card (e.g., AAA)
Camping Equipment and Packing:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping mat
- Saddlebags (35 liters each, suggested)
- Tank bag (10 liters, suggested)
- Top bag (30 liters, suggested)
Cooking and Nutrition:
- Camp stove
- Sturdy water bottle (at least 2 liters)
- Flavor tabs for water
- Dehydrated meals and snacks
- Portable coffee maker (e.g., AeroPress)
- Biodegradable dish soap
- Scrubbing sponge
- Microfiber dish towel
Health and Safety:
- First aid kit
- Lip balm
- Insect repellent
- After-bite relief cream
- Personal medications
- Ibuprofen, antihistamines, and acetaminophen
- Communication device (cellular phone or satellite device)
- Fire-starting tool (lighter, waterproof matches, flint striker)
- Multipurpose tool or pocket knife
Comfort and Care:
- Personal ‘comfort item’ (e.g., running shoes, sweatshirt, book)
- Dental floss
- Microfiber camping towel
- Sandals for showering/lounging
- Insurance papers
- Driver’s license
- Motorcycle registration
- Cash ($60 suggested) and quarters
- Credit card and bank card
- Lens cleaner and cloth
- Chewing gum
- Protein bar
- Spare motorcycle key
Table of Contents
I requested an image from ChatGPT to accompany this article, it put the fire in the tent…After my remark on safety he draw another image…Wayyyy more safe! Lol!
Before hitting the road, it’s crucial to consider what will make your ride safe and comfortable, as you will need to rely on your riding gear throughout your trip.
The absolute essentials include a helmet for head protection, a sturdy protective jacket, and a reliable pair of riding gloves. However, in my opinion, this basic kit is not sufficient. I highly recommend adding a pair of armored riding pants and robust riding boots to your gear (riding shoes may be acceptable, but boots offer superior protection).
Weather can be unpredictable, and the likelihood of encountering rain or a drop in temperature increases with each day you’re on the road. Therefore, if your gear isn’t already waterproof, I advise carrying an additional waterproof layer to cover your existing riding attire.
The primary goal is to remain both comfortable and safeguarded against the elements, as well as in the less likely event of an accident. Since this guide is focused on essentials, I’ll refrain from adding extra gear. However, keep in mind that being well-prepared will enhance your motocamping experience significantly.
Bike Maintenance and Tools
Maintaining your motorcycle in top condition is crucial, especially when you’re miles away from the nearest service station. The complexity of your maintenance kit can vary based on the terrain, duration of your trip, and personal mechanical expertise. Since we’re focusing on the essentials, let’s hone in on the indispensable tools that comprise a minimum viable maintenance kit.
Tool requirements may differ from one motorcycle to another, so it’s important to tailor your toolkit to your specific bike. Some aftermarket repair kits are comprehensive enough, but at the very least, your kit should include the following items:
- For Tire Troubles: Carry at least two CO2 air cartridges or a compact air pump, along with a patch or plug kit that’s compatible with your tire type—whether tubeless or tubed.
- For Cable Complications: While you can technically ride without one brake or a clutch, it’s not ideal. Although not essential, spare cables can be a trip-saver. However, you should definitely include the tools needed to adjust cable tension, as this is a more common necessity.
- For Structural Snafus: A sturdy pair of pliers, like Vise-Grips, can be invaluable for bending metal back into place or temporarily fixing broken parts. Also, consider packing a short length of metal wire for emergency fixes.
- For Panel Access: Make sure you have a ratchet and socket set that fits the bolts on your bike’s panels, as you’ll likely need to remove them for any in-depth repairs.
Additionally, pack some duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties, a tire pressure gauge, an adjustable wrench, a multi-bit screwdriver, and a hex/torx key set.
With just these tools, you’ll be equipped to handle most roadside repairs. Remember, this is an essential list; your actual kit may grow as you gain experience and understand your motorcycle’s needs better.
And for those times when a problem is beyond your mechanical abilities, having a roadside assistance card handy, like AAA, can be a lifesaver, ensuring you’re never stranded without help.
Camping Equipment and Packing
When we shift our focus from the vertical thrills of riding to the horizontal joys of camping, the conversation naturally turns to sleeping gear. At the core of your camping setup, you’ll need a dependable tent, a warm sleeping bag, a comfortable pillow, and a supportive sleeping mat.
These items are crucial for a good night’s rest and can vary widely in terms of features and quality. For detailed insights on choosing each piece, you can refer to the dedicated section linked here. But for now, let’s stick to the essentials and keep it simple.
Packing efficiently is an art, especially when space is at a premium on a motorcycle. In terms of luggage, your first decision is between hard cases and soft bags. If your journey includes off-road terrain, soft bags are the safer choice as they’re less likely to cause injury in a fall.
For those sticking to paved roads, hard cases offer convenience and added security for your material. On average, I find that about 100 liters of total storage is ample for a multi-day trip. This could include two 35-liter saddlebags, a 10-liter tank bag, and a 30-liter top bag, providing a balanced and manageable load for your journey.
Remember, the key to motorcycle camping is adaptability. Selecting the right gear that fits your bike, your comfort preferences, and your packing style is paramount to enjoying your time under the stars.
Cooking and Nutrition
Addressing your culinary needs while motocamping is crucial, yet it need not be complicated. At the bare minimum, you should equip yourself with a reliable camp stove, suitable cookware, and utensils. Embrace the ethos of motocamping, which is akin to backpacking: opt for gear that is both compact and light.
Hydration is paramount; hence, a robust water bottle that can hold at least two liters is essential. Nalgene bottles, for instance, are perfect due to their durability. For a twist of flavor, consider carrying flavor tabs to add to your water—it’s a small luxury that can make a big difference.
When it comes to food, prioritize dehydrated meals and snacks that pack a punch in terms of energy and are simple to prepare. If you’re anything like me, starting your day without coffee is a no-go. Therefore, a portable coffee maker is a must-have. I personally vouch for the AeroPress for its compactness and the quality brew it produces.
Lastly, don’t overlook the items necessary for cleaning up: biodegradable dish soap, a scrubbing sponge, and a microfiber towel for drying. These are key to maintaining cleanliness and are respectful of the environment.
Health and Safety
Prioritizing your well-being is paramount, especially when you’re on a motorcycle camping trip far from medical facilities.
A first aid kit should be a non-negotiable item in your gear—indispensable for addressing minor injuries or potentially aiding in more serious situations. You don’t need an excuse not to have one; excellent first aid kits are readily available online, at pharmacies, or outdoor stores. Make it a point to procure one and always keep it with your motorcycle.
Beyond the first aid kit, it’s wise to pack sun protection, including sunscreen and lip balm, as well as insect repellent. These may seem like obvious inclusions, yet they’re often forgotten. For those particularly averse to insect bites, a tube of after-bite relief cream can be a soothing addition.
Medication is another critical consideration. Always pack any personal prescriptions you need. Additionally, common over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, antihistamines, and acetaminophen can be incredibly useful, especially if you plan on indulging in alcoholic beverages.
Lastly, never underestimate the importance of having a means to communicate, such as a cellular phone or satellite device, a reliable way to start a fire, like waterproof matches or a flint striker, and a multipurpose tool or pocket knife. These are the three essentials that no outdoor adventurer should be without, ensuring preparedness for any eventuality.
Comfort and Care
After a long day of riding, comfort becomes a priority. Everyone has that one item that provides a sense of solace, and for me, it’s a pair of clean, dry shoes to slip into at night. I urge you to identify your own ‘comfort item’—whether it’s a piece of gear or a simple luxury, like a cherished book or a comfortable sweatshirt. It’s these personal touches that transform a good trip into a great one.
Personal hygiene cannot be overlooked while camping. Essentials include your toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and soap. It’s likely that you’re already well-versed in what to pack in a hygiene kit, but it never hurts to have a checklist to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Towels are bulky, even when folded, so I recommend a microfiber camping towel, which is compact and highly absorbent, perfect for drying off quickly. Depending on your preference and the facilities available, you might also want to pack a pair of sandals for showering or lounging by the lake.
For quick and easy access throughout your journey, certain items should always be within arm’s reach. Essential documents like your insurance papers, driver’s license, and motorcycle registration need to be secure but readily available.
In case of emergencies or those often-encountered cash-only situations, I always carry $60 in cash, a roll of quarters (useful for showers at campgrounds), and some spare change.
For your financial transactions and reservations, don’t forget your credit card and bank card. It’s also helpful to carry a lens cleaner with a small cloth to keep your visor clear, a pack of gum for fresh breath on the road, and a protein bar for when hunger strikes unexpectedly.
If you’re not riding solo, consider giving a spare key to your travel companion. It’s highly unlikely that both of you would lose your keys at the same time, and this can save you from a multitude of headaches.
Embarking on a motorcycle camping adventure is an exhilarating way to connect with nature and satisfy your wanderlust. This guide has outlined the essential gear you’ll need to ensure your journey is not just memorable, but also comfortable and safe.
From the crucial riding gear that protects you on the road to the tools that will keep your bike running smoothly, and from the camping equipment that will be your home away from home to the cooking supplies that will fuel your body, we’ve covered it all.
It’s important to remember that motorcycle camping is about striking a balance between preparedness and the joy of minimalism.
Packing efficiently, planning for emergencies, and anticipating the needs of both your bike and your body will set the stage for a truly great experience. And while we’ve listed the essentials, don’t forget to bring along that one personal ‘comfort item’ that makes the great outdoors feel a bit more like home.
As you finalize your pack list, remember to review the essentials one last time. Safety gear, a well-maintained motorcycle, appropriate camping equipment, nutritious food supplies, and a plan for emergency situations are your keys to a successful trip.
Whether you’re staring up at the stars from a lakeside retreat or waking up to the dawn chorus deep in the woods, the gear you bring along will be your trusty companion on this two-wheeled adventure.
Now, it’s time to rev up your engines, embrace the open road, and make those dreamy motocamping days a reality. Safe travels and happy camping!
Meet Simon, the 46-year-old aficionado behind YourMotoBro. With a lifelong passion ignited by motocross dreams and a Canadian Tire bicycle, Simon’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. From coaching underwater hockey to mastering muddy terrains, he’s an authority in thrill and adventure. Certified as an Off-Road Vehicle Excursion Guide and trained in Wilderness First Aid, Simon’s love for bikes is as diverse as his collection—from a robust BMW GSA R1200 to the memories of a Harley Davidson Night Train. By day a respected telephony consultant, by night a motorcycle maestro, Simon’s tales are a blend of expertise, resilience, and undying passion. 🏍️✨