When taking a camping trip on a motorcycle, the second most important item after the destination is, what to take with you. Are you going to be carrying a passenger on your bike? Are you going with several others that will ride individually?
A motorcycle camping trip can be one of the most enjoyable camping trips that you will ever take, whether it is just time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or a weekend bike rally. Being prepared for anything, yet not looking like the Beverly Hillbillies when you arrive, is dependent on how well you plan and pack.
Items you will want to consider taking with you:
Tent Sleeping mat Sleeping bag
Changes of clothing Wet weather gear Multitool
Flashlight Toiletries First aid kit
Firestarter Lawn chair Cooler
Grill/Stove Cookware Dishes
I know, I know, you are looking at the list and thinking, this person has got to be crazy to think that I can load all of that onto my bike! Well, I have been called crazy before, but yes all of this can be loaded and has been loaded on our bikes when we have headed out to go to bike rallys.
Lets go down the list and see what is suitable for taking on a bike:
TENT: A small 2or3 person tent is suitable it comes in its own bag. Select one that comes with fiberglass poles that will fold down smaller than the old aluminum type. Choose one that including bag is no more than 3 feet long.
SLEEPING MAT: The ground can get cold and uncomfortable, a self inflating sleeping mat is ideal. Here also you need to choose a mat that comes in its own carrying case. If you prefer, a pool style air mattress will work, however, they have a tendancy to get holes in them at the most inopportune times and you wake up sleeping on the ground anyway.
SLEEPING BAG: Depending on the time of year and the temperature, the selection of sleeping bags is endless. If the weather is warm, a small fleece bag will suit your needs and does not take up much room. If it is cooler, you may wish to take a cotton filled bag. It is heavier than the highloft bags, however it does not take up as much room.
CLOTHING: Your riding clothes, such as chaps and jacket should already be on your bike in your saddlebags or on your person. You will need one or two pairs of jeans, a couple of pairs of socks, 2 or 3 shirts and at least one of those needs to be long sleeved, in case of weather changes. If you are only going to be gone for one night, you do not need to take as much.
FLASHLIGHT, TOILETRIES,FIRST-AID KIT MULTITOOL:These items can all be the small travel size. A wonderful flashlight that is out is The Illuminator. You do not have to worry about batteries, You just turn the crank for 1 minute and have light for up to 1 hour. There are 2 different light settings whether you are trying to see inside your tent or need it to find camp.
A soft sided first aid kit is the best for stuffing in your saddlebags or luggage. It will take up less room than a hard case. Your travel size toiletries can be put in either a small makeup bag or ziplock baggies. A multi tool with a hammer is excellent for nailing in tent stakes, cutting items and even openning cans.
WET WEATHER GEAR: This is something that should be on your bike at all times. Mine is kept in my saddlebags unless I am wearing it. When purchasing a rain suit or rain jacket, look for one that has a zipper front with an overlapping snapped or velcro flaps. Rain pants can be made specifically for riding and have heat resistant calves. If these are not available. regular rainpants will work, as long as you wear your chaps over them.
LAWN CHAIR: Choose a chair that has its own carrying case and is under 3 feet in length. The new scissor fold chairs work the best.
COOLER: A soft sided cooler works the best for strapping on a bike. If you are carrying a passenger, the cooler can double for a luggage carrier and then used as a cooler once you arrive.
GRILL/STOVE, COOKWARE, DISHES: You can go for the elaborate folddown campstove, a stow away cookware set and picnic dishes, or you can go for the simple sterno campstove. Some camping areas have firerings available and sell firewood so a stove is not necessary. Depending on what you are choosing to cook, most canned items can be cooked and eaten right out of the can. Foil can be used as cookware. A multipurpose set is useful that includes, skillet, pot, coffee pot, utensils for cooking and eating, cups and plates. It stores inside the big pot and the skillet doubles as a lid.
I believe I have covered all of the items that are necessary for the camping trip. You may wish to all other items that you may need or take away some of them that you don't believe will be necessary for your particular trip.
Now you have all of your items laid out. How are you going to stow them on your bike? If nothing else is available, a large gym/sports bag will work. It can be strapped on with bungee cords or a bike cargo net. I prefer the large T-Bag. It can be folded down to a small size when not in use or unzipped to a giant size for the long haul. It has several pockets on the outside for holding your small items and other things that you may need along the way.
The tent and lawn chair do not go inside the bag. They can be laid flat across the luggage rack, if your bike is equipped with one, or set them upright and hook them to the back of the T-Bag. Just remember when you load your bag, place the heaviest items in the bottom of the bag with the lightest on the top.