How to Pack for Adventure Motorcycling

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There’s nothing better than packing everything you need on the back of your bike and heading out for days at a time, even weeks or months, if you’re lucky. Packing for adventure riding can be an exercise in minimalism, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice comfort.

Like all things overlanding, you’ll figure out the best systems for you with time and experience. Remember that a handful of basics go a long way and the most important part of packing for adventure riding is to actually get out there and ride as much as possible.

Please note that this article doesn’t cover the riding gear or tools that you should never leave home without. Here’s a few tips to help you pack smart, camp in comfort, and get geared up for an awesome adventure ride.


Photo: Jeremy Bishop

Photo: Jeremy Bishop


When it comes to packing for adventure riding, one of the main considerations is what sort of luggage to start with. Of course, you can always strap a duffel bag down with bungee cords and hit the road, but when you’re headed for some serious off-road, you’ll want a system that’s a bit more secure and efficient.

Whether you go with hard panniers, soft bags, or a combination of the two, your luggage should be super-durable and attach securely to your bike. Hard and soft bags each have their pros and cons but, really, selecting moto luggages is mainly a matter of preference. Take into consideration what sort of riding you’ll be doing and you’ll find great options that suit your needs.


Hard panniers are lockable and open conveniently, allowing for easy access to the contents inside. Generally made of aluminum, they are heavier than soft bags, but are great for keeping valuables secure and protecting any expensive items from being crushed when your bike inevitably tips over. 

The Givi Outback Case And Luggage Rack Kit is built for rugged travel. The top case and panniers all lock using the same key to keep things simple. This complete kit includes everything you need to mount the panniers and top case on your adventure bike. MSRP: $1725.30


Soft luggage is generally made of ballistic nylon, making it abrasion resistant and durable. Often, soft luggage has roll-top closures and an integrated waterproofing. Lighter than hard cases, soft luggage can be safer for off-road use as it reduces the risk of your leg being trapped between your pannier and bike when you fall.


The Wolfman Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddlebags are bombproof and attach to your side case racks with a super-secure mounting system. The compression straps keep your payloads tight to your bike so your gear doesn’t shift as you’re bumping along in the backcountry. MSRP: $474.99

For easy access to the little necessities like your wallet, chapstick, and earplugs, a tank bag is the perfect solution. The Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag fully waterproof tank bag comes with a removable pouch that doubles as a fanny pack to bring along the basics when you’re exploring off the bike. MSRP: $144.99


PACKING PRO TIP: No matter how much carrying capacity you have on your panniers, extra straps always comes in handy. Bring along some ROK Straps or extra webbing for lashing down your water bottle or dry bag to your saddlebags. They’re also super useful for gathering firewood for camp!

Photo: Ural Motorcycles

Photo: Ural Motorcycles



When you’re headed out on an extended adventure ride, your camping gear needs to be durable and suited to the environment that you’re traveling in. Space is at a premium on your motorbike, so you’ll want to choose gear that packs small and pulls its weight in more way than one.


Having a tent that lets you sleep soundly through an overnight storm is essential and, when it doubles as a mosquito-free sanctuary in summer, even better! When it comes to choosing a tent for adventure riding, bringing a two-person tent gives you extra room to move without taking up much more space in your panniers than a one-person tent. A bigger tent lets you stash your boots and gear someplace dry; it also gives you the option to share the tent with your favorite riding buddy.

The Big Agnes Salt Creek SL2 Tent is a two person tent with three doors to maximize accessibility and steep walls for extra headroom. The extra-large vestibule on the front can be tied off to your motorcycle, making for plenty of weatherproof gear storage and hangout space. MSRP: $299.95


Packing Pro Tip: When you pack your tent, ditch the stuff sack! Tents pack down small and can fill the nooks and crannies in your panniers to keep your other gear in place. You might even put the tent fly in one pannier and the mesh body in the other one— that way you can pitch one part without the other, and not have to unpack more than necessary.


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Your sleeping bag and pad are as much a matter of personal preference as anything in your adventure kit. Getting a good night’s sleep fuels your adventure and, though you might be tempted to skimp on your sleep kit to save space, remember that catching some quality z’s is essential to riding your best.

Down-filled bags pack down smaller than synthetic ones and, the colder a bag is rated, the more space it will take up in your luggage. Bringing a lighter weight bag and doubling down your long undies can certainly save valuable packing space. That said, you don’t want to forgo an amazing campsite on the side of a mountain just because your sleeping bag is rated for the Sahara desert.

The Marmot Angel Fire down bag rated to 25°F , perfect for spring through fall riding. MSRP: $258.95



Sleeping on your riding jacket for padding is usually a bit of a bummer. Bringing along a sleeping pad keeps you off the ground, insulated, and way more comfortable.

The Therm-a-rest Nemo Air packs down to the size of a water bottle, inflates easily, and adds a healthy dose of off-road comfort. MSRP: $144.95


Packing Pro Tip: Waterproof stuff sacks keep your sleeping gear dry and double as an off-road washing machine. Just put your dirty clothes in with a squirt of soap and enough water, seal the drybag up and knead it clean. Rinse your clothes and hang them on your bike to dry!



cDinner after a long day of riding may just be the best thing ever. Whatever you whip up on the trail is going to be particularly delicious and keeping it simple is often the name of the game when space on the bike is limited. Your backcountry cooking, like the rest of your kit, will develop over time, but when you’re new to longer adventure riding trips, start with the basics and you’ll be plenty satisfied.


The Jetboil Flash is the classic do-it-all stove for moto camping. It boils water in less than two minutes and the whole setup packs down into the cookpot for easy storage. The best part of this stove is that it is the same diameter as a standard french press, so bring along the plunger from your home press and brew up your coffee before you hit the trail! MSPR: $109.95



Backpacking food often leaves something to be desired, but not when you bring along Patagonia Provisions quick-cooking meals. They come in a variety of nutrient-packed flavors and make for a hearty meal solo or a shared side dish. All you have to do is simply simmer for ten minutes and dinner is served. MSRP: $7.00

To top off a great day of riding and a tasty meal, a bit of bourbon (or scotch or rum, for that matter) makes for a lovely nightcap. The JP Overland Jerry Can Flask holds 5 ounces of your favorite spirit in classic style. MSRP: $15.00


Motorcycle Industry News by Eva Rupert. Follow Eva @augusteva.

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Photo by Brett Willhelm


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