When you’re gearing up for a multi-day motorcycle ride, traveling in comfort means packing the camp essentials along. As you choose your kit, think backpacking rather than car camping. On an adventure ride, you can only carry what your bike can hold, so striking a balance between space and comfort is key. Here are a few of the things that you’ll always find in our panniers!
Never underestimate the importance of proper hydration while adventure riding. If you’re in a place where you can gather water from natural sources, you may not need to pack as much on the bike as you would on a desert ride, but you’ll need to bring along a water purifier to make sure it’s safe to drink. I’m a big fan of using Aquamira, a two-part water treatment system, but when you mainly ride in the desert, where water sources are scarce, you’ll end up carrying most of your water with you.
Using a combination of MSR Dromedary Bags and Hydro Flask 40oz water bottles gives you all the water carrying capacity you need and gives you a chance to sip something cool while you’re riding. I keep my drom water for cooking and boiling in camp. During the day, I drink out of the insulated bottles because there’s nothing better than cold water on a long, hot ride!
READ MORE: HOW TO PACK FOR ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLING
All great days of riding start with coffee, in my humble opinion. If you’re not hooked on caffeine, feel free to skip over this section!
No matter how light you like to pack, there’s always room for great coffee! Grinding your own beans with the Java Mill while the water is boiling and then brewing up with an AeroPress is, hands-down, the best way to make a cup of trail joe.
Let’s face it, food really does taste better when you’re out on the trail. Having a small, portable stove makes cooking a breeze and the MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove packs down tiny to save space— make sure you bring along enough fuel canisters for the duration of your trip.
If you want to take a bushcraft approach to outdoor cooking and you’re not camping in an area with a fire ban in effect, the Firebox Stove is a great option. It’s a specially-designed wood-burning stove that accommodates a variety of other fuels and is a blast to cook with, especially if you’ve brought some steaks along!
For moto camping, having an all-in one cooking set is the way to go. The MSR Alpinist 2 System includes a pot with a strainer lid, deep plates, and insulated cups. Combine that with a couple of Sea to Summit sporks and you’ve got an easily packable cooking kit perfect for two people!
Light it Up
Once the ride is done and you’re settled in for the night, a headlamp is essential for dealing with camp chores and finding your way when the sun goes down. Because I have to make up space for all the coffee gear I carry, a tiny headlamp like the Petzl Bindi Ultralight Headlamp always lives in my tankbag. I also like to pack something with colored LEDs like a Luci Lights Color Essence Lantern, just for fun. This little solar light weighs nearly nothing and has eight rotating colors so you can tune your campsite vibes to suit your mood!
Tents & Sleeping Gear
Choose your tent based on the weather and who you’re riding with. A one-person tent is great during fair weather or for keeping the bugs off and a larger tent gives you more room to store gear inside and hunker down during inclement weather.
One-Person vs. Two+ Person Tent
A smaller, one-person tent or a simple bivy sack can provide shelter from the storm and save space in your panniers. That said, it won’t give you much room to stash your riding out of the elements once you’ve got your sleeping gear inside like a two-person tent will. A two-person tent is also a good choice if you’re riding with a buddy and don’t mind sharing space in the evening.
Three-Season vs. Four-Season Tent
Three-season tents generally have the option of setting up the screen only. On those beautiful-but-buggy summer nights, going with a three-season tent allows you to just pitch the mesh interior without the fly. A four-season tent is often one piece and fully waterproof. If you want to save the trouble of carrying multiple tent layers and simplify the camping process, a four-season is the way to go.
Sleeping Pads & Bags
Inflatable sleeping pads are pure luxury after a long day of riding, but when they deflate during the night they can be a real letdown. If you’re looking for the ultimate in insulation, pairing your inflatable mattress with a closed cell foam pad is a winning combination.
I always ride with a foam pad like the Exped FlexMat LW Sleeping Pad. It doubles as a ground pad, plus it can’t deflate on me during the night! That said, it doesn’t make for the most plush sleeping and I sometimes travel with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite inflatable as well.
Using a two-pad sleep system means extra insulation from the ground on cold nights. Plus, if you’re a sleep-under-the-stars kinda gal like I am, two pads means you can leave the tent at home in fair weather because the foam pad becomes the base for your sleep system. For me, sleeping gear is like coffee, it’s one of those things that’s worth making space for because it makes every moto camping trip better!
When it comes to your sleeping bag, packing for the weather is essential. If you’re riding in a rainy area, bringing a synthetic bag is a good idea. Synthetic stays warm even when damp, unlike down. That said, down packs down smaller and has a much better weight-to-warmth ratio. If you’re riding during the warmer months, why not leave the bag at home and try a quilt? The Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt eliminates the bottom of a sleeping bag to save you space and is rated down to 32 degrees, perfect for summer sleeping.