Motorcycle Camping – The Guide To Traveling Light and Rough on Your Bike Part Two

There’s just something about setting off on a motorcycle camping trip that makes you feel a little wild.

You’re taking a flyer and clearly willing to let a little of the unexpected into your life. The decision to camp at all means you’ve already assumed that your comfort level is going to depend on factors outside your complete control, and it’s that kind of jolt to the system you want.

First things first, make sure the bike is in good working order via a thorough inspection. Get all that maintenance out of the way before you even begin to consider the other details of the trip. The bike is your lifeline, so be certain it’s ready to perform for you.

If you’re determined to stay out for a long time no matter what the weather, consider a motorcycle trailer. It will let you carry everything you need and you can detach it and secure it if you want to make short jaunts once you’ve set up camp.

This item, the Nomad Motorcycle Tent, is a killer if you don’t want to haul a trailer. I want one. You might too…

Gimme Shelter

On your first venture into the wild, minimalist is the way to go.  Sleeping bags are made so well now that a good one and a tarp might be all you need for an overnight stay – if the weather stays dry. You can find a reasonably priced, small tent to pack if you’re expecting some poor weather. One tip; make sure whatever you buy is large enough to hold you and all your gear. A waterproof bottom or small plastic tarp make for good sleeping as well.

Keep it all high and dry, so don’t make the mistake of setting up camp in a low-lying area or you might wake up to a nasty surprise in the middle of the night.

It Can All Turn Ugly In a Heartbeat

Again, and it’s hard to overstate how much agony this can save you, a sleeping bag can keep you comfortable down to some very cold temperatures and it keeps the bugs off you as well. Any money you spend here is money well spent, so skip other items and go big here if you’re on a tight budget.

A box of plastic Ziploc baggies and a pile of plastic zip ties are a must. Many is the time you’ll make some hillybilly repairs on the spot when straps or tiedowns fail, and the humble ziptie is worth it’s weight in gold.

Bring a good sharp knife or a multi-tool.

You may not smoke, but a couple of good butane lighters will come in handy. Bring them…


You might be tempted to take MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), and they are better now than they have been in the past, but don’t.

Hell no.  While they’re not as horrible as they once were, they’re also not that good. On your first forays,  eat in restaurants.

If you’re hard core, bring canned meats and dry items. There’s no need to pack a complete supply of food before you take off. You can bring a small cook set and some coffee or tea, but expect the dining experience to be spartan unless you’re willing to bring additional luggage on your bike. It’s beef or turkey jerky, Spam or hash and taters if you want to travel light. Hardtack or hard crackers travel well. Maybe a couple cans of stew or soup. Think hardy packaging and foods that can survive extremes of temperature with giving you a mean case of the “trots.”

What will you absolutely need? Water. You can go a couple of days without eating much, but you can’t last 48 hours without water. Pack some water-purification tablets in case you get stuck out in the boonies.

You Know Your Needs Better Every Time Out

Okay, your first few trips might not go so well and you could end up at a Motel 6. No worries and no shame in that. As you gain more experience, motorcycle camping becomes a kind of zen event. You’ll have honed down the amount of things you need as opposed to those you thought you needed, and once you have your basic kit winnowed down, you’re on your way.

It never hurts to talk shop with other motorcycle campers you meet along the way. The veterans will stun you with some very, very cool ideas and strategies for your next trip. People love to talk, and it’s often amazing how helpful they’ll be to you if you give them a chance.

And really, it’s that kind of chat with your fellow bikers that makes the trips worthwhile anyway, so don’t be hesitant when it comes to sidling up to a fellow rider and giving them the Q&A session.

Check out part one of this camping primer here…

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