What Equipment Do You Need To Bring On A Motorcycle Tour?

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Sometimes, I’ll happily spend half an hour devouring an article. But sometimes, I want the answer to my query. Now!

So in this post, I’ve decided to dispense with the little stories and flamboyant introductions in favour of simply giving you the answers you need.

Here you’ll find all the equipment you could need on your motorcycle tour. And we’ve included links to further information if you want to explore a particular subject more thoroughly.

Of course, every trip is different. And some items on this list will be more relevant for some destinations than others.

So with that in mind, browse this list in preparation for your upcoming trip. Ignore the things you don’t need, and highlight the things you can’t forget!

Each section is automatically closed. But you can open and close each one using the arrow to the right of the topic.

Riding Gear


hjc helmet - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

A motorcycle helmet is a legal requirement wherever you ride (bar a few exceptions.) And even if it isn’t, I would still encourage you with every fibre of my being to wear one anyway. Of course, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. And simply wandering into a helmet store and picking one off the shelf is rarely the answer. Consider what you need your helmet to do – and the places where you’ll be wearing it. Whilst full-face helmets may be the safest, they can be a little stuffy in warm climates. Open-face helmets give you masses of ventilation (and look cool), but they’re also lacking in the safety department. Personally, I prefer module (flip-front) helmets as a compromise between the two.

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Jacket & Pants (individual or suit)


As with your helmet choice, your decision on jackets and pants will also depend on what you need them to do – and the environments you’ll be visiting. Either way, they’re an essential piece of equipment for your motorcycle tour. Consider a jacket and pants combo (or suit) that is insulated, warm and waterproof for those colder tours. But if touring in warmer locations, I highly recommend ventilated clothing (in particular, mesh) to stay cool and comfortable. Whatever you go for, ensure they fulfil your personal needs for the tour. Check the safety specs are up to par and that they are comfortable before you buy.

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alberg boots - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Back in the day, buying boots was a simple process – because boots were boots! As the world moves on, however, boots are becoming as diverse as helmets, jackets, and gloves. No matter where your tour will take you, ensure your chosen footwear is providing safety and protection. Trainers won’t cut it. Neither will crocks, flip-flops, or any other insane choice of footwear for riding a motorcycle. I’ve always toured with full-length boots. But this year, I embraced summer boots for the first time – and so far, I’m converted. Always ensure your boots have adequate safety specs. And two non-negotiables for me personally are that they are waterproof and have non-slip soles. As always, don’t forego comfort during your buying process. Uncomfortable or ill-fitting boots will make your tour miserable.

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keis heated gloves

As with boots, don’t forego adequate protection for your hands – especially when it’s hot and the temptation to go gloveless seems appealing. Most experienced touring riders carry multiple gloves on tour. Firstly, take a winter pair that is waterproof and windproof – preferably heated. The second pair would be dedicated summer gloves. Granted, they lack some of the safety of winter gloves, but they’re super light, well-ventilated, and make a massive difference to your comfort in warmer weather. Also, take note of the safety specs of gloves. At the very least, you want protection at the knuckles, but a scaphoid protector and various protective elements at the joints are also preferable. Finally, consider a third pair as a spare set.

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Riding Accessories

pinlock earplugs - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Riding accessories could mean a myriad of things to any given rider! For me, accessories refer to items such as earplugs, earbuds, and sunglasses (if your helmet lacks a drop-down visor.) It could also mean items of clothing you need but might not always wear – such as a neck snood, heated gear, or a balaclava. This list of accessories will vary from person to person and from trip to trip. But for the majority, they are integral pieces of equipment to have on your motorcycle tour.

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motorbike waterproofs

No touring rider worth their salt goes anywhere without waterproofs! The good thing about waterproofs is that they’re cheap. And for the price of a round of beers, you can kit yourself out with a set. They’re light, pack down small, and take up very little space. In fact, you might not ever need them. But one day, you will – and you’ll be so glad you had them in your top box. Personally, I go for individual pants and jackets – so I can mix and match. I also find them more flexible. But if you want the ultimate in weatherproofing, go for a 1-piece. For the price of them, they really are an essential piece of equipment on any motorcycle tour!

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Base Layers

base layers - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

I know plenty of riders who don’t wear base layers. But for me, they’re essential bits of equipment on any motorcycle tour. Both winter and summer base layers do the same thing – and that’s wick away moisture. Have you ever noticed how cold you get after a run when your sweat-soaked t-shirt sticks to you? Base layers remove that moisture from the surface of your skin – keeping you dry and comfortable. They’re also nicer to wear under your riding gear than regular clothing. For winter, consider a thermal set for extra warmth. In summer, get yourself a set of summer layers for extra ventilation.

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Soft/Hard Panniers


Most people need panniers when they tour – either hard or soft. Which ones you go for tends to be personal preference. For off-roading, I would go for soft luggage. For road-based touring, I’d go for hard luggage. Consider waterproofing and whether you may need waterproof liners or dry bags. Also, consider how secure they are from wandering hands when you’re away from your bike. In short, if you’re riding a road-based tour and want secure and waterproof panniers, go for hard luggage. Soft luggage may be the better option if you’re riding off-road (and don’t want aluminium cutting into your leg when you fall). Either way, you likely need panniers – so check out the options available.

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Top Box

top box on motorbike - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

For me, the top box is the king of luggage and is an essential piece of equipment on a motorcycle tour! Of course, if your panniers are large enough and/or you have a roll bag, you may not need one. But a top box is like an extension of your pockets – keeping everything you need to hand when you need them. Anything you don’t need on the road should be stowed safely in your panniers and roll bag. Everything you might need (like waterproofs, chargers, extra layers etc.) should be in your top box. There’s also something satisfying about sticking your helmet and jacket in your top box when you stop for coffee to save you from carrying them.

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Roll Bag/Tail Pack

touring roll bag

If I had to choose between a roll bag and panniers, I’d pick a roll bag. I’m in the minority when I say this, but for me, this piece of equipment is necessary on any motorcycle tour. Panniers are big and cumbersome – and, despite their size, I often find you can’t fit much in them. Plus, they can be a burden when filtering. On the other hand, a roll bag is flexible, waterproof, and sits smack in the centre of your bike – so you don’t have to worry about weight distribution. I’ve had my 50L Oxford roll bag for seven years (and paid a mere £50 for it) – and it’s fitted perfectly across five different bikes. I can’t say that for a single set of panniers!

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Tank Bag

shad tank bag - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

I can’t make up my mind about tank bags. For years, I never left the house without one. And then I went off them and didn’t use one for ages. Now, I seem to fluctuate – using one as and when I need it. They’re fabulous for holding small items you need to hand on tour – toll passes, money, credit cards, phone, snacks – those sorts of things. One piece of advice, though. Stay away from the massive tank bags. They seem to make sense in theory. But in real life, they get in your way, disrupt your riding posture, and are generally a nuisance. That said, ensure whichever one you get is waterproof or comes with a waterproof cover. If you plan to tour with it (and/or have the extra cash to splash), I highly recommend a tank lock option.

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Tool Kit

motorbike mechanic ktm

Toolkits can cause controversy in the motorbike world! I know people who carry an expensive, oversized toolkit everywhere they go – and have never once needed it. And I dare say that even if they did need it, they wouldn’t know what to do with the tools they have anyway. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have tools. But what I am saying is that you should only carry the ones you might need – and the ones you know how to use. I agree that a toolkit is an essential piece of equipment on any motorcycle tour. But without the underpinning knowledge of how to use them, what’s the point?!

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motorbike disc lock - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Security can be a fine line. You need it, but it’s heavy. So you need to pick and choose what you take. If you’re staying overnight in cities and have to park on the street, you might consider taking your chain. But for most cases (especially if you’re spending most of your time in the mountains), a disc lock will suffice. There are also other options, such as throttle locks, lever locks, alarms, immobilisers, and trackers.

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Luggage Accessories

voile straps for touring

When it comes to packing, it’s easy to overlook luggage accessories. But I promise they will make your life easier in the long term! Personally, I’m a fan of Voile straps. But I also have bungees, rok straps, cargo nets, and a host of other luggage accessories. You won’t need them all – and what works for others may not work for you. I would advise doing a dummy run where you pack your bike a few months before you leave. See what you struggle with, and then buy what you need to make things easier. As you get more used to it, you’ll quickly realise that luggage accessories are an essential bit of equipment on your motorcycle tour.

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motorbike travel tent - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

A tent isn’t just a tent! And you’ll be surprised how much of a difference the right one can make. For motorcycle touring, your tent needs to be rugged yet light, ventilated, and waterproof. It also needs to be big enough so you can live in it, but not so big that it doesn’t fit on your bike. There are many options available, ranging from a few dollars to those in the hundreds. Prioritise what you need yours to do and work from there.

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Sleeping Equipment

sleeping bag

It’s tempting for newbie tourers (or those on a budget) to scrimp on sleeping equipment. But spending a little more money on better quality sleeping equipment will make the world of difference to your tour. Do you need a sleeping bag or a quilt? Down or synthetic? How about the roll mat? Do you need one that’s inflatable? All these questions and more! And of course, it doesn’t stop there – because it needs to be ventilated, waterproof, pack down small, and be super lightweight. Whichever way you look at it, decent sleeping equipment is imperative on any motorcycle camping tour.

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Cooking Equipment

cooking-on-camp-stove - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

If you’re only going away for a weekend, you might forego the cooking equipment in favour of eating out. That’s what I’d do. But what if you were going for a few weeks and you couldn’t afford it? After all, eating out is expensive. Here you need to consider not only the food itself but also how you will cook and prepare it.

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Camping Accessories

leatherman camping multitool

As with toolkits, people tend to go one of two ways when it comes to camping accessories. Some people go overboard, whilst others go super minimal. Either way, both of them end up regretting it! You don’t need the entire contents of your garage. But simple accessories such as a leatherman, headtorch, groundsheets, and paracord can make all the difference. Be strategic in your approach, and you’ll find this equipment comes in handy across various aspects of your motorcycle tour.

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  • Leatherman/camp knife
  • Para cord
  • Large groundsheet
  • Firestarter
  • Any other food prep equipment
  • Torch (or headtorch)


Basic Photography & Video

fuji camera - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

I’ve been that person that gone on tour and come back with only the memories of it – and that’s fine. But there comes a time when you would really like to look back at your experience. Of course, you could spend a fortune on camera kit. But the truth is you don’t need to. Smartphones are so good these days – all you need to do is learn a few basic photography tips and you’re good to go.

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  • Smartphone
  • Basic (free) image editor (such as Snapseed on Android or IOS)

Advanced Photography, Video & Aerial

drone shot vosges

People who need advanced camera equipment are few and far between. But perhaps you’re a creative person and look forward to the challenge of creating high-quality memoirs of your trip – like me! And if that’s the case, you’ll need to look at better quality cameras, multiple lenses, drones, tripods, filters, software, and lots more. If you’re serious about the content you produce, the camera equipment you take on your motorcycle tour will be important.

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  • Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop (or Capture One) image editing software
  • Adobe Premier or Da Vinci video editing software

General Tech

laptop - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Even people who aren’t tech-centric need tech these days. My 70-year-old dad has a tech bag that seems to grow each year, consisting of USB cables, spare batteries, strip sockets, plug adaptors, and God knows what. If you’re into photography and video, your kit will be even bigger; including hard drives, a laptop/tablet, SD cards, and a host of other cables and adapters. But as with everything on this list, it’s a case of figuring out what you need to take and what you can leave at home.

  • Laptop or tablet
  • Chargers for all devices
  • Strip socket (and the correct adaptor)
  • Memory card (SD) for storage
  • Hard drive for storage/backup
  • Any USB connectors you may need
  • Spare batteries (camera, drone etc.)
  • Any other tech accessories depending on what you need
  • A dedicated Tech Bag to keep it all in


emergency wrist band

Nobody likes to ponder the worst-case scenario. But the fact is, preparing for it now could make a bad situation a whole lot easier if it happens. Simple things like having pertinent medical information in easy-to-reach places, displaying your blood group, or having ICE contacts accessible on your phone. You may even go all-out with a GPS tracker for serious treks off the beaten path. It’s not nice to consider. But consider it you must. Take time out to consider any emergency equipment you may need on your motorcycle tour.

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  • Any wristbands/dog tags you have with medical information if needed
  • ICE information somewhere visible
  • Vehicle recovery and bike/health/travel insurance details (phone or hard copies)


tomtom rider 400 sat-nav - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Sat navs are a contentious subject at the moment. Should you go for a sat nav or a smartphone? If so, should you go for a Garmin or a TomTom? Of course, it isn’t just as simple as choosing one in the shop – you need to consider its usability and see if you get on with the interface. It can be the best sat nav in the world – but if you can’t use it, what use is it?

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Smartphone Apps

motorbike smartphone gps

If you’re a little younger (or tech-savvy) you may dispense with the notion of an expensive sat nav and rely on your smartphone and some apps instead – which is what I did on my recent trip to Norway and the Arctic Circle. For me, it was easier than a sat nav. I had access to everything I needed – all in one place. But it’s not all roses. Offline mapping is notoriously hard to deliver in smartphone apps. And then there’s the issue of mounting it to your bike. But if you get it right, your smartphone will become one of the handiest (and most important) bits of equipment on your motorcycle tour.

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  • MyRoute-App
  • DetechtApp
  • Maps.me
  • Google Maps

Pre-planned Routes

map of france route - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

I’ve realised over the years that despite my self-belief, there are other people out there who are smarter and more experienced than me. And whilst constructing your own routes can be fun, sometimes it’s better to take your cues from people who have already walked these paths! Pre-planned routes uploaded to the internet are usually free to download – and they take into account all the best roads and scenic points so you don’t have to. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the hard work of others.

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Most people misjudge what clothes they will need to take on tour – with most taking too many. It’s an issue I’ve struggled with personally on almost every tour. And whilst I’m a lot better at it now, it can still catch me out. Taking items that are multipurpose (both on and off the bike) is the way to go. Taking quick-drying clothes allows you to wash and dry them overnight – meaning you don’t have to take as much. You need to be ruthless!

Depending on destination/time of year:

  • T-shirts
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Lightweight shoes
  • Underwear/socks
  • Fleece/mid-layer (also for use on bike)
  • Feather-weight down jacket (also for use on bike)

Wash kit

shower wash kit - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

Taking too many personal items is easily done. I’m the kind of person who has fancy shower gels and a plethora of sprays of aftershaves. But you can soon fill a big bag with things you don’t need! At the same time, it’s important to be comfortable and happy in who you are by taking the items that make you feel like you. Pack the essentials first. And then be smart with everything else.

Dependent on personal preferences:

  • Oral hygiene – toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, teepee brushes etc.
  • Shower gel/soap
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Mozzy rep
  • Suncream
  • Lipbalm
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Anything else you like to take



This varies from person to person. If you need meds, ensure you have the correct amount of everything you need by ordering them in advance. You may need to discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist first. If you wear glasses (especially when riding), ensure you have a spare pair tucked away somewhere safe – the same if you have prescription sunglasses. It may also be worth noting down any pharmacies in any cities you pass through in case you need to replace some for whatever reason. A spare set of glasses can be a vital piece of equipment for you to continue your motorcycle tour.

Depending on circumstances:

  • Prescription medication
  • Spare prescription glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Alcohol tests
  • Basics (stomach issues, headaches, plasters etc.)
  • Water sterilisation tabs (if needed)
  • Electrolyte powders (or chews)


passport - equipment needed on a motorcycle tour

The paperwork you need can be specific to where you are going. If you’re from Europe or the UK and are staying in Europe, you need very little paperwork, and most documents can be stored on your phone. I have copies of everything on my phone these days rather than physical copies that can get lost, wet, or otherwise ruined. If you’re going further afield, you must be precise with the paperwork you need and have both digital and hard copies.

Dependant on the location:

  • Passport (and copies)
  • Copy of bike insurance
  • Copy of travel insurance
  • Copy of health insurance
  • V5 (or vehicle registration)
  • Bank/credit cards
  • Emergency currency (and USD is handy)
  • ICE documents
  • Passport photographs
  • Carnet de Passage if needed
  • Itinerary including stop-over addresses/phone numbers
  • Vaccinations records (including COVID)
  • Digital folder with copies of the above (on your phone)
  • Spare bike/luggage key (kept in different places!)

Sleeping & Hydration

tea in glass cup

Whilst I’m generally of the opinion that taking as little as possible on a motorcycle tour is the correct way to do it, I leave this opinion at the door regarding personal belongings. Some people enjoy a particular fruit tea before bed. If that’s the case, take your teabags! You might not need your tablet – but if it helps you keep in touch with loved ones back home, then take it. Do teabags and home comforts count as essential equipment on your motorcycle tour? Probably not. But there’s no point leaving stuff at home if it means being miserable when you get there.

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(If needed:)

  • Any kind of drinks to help you relax in the evening (herbal/fruit teas etc.)
  • Camelback or hydration pack
  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs

Top image: Nikhlesh Tyagi


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