How To Motorcycle Camp: The Ultimate Minimal Setup

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If you’re wondering how best to motorcycle camp, the answer is almost always with a minimal setup!

It’s about taking what you need and leaving what you don’t need at home.

After all, what’s the point of going to all the effort of buying a lightweight motorcycle only to then strap 50kg of gear to it?

In this post, we’ll look at how to motorcycle camp with a minimal setup. If you can fit what you need into two small panniers or a roll-bag, you’re on the right path.

If you can fit it into a tank bag and tail pack (yes, it is possible!) then you’re definitely onto a winner!

off-roaders in woodland - how to motorcycle camp
How to motorcycle camp – minimalist packing (image: IAmOutdoorsy)

How Do You Go Camping On A Motorcycle?

When it comes to a minimal setup, the best thing to do is pre-plan what you think you’ll need. On paper, it won’t look like a lot.

But when you lay all your gear out in front of you, it suddenly becomes a very tangible load to be carrying around.

Layout all your kit, and then be ruthless in putting half of it back. You don’t need all those t-shirts, and you don’t need all those toiletries.

Similarly, do you genuinely need your laptop or that third pair of shoes?

Return the non-essential kit you only ‘might’ need and take the gear you definitely will need.

minimalist motorcycle camping
How to motorcycle camp – leave the non-essentials at home (Image: GearJunky)

Motorcycle Camping Setup

As mentioned above, a motorcycle camping setup for a minimal trip involves gear that is lightweight and compact.

Everything you take should have multiple uses to keep weight down. And it should be practical and easy to use.

For instance, your setup should fit onto your bike in the minimal amount of bags, yet be organised and easy to find.

For 2-up motorcycle camping, you will need to refine your gear even further.

Related: Is Soft Motorcycle Luggage The Way To Go In 2021?

how to motorcycle camp 2 up
How to motorcycle camp two up

What Is The Best Tent For Motorcycle Camping?

Depending on your preferences and needs, you have a few options when considering a tent for your motorcycle camping trip.

So let’s have a look at 3 of them.

How To Motorcycle Camp: Lightweight Setup

If you’re going with a minimal setup, the best option is a simple bivy and tarp.

This comes down to how hardcore you are and the time of year. But if you’re going on a trip in the height of summer, a bivy and tarp are without doubt the lightest option.

But that’s not to say you can’t camp with a bivy in colder weather if you’re that way inclined!

bivy bag camping
How to motorcycle camp using a bivy (image: expocafe)

Black Diamond Twilight Bivy

The Twilight bivy from Black Diamond is a four-season, minimalist bivy. Also, it’s water-resistant and breathable. And it’s constructed from NanoShield fabric which keeps weight to a minimum.

The bivy features a zipped inner mesh as well as a zipped outer which keeps bugs away.

Impressively, this bivy folds down to a size less than a 1-litre water bottle.

black diamond twilight bivy - how to motorcycle camp

Specs:

  • Price: Around £115
  • Weight: 370g
  • Dimensions: 208 x 84 cm
  • Area: 1.75 m2
  • Packed size: 8 x 13 cm

How To Motorcycle Camp: Midweight Setup

Hammocks are becoming more and more popular. They’re ultra-lightweight, compact, and have the benefits that come from elevation.

There are, however, problems with hammocks. Some people love them and instantly take to their comfort.

On the other hand, others find them difficult to get comfortable and struggle to sleep.

Only take a hammock if you know for sure that you will be camping in a forest or woodland. You need to be sure you have somewhere to attach it to. Unless you also plan on packing two trees.

motorcycle and hammock
How to motorcycle camp – hammocks are becoming more popular (Image: Cardo)

How To Motorcycle Camp With An ENO Sub6 Ultralight Hammock

This hammock by ENO is featherlight and packs down to a small carrying size.

It’s strong, too, thanks to its 30D ripstop composition, and the stronger-than-steel Dyneema line. It also features the Helios Suspension System for ease and comfort.

There are plenty of cheaper alternatives on the market. But if you want a hammock that is ultralight and durable, you could do worse than this option by ENO.

eno sub6 ultrlight hammock - how to motorcycle camp

Specs:

  • Price: Around £65
  • Weight: 164 g
  • Packed size: 10 x 10 cm
  • Dimensions unfolded: 2.66 (L) x 1.2 m (W)
  • Load tolerance: 130 kg (21 stone)

What Is The Best Tent For Motorcycle Camping?

As mentioned above, bivys are only really for the hardcore among us – especially if the weather promises to be less than ideal.

On the contrary, hammocks provide a nice alternative. But you need to ensure you will be camping in the correct area in order to put it up.

If you’re unsure what to go for, go for a lightweight tent.

They are undoubtedly heavier than the options above. But they do a better job of offering privacy and keeping the elements at bay.

motorcycle camping
How to motorcycle camp – use a tent if bivys or hammocks aren’t for you (Image: Peanutbuttercoast)

Vango Nevis 200 Tent

As featured in our post a few weeks back – Which Motorcycle Tent Do You Need: An Uncomplicated Guide – the Vango Nevis 200 is a decent tent on a budget.

Equally important, it’s a 3-season tent that weighs in at a little over 2kg. It also features an integrated fly sheet along with a breathable inner.

As well as being lightweight and compact, it’s also tested waterproof, and can be pitched easily within a matter of minutes.

vango nevis 200 tent - how to motorcycle camp

Specs:

  • Price: Around £105
  • Weight: 2.02 kg
  • Packed size: 46 x 15 cm
  • Pitched dimension: 215 x 120 cm
  • Head height: 95 cm

Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Mat

If you decide on a bivy bag setup or a tent, this NeoAir XLite mat by Thermarest is essential for warmth and comfort.

There’s no point spending a small fortune on an ultralight set up only to find that the cold and wet earth beneath you is keeping you awake.

In spite of the many sleeping mats available, we find this one from Thermarest the best for low weight and pack size without compromising comfort.

Also, the NeoAir XLite is noted for being the gold standard in lightweight comfort. Especially considering the pack size and performance.

thermarest neolite sleeping mat

Specs:

  • Price: Around £160
  • Weight: 354 g
  • Packed size: 23 x 10 cm
  • Dimensions: 183 x 51 x 6.4 cm

Sea To Summit Spark III Sleeping Bag

The premise of the Spark III sleeping bag from Sea To Summit is simple. It provides a gold standard in warmth and comfort whilst maintaining pack size and weight.

Premium materials and design ensure this sleeping bag is warm, comfortable, and water repellent.

Additionally, the construction includes RDS 850+ Loft premium goose down, light-gauge YKK zips, a 10D Nylon shell, and 7D lining fabrics.

Yes, it’s expensive. But as far as technical camping goes, it doesn’t get better than this.

sea to summit sleeping bag - how to motorcycle camp

Specs:

  • Price: Around £420
  • Weight: 430 g
  • Fill Power: 850+
  • Fits: Up to 6 feet
  • Weather – up to minus 8

Related: Motorcycle Camping For Beginners


Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

A pillow is a very personal item. I ride with some people who are happy to stuff a dry bag with clothes and use that as a pillow.

In contrast, others are happy to spend extra money on a dedicated pillow and are happy to make space for it.

If you’re in the latter group, this Aeros pillow by Seat To Summit is a notably comfortable and lightweight option.

sea to summit aeros pillow

Specs:

  • Price: Around £28
  • Weight: 54g
  • Packed size: 5.5 x 5.7 cm
  • Dimensions: 36 x 26 x 12 cm

How To Motorcycle Camp: Sustenance

Food:

When it comes to sustenance, you have two options.

The lightest (but most expensive) option is to eat out. And this also depends on where you’re riding.

It isn’t uncommon for pizza delivery services to deliver to popular campsites. But if you’re in the middle of nowhere, then your only other option is to cook.

Dehydrated foods provide excellent nutritional sustenance. But they don’t always taste the best! And they can also be expensive.

Meanwhile, they’re lightweight, compact, easy to prepare, and nutritionally satisfying.

You’ll also need a JetBoil to cook them and make hot drinks.

For more information on camping food and JetBoils, check out our dedicated post: Motorcycle Camping Food For People Who Love To Eat!

jetboil food and coffee - how to motorcycle camp
How to motorcycle camp with dehydrated food and a JetBoil

Water:

Water is the cornerstone of life. We need it.

And even if you’re only going away for a few days, don’t neglect to take any.

For more information on hydration and how to keep on top of hydration when motorcycle touring, check out our dedicated post: 10 Tips For Better Motorcycle Touring Hydration.

You could carry bottles of water – but it’s heavy.

If you’re going somewhere that has running streams or waterfalls, a Sawyer water filtration system could be your answer.

Furthermore, it could save your life. Get yourself one and keep it in your tank bag.

Related: Our Top 7 Motorcycle Tank Bags

sawyer mini water filter
How to motorcycle camp – a Sawyer water filter could mean not carrying water (Image: Sawyer)

How To Motorcycle Camp: Tools

If you’re hitting the trails, there’s a good chance you will drop or bash your bike up.

But if your trip is just for a few days and/or you aren’t venturing too far out into the wilderness, you probably don’t need to take the entire contents of your garage.

Moreover, take whatever bike-specific tools you have for your bike to enable you to make simple repairs.

Other tools should also include a Leatherman or Multitool, a headtorch, Paracord, ROK straps, bungees, and a cargo net.

For more information on accessories and essentials, check out this post: 12 Motorcycle Touring Essentials You Never Thought Of.

leatherman - how to motorcycle camp
How to motorcycle camp – only bring your essential tools and multitools (Image: InsideHook)

Toiletries

This is something I particularly struggle with. As someone who is constantly in the shower and likes to smell nice, I often find myself taking way too many toiletries.

But as mentioned above, you need to be ruthless. The only real ‘essential’ toiletries are those regarding your teeth and basic hygiene.

Find some space in your tank bag for a toothbrush, a travel-sized tube of toothpaste, and maybe some floss or Te-Pe brushes.

Additionally, other essentials include hand sanitiser, toilet roll, baby wipes, and bug repellant.

Related: Expand Your Horizons: 5 Of The Best Motorcycle Tail Packs

toiletries for camping
How to motorcycle camp – you don’t need the entire bathroom!

Motorcycle Camping In The Rain

And finally, we have waterproofs – another essential to have in your motorcycle camping arsenal.

For a minimal camping trip (especially if it’s off-road), I would forego the motorcycle-specific waterproofs in favour of ultralightweight, technical hiking layers.

Not only are they lighter and more compact, but they’ll also protect you better by allowing you to work with a layering system.

For more information on layering, check out this post: Why HIKING Gear Is Better Than BIKING Gear.

If you have the cash to splash, this layering waterproof system by AdventureSpec is so good that we wrote a dedicated post on it here: And The Best Waterproof Motorcycle Jacket Is…

Finally, we also tested a bunch of motorcycle-specific waterproofs in this dedicated post: The Best Motorcycle Touring Rain Gear.

adventure spec linesman jacket - how to motorcycle camp
How to motorcycle camp – use a layering system for better technical options. Image: AdventureSpec

How To Motorcycle Camp: Conclusion

As mentioned at the head of this post, the first rule to a minimal camping setup is being ruthless! Write out your own motorcycle camping checklist and then keep what is essential.

Then cross everything else off!

Moreover, it’s important to remember that camping trips on a motorcycle are usually a balance between keeping the weight down and maintaining comfort.

Therefore, if you’re happy to increase the weight by taking a few more luxuries, that’s absolutely fine! Do whatever works for you and enjoy it!


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