When I was growing up, pretty much all of my peers loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And in a quest to fit in (as you do in your formative years), I tried to love them, too.
The problem was, I didn’t love them.
Despite Flea being one of the best bassists I’d ever heard, I couldn’t quite get my head around the Chilis as a band – much less why anyone would want to fly away on a zephyr (considering a zephyr is nothing more than a gentle breeze.)
Roll the years forward, and I found myself in a similar position for motorcycle camping. It was popular, and everybody loved it. So I tried to love it, too.
And despite thoroughly enjoying certain aspects of it (such as the freedom, sleeping under the stars, waking up to glorious sunrises etc), there were elements I always struggled to get right.
For me, these elements usually revolved around kit. I would always take things I didn’t need and leave the items I really should have taken at home. There was always a perpetual fight – either too much kit or not enough.
Introducing Bikers Rights
So when we got talking to Matt over at Bikers Rights, it seemed like the perfect time for this experienced motorcycle camper to impart some wisdom.
In this post, Matt goes through his motorcycle camping gear checklist for bikers.
Obviously, circumstances are different for everybody. But you can use this list as a baseline to get started, and mix-and-match as you go.
You’ll find the basics and a comprehensive list of everything you might need on a motorcycle camping trip. And to make it better, Matt and his team actively use most of this gear on their trips – so it’s been tried and tested on your behalf.
Finally, to make life a little more comfortable, you’ll find some luxuries and non-essentials designed to make your trip more enjoyable.
Matt is a bike rider and mechanic. His motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. He rode motocross as a teenager & into his 20’s when he worked as a mechanic. This helped him to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now, Matt is building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Riding Gear & Bike Maintenance
These essential items will keep you and your motorcycle in good condition. They hold your gear safely and ensure an enjoyable riding experience.
Appropriate Riding Clothing
A quality helmet is the most crucial piece of safety riding gear. However, touring boots, gloves, a neck tube, a waterproof textile jacket, and trousers are also recommended.
Looking for more on riding gear? Try these related posts:
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Maintenance and Repair
Some problems, such as flats, are the last thing you want while camping. Therefore, having simple tools that could help you fix such issues is crucial. And it starts with simple things, like a repair kit, a multi-tool, some chain oil, and a few spare bulbs.
It is always better to take precautions just in case someone tries to steal your bike. That is why you should bring a motorcycle disc lock, as they are a cost-effective and reliable form of security. They are small, easy to install, light to carry, and fit easily into your luggage.
We recommend the following as a compromise between price and functionality:
Oxford Monster Disc Lock
Find prices here:
Abus Granit Sledg 77
Find prices here:
Panniers, Saddlebags, And Luggage
These are great for carrying the heavy and bulky gear you might need for the campsite. They are lightweight and can carry up to 17L of kit. Remember to try them out first if you are not used to having them while riding.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the type of terrain you will be riding. For more road-based trips, you may be better off with hard panniers. With off-road, you could fare better with soft panniers.
For more information on luggage, try these related posts:
Being on a camping adventure means you will likely encounter lots of water. There is nothing quite as frustrating as soaking-wet belongings, that’s why dry bags are essential. These bags are lightweight, keep your stuff dry, are flexible, and are multipurpose.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Campsite Gear
It is always best to get a lightweight and small-volume setup that you can fold to make it as small as possible. Beefier kit may extend to a comfier stay. But it also adds weight and bulk. For motorcycle camping, a minimal setup often pays dividends.
When selecting a tent, you need to consider the climate and season in which you will be camping. Ensure the tent is a light and compact model that is easy to compress fully. The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a two-person tent and would give more room to store your kit out of the elements.
Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad
You’ll need a suitable sleeping bag to stay comfortable and warm at night. You don’t need a lot while camping as this adds to your luggage. Also, consider getting a sleeping pad to avoid sleeping on the ground. Pick a pad that supports your pressure points, such as the hips and shoulders.
For more information on sleeping bags/pads, try these related posts:
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Take A Pillow
If you have the space, go for a comfortable and inflatable pillow. A feature to look out for in a good pillow is a layer to fill between the inner bladder and you. However, you can use your bag, an inflated dry bag, or a bike jacket if you want minimal kit.
Water bottles are the optimal solution to staying hydrated. You want to get a lightweight and durable model. You can get one with calibrations to help you keep track of the amount of water you are taking.
You can always use a lighter or matches. But they become a nightmare in wet or windy conditions! Therefore, you should carry reliable, quality fire starter kits that withstand harsh environments.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Water Storage Container
The best camping water storage container comes in handy if you need more water on your trip. Get a collapsible container that will fit in small storage areas to save space.
Hatchet or Ax
For a hatchet, get a compact one. A shorter handle will work in your favour when packing, while a heavier hatchet will make it easier to get a good chop.
A multi-tool is one of the most versatile things you can pack for outdoor activity, especially if it comes with a good knife. The model you pick should have a few basic tools, such as pliers, a knife, a bottle opener, scissors, a can opener, and a screwdriver.
LED Torch and Lantern/Headlamp
Get a compact, tactical-style LED torch that fits easily into your saddlebag. These will make walking in the dark easier. A lantern will sit well in your tent at night or outside the tent when sitting around the campsite.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Personal Care Items
These items will help maintain health, hygiene, and overall well-being during your trip. Be sure to add them to your motorcycle camping gear checklist!
First Aid Kit
Camping trips might involve unexpected accidents like grazes, cuts, barbecue burns, or sunburn. You should also carry alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, heat packs, bandages, gauze, safety pins, and plasters.
Also, don’t forget to carry personal medication, if any. Bring essential medicines like anti-diarrhoea, antihistamines, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory pills, and hydrocortisone.
A quality pair of sunglasses can block reflected sunlight to give you a good view of your surroundings and protect the eyes from harmful UV Rays. They can also be used on the bike if your internal visor breaks.
Always carry light clothing. Avoid cotton clothes because they take a long time to dry; instead, use quick-drying kit. You can carry a lightweight fleece, shorts, t-shirts, underwear, and flip-flops. We personally recommend base layers where possible.
Camping towels come in small sizes, are microfiber, and are absorbent. You can easily pack them without compromising your space. They are relatively cheap and have a clip so you can attach them to your tent to dry.
You can carry a lot of valuable items in a tiny toiletry bag. Ideally, get a bag that is compact and waterproof. Carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, travel tissue packs, mouthwash, and eco-friendly soap. Also, carry deodorant and wet wipes, which are great for personal hygiene.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Bug Spray and Sunscreen
Consider packing a bug spray containing DEET or a natural spray such as citronella oil. The two have proven to be effective insect repellents. Also, do not forget to pack sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreen will be great to protect against sunburn as you will be out riding for hours.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Comfort
The comfort items are there to ease your camping life; thus, they are non-essential. You can always do without them if you’re a minimalist traveller or on a short trip.
Ear Plugs (For Sleeping)
A pair of these are very convenient at a campsite to help you sleep better at night. They block out unwanted sounds but carrying them is a matter of personal preference.
A tarpaulin is flexible when camping. It can provide more shelter when it’s raining or as a big ground mat. Ensure you purchase one with eyelets for easy tying.
Many camp chairs are light-weighted and incredibly comfortable. Get a collapsible, lightweight, and compact camping chair. They relieve you of the pain of sitting on the floor with an achy back. It’s well worth packing one for those evenings around the campfire.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Cooking Supplies
The cooking equipment you carry will depend on how much you cook and how long the trip will last. If it is a simple weekend trip, you need less equipment, but you will need more supplies for a long-term motorcycle trip.
Taking foods that don’t require refrigeration is the best way to stock a camping kitchen. Instant food options would be ideal for shorter trips. You might also want to bring along a few camping recipes for long-term trips.
Essential food to carry would be dry foods, tinned food, fuel food, beverages, and condiments.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Camping Stove and Fuel
Keep in mind that camping stoves come in different varieties. You should choose one that fits your needs. It’s best to carry only one stove with enough fuel to power it all through.
A Jetboil flash camping stove is a good multipurpose cooking system. But you can also cook on a wood-burning camp stove or campfire, depending on your needs.
You’ll need small, lightweight cookware that is durable and easy to use. A proper cooking set will contain cutlery, pots and pans, plates and bowls, and cups and mugs.
We use the MSR Quick 2 System, a two-person cook set. Although, you can use the Wealers 11 Piece Mess Kit for larger groups.
While food hygiene is vital, you should use water sparingly when camping. Sanitisers ensure you do not waste water on handwashing, especially when camping away from water sources.
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Extra Necessities
The items in this section don’t fit into another category, but they can make your life much easier. And if it’s easier, it’s more enjoyable. Isn’t that what life is all about?
These could be a little outdated but could come in handy when you no longer recognise the town names. With low battery power on your phone, you’ll be happy to have it as a backup.
Essentially, you should always carry your ID with you. In the case of bike camping, a law enforcement officer may need to see it. For an international camping trip, bring an original copy or photocopy of your passport.
Money (Cash and Cards)
Have a credit card and some hard cash on you for essential purchases during your trip. You’ll need enough to cover the food, gas, and the camping fee your campsite may charge. Make sure to leave some money for emergencies!
Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist: Final Thoughts
It is always best to get lightweight kit that occupies a small space. As such, backpacking items often make good purchases as they are likely to fit in your luggage space.
You want to pack small and light to avoid overloading your bike. Also, you do not necessarily require all the items outlined here, so feel free to add or remove any items to suit your needs.
Additionally, while motorcycle camping is tons of fun, you might consider giving dirt bike camping a go. Both types of camping are thrilling and invigorating, and we highly recommend giving them both a shot.
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Top image: Mr Rohan