Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Your Complete Packing Guide

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Motorcycle Touring Checklist Table of Contents:

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Introduction

Ahhh, the notorious motorcycle touring checklist.

I’ve done this whole touring thing a fair few times over the years. And as a result, I’ve come into contact with many people from all over the world.

And whilst there are a million things we can all agree on, there is one fundamental aspect that nobody can seem to get right.

Packing!

I’m in a fortunate position where I will be away a lot over the coming year, so I’m currently negotiating the whole debacle of what to take and what to leave at home.

And this got me thinking. Because this is something we all have to do, yet very few of us get right.

As a result, I wanted to share my motorcycle touring checklist (the exact one I’ll be using personally for my trips this year.)

I’ve made it into a PDF that you can download and check off as you start your packing preparation. You can find it at the bottom of this post.

The Variables

I should point out here that I live in the UK, and all of the places on my upcoming motorcycle touring checklist are in Europe. If I was going to Africa or the US, my list would be slightly different.

Also, if I were going somewhere remote, my gear would be different as it would no doubt include camping equipment.

If you are planning to camp on your upcoming trip, add a motorcycle camping checklist to the PDF for your own use.

Variables aside, this motorcycle touring checklist should go some way to helping you prepare for your two-wheeled adventure.

Want more about gear? Try our dedicated Gear category!

rider off-roading in desert - motorcycle touring checklist
Image: Jeremy Bishop

Motorcycle Touring Checklist Snapshot

Listed below is a snapshot of all the items that should be considered for a motorcycle tour in Europe. Underneath the snapshot is a detailed version complete with further reading and more information.

Bike:

  • Bike safety check (from mechanic)
  • Consider new tyres
  • Spare keys (bike & luggage)
  • Heated grips/gloves (fitted & working)
  • 12V USB / Power Bank
  • Warning triangle (legal requirement)
  • Country sticker (GB, D, FR, E, etc.)
  • Tools & multi-tool
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Spare bulbs (legal requirement)
  • Chain lube
  • Headtorch
  • Hi-viz jacket (legal requirement)
  • Disc lock
  • Cargo net
  • Gaffer tape
  • Zip ties
  • Bungee or ratchet straps
  • Kickstand plate
  • Ziplock bags (documents & cash)

Clothes & Toiletries:

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • T-shirts
  • Zip-off pants
  • Trainers (comfortable evening shoes)
  • Mid-layer
  • Travel shampoo
  • Travel shower gel
  • Oral care
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Sun cream/sunblock

Riding Gear & Documents:

  • Helmet
  • Winter & summer gloves
  • Textile jacket
  • Textile pants
  • Waterproof boots
  • 2-piece waterproof suit
  • Base layers (pants and top)
  • Mid-layer (fleece)
  • Riding socks
  • Heated jacket
  • Cash & credit card
  • Passport & driving licence
  • Motorcycle insurance certificate
  • MOT certificate (if required)
  • Green card
  • Breakdown cover
  • Inform motorcycle insurance
  • Inform breakdown company
  • Inform bank
  • Ensure phone works abroad

Tech & Navigation:

  • Phone charger
  • Camera gear
  • Action camera gear
  • Plug adaptor
  • Tablet or laptop if needed
  • External hard drive
  • Sat nav
  • Paper maps
  • Smartphone apps
  • Backed-up routes (hard drive)
  • Any location guides/notes
  • Offline maps on smartphone

Others:

  • Toilet paper (just in case!)
  • Petrol station gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Drybag(s)
  • Spare glasses/shades
  • Washing powder/liquid
  • Coffee!
  • Prescribed meds
  • Accident plan
  • Breathalysers (legal requirement)
  • Hydration pack if required
  • Carrier bags (multiuse)
  • Earplugs
  • Face mask (COVID requirements)
  • Sunglasses
  • Long-lasting snacks

Motorcycle Touring Checklist In Detail

Here you will find a comprehensive breakdown of the list above. We have also included links to relevant information.

Preparing Your Bike

Motorcycle Health Check:

Once I have my dates set and am at the point of booking accommodation, I always call my mechanic to schedule a check over two weeks before departure.

I don’t expect there is anything wrong with my bike, but the simple fact of having my trusted mechanic give my bike a basic health check helps to put my mind at ease on the road.

Doing this two weeks before departure ensures I have enough time to fix any issues that need attention.

New Tyres:

As part of my motorbike health check, I consider whether or not I need new tyres.

If my trip is 2,500 miles and I have 8,000 miles left on the tyres, I probably won’t change them.

But if I know the end-life of my tyres is either on (or near the end) of my trip, I will sacrifice the remaining rubber and swap them out for new ones.

Related: How Long Do Touring Tyres Last?

knobbly continental motorcycle tyre
Image: Dan Burton

Heated Grips / Heated Gloves:

Whilst not essential, I always like to make sure that I have heated grips pr heated gloves when I tour.

If you’re touring in the height of summer, you probably won’t need them. But I once remember being in the Pyrenees at the end of September, and I was so glad I had heated grips!

And besides, even if you don’t use them whilst touring, it’ll be winter a few months after you get back, so you’ll likely need them anyway.

Our recommendations include the Keis G601 heated gloves, or the Oxford Advanced Hot Grips.

Related: Do You Need Heated Grips To Tour? Hell Yea!

12V USB Port / Power Bank:

Whilst not a necessity, one thing I absolutely hate touring without (especially when camping) is a 12V USB port or a power bank. So I always make sure the fitting of one is on my motorcycle touring checklist.

You might not need it, but if your GPS mounting system fails, you’ll be so pleased you can power your device via the USB port or the power bank. You should also be able to use them to power heated clothing or gloves.

At the very least, it’s handy to be able to charge your phone whilst you ride – especially if you want to use it for navigation.

We recommend this Anker power bank.

For more on touring, check out our Touring category

Spare Keys:

I’ve seen it too many times where keys have gone missing, and tours have come to an unwavering halt. And it doesn’t take much to knock your hand as you get off the bike and drop your ignition key down a drain!

For this reason, I’ve rigged my luggage to lock/unlock off a different key from that of my ignition (in other words, two different keys.)

I keep a spare luggage key on my person (or in one of the lockable cubby holes on my bike) and a spare ignition key in the top box.

This way, I always have a spare key to access my luggage or the ignition – no matter which one I lose, 

Spare keys should be on everybody’s motorcycle touring checklist no matter where they’re headed!

royal enfield key and fob - motorcycle touring checklist
Image: Zuhair Ahmed

Warning Triangle:

This is one I’ve never had to use, but they’re cheap to buy and lie flat at the bottom of your top box.

In many European countries, a warning triangle is a legal requirement. And you must display it if you have a breakdown.

Make sure you tick it off on your motorcycle touring checklist.

You can find them in most hardware stores or online, including this one on Amazon.

Related: How To Deal With A Breakdown On Tour

GB (or country) Sticker:

Depending on who you speak to, you will always get wavering opinions on whether this is a legal requirement or not.

I can’t be bothered trolling through European laws and by-laws. So my number plate has a GB-Euro symbol on it and I put a GB sticker on my panniers/top box as well.

This way, I’m covered twice – whether it’s a legal requirement or not.

Spare Bulbs:

As with the GB stickers above, this seems to change depending on who you speak to. For many new bikes, it’s difficult to even get to the headlights if you need to change a bulb.

But if you can get to them and you can buy bulbs for them, I recommend you put it on your motorcycle touring checklist and throw a spare set in your top box.

Puncture Repair Kit:

Again, I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never had to use one whilst on my travels.

There are a plethora of puncture repair kits out there. Find one you get along with by researching it on YouTube and ensure you get the correct type for your particular tyres.

Reasonably priced ones are available online, such as this one on Amazon.

GPS & Heated Jacket Connections:

Same as heated grips, really. Using the same example in the Pyrenees above, I was out when I got caught in a rainstorm.

I was freezing cold, and all my kit was back at the hotel.

Fortunately, I’d thrown my heated jacket in my top box, and it saved me from a very wet and shivery ride home in what was already treacherous conditions.

It’s well worth sticking it on your motorcycle checklist to have your mechanic give the connections a once-over before you set off.

In my opinion, the best heated jacket is the Keis J501RP heated jacket.

Related: Why You NEED A Keis Heated Jacket!

The Rest:

  • Tool kit and multi-tool
  • Chain lube
  • Headtorch
  • Hi-Viz jacket (legal requirement)
  • Disc lock
  • Cargo net (if not using luggage)
  • Gaffer tape
  • Zip ties
  • Bungee straps
  • Ratchet straps
  • Kickstand plate
  • Ziplock bags (for documents and cash)
motorcyclist riding through bend
Image: Apson Magar

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Riding Gear

Helmet:

Obviously, there’s a legal aspect to this, but there is also one of comfort.

Make sure you’re 100% happy with the fit and comfort of your lid because you’re probably going to be spending just as much time in your helmet as you are in bed!

I use the HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon and highly recommend it.

See our dedicated Helmet category for more info on lids

Winter Gloves:

It doesn’t matter to me that I’m touring in mid-July, I will always have a pair of winter gloves in my top box. Not only will they keep me warm if the weather turns cold up in the mountains, but they will also keep me dry if I get caught in a deluge.

They’re small, light, and take up next to zero room in my top box. Therefore, they will always have a place on my motorcycle touring checklist.

These ones from Richa are exceptional value for money.

Summer Gloves:

Summer gloves are a game-changer in hot weather, so I won’t go anywhere without them!

If you are blessed with glorious sunshine on your travels, having the option to swap out to your summer gloves makes for an all-around more enjoyable experience.

For me, the Furygan TD12 summer gloves are absolutely perfect for riding in the summer months.

Related: Furygan TD12 Summer Gloves Review

Textiles:

People will argue until they’re blue in the face about the best type of material.

Personally, I find that whilst the top-of-the-range textiles do a flawless job of keeping you warm and dry, they lack ventilation.

This means you get hot as soon as the temperature rises. And not only this, but they are unbelievably expensive!

I find mid-range kit keeps me dry in moderate rain, but also keeps me cool in moderate heat. I then have layers for rain and cold.

Either way, put textiles on your motorcycle touring checklist and get some that work for you.

For high-quality mid-range textile, you can’t go wrong with these from Oxford.

rider holding helmet in front of bike - motorcycle touring checklist
Image: Aejaz Memon

Waterproof Boots:

For me, decent boots are essential. My dad bought me some Altberg boots a few years ago, and whilst they were expensive, they have never failed to keep my feet warm and dry.

Related: 30,000-Mile Alterg Boots Review

Waterproofs:

If you choose to buy top-end textiles, you likely won’t need waterproofs.

But if you choose to buy mid-range or budget kit, I would highly recommend throwing a cheap waterproof rain suit (2-piece) in your top box.

Not only will it keep you dry, but it’s lightweight and can be used to keep you warm even if it isn’t raining.

Whether you end up taking them or not, make sure waterproofs are on your motorcycle touring checklist.

I highly recommend the Rainseal range from Oxford.

Base-Layers and Mid-Layers:

Even if I’m sure I won’t need them, I still like to carry a thin set of base layers.

Not only do they wick away sweat whilst you ride, but base layers also feel more comfortable underneath your riding gear.

I also like to take one mid-layer (fleece) that I can throw on if it gets chilly in the evenings.

Base/mid layers can also be worn off the bike.

The Rukka Mark thermal set is great value and quality for the price.

Related: The Best Summer Motorcycle Base Layers

Riding Socks:

Nothing much to say here! I find that decent socks stop your feet from rubbing in the heat. But I don’t recommend riding in the same socks for consecutive days.

If possible, wear clean socks at the start of each day and wash them as you go along.

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Documents

Cash & Credit Cards:

I don’t go mad with carrying cash – mainly because I’m in the habit of informing my bank before I leave. This means they know to expect transactions in whatever country I’m in and not to decline my card.

I carry a few hundred euros to pay for coffees or meals in off-grid places where they only accept cash.

man removing cash from brown wallet
Image: Allef Vinicius

Motorcycle Insurance:

This can vary from company to company and policy to policy, so check your own paperwork!

As with my bank, I always email my insurance provider to let them know my itinerary. If there are any problems, I can sort them out before I leave.

Green Cards:

It’s worth checking whether you need a Green card or not before you leave. 

Before 2021, UK riders didn’t need them to go to Europe.

Then we did, and now we don’t again!

You can find out more on the .gov website here.

Breakdown Cover:

Ensure your breakdown policy covers you for the countries you wish to visit. As with my insurance, I always email them my itinerary, so they know where I will be on any given day.

Others:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • MOT (if required)
  • Ensure your phone will work abroad (call your service provider if you are unsure)

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Clothes

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • T-shirts
  • Zip-off pants
  • Trainers (or comfortable shoes for the evenings)
  • Sweater or fleece (you can use your riding mid-layer)

When it comes to clothes, a guy once told me that a small bottle of washing liquid requires a lot less room than extra clothes – and it always stuck with me!

If possible, buy synthetic clothes that have antibacterial properties. Not only are they lightweight, but they resist odour incredibly well and do a great job of keeping you fresh.

You can wash them at night, and by morning they will be dry.

Take fewer clothes, substitute the rest for a small bottle of concentrated detergent and wash them as you go.

Toiletries

  • Travel shampoo
  • Travel shower gel
  • Oral care
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Sun cream (or sunblock)

GPS & Phone Apps:

Whether you choose to travel with a dedicated sat nav unit or with a phone app, make sure the maps are fully updated.

I would also recommend testing it on a local route after updating as it can mess with your settings.

Make a note on your motorcycle touring checklist to ensure your GPS is working as you want before you go. Also, check your routes are pre-installed and good to go.

If you choose to use your phone as your navigational aid, be sure to download any maps you might need so you can view them offline as well as when you have a signal.

Related: The Best Motorcycle Apps For Touring

bike with smartphone gps - motorcycle touring checklist
Image: Ralph Katieb

Paper Maps:

Sometimes I take paper maps, and sometimes I don’t – it really depends on where I’m going. If you’re going off-grid, I recommend taking a paper map and keeping it in your top box.

The last thing you want is to have all the information you need on your phone only to realise you’ve lost it. Or broken it.

Putting paper maps on your motorcycle touring checklist ensures you at least consider whether you need one or not.

Back-Up Your Routes:

It’s happened to me in the past where my sat nav has updated and wiped my routes mid-trip.
I recommend that you make copies of the routes and back them up to your laptop.

If you’re not taking a laptop, back them up to cloud storage so you can access them with WiFi or mobile data on your travels.

Planning a route? Read our dedicated Route Planning category

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Tech

  • Smartphone and charger
  • Camera kit
  • Action cam kit
  • Plug adaptor (country dependant)
  • Laptop or Tablet if required
  • External hard drive

Others (Miscellaneous)

Hydration:

No matter where you’re going, don’t ever leave the hotel without water.

Whether you choose to use a hydration bladder or simply carry bottles, make sure you have enough water to get you through the day.

I’m a big fan of the Kriega Hydro 2 in orange.

Chances are you won’t need it all, but you’ll be surprised at just how much water you lose – whatever the weather.

Consider your hydration plan for your trip

Accident Plan:

I know you’re all excited about your trip, and I hate to dampen the mood. But take an hour to formulate an action plan for if something goes wrong on your trip.

This is even more important when solo motorcycle touring.

Get your emergency contacts in order and develop a plan for what you will do if the worst comes to the worst.

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: The Rest

  • Toilet paper (because a motorcycle touring checklist isn’t complete if it doesn’t include emergency toilet paper!)
  • Petrol station gloves (an excellent last resort if your gloves leak in the rain)
  • Basic first aid kit (pain killers, ibuprofen, plasters, small bandages, sterile water, mosquito repellent etc.)
  • Drybag(s) – to keep dry kit dry (or to store wet kit)
  • Spare glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Washing powder/liquid
  • Coffee (there’s nothing worse than not being able to have a coffee in the morning!)
  • Any prescribed medication
  • Breathalysers (legal requirement)
  • Spare carrier bags (for organisation or storage of wet gear)
  • Earplugs (an essential on your motorcycle touring checklist)
  • Face mask (whilst still COVID-19 risk)
  • A few long-lasting snacks (energy/cereal bars for if you get caught out)

Related: 12 Motorcycle Touring Essentials You Never Thought Of

Motorcycle Touring Checklist: Your PDF Download


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Top image via Matheus Triaquim

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