Last updated: 28 November 2022
When it comes to motorcycle touring essentials, we all want to pack everything for all eventualities.
And because of this, we end up with a mass of stuff packed into multiple holders, compartments, and bags that we can never find even when we need it.
Whilst most people remember the obvious items (passport, GPS, cash, etc), most forget about these useful (yet underrated) motorcycle touring essentials.
For ease, we’ve split them into three sections:
- Storage & Luggage
- Motorcycle Touring Essentials: Storage & Luggage
- Motorcycle Touring Accessories: Practical
- Motorcycle Touring Accessories: Personal
- Motorcycle Touring Essentials: Conclusion
Motorcycle Touring Essentials: Storage & Luggage
A basic luggage net is one of the most versatile motorcycle touring essentials you can buy – and they cost next to nothing.
They’re cheap, weigh nothing, and can be stored away easily when not in use.
Wrap one around your roll bag and it provides an easy-to-reach compartment where you can store water, food, or rain gear on the way to your location.
Remove the net once at your accommodation and take it to your hotel. Here you can use the attached hooks to construct a makeshift washing line to dry your clothes after washing.
A simple cable lock is another item that made it onto our list of motorcycle touring essentials.
Get one that’s a few metres long, and it will prove to be one of the most useful items in a multitude of scenarios.
Travelling with a roll bag? Wrap the cable lock tightly around the roll bag. Not only does this act as ‘storage’ for the cable lock, but it will also help secure your bag – making it more difficult for people to get into it.
Feed the lock that’s wrapped around your roll bag through the chin guard on your helmet. Once locked, your helmet and bag will now be (somewhat) securely fastened to your bike.
You can also secure your motorcycle jacket to your roll bag in the same way (depending on the jacket.)
These little dry bags are excellent for various uses. And this makes them one of the most resourceful motorcycle touring essentials you can carry.
You can use them as an ordinary bag, or (especially if camping) you can use them to store away wet clothes – so they don’t get your dry clothes wet.
I actually use them the other way around. So I use them to store emergency dry clothes – so I have something to change into if I get soaked.
As well as storing wet/dry clothes, you can also use them to store your passport, cash, or other documents to save them from getting wet.
I’d recommend getting the ones that fold down from the top, making them 100% waterproof.
Related: Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist
Straps, Bungees & Cable Ties
As well as your luggage net (above), keep a roll of duct tape to hand along with some string, a plethora of bungee cords, and some ratchet straps. If you have the cash to splash, get yourself some Voile straps – so good we wrote a dedicated post about them here.
All of these things are light, versatile and take up very little space.
Whatever breaks or needs re-attaching along your travels, you can almost always make a temporary repair using a combination of tape, string, bungees, and straps!
And this is why they make perfect motorcycle touring essentials to keep in your top box.
Motorcycle Touring Accessories: Practical
You’ve gone to all the effort of packing your bike meticulously. It weighs a tonne, but you’ve done a great job of perfectly distributing the load.
Don’t ruin it by parking on grass, mud, or other soft surfaces and having your perfectly packed bike fall over.
Of course, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t park on those surfaces at all. But sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. And that’s why a kickstand plate can be one of the most underestimated motorcycle touring essentials.
Keep a kickstand plate to hand to distribute the weight of your bike evenly on an uneven surface.
Want another top tip? Drill a small hole through the kickstand plate. Tie some string through the hole, then cut it so it’s long enough to tie around your handlebars.
This way, you get on the bike whilst it’s on the side stand and simply use the string to lift the plate up to your hands. It’s much easier than trying to bend down and pick it up whilst on the bike.
You can thank me later for that frankly excellent little nugget of advice!
Leatherman / Multipurpose Tool
This is especially important if camping, but a multipurpose tool also has its uses on the road. The fact it’s lightweight and versatile puts it firmly on our list of motorcycle touring essentials.
For camping, find an aluminium multipurpose tool that houses a knife, fork and spoon, as well as basic tools. This makes it easy to keep clean and sterile whilst preventing rust.
For general use, keep a leatherman or basic multipurpose tool to hand. You’ll be surprised at how many things you’ll have to fix, mend or create along your travels.
Head Torch (LED)
This is yet another find from my hiking adventures! An LED head torch can be a lifesaver. And that’s why it’s made it onto our list of motorcycle touring essentials.
Head torches are incredibly bright, and the batteries (or charge) can last for ages – depending on the brand.
Have you ever tried fixing your bike in the dark whilst holding a torch in your mouth? It only takes a few minutes before your teeth and jaw are in agony.
Pop the head torch on instead, and you can tend to your bike under the light of a thousand suns without making your jaw ache.
In our experience, breakdowns are actually few and far between. However, packing and unpacking in the dark is far more common.
Have you ever had a full day on the road only to then have to unpack your bike in the dark? Not fun is it. Use the head torch to make early-morning packing (or late-night unpacking) a hundred times easier.
Small Day Pack
You’re going to need somewhere to keep all of the above items. And we recommend keeping them in one place where you know where they are and where you can access them easily.
A small day pack is perfect for holding these items. You can even get detachable bags that serve as a tank bag on the bike and a day pack when off it – making them true motorcycle touring essentials.
If you are travelling by ferry, use this day pack to store your essentials when on board – as you usually can’t return to your bike whilst the ship is sailing.
Throw in some underwear, a clean t-shirt, your phone charger, and a wallet, and you have everything you need in one convenient little day pack.
Motorcycle Touring Accessories: Personal
You can be pretty certain that you won’t be performing any medical procedures whilst on your motorcycle tour.
But you probably can’t be as certain that you won’t get caught in a thunderstorm with waterproof gloves that turned out not to be so waterproof after all.
If you’ve only got one pair of gloves, it means riding the rest of the day with cold, wet hands.
And this is why latex gloves rank on our list of motorcycle touring essentials.
As a last resort, wear latex gloves underneath your riding gloves. Not only will they shield your hands from the wet fabric, but they will also keep you warm.
And the best bit? You can pick them up for free at petrol stations.
I discovered the multipurpose use of these bad boys whilst on a hiking trip up to Gelmersee in the Swiss Alps.
And whilst they’re not motorcycle touring essentials per se, zip-off pants make for incredibly useful items whilst on an adventure.
For a start, you can use them in most situations. They’re smart enough to wear for dinner and comfortable enough to wear during the evening at your hotel.
But if you’re an adventurer-type like me, they come in handy for day trips and hiking on your days off the bike.
They usually come with at least four pockets meaning you can securely carry your phone, wallet, and keys. And if it gets too warm, unzip the legs, and your pants turn into shorts. Voila!
If you buy zip-off pants made of synthetic materials, you can wash and dry them in no time.
When it comes to touring, these are the only type of pants I take, except for my riding pants.
Some people wear earplugs all the time. Others choose not to wear them at all, and others pick and choose when they wear them.
You can probably get away with not wearing them for a quick ride out. But if you’re embarking on a 12-hour ride across borders and countries, then we absolutely class earplugs as motorcycle touring essentials.
Whilst you probably love the sound of your bike, the thud, thud, thud of your v-twin engine will continue to pound away in your head for hours. Even after you get off the bike.
To make winding down that much easier, wearing earplugs can alleviate the pounding in your head. Not only this, but the noise reduction of your earplugs makes all-day riding less exhausting mentally.
Toilet Paper / Hygiene Wipes
Yes, I know you’re laughing! But this is one of those motorcycle touring essentials that you really don’t want to get caught without!
Toilet paper is so light that it’s silly not to shove some in your top box. You don’t even need the full roll – just enough to get you out of an ’emergency’ situation in a bush somewhere.
Averse to good old-fashioned shit tickets? Fine, treat your delicate botty to some hygienic wipes instead which will leave you feeling cleaner and fresher from your trip into nature.
Finally, if you’re travelling in a group, at least one person on your tour will get caught short. In which case, toilet roll becomes the ultimate mountain currency.
Provide someone with toilet roll in their hour of need, and they’ll owe you drinks for the remainder of your trip.
Motorcycle Touring Essentials: Conclusion
The theme of this post is pretty much a continuance across the rest of our posts. And that is to make touring easier!
You could, of course, pack everything you can think of. But then you’ll probably be over-packing which means you’ll be adding to the burden of your tour rather than taking away from it.
Pack the most useful motorcycle touring essentials that can be used for multiple purposes.
And don’t over-pack! Pack smart instead.
Top image: LouisMoto via Unsplash