Heading out on a motorcycle camping trip? It’s going to be one crazy adventure to camp at places accessible only by bikers like you. A bonus such adventures give you are the motorcyclist friends you make on the trip and the sights you bask in along the way. Put on your riding gear and hit the road!
But before that, you could use some tips because the greatest challenge of motorcycle camping is space! You need to pack your entire accommodation, dining, and bathing on that two-wheeler. Before you get intimidated and start missing the spacious trunk of your car, let’s ride right into packing camping gear on a motorcycle:
You need to first ask yourself for how long you’ll be gone and where you’ll be staying. If you’re only going weekend camping then you just need an extra set of clothes, but if it is a longer camping trip, you’ll need to make more space on your bike for clothes. If you’ll be gone for long, it’s better you go for a cabin camping accommodation. This saves the space that tent gear will take up on your motorcycle thus leaving enough space for clothing.
Open Google Maps and check if there are grocery stores nearby, check if you need to carry extra essentials. You need to ask yourself if you’ll be cooking or eating out. Again, if you’ll be gone for a longer trip, it’s better you eat at local places near your campsite. Cooking for yourself on a long camping trip means lots of supplies and loads of cookware! (because surely you can’t survive on instant noodles for more than a week).
Also Read: 6 Interesting Camping Experiences In India
While choosing a mattress pad to pack on your bike, pack one that folds down to the size of a water bottle. Heavy inflatable mattresses are a big no since they take up a lot of room! Add an extra windproof jacket to your list and pack it right at the top of your pannier for easy accessibility. Even if the weather is cool and pleasant, riding at 100 km per hour can be frigid, especially if you’re traveling in colder regions.
If it’s the summer season, carry a motorcycle jacket that allows enough air ventilation to keep you cool during hot afternoon rides. At the same time, you won’t need a winter jacket if the temperature of the campsite you’re traveling to won’t drop below 15°C. So research the weather and temperature well in advance.
When you’re packing cookware, pack only one utensil that can make you quick meals. Pack instant noodles, instant pasta, and the likes that require only boiling. This way you aren’t carrying an entire kitchen and a spice rack on your motorcycle! Also carry aluminum foil as it’s perfect to cook potatoes, freshly caught fish, meat, etc.
While creating a packing list, try to go minimal and pack as light as possible. The videos you see online with extensive packing tutorials might not always help because each one’s needs and packing styles are different. You should try cutting down on every possible thing from gear to clothes. If you’re packing a first aid kit, go for the most basic one that can sustain you until help arrives. If you’re riding in a group, don’t carry a first aid kit if your friend or your tour leader is carrying one. But remember to pack items like personal medicines, sanitizer, band-aids, etc in a small pouch. Never harms anyone to carry the most basic first aid items!
The regular family tent that you carry in your car while going camping with the family isn’t something that you should carry on your motorcycle camping trip. Tents of such sizes take up a lot of space on your bike and may be a waste of effort if you alone will be sleeping in a large tent. Consider going for an expedition tent; these tents have two sections, one for you and one to park your motorcycle in. This keeps your loved two-wheeler safe from rain or storm!
But if your motorcycle doesn’t have the kind of space an expedition tent requires, go for a backpacker tent. Backpacker tents fold to a small size and are ideal for solo motorcyclists. You can eliminate the need for an expedition tent if you’re camping during the summer months because your motorcycle doesn’t really need shelter in this weather.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a comfortable sleeping bag. Get a down sleeping bag that packs to a smaller size and keeps you warm; this is ideal keeping in mind the bike’s limited space. One thing to remember while shopping for your motorcycle camping trip is to invest in gear that can withstand rough use and rough rides. Riding can affect the quality of your camping gear due to the constant shocks while on the road.
To keep all your camp equipment in one shape when you reach the campsite, you need to buy sturdy equipment and pack for unforgiving roads! When you shop for panniers or saddlebags, check their weight capacity. You should invest in panniers that can bear heavy goods without ruining their attachment mechanism. If you’re getting saddlebags, ensure that the weight of camping equipment won’t cause the seams to rip off.
Once you’ve shopped for camping gear, don’t forget to shop for riding gear. Get a comfortable base layer, a protective layer, and a waterproof jacket. Only when you have the right riding gear can your ride be truly smooth. Buy an extra warm coat if you’re going camping in Himachal Pradesh or other snowy regions!
PS: Irrespective of whether you’re going camping, ensure that you wear a riding gear always! As it’s said in the motorcycling community, “Dress for the slide, not the ride.”
If you’re going motorcycle camping with a group of friends, you can share the load for common goods. Items like kitchen utensils and cooking essentials can be shared between your friend’s bike and that of yours. If you’re carrying a tent that can accommodate more than one person, give other camping equipment to your friend who’ll be sleeping in the same tent as yours. You seriously don’t have to be the beast of burden of the entire squad!
If you’re all packed up and set for the trip, don’t shy away from asking them to share some of your weight midways through the journey if your ride is uncomfortable. There’s no point in compromising because enjoying the ride too is a priority. Go ahead and divide the load if you stop for meal breaks or fuel breaks.
Assuming you already have panniers attached to your motorcycle, fill them with care. Just because you’ve ample space inside the panniers doesn’t mean you can just toss camping gear inside them. Always pack heavier goods at the bottom part of the panniers and then the lighter items like raincoats, clothes, inflatable pillows, etc. If you do the opposite, your bike might go off balance at steep turning points.
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An easy way to do this is by identifying the center of gravity of your bike and packing the heavier items there to balance out the weight. But while doing so, don’t keep random heavy things together because it gets difficult to look for them later. For example, similar items like tent and tent tools should be packed together so it’s easier to reach out to them.
Distribute heavy items evenly between the two panniers so there’s no heavier load on one side of the bike that can ruin its stability. Also, make sure that the panniers or side boxes you attach to your motorcycle aren’t wider than your handlebars. While shopping for panniers or side boxes, get detachable ones with clips so you can detach your side boxes and double them up as camping chairs.
Tie your luggage down to your bike with bungee straps or cargo straps. But the bungee straps that you use to fix camping gear in place on your motorcycle can be brutal on your bike’s aesthetics. The ends of these straps can rub against your bike due to friction and cause scratches. You sure don’t want the paint on your bike ruined, but we’ve got a solution! Wrap electrical tape around the metal hooks of the straps so that they’re gentle on your bike’s surface.
If you’re using cargo straps, you need to be extra careful about safety. Cargo straps are long and the length comes in use while fixing bulky camp gear in place. But the long loose ends of the cargo straps can act as a serious hazard since they can get caught in your bike’s tires. It’s better you cut the loose ends off! If you think that tucking the loose ends will solve the problem, we suggest otherwise, the ends could come off during rough, windy rides.
Also, ensure the straps you buy aren’t too elastic or flexible as they fail to keep heavy gear in one place. The luggage can move around during heavy vibrations or bumpy terrains if the straps are too flexible. One more point to remember will be to carry extra straps; this is a savior if the metal hooks break during your ride. Don’t forget to tighten the straps every time you take a pitstop.
The luggage rack that’s at the rear of the motorcycle is the right place to strap bags that carry lighter camping gear. This part of your luggage falls right behind you and so isn’t exposed to wind directly, making it a good place for storing smaller lighter items. This position also ensures that the front-back weight distribution on your bike is perfect. That’s why never pack heavy goods on a luggage rack!
Go for a top box only if the storage space provided by the side boxes isn’t sufficient. If you do get a top box, fill it with only lighter belongings. A top box filled to the brim with heavy camping gear like metal rods, hooks, tools, or cookware can give you shaky handlebars and lower stability.
If you’re not attaching a top box on your luggage rack, go for a roll bag. Roll bags are perfect for storing bulky items that cannot fit in the panniers. You can stay organized by packing your tent, sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, and pillow in the roll bag. The structure of the roll bag also keeps rain and wind off your gear. You’ll reach your campsite with a crisp dry tent and sleeping bag to spend the night in! Secure your roll bag in place with rok straps that are firm and sturdy.
If you’re keeping important or valuable items in your saddlebags, you must want them to be tied securely to your bike. In such cases, don’t rely only on the straps of your saddlebags because it’ll have you looking over your shoulder during the ride to check if the lighter bags are in place. Try punching holes through saddlebags and securing them with thick zip ties or cables as extra security. If your saddlebag straps do come off during the ride, the thick cables will keep the bag in place.
Attach an extra saddlebag to your bike to stuff dirty clothes in. This helps especially when your camping trip is longer and you’ll be changing sweaty clothes. If you’re going in the monsoon season, pack wet clothes into plastic bags and shove them in the extra saddlebag. You won’t be ruining your other good clothes or camping gear if you follow this!
All your essentials like license, registration certificates, charger, etc should go in the tank bag. You don’t have to climb off your motorcycle every now and then to fetch essentials like these if you pack them in a tank bag. Also get a fanny pack to store cash, bank cards, and your mobile phone.
The fanny pack is attached to your waist so your most valuable belongings are the closest to you. This also helps when you stop at roadside cafes for a quick bite, you don’t have to keep running back to your bike to fetch cash from your tank bag. It never harms to pack your camera in the tank bag so you don’t miss out on great frames along the journey.
While packing clothes, wool, and fleece jackets, pack them in compression bags so they take the least amount of space. Try to segregate your luggage and pack them in separate bags, like packing your shoes in different bags so they don’t soil your clothes. Try to roll your clothes rather than fold them, this too is an efficient way to save space.
The gaps between your luggage can be filled with miscellaneous items like socks. Packing under the limitation of space found on a motorcycle is like a jigsaw puzzle that you’ll master over time. This isn’t a suitcase and you don’t have the entire car trunk at your disposal!
However weatherproof your camping gear is or watertight your panniers are, double-seal your belongings during monsoon rides! Seal all your camping gear and equipment in gallon-sized or larger zip lock bags before you pack them in your panniers or saddlebags. You need extra proofing for devices like cameras and laptops, wrap them in a cloth bag, and then place them in zip lock bags so as to keep them safe from the rains.
These zip lock bags are pretty useful during the summers too when you’re packing ice-cold water bottles with your luggage. The condensation from cold water bottles can wet your things, better keep a zip lock handy!
The weight of your camping gear should never be more than the passenger’s. An overloaded bike can ruin the riding experience because it affects braking and tire life. Check your motorcycle’s owner manual and read instructions about its payload. Pack everything on your motorcycle a night before your camping trip and take a test ride.
You need to be sure you’re comfortable riding, braking, and turning with all that load mounted on your motorcycle. If something feels off, unpack and unload some things that aren’t as important. If you directly hit the highway with all that heavy camping gear, you have to manage quietly until the next pitstop arrives to make any changes. Plus you cannot turn back home to lighten your load!
We hope this comes in handy when you set out on your motorcycle camping trip. Before heading out, check if all the controls, breaks, gears, etc are in good condition. Pack a roll-up tools kit and educate yourself on basic bike repairs. Enjoy your ride and keep checking if the gear is mounted properly along the way. When you reach the campsite, park your bike near the tent so you can access your camping gear with ease! You can also use your bike to hang equipment while setting up your camp! Ride with a group or ride solo, if you make your bike your best mate, you’ll never be riding alone!
Which are the best places to go motorcycle camping in India?
Leh in Ladakh, Wayanad in Kerala, South Goa, Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, Karnala in Maharashtra, Sakleshpur near Bangalore, etc are some of the best places to go motorcycle camping in India. If you’re a beginner, look for campsites near your home so you don’t have to ride long distances.
Is It Safe To Go Motorcycle Camping Alone?
Yes, it’s safe to go motorcycle camping alone, but avoid riding after dark. Find a hotel or a lodge to rest for the night if you don’t reach your campsite before sunset. It’s also better to inform someone of your plans and keep them updated on your trip.
Which Are The Best Routes In India To Ride My Motorcycle?
Hindustan-Tibet highway, Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu, Mumbai to Kerala on NH17, Jaipur to Jaisalmer route, Guwahati to Shillong road, and the East Coast Road in Tamil Nadu are some of the best routes to ride a bike in India.
What Are Some Best Tips To Go Camping On Small Motorcycles?
Carry the smallest size of tent, minimal camping gear, and only one multi-use cookware on your trip. If your motorcycle is small and cannot accommodate a tent, you can rent camping gear near your campsite. This leaves space on your motorcycle for your clothes and essentials.
Which Is The Best Motorcycle To Go On Road Trips?
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350, Harley Davidson SuperLow, KTM 390 Duke, Bajaj Avenger Cruise 220, Royal Enfield Himalayan and Kawasaki Versys 650 are some of the best motorcycles to go on road trips in India.
What Is Motocamping?
Motocamping in general means carrying things required on a campsite on the motorbike.
How Do You Start A Motorcycle Camping?
For going on a Motorcycle camping you must be prepared with a to-do list like carrying luggage, choosing the location for camping, the right motorbike for riding, etc.
What Should Be In A Motorcycle First Aid Kit?
A Bandaid, Aspirin, Tweezers, First Aid Manual, and Emergency Blanket are a few things to carry in a motorcycle first aid kit.