This story originally published on Motorcyclist.
There is nothing better than riding your motorcycle out into the wild, finding a scenic spot, and plunking down for a night or two. With the ability to cover ground quicker than a car, truck, or RV, a motorcycle is perfectly suited to finding wonderful out-of-the-way places to get a good night’s rest. Today on MC Garage we talk about motorcycle camping essentials.
I love motorcycling camping, and if you haven’t tried it, well, you’re missing out. I like a nice, comfortable hotel as much as the next rider, but there is something special about riding to a destination, setting up camp, and just enjoying the sights, sounds, and atmosphere offered up by Mother Nature. But an unprepared and uncomfortable campsite will sour the experience—quickly. I’m going to share some of the gear in my personal adventure camping kit that keeps me comfortable without taking up too much space on the bike. In fact, my entire kit will fit it most 35- to 45-liter panniers.
First, you need some shelter. I’ve used all types of tents, from two-person hiking tents to motorcycle-specific tents with add-on garages and vestibules, but when saving space and keeping the weight down, a well-built single-person backpacking tent is the best choice. They pack down into a very small stuff sack and weigh anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds. Just make sure there is enough room for you and your gear inside just in case it rains.
Once you have a nylon roof over your head, you need to be comfortable when it comes time to sleep. This piece is season- and temperature-dependent, but a backpacking sleeping bag is still a solid choice here. My personal favorite is rated to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and has a compartment for my inflatable sleeping pad. And the best part is that is all fits in a small stuff sack and is lightweight. Don’t forget an inflatable pillow while you’re at it.
Are you seeing a theme here? The less weight you add to your bike, the better. The effect on your motorcycle’s suspension and handling will be less, allowing you to ride better for longer. We all think it looks very adventurous when the bike is piled high with gear, but you’ll regret it when you have to pick up the bike if and when you tip over. There are plenty of options to be minimal and comfortable.
Now we have the housing and sleeping covered, it’s time for some luxury. For me this includes a small, foldable chair for lounging around the campfire. These aluminum and nylon chairs are sturdy enough to hold up to 260 pounds. Another extra comfort for me is a hammock. These are killer to relax on after a hard day of riding. Made of rip-stop parachute nylon, they don’t take up much space at all. Just don’t forget to include some tree straps when you pick one up.
You’re going to need to be able to see then it gets dark. An LED headlamp is compact and is useful to camp work and bike maintenance. I also bring a small battery-powered lantern. Also, a rechargeable power bank is handy to charge your phone and electronics.
Finally, you need to eat and drink. I keep it simple with peelable fruits, snack bars, and dehydrated meals. To cook your meals a Jetboil is the way to go. It brings water to a boil quickly to get your dinner or breakfast rehydrated in short order. This particular model also has a french press for coffee as well, but it can be a pain to clean up afterward. For me the trade-off is worth it. I’ve also got a gas burner and pot set up if I feel like bringing canned soup or chili instead of dehydrated meals. Don’t forget a folding spoon and fork; eating with your fingers is no fun.
That’s it for my kit. I’ve spent many a night refining my gear list on and off the bike. I keep it simple and lightweight to get the most out of my riding without giving up comfort at the end of the trail.