Whether you plan to take a short trip, stay overnight under a blanket of stars, or a multi-day motorcycle
camping adventure in the great outdoors, you will need to pack some essential items.
Weight and space are two factors you need to consider when planning your trip, but comfort is also another factor to consider if you want to have a relaxing time.
I do a lot of motorcycle camping and here I have listed the 20 essential items I always take with me.
Here are the 20 Essential items to pack when motorcycle camping:
- First Aid Kit
- Sleeping gear
- portable Cooking Stove/MRE’s/Compact grill
- Kitchen Utensil Kit
- GPS Unit/Cellphone App
- Clean water
- Dry Bags
- Solar Power bank
- Head Lamp
- Foil Blanket
- Camping Chair
- Hatchet/Mini Axe
- Fire Starter
- Hand sanitizer
- Travel towel
The most challenging thing about motorcycle camping is finding the space for all the equipment you have to pack if you are not a minimalist camper.
Adding dry bags to your camping kit will certainly help with this problem as you will be able to secure these bags to the top of your panniers or saddlebags, which will give you extra storage space.
1) First Aid Kit
When you are venturing out into the wild or great outdoors, anything can happen, and you need to be
sure that if you get injured or are suffering from some discomfort, you can tend to it yourself.
Even small cuts and bruises can make your camping experience unplesant if you arn’t able to traet them.
Minor injuries should never be the reason to cut any camping experience short. I always carry my first aid kit with me when motorcycle camping and regularly check that the items inside are up to date and packaged correctly without any tares to any of the item’s packaging.
As with my first aid kit make sure that your first aid kit contains the following essentials.
Here are the essential items a first aid kit should have:
• Antiseptic ointments and creams
• Adhesive and butterfly bandages
• Gauze pads/Gauze roll• Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
• Hydrocortisone cream
• Antihistamine (Allergic reactions)
• Triple antibiotic ointment
• Anti-diarrhea medicine
• Scissors, safety pins, tweezers
• Sunblock, sunburn relief spray
• Prescription medicine
• Waterproof matches
• Snakebite kit (Especially when camping in the South West and the Western States of America)
2) Saddle Bags/panniers
You can only take a limited amount of camping gear with you if all you have is a rucksack or small bag, so acquiring a set of luggage bags (hard or soft) will be an absolute must.
I use the Givi Top Box and Panniers and find them to be an excellent choice. They are waterproof, secure, and I can easily strap dry bags to them for extra space.
For those motorcyclists who want to camp at some comfort level while exploring the world on their
motorcycles, investing in saddle bags is the way to go.
When purchasing hard luggage for your motorcycle, go for one that is 100% waterproof, easy to put on and take off your motorcycle, and has a lifetime warranty.
You can read my review of my Givi Top box by clicking the link HERE.
3) Sleeping Gear
Having a good night’s rest is thoroughly deserved after a long day on the bike, hiking through the
mountains and exploring the wild.
I use the following options in conjunction with each other to get a great night’s sleep which ensures that I’m fresh and ready for lots more exploring the following day.
My sleeping gear is the bulkiest item I take with me on any motorcycle camping trip, so like me, you will want to purchase the lightest and lowest volume kit you can afford.
A sleeping bag is the bare minimum of essential items you should take when you decide to go on a camping trip. It can and will get cold at night, so choosing a sleeping bag should be on the top of your list.
When it comes to the sleeping bag size, I have found that the best type to buy is a Goose Down sleeping bag. They are super comfy, lightweight, and pack down into a tiny size for easy packing.
My naturehike sleeping bag only weighs 1.26LB’s which is ultra-lightweight, and it packs down to a tiny size.
Another option is the Mummy sleeping bag which I also own. This one warms me up the quickest and is suitable for most temperatures but offers less wiggle room.
Should wiggle space be high on your sleeping list, then a Flannel bag will be the bag for you!
A sleeping pad is a small cloud-like mattress, which inflates and deflates without any problems,
ensuring a comfortable night’s rest.
It is a must-have for all people, especially for those suffering from medical issues, like a back
problem, and it will take up less space than your sleeping bag when not in use.
The Sleepingo pad only weighs 5.4 OZ and packs down to a minimal size (about the size of a water bottle!). I usually pack mine in with my sleeping bag as it fits nice and snugly and keeps both the sleeping pad and sleeping bag together.
I use both a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag and find I get a great night’s sleep every time I take my bike out on camping trips.
The sleeping pad really helps protect your body from the cold hard floor and, in my opinion, is well worth the cost and extra space required to take it with you on your trip.
A helpful hint to remember when buying a compact, lightweight tent, which should be easy to
assemble, is to add a plus one person to the size.
The Clostnature is an ultra-lightweight waterproof camping tent that is easy to set up and pack away. It comes with a lifetime warranty and only weighs 5.4LB’s, making this tent ideal for motorcycle camping.
For example, if it is just for one person to sleep in (yourself), consider purchasing a two-person tent. You will find the extra storage space helpful for storing some of your gear.
When I’m out camping, I put my boots, helmet, jacket, and any other valuables in the extra space of my tent, so they are with me. I feel it is the safest place for them to be.
The other option that you could have a look at is the motorcycle camping tent. These tents provide
shelter for you, which incorporates a cover for your bike as well.
Taking a good quality multitool with you on a motorcycle camping trip is one of the most important items you can pack.
use a Leatherman Rebar Multitool and use it for a large variety of purposes, from cutting some paracord to opening bottles and even using the ruler when I need to. I can open it one-handed, and all the blades lock into place, so it is very safe when in my pocket.
It has 17 tools, including pliers and wire cutters/strippers, a pair of scissors, and a saw that I use quite often to cut some wood to go onto the campfire I create.
In fact, this multitool is so versatile I never know what I can use it for until a problem arises, and I think to myself, ” my leatherman will do that!”
6) Portable Cooking Stove/MRE’s/ Trailside Grill
Food and nutrition will form a big part of your camping experience, and there are a few options in this
department that you could explore. Let us look at some options and see what type of camper you are
when it comes to food:
5.1) One option is a portable and compact cooking stove system that works with butane/propane
mixed fuel canisters. Choose one multi-purpose system, especially one that stores back into itself when
finished offering minimum space requirement. Some products also incorporated a kinetic phone charger into their design: classic cook and charge scenario.
5.2) MRE’s stand for Meals Ready to Eat. These MREs are pre-packaged food that is easy to cook and
nutritious as well. The sealed packages are immune to the elements and have a massive shelf life,
several years, so if you don’t cook them all on one trip, you could use them on the next expedition.
This product pairs well with your portable cooking system. There are so many options available today that you will be sure to find the flavors you prefer.
5.3) A retractable trailside grill is perfect for the camper who wants to grill his meat over a fire. Make sure to buy a stainless-steel grill for the days that only a butcher’s steak will do!
7) Kitchen Utensils Kit
Cooking in the outdoors could be tricky at the best of times. Make sure to purchase a camping utensils kit that will help with this, making sure that it includes some of the following:
• Chopping board
• Proper cutting knife
• Salt shaker• Pepper shaker
• Silicone pint glass for hot and cold beverages
• Paper plates
Some cooking stove kits come with utensils, but I always carry a full kit with me as it has everything I need, including a cutting board. I personally use the Wealers kitchen utensils kit.
Be sure to add items you think you will require to still be a MasterChef even out in the wild!
8) GPS Units/Cellphone App
Having access to a GPS is crucial on any road trip, especially when planning to go to a new camping site
or area. Be it a motorcycle GPS unit, like a Garmin or TomTom, or some downloaded apps on your phone (ONX maps), it will make a world of difference in getting you to your destination and back.
I personally use a Garmin Zumo motorcycle gps unit and also an app on my mobile phone as a backup.
9) Clean Water
Most people assume that the water will be drinkable wherever they are heading. However, due to many factors present today, that is not the case.
Getting sick or, even worse, a stomach bug in the wild is not a fun experience. Stock up on clean water if you have space. If not, then take some water purifiers and test kits with you to be sure that this won’t happen to you.
I always carry some water purifying tablets with me as well.
I carry a water purifier system with me and some purifier tablets wherever I go. They are straightforward to use and clean any water from rivers and streams to a safe-to-drink level.
My Grayl ultra-lightweight purifier REMOVES WATERBORNE PATHOGENS (e.g., Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus); Bacteria (e.g., E. coli, Salmonella, Cholera); and Protozoan Cysts (e.g., Giardia, Cryptosporidium).
I fill it with the water I find from a stream or river, press down on the bottle, and that’s it! I can now drink the water. It’s that simple to use.
10) Dry Bags
Dry bags offer you extra protection and space on your road trip. They can be easily attached to your motorcycle’s seat, top box, or the top of your motorcycle panniers and work perfectly to protect your gear from the elements. Perfect for wet and dirty clothes and anything dirty you want to keep away from your fresher camping gear.
11) Solar Power Bank
When you rely on your GPS Unit or Cellphone to get you from point A-B, it will be vital to have a solar
power bank charge, especially if it is a more extended trip you are planning. Powering the bank up can
take a couple of hours, but it will work a charm after some sun exposure.
I always carry a solar power bank charger with me, even though my motorcycle has a built-in power socket.
I do find that these solar power banks can take an hour or more to give my mobile phone any charge, but in an emergency, it will defiantly get you out of trouble if you have a dead mobile phone battery that needs charging. It’s best to be safe than sorry.
12) Head Lamp
I find that it’s never a bad idea to have some light in the dark wilderness, and a headlamp really comes in handy at night. They easily attach to your head, keeping both your hands-free and are really handy if popping out of your tent at 3 am for a pee or just relaxing and reading a book.
I find mine comes in handy in all different kinds of situations. I sometimes hang mine in my tent as a lamp at night. It’s not overly bright but does the job.
An inflatable pillow is a handy item to take with you when motorcycle camping. These pillows fold down extremely small when packing and do help to give you a good night’s sleep.
I usually wrap my jumper aroung mine which makes it very cosy!
14) Foil Blanket
I always check what the weather will throw at me before I set off on any motorcycle camping trip. If it looks like the weather will get a bit cold at night or in the morning, I always pack a foil blanket just as a backup. They are skinny, and I find I’m able to pack mine just about anywhere within my gear.
Unless you have used one, you will not realize the enormous benefit a foil blanket can give you on a cold morning or night.
Foil blankets are not just for mountaineers, you know!
15) Camping Chair
My Helinox lightweight camping chair is an essential item I always take with me on any motorcycle camping trip. Having the luxury to sit down comfortably to admire a view or eat my meals is very important to me.
Having a lightweight, usable camping chair may not seem like an essential item to you, but once you have one, you will never leave on a camping trip without it!
I always carry some paracord with me as it comes in useful for a million and one different things. From helping to secure my tent on occasions to use it as a washing line to dry some clothing, having some paracord with you when motorcycle camping is an absolute necessity.
I also carry other types of cord with me as well as you never know what and how much you will require in any given situation.
17) Hatchet/Mini Axe
If like me you will be chopping wood for your fire then you will certainly want to take a lightewight usable hatchet with you on your motorcycle camping trip.
I find the Lexivon V9 camping hatchet an ideal companion but there are many other hatchets on the market. the lexivon is about 9 inches long and has a good non-slip grip.
18) Fire Starter
Taking matches or a lighter along with you to start your campfire seems all well and good. I lit my fire with my Zippo Lighter for quite a few years.
However, I use a firelighter to start my campfire now and have to say it’s one of the best small items I carry with me.
19) Hand sanitizer
I use hand sanitizing wipes which come in pouches and are very handy for pulling out of their container and cleaning my hands and face at a moment’s notice.
As they are fragrance-free, I get along with them very well and use them to wipe down any of my gear that may have become dirty or give my cutlery a quick wipe after eating.
I am a very responsible camper and make sure I pack everything into my rubbish sack to dispose of sensibly when I get home.
20) Travel Towel
I use the Wise owl camping travel towel rather than microfiber cloths (which I used to use) as the Wise Owl towels are much softer but more importantly, I find that they dry much quicker.
I have a couple of these towels and use one for general drying of items and the other for drying my hands and face.
These towels may seem a bit of a luxury, but once you start using them, you just wouldn’t be able to go motorcycle camping without them as they are so versatile.
This list is not set in stone. However, if you are a first-time camper, it will give you an idea of what you
will essentially need for your motorcycle camping trip and some extra items you can take with you to make your motorcycle camping more pleasurable.
I personally carry everything that I have listed within this article, and all of the items have come in handy for me at one time or another. I have listed many of the items within this article I regularly use when exploring my motorcycle and camping.
Some comfort mixed with essential tools to help you navigate your experience spent in the great
outdoors will hopefully make you want to do it again.
Size, space, and weight are important factors to consider when going motorcycle camping, and adding some dry bags to your list can essentially add some luxuries to your trip.
If you are considering purchasing a new motorcycle for long-distance touring and camping you can read my article: What Are The Best Types Of Motorcycle For Long-Distance Touring? by clicking the link HERE.