Your Ultimate Motorcycle Camping Guide

Posted on
6 min to read

What is one of the best ways to experience the great outdoors? Motorcycle camping! Have you tried it? If you’re just exploring the idea or need a little help figuring out the essentials before you hit the open road, check out this motorcycle camping guide. 

Motorcycle camping gear list

What you first need to consider is what—and how—to pack. Since you won’t have the convenience of checking bags via air travel or the extra storage that many cars offer, this can take some thought and practice. This motorcycle camping gear list provides an idea of the essentials to take on your next trip.

Luggage

Depending on where you’re going, there are a few luggage options to pack your camping gear for your trip.

  • Hard saddlebags are specifically designed for motorcycles and come with equipment for easy mounting and detaching. They’re typically made from fiberglass, plastic or metal, making them durable.
  • Leather saddlebags are more traditional, but also prone to damage from rain, sunlight and other weather elements.
  • Textile luggage or backpack is an inexpensive option and may be waterproof and durable for the road.

Cooking

Planning your meals is the best way to avoid packing unnecessary items that take up limited space. You’ll need some basic items for food prep and eating so you’re fueled for each leg of your journey. Fortunately, many recreation and camping stores sell these lightweight tools that are perfect for your trip.

  • Dining utensils
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Meal packets
  • Water jugs or bottles
  • Coffee or tea
  • Seasonings and spices (no reason your food shouldn’t have flavor!)
  • Produce (if you have space or plan to bring a cooler)

Sleep, comfort and safety

You’ll be living on the road for a period of time, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be uncomfortable. If this is your first motorcycle camping trip, it’s important to understand the different types of tents and sleeping options so you can choose the best for your needs:

  • Expedition tents are widely accepted as the best variety for motorcycle camping. They have an area for sleeping and a vestibule for cooking, eating and even storing your bike.
  • Backpacking tents are lightweight and compact, making them an ideal choice for motorcyclists traveling solo.
  • Hammocks or pads are convenient and great for a minimalistic approach. 
  • Sleeping bag for inside a tent or just under the stars. 

Now that you’re ready to rest during your motorcycle camping trip, here are the necessities to stay healthy and safe: 

  • Headlamp
  • Chargers
  • Firestarter
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit for repairs

Clothing

The clothing you’ll need for your motorcycle camping trip will depend on what season you’re traveling and the weather forecast, but you should make an effort to select dual-purpose clothing that is appropriate for both camping and riding as much as possible. For example, in the winter, you’ll need added layers, snow boots and other specific items while in the summer you want to pack light clothing. These are some general items to get you started:

  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Long pants
  • Walking or camping shoes (in addition to your riding boots to comfortably explore the campground)
  • High socks to protect against bug bites or poisonous plants
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat 

How to select the best motorcycle camping site

Whether you’re riding down the west coast, up through the Great Lakes, near the Appalachian Mountains, or on another scenic ride, make sure you find motorcycle camping sites that fulfill your needs.

While some riders may be willing to really rough it out in the wilderness, others require the basics, including:

  • Running water with toilets and showers
  • Trash cans
  • Picnic tables and grills 
  • A camp store for items like firewood and charcoal

Having these items available at a site lightens your load and gives you the option to cook your own food. Some motorcycle camping sites also have cabins and provide cookware, plates, utensils and more.

Prefer a bed and a warm shower? Hotels and motels are wonderful options for overnight stays, providing shelter in the event of severe weather and often carrying many of the items you’ll need for your road trip.

Other motorcycle camping tips

Our motorcycle camping guide isn’t just tips and tricks on what you should pack, but how to plan ahead before you take off. 

Be prepared

As with any outdoor adventure, preparation is key. You’ll be outside of your normal environment, so you’ll want to be ready for anything—and the best way to avoid an emergency is to plan ahead. Here are some ways to ensure your safety.

Find—and book—campsites in advance. Look along your route for potential stops for sleeping and eating. Do your due diligence to make sure you’re aware of what the site provides and what you’ll need to bring or pick up for yourself along the way.

Check the weather. Is it going to rain? Will there be extreme heat? Look at the forecast to ensure you pack appropriate clothing and gear, whether it’s a rain jacket or shorts and sunscreen. 

Take a test ride. The last thing you want to happen is to discover you packed too much—or incorrectly—and have to re-pack everything when you’re supposed to be hitting the road. Pack all your things up the day before and go out for a 30-minute test ride to make sure you’ll be comfortable and all your belongings will stay put.

Plan where to shop and fill up. If your trip is longer than a few days, you won’t want to bring all the food you’ll need—not only will it take up a lot of room, but it might spoil in the process. Find grocery stores along the way to buy more food and gas stations to refill your tank (they also have great snacks!).

Make sure your bike is ready

When did you last have your motorcycle inspected? If you plan on taking a ride over hundreds of miles, it’s important that your bike is in tip-top shape to handle the trip. Make sure your registration is up-to-date and have your motorcycle inspected to address any maintenance or repairs ahead of your ride.

  • Check/change the oil
  • Check tire pressure
  • Check brakes
  • Check battery
  • Replace the air filter if needed
  • Check and top off all fluids

Pack smart

As mentioned, packing for a long motorcycle trip requires a strategy. Once you’ve assembled your packing list, use these rules of thumb.

Split the goods. If you’re traveling with a group, split up food and shared gear so the weight is more evenly divided and no single person is saddled with all the heavy items.

Stay balanced. Pack heavier items low and try to evenly distribute them on the motorcycle whenever possible. 

In general, don’t overpack! Your space is limited, so stick to the bare necessities. Remember that you can make stops along the way to wash clothes and purchase food and other items.  

Time to go

You’ve planned, you’ve packed—you’re ready to go! 

Need inspiration for where to go motorcycle camping? We’ve got some of the top road trip destinations for bikers to get your wheels turning.

Map of the United States, car hauler, and man on computer speaking through a head piece

Meeting friends for camping across the country? Let us save you the time and miles and ship your motorcycle to meet you at your destination. Montway Auto Transport has the experience to move motorcycles and other vehicles across all 50 states. Learn more about our motorcycle shipping services or request a free quote by calling us at 888-989-8526.

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