8 Tips for a Successful Motorcycle Camping Trip
Fall is almost here. For many of us, the cooler temperatures mean its time to get out and ride our bikes even more. For me, it is also the best time of year for another favorite activity – camping.
I’ve loved camping since I was a youngster. We didn’t do that much as a family, but it was always special. Getting out in nature and learning how to do all the things you do at home, but differently, was fascinating to me.
As an adult, I was fortunate to spend many years as a Scout leader which meant a LOT of camping and teaching young folks the skills they needed to master it. The Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Whether an overnight camping trip or a multi-day expedition, there’s a lot that goes into preparing for a successful outing.
Now, my love for camping and motorcycles go hand in hand. So, I’d like to offer 8 Tips for a successful motorcycle camping outing.
Decide what kind of camper you are, if you don’t know this already.
Are you looking for a more secluded, get deep into nature camping location? Are you OK in a tent, sleeping on the ground? Or would you rather have a more “comfort” level experience, in which case maybe a KOA or similar campground, and their cabins, showers and other amenities would suit you best?
- Plan your destination(s), route and itinerary/other activities with camping and some downtime in mind. You’ll need to plan for extra time to set up and break down camp and to prepare meals if you are going to cook. And remember, you are sleeping on the ground. 😊
What gear will you need? This will depend to a degree on how many days you will be out. But key watch words are to keep it light, compact and simple. Just the essentials. Here is a camping gear list that is a minimum you are going to need:
- Tent with ground cloth and rain fly - Alternatively, a sleeping hammock with an insect proof cover and a rainfly is a great, compact option. Light weight and compact are key attributes for a motorcycle camping tent.
- Sleeping pad - There are good, lightweight and compact options available. In cooler weather it also keeps you warmer than sleeping on the ground.
- Sleeping bag - If you’ve ever been in the mountains, even in the summer, and had to sleep without one, you got cold.
- Cooking set - If you plan to cook, invest in a quality, all in one cook set. And be sure to bring a full fuel tank for it.
- Water - Will your campsite have it? Check before you go. If not, you’ll need a plan which may require you bring a water filter or other purification method. You’ll also need a way to store it. Water bladders are a nice collapsible solution but can you make French press coffee in one? In that case you might want a Nalgene style bottle too.
- Food - Assuming you are going to cook, what food will you bring? The best options are dry foods. You can get premade camping meals or make your own. Anything you have to add water to in order to cook- e.g. pasta, grains, beans, will be lighter and more compact. Gorp and other high-calorie/weight ratio snacks are good too. Also, unless you plan to strap a cooler on your bike, it needs to be non-perishable.
- Camp clothes - You’ll want to get out of your riding gear after a day of riding. Bring something comfy and loose fitting as well as weather appropriate. Also, som comfy,closed toe shoes. I like Crocs, although they are a bit bulky.
- Headlamp or flashlight - When you have to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night, unless it’s a full moon, you will definitely want one!
- Toiletries and personal care items - Remember, you'll want to brush your teeth. 😊 I’d also recommend bringing a roll of TP and hand sanitizer. Sunscreen and some insect repellent.
- First aid kit - Cuts, scratches, insect bites, etc.
- Dry bags - Depending on your bike’s luggage set up, you may want to stow different items in small or medium dry bags, in particular your clothes, personal items etc.
- Test pack everything. Pack everything and test load your bike a couple of days before your trip. Work to balance the load. Heaviest items nearest the center. Decide what can go in your cases and what you need to tie down. Make sure you have secure bungees or tie down straps for everything not stowed in a case and maybe stash an extra one or two just as backups.
- Campsite selection. This depends a lot on where you will be camping. If you are off-roading and back country you have a lot of flexibility but also have more to evaluate. That said, I’d ask (make that plead) with you to follow Leave No Trace principals and look for established camp sites to use vs. creating a new one. Then you’ll want to look for a few qualities- good drainage, out of the wind (if possible), away from “widow makers” i.e. dead trees or trees with large dead branches. Commercial or public access campgrounds this will be less of an issue.
- Campsite set up. Decide where to park your bike. Again, at commercial and public campgrounds this hopefully won’t be too much of a challenge. Look for stable ground. You may want to consider investing in a kickstand puck to help with that. Keep your tent and cooking area a good distance apart. Food attracts pests of all kinds. You will need to store your food. Yes, bears and other critters really do like picnic baskets and anything that is left out is fair game for them. Nothing like waking up in the early morning to a bear (or skunks!) rooting around your campsite.
- Leave No Trace. Pack it In, Pack it Out. PLEASE properly dispose of any trash or take it away with you. Pay it forward and leave your campsite better than you found it! You will feel good about it and the next camper will really appreciate it. Learn more about Leave No Trace at the Center for Outdoor Ethics.😊
- Ride alert and safe. Getting to and from your camping destination and then doing day trips from it takes a lot of energy. Be sure to take breaks as you need them and don’t push yourself too hard. Stay hydrated. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!
What are your favorite tips for motorcycle camping? Let is know in the comments!
UTZStore.com can help you with your gear for your next motorcycle camping trip. Check out our camping gear selection.
Check out a few other resources to help you plan your motorcycle camping trip: