Motorcycles practically scream for you to take them on a camping road trip. They possess a sense of adventure like no other vehicle, harkening back to days of the famous American paleontologist Roland Bird who traveled the American west in the 1930s and 1940s on his Harley Davidson looking for dinosaur fossils.
Motorcycles today are still the perfect way to adventure camp, but just because you’re taking to the roads less traveled doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable. We’ve put together a list of ten essential must-haves that will make your camping far more comfortable and enjoyable.
This collection of gear has all been tested and proven true by our staff. From a tent that protects both you and your motorcycle to sleeping gear for the rockiest terrain to high-tech gadgets that make roughing it seem like a ride in the park, these goodies deliver performance and reliability in lightweight, easily packable sizes. After all, you’re not a dinosaur. Don’t camp like one.
4 Tent -- Contrary
to what many experts will tell you, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a tent
with a motorcycle garage; in fact, you don’t need the garage at all. Instead,
go for something a lot lighter and faster to set up. I really dig Kelty’s
Acadia 4 tent. Its
3-pole design provides more head and shoulder room, and the continuous pole
sleeve design is built to make pitching a breeze. Two doors and two vestibules
make entry/exit a piece of cake. The full coverage rain fly keeps you dry, but
on clear night you can roll up the Stargazing Fly and enjoy the stars. Best of
all, the Acadia 4 weighs only about 12 lbs. and packs up to a mere 8 x 26
Redverz Expedition Dry Bag -- I’ve had so-called “motorcycle luggage” fail in bad weather, leaving me with a soggy mess of clothes. These days, I stick to a dry bag like the ones from Redverz. It’s made from 420D TPU-coated nylon, and with its roll-top closure that provides a totally waterproof seal, your gear will be dry no matter what. The 90-liter bag is so roomy I can fit my tent and sleeping bag in it; I then opt for the 50-liter for clothes, a pillow and other essentials. The smaller bag straps on top of the larger, and both strap easily to the luggage rack or passenger seat.
Petzl Zipka Headlamp -- I got hooked on Petzl gear years ago when I started caving, and I’ve been a fan ever since. With its self-retracting cord headband, Petzl’s Zipka headlamp is ideal for motorcycle camping. Because it’s a headlamp it leaves your hands free for other tasks. At 200 lumens it’s super bright. It takes up next to no room, and it has an auxiliary red light for those situations when you don’t want to blow out your night vision.
Big Agnes Insulated Double Z Sleeping Pad -- Hardly any bigger than a soda can when deflated, this sleeping pad has never let me down. Thanks to its PrimaLoft Silver Hi-Loft insulation it keeps you protected from the cold ground, and internal stabilizer construction distributes weight evenly. A two-piece valve allows for one-way inflation and super quick deflation.
Helinox Chair One Folding Camp Chair -- Having a chair along may seem like a luxury, but this 1.9-lb. folding camp chair will quite literally become your best friend when you stop for the night. It packs down smaller than a Sunday newspaper and utilizes anodized DAC aluminum poles (making the chair strong enough to support folks up to 320 lbs.).
Eat’n Tool -- Spoon?
Check. Bottle Opener? Check. With this unique outdoor multi-tool, you’ll be
checking off a lot of things without having to dig too far into your pack. Plus
the right side of the handle is ground to provide an emergency screwdriver
blade and will also work as a pry for opening canisters. Finally three metric
wrench reliefs (10 mm, 8 mm, 6 mm) are useful for emergency repairs. It weights
a mere 1.5 ounces and also features a small carabiner for easy snap-on carry on
D-rings or loops on clothing. Long live the Spork!
Leatherman Skeletool CX -- This is the one tool I never leave the house without—it’s always either clipped to my belt loop or in my pocket. The 5-oz. Leatherman Skeletool CX features some of the most needed tools: 154CM stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver with flat and Phillips-head bits, pocket clip and carabiner/bottle opener. Being able to always open your partner’s beverage? Priceless.
NEMO Fillo Camping Pillow -- Sleeping without a pillow sucks. That’s why I always bring along the NEMO Fillo camping pillow. A little air valve lets you quickly fill it to your desired firmness. It feels big when it’s cradling your head, but it packs surprisingly small.
REI Helio Sack Sleeping Bag -- I hate bulky sleeping bags, especially when I know I won’t be camping in sub-freezing temps. REI’s Helio Sack is perfect for just that. It works as a warm-weather bag and packs small—7 x 8 inches and less than 2 lbs.
GSI Bugaboo Cookset -- I love bringing along a small cook set for my motorcycle adventures; sure, I can cook a backpack meal when I feel like it that way, plus it serves as a plate and wash basin. The GSI Bugaboo set packs so small it takes up little room in my saddlebag. It’s made from highly-conductive lightweight aluminum with a Teflon non-stick coating, and the set includes a 1.5 liter pot with strainer lid, which in turn nests into a generous 2 liter pot with a strainer lid.