The Ultimate Motorcycle Camping Gear Guide

For those who love the open road and sleeping under the stars, motorcycle camping might be the adventure you’re looking for. But just like campers who backpack, bike, or paddle, you’ll need some specialized gear that’s designed to be portable and easy to pack. If you’re headed for the open road, here’s the motorcycle camping gear you’ll need.

For the Road

First things first. If you’re camping and riding, you’ll want to make sure that you—and your bike—are outfitted for the adventure. The specific gear you’ll need is mainly determined by the make and model of your motorcycle but personal preferences (and your destination) are also worth considering.

motorcycle camping gear guide

Panniers/Saddlebags

One of the most important pieces of motorcycle camping gear is a set of panniers (or saddlebags). Nearly everything you pack for your trip will have to fit inside them. The two main types are soft bags and hard cases. The style you choose depends on your personal preference as well as your bike’s design. (Not all panniers/saddlebags fit on all types of motorcycles. Make sure to do your research to determine the options that’ll work best for your bike.) Another difference between the two types is that while hard cases are more secure (and often come with locks), soft bags can easily be removed from the bike and brought to wherever you need them.

Jacket

Most people go motorcycle camping during the warmer seasons but you should always be prepared for less-than-ideal weather conditions. Even if the weather forecast is warm for your trip, make sure to pack or wear a jacket that’s windproof and waterproof. You might not end up needing it, but if it rains or the temperature drops, you’ll be glad you have it. (And as all riders know, even on a warm days, wind can make you feel a lot cooler.)

Gloves

Gloves aren’t a must-have but they’ll protect your hands and, if necessary, keep them warm. If you’re riding and camping in hot weather, look for gloves with ventilation features that are meant to keep your hands cool.

Helmet

It’s smart to wear a helmet when riding, and depending on what state you’re in, it might be required by law. And bonus: It’ll protect you from the elements including rain and sunburn.

Bungee Cords

You won’t need all the cords that are included in this , but you’ll want to pack at least a few. They’re great for securing items to your bike and for hanging gear at camp.

First Aid Kit

Whenever you’re traveling or spending time in the outdoors, you’ll want to have a basic first aid kit on hand. This is designed for backpackers so it’s perfect for motorcycle campers too.

For Sleeping & Relaxing

After a day on the road, it’s important to have a comfortable place to relax. Similar to backpacking, gear weight matters when you’re motorcycle camping. (So does an item’s size once it’s packed into its carrying case or stuff sack.) In general, shop for tents and sleeping bags that are designed for motorcycle camping or backpacking.

Tent

Choose a lightweight tent that packs down to a small size. (Backpacking tents are a great option.) Even if you’re camping alone, consider a two-person tent. It’ll be more comfortable and you’ll have space to stow anything you’d like to keep inside. There are even some tents that are designed with a space to park your bike.

Sleeping Bag & Pillow

Opt for a lightweight and compact sleeping bag that’s compatible with the season. (Though if you’re motorcycle camping, it’s likely you’re only camping in warmer seasons.) Here are a few options along with a backpacking pillow that’s perfect for traveling:

Sleeping Pad

To save on space and weight you can always sleep on the ground—but we wouldn’t recommend it. Thankfully there are plenty of sleeping pad options that are lightweight and packable. Try a self-inflating roll-up option instead of a more traditional foam pad. The latter can be bulky and takes up more space when you pack it up.

Tarp

A can do double duty: use it as a ground cover underneath your tent or hang it with some paracord to create a sun or rain shelter.

Seating

After a long ride, you’ll appreciate a place to sit that’s more comfortable than your bike. Try the popular (it folds up to the size of a water bottle!) or .

Lighting

As with most types of camping, it’s helpful to have for tasks like cooking and set-up as well as for ambient lighting.

Matches

Sometimes the simplest technology is the best. These will ensure that you’re always able to start a fire when you need it. They come in a waterproof carrying case and include three strikers.

For Cooking

There are a few basics items that make meal prep easier. (That said, if simplicity if what you’re after, you can also pack food that doesn’t require refrigeration or a camp stove.)

Camp Stove

Just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean you have to skimp on meals. A lightweight backpacking stove will allow you to cook hot meals and make your morning coffee. With this , you won’t have to purchase (or pack) extra cookware because it’s included. (Fuel sold separately.)

Cookware Set & Cooking Utensils

Collapsible or nesting cookware sets have long been popular with backpackers and they’re great for motorcycle campers too. If your stove doesn’t come with cookware, buy a set that includes at least one medium-sized pot with a lid and lift lifter. (This is the size you’ll likely use most often.) If the cookware set you choose doesn’t come with cooking utensils, buy a small set you can stow inside one of the pots.

Dinnerware

Depending on the types of meals you’ll make, you’ll probably want a plate, bowl, fork, and spoon for each person. This from UCO has everything you need.

Cooler

With a motorcycle, you don’t have the option of lugging a large cooler but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating nonperishable food and lukewarm drinks. Try IceMule's classic cooler bag. It comes in 4 sizes—its mini size holds 9 liters while it’s large size can hold up to 20 liters. Its compressible roll-top design and sling strap make it easy to both pack and carry.

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