So you are planning a long distance motorcycle camping trip. This is most definitely an experience every adventure rider wants to cross off of their bucket list.
With nothing but the wind at your back as you explore a new stretch of road, it can be a truly unforgettable experience. The scenery, the peacefulness of camping out under the stars, the sounds of nature ... yet, to be successful, such a trip involves a fair amount of preparation and knowledge.
Starting with the most important thing, your bike.
Which Bike for a Comfortable Ride?
It's a personal decision, but cruiser type styles of bikes are usually equipped with larger engines to handle the long stretches of road. Advantage: not only larger engines, but typically lower seats and a laid back swagger, promising a more comfortable ride.
To ensure comfortable cruising wherever the front wheel takes you, typically the minimum recommended long distance cruiser engine size is 750cc.
Gear for Motorcycle Camping Trips
Below is a checklist of things you will be glad you carried in your saddlebags when you hit the road.
- Extra 3 gallon gas canister - Just in case you find yourself too far from the next gas station.
- Bottled Water and Food - Your body needs water like your bike needs gas. Always carry a few bottles just in case your bike breaks down and you have to wait around for a while until help arrives. Also it can be used as a temporary coolant, just in case your bike encounters over-heating problems.
As for food in addition to what you can buy on the road, you may want to bring freeze-dried, pouch type meals that you simply add hot water to cook over a campfire for when hunger hits.
- Extra Pairs of Clothes - Extra underwear and socks are a must have. As well, it gets cold in the early morning hours, and you may hit varied weather, so bring both lighter weight ventilated clothing, as well as rain gear and warmer clothes if needed.
- Map of General Destination - Most riders may veer off from time to time down new mysterious paths. Always have a map of your intended route including hotels, gas stations, campsites, and restaurant locations just in the case your phone battery goes dead, rendering its GPS function useless.
- Lighter - A must have for a nice hot campfire on a cold summer night.
- Gloves, Bandana, Lip Balm ... - Your face and hands are the most exposed things during a motorcycle ride. Of course, have the right gear and gloves to keep your exposed parts protected.
- Tent and sleeping bag - This will make a valuable addition to the weary rider -- as well, you may want a foam pad to put under your sleeping bag, for comfort.
- Bike Maintenance Manual & Basic Tools - For when unexpected repairs are needed.
- Miscellaneous Items - A Headband Light, Rope, Ziploc bag, compass, flashlight, cooking pot. And to get going on cold mornings, a coffee press is a nice addition.
And just as important as what you pack, is the order you pack it in ... so that what you need is handy when you need it.
A Note About Choosing Where to Camp
While it is always most prudent and safest to find a campground or specifically designated rest areas, most long journey cyclists will tell you that occasionally you will not make it to a specific destination on schedule.
Sanctioned Campsites: When it's time to stop for the night, you may want to stick with a sanctioned campsite to avoid a problem. Plan ahead to map out each specific site you will want to stay at for a good nights rest.
Stealth Camping: Some long distance cyclists do occasionally practice the act of "stealth camping", where you quickly pull over for the night undetected and set up a quick campsite, usually in a patch of woods. This is usually done out of necessity because the rider is too tired to drive. Keep in mind that in some areas, this is considered "unauthorized camping" and you can receive a fine. So it is best to know the rules of the general area you are in.
Luckily there are many campsites specifically for motorcycle riders that can be found via a quick internet search. Using keywords in a search engine such as biker camps, or motorcycle campgrounds will help you choose a potential campsite.
Remember: it gets dark pretty quickly, so pull off the road with enough time to set up your camp site. It takes longer than you think to pitch your tent and collect fire wood to start a fire.
Got Tips for Motorcycle Camping?
Leave a comment, share your tips and let us know where you are headed this summer! And for more helpful tips, check out our 3-part series on long distance riding.