The open road and motorcycles go hand-in-hand, and the only thing to make the experience better is adding motorcycle camping to the mix. But, what is the trick to packing camping supplies on a motorcycle or even knowing what gear is essential and what you can leave behind?
The answers are all right here in this complete guide to motorcycle camping. Inside, you’ll find:
- Packing lists and tips
- Motorcycle-friendly campgrounds
- Tents or other accessories perfect for motorcyclists
Nothing puts you in touch with your senses more than riding a motorcycle, and spending your evenings under the stars at your campsite will only make it better.
To learn how you can experience the great outdoors in a whole new way, you only need to read the guide below. By the end, you’ll be ready to fill your saddlebags and set your sites on a new destination!
Motorcycle Camping – What and How to Pack
Let’s assume your motorcycle is serviced and ready for a long road trip. Now, you only need to pack camping gear and supplies to get you through your journey.
Next, we break down each supply you’ll need and give tips on simplifying packing so you can keep your packs light and compact.
If you don’t have storage already on your motorcycle for camping, you’ll need to strap on your bags full of supplies and a guide. You can’t just toss on any duffel or backpack; it’ll need to be weatherproof.
The bags from Ortlieb get high marks from motorcycle campers for durability, size, and weather resistance. Moving them from bike to campsite isn’t a worry, as the material is tough and easy to wipe down.
Food and Drinks
Even if your final stop is off the beaten path, it’s imperative that you wait to stock up on food and water to save on space during travel days.
During the planning stage, locate a nearby grocery store to your final campsite where you can shop, so you aren’t searching once you arrive.
If you’re planning a sightseeing road trip where you change locations each night, you can carry a few days worth of food and water for emergency use and enjoy local restaurants or mom-and-pop groceries for daily food and drink requirements.
A large part of travel is getting to experience new people, places, and dining, so if your budget allows it, we think stopping for meals is the way to go. Less to carry and new memories sound like a win-win situation, don’t you agree?
Whether you’re motorcycle camping or in a massive RV, it’s rare to be far from a grocery store or 24-hour Walmart anywhere in the US, so the need to stock up for days of food is unnecessary.
Have enough to survive if things go off-plan, but don’t panic that you’ll starve to death either if you don’t pack food to last the entire trip.
Best Lightweight and Compact Foods for Travel
Many motorcyclists pack saddlebags or backpacks for road trips, which severely limits what you can bring along. Even if you tow a mini-trailer, there’s no need to overpack.
The best solution/guide for food when motorcycle camping is to hit the camping supply section of a big box or local outdoor adventure store and pick up some ready-to-eat or dehydrated meal packs. The packages take up little space and will store indefinitely if you don’t use them during your current trip.
Water is a must for motorcycle camping, both while on the road and at the campsite. If remote camping, you have to have a minimal supply of 4-6 cups a day per adult or 1-2 quarts.
A great tip from experienced motorcycle campers is to wear a hydration pack during long stretches of open road where there are no places to stop for water access. A wearable water pack allows you to stay hydrated easily without needing to grab and open a water bottle while riding.
Keeping a good water supply on your back also frees up space in your bags for other essential camping gear.
If you want to ensure you’re getting plenty of electrolytes, you can bring along some powdered drink mixes made to replenish salts and minerals.
An expert tip is never to add these mixes to your hydration pack, as they can quickly cause bacterial growth inside the bladder, leading to you getting ill. Instead, only add water to your bag and use the mixes in a throw-away bottle or cup you can easily wash.
The amount and type of clothes you pack depend on your tolerance for dirty clothes and your ability to do laundry during your trip. Weather also plays a role in the kind of clothes you’ll require.
If you’re staying at a campground offering laundry facilities on-site or nearby, you can opt to bring along only one or two extra outfits along with what you’re currently wearing and wash them as needed.
If you plan to camp off-grid, you can select fast-dry or antimicrobial clothing items made for long-term wear. The clothes are often very lightweight and thin, so they’re easy to pack, but only require a short dry time if you need to hand wash them at the campsite.
A good tip/guide is to look for nylon, polyester, and merino wool material for motorcycle camping trips. All these fibers will dry in a matter of a few hours, and wool is naturally antimicrobial, so it resists stains and odors.
A big tip from experts is to avoid cotton, as it absorbs lots of sweat and gets heavy. If you like to wear thick denim jeans for protection on the ride, swap them out for fast-dry pants or shorts during your campsite stay so the jeans remain clean during your entire trip.
If plenty of motorcycle camping trips are on your agenda, consider investing in a pair of Outlier t-shirts. These shirts get super-high ratings for comfort and style, even after hours of travel or hiking. The price is a bit shocking, but they will last for years and still look great.
Check out the quick-dry, water- and stain-resistant convertible pants and shorts available through camping or hiking stores for both men and women. In addition, the ability to bring one or two pairs that can unzip into shorts will save space in your pack.
Don’t forget your underwear when packing for your camping trip. Just like your outerwear, choose a quick-dry fabric that doesn’t chafe, so undergarments are comfortable to wear and easy to wash and hang to dry.
For men, check out the Duluth Trading Company’s Men’s Buck Naked Performance Boxers. For women, the ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Briefs are a favorite.
Dealing With Bad Weather
Don’t forget to save space for your rain gear, as you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you during your travels.
Look for covers with breathable material, as it can shield you from rain and wind yet allow sweat and excessive body heat to dissipate quickly so you remain comfortable.
How to Compact Your Clothing for Travel
To keep your packs organized and conserve space, get yourself some packing cubes or compression bags.
Using these two items can significantly reduce soft items down to a much smaller size. Don’t forget to use one for your camping pillow!
Label the outside of the cubes so you can easily see and grab only what you need from your pack. As you empty a bag or cube, use it for only dirty items so you can grab it when it’s time for laundry.
Toothpaste, deodorant, medicines, bandages, or any other personal toiletries aren’t that hard to pack for motorcycle camping, as most come in travel-size versions smaller than a guide to keeping your supplies compact.
For shampoo or soap, consider going with an environmentally-friendly all-in-one cleanser that you can safely use if you’re off-grid and need to wash up in a river or lake. For example, we find a shampoo bar works great and eliminates any worry of goopy spills in your pack.
Tent and Camping Supplies For Motorcycle Camping
Now we get down to the nitty-gritty, which is packing your tent and other camping necessities.
Motorcycle Camping Sleeping
Most motorcycling campers choose a one-person backpacking tent to streamline their campsite setup and save space on the bike.
A thin but warm sleeping bag, like the one from EDILLY, is another important item. Get one with a compression sack for easier packing.
If sleeping on the ground doesn’t appeal to you, another option is to choose a very compact tent hammock. Of course, you’ll need to ensure you have a place to tie it up on your journey, but it will pack up even smaller than a tent.
Motorcycle RV Travel Trailers
Yes, it’s true; there are even tiny travel trailers you can pull behind your motorcycle that open up into quite an impressive camping setup. The camping trailers for motorcycles aren’t cheap but can be the ultimate solution for on-the-go camping.
We recommend looking at the Easy Rider Camper by Sky Lite Trailer for a sleep-ready motorcycle RV or the foldable Roadman Camper that opens up for sleeping for two.
Motorcycle Camping Fire and Cooking
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If you want instant flame and heat for cooking, a small camp stove is the best solution. The one-gallon propane tank will take up some space but should provide 12-16 hours of cooking time.
Otherwise, get yourself a fire starter and build campfires for warmth, drying clothes, and cooking.
An all-purpose mug and pot set, like the Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set, is excellent for collecting water, cooking in, and eating or drinking from, so you only need to bring one item.
Keeping Your Phone Charged
Don’t forget to keep your devices on full charge by bringing along one or two small portable power banks.
Motorcycle camping relies on a GPS or guide for mapping to locate places to rest, camp, eat, or shower. Many also use their mobile phone as a flashlight and for music during the camping trip so that batteries can drain fast.
Watch Weight Distribution
As you pack your bike, keep the heaviest items low to keep your center of gravity down. The lower weight will make the ride more stable.
Evenly distribute the weight as well, so both sides and front to back have a similar load. Keep in mind that if the rear of the bike is too heavy, the front wheel will want to lift off the road, which can be dangerous.
Where to Stay When Motorcycle Camping
Not all campgrounds or RV parks that offer tent camping or cabins are friendly to motorcyclists.
Depending on the owners, we have found plenty of campgrounds that won’t allow motorcycles because the noise they make can disturb other guests or from a misguided opinion that bikers are a rowdy crowd.
To avoid such problems, ask when making your reservation if they allow motorcycles or if they have any rules about revving your bike during quiet hours.
There are plenty of biker-friendly campgrounds across the US for you to explore. Next up are three of the top-rated motorcycle camping destinations you may want to add to your bucket list.
The Bobarosa Saloon & Tent Camping USA, located in Del Rio, TN, is a favorite destination if you’re traveling in the Gatlinburg area.
Steel Steeds Motorcycle Campground in Milton, PA, is another highly-rated, biker-friendly place to camp that offers rentals of on-site RVs and cabins if you don’t want to tent camp.
Two Wheels Of Suches in Suches, GA, is the place to stop if you’re in the North Georgia mountains. The park has a lodge, restaurant, cabins, and events.
Motorcycle Camping Wrap-Up
The best motorcycle camping trips combine incredible destinations, open roads, great experiences, and proper planning, packing, and supplies.
We hope you use this guide to motorcycle camping to organize your next adventure so you can travel lightly and arrive safely at a campground that welcomes you with open arms! Enjoy the ride!
- What are some tips for packing efficiently for a motorcycle camping trip?
Prioritize compact, lightweight gear and multi-purpose items to save space, such as a compact sleeping bag, a lightweight tent, and a multi-tool kit, and use compression sacks to reduce the volume of soft items like clothing.
You want to Organize your items logically by packing the items you’ll need last at the bottom of your bags and the ones you’ll need first at the top, and distribute the weight evenly across the bike to maintain balance and stability.
- How can one ensure enough food and water for their journey without overpacking?
When motorcycle camping, one can ensure they have enough food and water by planning meals in advance, opting for lightweight, non-perishable food items, and calculating water needs based on the length and intensity of the journey.
Additionally, consider using collapsible water containers and a portable water filter for refilling at safe water sources, and always carry a compact emergency ration in case of unexpected delays.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide