Someone on here a couple weeks ago was asking about tips on camping on/from your moto. I don't claim to be an expert by any means, many have gone way farther with way less, but it is something I enjoy quite a bit.
I'm leaving at oh-dark-thirty tomorrow on a quick two-night run up the coast with some camping on the beach in mild fall CA weather, lows of 48 degrees or so. Not cold by most standards but enough that you should plan to keep warm at night. Our road-warrior friend Kuda already outlined bike and rider prep in this story: On the Road
so I won't cover what to wear, etc only what to pack for a couple nights in the dirt. Likewise, this isn't a cross-country trip, and we'll be close to civilization the whole time so most things needed along the way can be found with relative ease. My tool kit is always on the bike and yours should be too, so I won't cover that either.
I'm a gear-whore and have a fetish for repurposed military gear born of experience as a Marine Corps tanker and a National Guard infantryman. Those days have left me scarred, I don't want to be a yard sale going down the road or the one who has to borrow everything because he forgot it all. I have friends who will sleep around the fire pit in nothing but their leather jacket and friends who always bring an air mattress. Neither is wrong, I just try to land somewhere in between.
1. The List.
I keep a basic list on the notes feature on my phone. This way it's easy to remember the silly shit like sunscreen or clear lens glasses (both of which I've forgotten before). It includes all the basics and of course is adjustable according to the length of the trip. Here's a layout of what I'm bringing on this little jaunt, from left to right.
(Also consider a compact bivvy-sack
it's often all you need).
Therma-rest air mattress
It makes a difference in both warmth and comfort.
REI compact towel
and princess wash cloth (These towels rule for space saving and are worth the cost.) I stole the washrag from my daughter, it adds street cred.
in a zip lock. (You NEVER know!)
Old military Poncho
A million uses.
Clear lens goggle
s for riding at night or crazy wind/dust. A sock with the end cut off makes a good cover if yours doesn't have one. I rarely use mine and ride a long way at night without 'em but if have along way to go, they make a big difference.
Compact sleeping bag.
(These things pack great but don't offer much warmth. By wrapping in the wool blanket inside, and wearing more clothes you can avoid the big bulk of a warmer/thicker bag.) In summer weather, just use the bag.
Old wool glove liners
to fit inside regular leather work gloves. (Hatch all-weather neoprene works well, but are too warm for this trip, plus I can't find them!)
Lip balm, sunscreen and a length of 550 cord.
(Two you need, the other you just never know.)
You gotta bring an extra pair or socks, you might as well insulate your feel-good juice with a couple. Pack on the non-exhaust side.
, bundled tight. Here I've got a pair of trunks wrapped around a fresh shirt, boxers and another pair of socks. Jeans are good for at least a week, so no need for that bulk. Small bungee keeps it tight.
You new school military dudes may not recognize this, but it's pure survival equipment 101. When someone is passing around the bottle, with this unit you'll have something to pour it into so you get a full-size portion. Also works well for oatmeal in the morning, coffee, etc.
Another old jarhead device, actually called Trioxane. Basically little bars of flameable soap that you can use to cook up some Joe in the morning or get the fire started at night without all the Rambo tricks. You can buy them on eBay
all day long and they pack down tight and take the work out of starting a fire.
Nothing sucks like a hangover and no way to get coffee without getting on the bike and riding into some shitty town to find some, only to discover you have to sit around with the Saturday jackasses sipping espresso just to get your jolt on. These are some new-fangled tea bag type units that I have yet to try but they seem cool and they pack nice and small.
Disposable tooth brushes
. In the words of Gangsta-Bitch Barbie: "Aint nobody want yo stinky ass bref in they face!". Obviously on a long trip you'll want to carry a whole hygiene kit, but for a couple days a few of these and a towel is enough.
There are as many ways to pack your gear as there are trips. I went for a long time with just a backpack because I like to take whatever I have off the bike with little work and drag it into a campsite or hotel. I finally discovered a set of old leather saddle bags and like them best. If it's a long trip I can use both. I've never had a bike with fixed hard bags so no advice there.
When packing saddle bags I like to try my best to keep things symmetrical so the load doesn't shift. I also try to keep overall width no thicker than my knees when I'm on the bike so I'm not scrubbing cars or getting hung up splitting lanes. I always use more bungees than really needed, so I can adjust down the road when the weather heats up and I have to strip off some layers or figure out how to secure cases of beer or firewood. I keep bundles tight. The shit on my fender can be pulled off as one unit and moved to my site for set up with minimal grief. Small bungees or straps make this painless and also keep gear from flapping about on the road. Keep zippers and seams away from the wind. I always pack the easiest (non-kickstand side) bag with shit I might need on the road, ie: cold weather gear, smokes, sunscreen, oil, etc and the stuff I shouldn't need until camp on the other, ie: extra clothes, booze, canteen and trioxane, etc.
Like it or not, a cell phone is probably the best emergency tool in your kit. Like any survival tool, it's not really important until you really need it. I wired up a cig lighter straight to the battery but with a quick-disconnect in the middle. (From an old left over trickle-charger set up.) I only hook it up for trips and the rest of the time it stores neatly under the seat. Also note Gerber multi-tool and extra rag under there. It's easy to think you don't need this until day two of a trip and you want to call Suzy-Rotten-Crotch or TripleA and your phone is dead 'cause you were on Chop Cult classifieds in your tent.
Who else has some tips on motorcycle camping?