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  1. #1
    billdozer
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    Default Motorcycle Camping

    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.



    Tent (Also consider a compact bivvy-sack it's often all you need).

    Wool Blanket

    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.

    Shit paper in a zip lock. (You NEVER know!)

    Old military Poncho A million uses.

    Clear lens goggles 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.)

    Cigar case.

    Booze. 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.

    Extra clothes, 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.

    Canteen cup. 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.

    Heat tabs. 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.

    Instant coffee. 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.



    2. Packing.
    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.



    3. Extras.
    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?

  2. #2
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    haven't done any motorcycle camping yet but i have done a lot of backpacking. one of those little silver emergency blankets can be a life saver when you wake up at 4am shivering your ass off because the temperature dropped. also 50ft parachute cord, if you are stuck in a downpour you can use it to hang a tarp.




  3. #3
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    Cool thread

    The mini packable towels are a really good deal. The 12 volt accesory plugs are awesome too. One of the collapsable gallon jugs are good for drinking water or getting the funk off (;

    These penny stoves kick ass...a couple cans a chili and one of these will keep you going...And they will fit in a little cooking kit.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fStsgTremmI

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    two things i love, motorcycles and camping. a perfect marriage!

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    Air mattress and coffe makings, if there is room I'll take other stuff too.

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    my only tip is to get a room and leave the camping to others....

    good stuff, Bill
    Last edited by Flatironmike; 10-09-2009 at 9:44 AM.

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    Not to pile on with "you forgots", but the one thing I would never go camp without that's not on your list is a decent compact first aid kit. A little burn relief cream, asprin, antihistamine, tweezers, bandaids, gauze, etc. can make life a lot more bearable. I've got a little REI kit that's great.

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    I use the small towels sold at the discount clubs for polishing cars and such and use 1 or 2 to wash up with and dispose of them so, we can get moving in the morning without wet laundry in my bag. Also throughout the year I save all my raggety skivies, socks and jeans and get rid of them on the road after a few days and put on a fresh pair rather than doing laundry. This works well for longer trips. A trick I learned from my wilderness camping days is pack all the items in compression sacks to minimize bulk and moving around during travel. Also for trveling on 2 wheels in the Northeast you need to wrap all things that can get wet in doubled small plastic bags to prevent water seepage when it rains. I use plastic grocery bags and tie a knot on top, they are cheap and disposable. This trick helps pack down your gear as the will slide against each other and pack together.

    Tim

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    Great write-up for short trips! I camped for 2 months this summer on my bike. Even though they aren't the greatest to look at, tank bags are great for all those essentials you might need during a day of riding. Waterproof kayak duffel bags are also a must have on my trips. That sleeping bag and blanket wont keep you very warm if they are soaking wet.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by redsox716 View Post
    Great write-up for short trips! I camped for 2 months this summer on my bike. Even though they aren't the greatest to look at, tank bags are great for all those essentials you might need during a day of riding. Waterproof kayak duffel bags are also a must have on my trips. That sleeping bag and blanket wont keep you very warm if they are soaking wet.

    Water proof bags are the way to go, especially if you don't have live in Sunny SoCal like some people were it hardly ever rains lol

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    I found some enormous Ziploc bags at home depot that made the trip in the rain back from GroundZero a lot more bareable. And when I say enormous, you could fit a whole fucking pig in one of those things.

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    Wow. Ive never seen that stove idea before but Im going to make one tomorrow. Cool. Ive been thinking about buying one of those MSR stoves from Gander Mountain but I think this might be even more light weight.

  13. #13
    Halwade
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    It's a stupid little tip, but if your OCD like me, it'll save your ass when the going gets redundant:

    find ONE outer pocket on your bike-mounted backpack that is accessible w/o bag or bungie removal and use it to hold the absolute essentials: second set of eyewear, wallet, sun screen, lip balm, cash and celly. When I'm on the road, nothing else really matters. When I've tried to carry these things in my pockets (even the pockets on my alleged "enduro jacket") I've lost or misplaced every one of them. Very frustrating. My outer backpack mini pocket is the size of a baboon's fist and holds the aforementioned essentials perfectly. Speedy access is assured, and the zipper gives me piece of mind.

    One down side to this setup: If you crash and your body ends up in a ditch 100 feet from your motorcycle, you won't have your ID on your person when medics dig through your gear.

    Everything else BBB said is awesome.

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    Industrial garbage bags. I get them from work. I took one on our last trip & was glad I did. All kinds of uses for this. 6 mil thick & big enough to sleep in if you had to or on top of, plus a dry place to keep all your shit during the day.

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    the smaller walmart or any plastic grocery bags.... i pack 2.... see rain coming pull the shoes/boots off stick a foot in a bag then put the bagged foot in the shoe. bam waterproof socks/dry feet.

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    Here's some thoughts from my limited experience.

    Pack everything you think you'll need then cut it in half.

    What you take with you depends entirely on how filthy you can stand to get.

    This summer I rode from Calgary to the Gypsy Run then to Ground Zero in Alb. New Mexico and then home.

    Here's what I took:

    Light weight Down filled sleeping bag-spendy at just under $200 but it keeps me warm down to about zero and in a compression sack gets as small as a football.

    One man tent-super cheap one just in case it slips off your sissy bar into your chain, I'm just sayin'

    rain suit-get a good one because sometimes you have to wear it for five days in a row

    tools- I can get away with a very small tool kit because when I built my bike I tried to use the same size fasteners on everything.

    one pair of jeans
    one tshirt
    two pairs of socks
    two pair skivvies
    one flannel shirt
    shoes
    one pair shorts

    camera
    phone
    chargers for both
    first aid kit
    small camp towel
    toothbrush
    toothpaste-the real stuff because as neato as they are, those disposable preloaded tooth brushes just don't cut it.
    three weeks in the same clothes is rock and roll, not brushing properly is rank and wrong.

    All of that fit in a solo side bag that I made for the trip

    A note on the clothes.
    Yes I wore the same pair of jeans everyday for three weeks.
    I changed t-shirts three times.
    Thanks again to Walter at Kickstart and George and Wendy from Spartan for the clean shirts!
    Socks I would wear for a couple of days then use them as a rag and toss them out and buy new ones. Quicker and cheaper than doing laundry
    I also stopped in a few small towns and went to thrift stores to buy warm clothes when I cou

    I figured the bag I mad would be waterproof and it was.
    Just happened to be the wrong way. All my shit in my bag was floating in two inches of water.
    Ziplock bag your important stuff.

    I don't worry about a camp stove because I don't drink coffee in the morning and even if I did there's coffee shops everywhere.

    Don't let me fool you into thinking I totally roughed it though, I agree on a long trip with Flatironmike, hotels are pretty nice at the end of a long rainy day.

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    "small as a football"

    Dude, thats easy for you cuz you fit in a football sized bag!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rudehog View Post
    "small as a football"

    Dude, thats easy for you cuz you fit in a football sized bag!
    Hey man, I'm a grower not a shower.

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    or you could go this route...

    but really well thought out post bill.

  20. #20
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    Wow, this is a great thread. Thanks Bill.

    I did a little camping on my bike this summer and plan on more next summer.

    Bill or anyone else have any recomendations on tents? I'm looking for a 2 man thats small, quick to set up and doesn't cost too much.

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