The Ultimate Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist
Welcome to our Motorcycle Camping Gear Checklist for bike travellers. We use the majority of these items on our round-the-world motorcycle ride and have thrown in a few extras and non-essentials just in case you want a splash of luxury. Here’s everything you might need on a long-term motorcycle camping trip.
Your sleeping gear will be the bulkiest items in your motorcycle luggage. A tent, sleeping bag and roll matt take up enough space without throwing extras in like pillows, and so it’s worth spending a little extra for high quality stuff. The aim is to get low-volume and lightweight kit that you can compress to make as small as possible. Here are three essentials for minimalist motorcycle travellers and four things that add a little extra comfort.
The MSR Hubba Hubba tent is one of the lightest on the market. We use this tent because it's freestanding, meaning you don't need to peg it into the ground to erect it. That comes in very handy in the desert! You can also use it without the fly cover, which makes it perfect for hot countries and star gazine.
With sleeping bags, if you spend a little you get a lot. But not in a good way. Cheap bags are huge and usually rubbish. It's worth going for a premium bag that packs away as small as possible. Consider where you're travelling, what temperatures you need it to work in and don't get caught out with an unsuitable bag.
The best roll mats for long-term camping are quick inflating air mattresses. They pump up in about 10 breaths and roll away tightly. Foam roll ups are fine for short trips but too big, bulky and uncomfortable. Go for a mattress with a low volume but decent thickness so the cold from the ground doesn't transfer through.
What cooking equipment you carry (if any) completely depends on how often you camp, how long your trip is and how much you like cooking. Long-term motorcycle travellers usually need to cook on a regular basis, and so it’s worth carrying extra kit to make life easier and the food taste better. Here are the essentials and a bunch of extras for road chefs.
The MSR Dragonfly stove has been with me for six years and 60,000 miles. Gas canisters make no-sense for bike travellers. This runs on petrol, was developed for mountaineering, is easy to maintain, doubles up as a Jerry can and you can control the flame.
We use the MSR Quick 2 Cooking set, but for solo riders there's the MSR Trail Lite system. I used to use a single mess tin on previous trips where I didn't cook that often. Now, because we cook so much we use a larger set that cleverly slides into itself to maintain space.
Durable and tough plastic cutlery (not the flimsy rubbish ones) is the way to go. Metal is fine but weighs more and scratches non-stick pans if used to stir food or scrape out pasta. If you're cooking regularly and make more than rice and beans, it's worth having a set.
There's not always going to be access to running water, especially if you're wild camping. A washbowl saves wasting H2O. It's worth carrying a small sponge, tea towel and washing liquid too.
Cutting garlic and onions on your lap is a pain in the arse. Go for a mini chopping board (or cut your one in half) and you'll be dicing those carrots like Gordon Ramsey in no time.
We use a Swedesih 'Mora kniv' on a daily basis. Life would be hard without it. All food chopping and preparations are made with this knife, its well-made, will last forever and costs around £10.
Food hygiene is important, especially if handling raw meat and eggs. A little bottle of sanitiser means not wasting your water on washing hands if wild camping and away from water sources.
By definition, ‘comfort’ items are non-essential. They’re there to make your camping life that little bit easier, so if you’re a minimalist bike traveller, or on a short trip, or don’t camp that often then you can do without these items. We’re limited by what we can carry and how much space we have when motorcycle travelling. So it’s a balance of what you need, what you want and what’s worth making space for.
A sheet of tarpaulin is extremely versatile when motorcycle camping. You can use it for an additional shelter to cook under if it's raining (with the fire just outside it of course). It can also be used as a large ground mat, a ground sheet when working on your bike or as a motorcycle cover.
We started our trip with chairs and sent them home after the first month because we didn't use them. We regretted that decision for the next eight months. Especially when we saw other travellers relaxing in theirs. Once you try one, you won't go back to sitting on the floor with an achy back.
If you don't want to carry a large tarp sheet, then a simple, roll-up and lightweight camping mat is a great option. It stops ground dust flicking up into your cooking. A ground mat also stops your feet and all your equipment from getting dirty and provides a place to rest outside of your tent.
Everyone has their own extras that they take on a motorcycle camping trip. Here are a bunch of extras that you might need. We use six of these items but have at some point travelled with and camped with all of them. Like with the comfort items, it’s your luggage and your balance. Take whatever you need and have space for. And if it doesn’t work out, send it home.
We can all get by with a lighter or matches. But be honest, starting a fire with one of these just looks cooler. Seriously though, if your matches get wet then you'll be grateful you have this.
ps. We’re not sponsored by any companies, these are just the products we use on our travels. Purchasing a product after clicking on any of the links on this page (or using this link to Sportsbikeshop or this link to Amazon) will mean we receive a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you. You’ll help keep our site and our motorbike running. Thank you for your support.
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