Things You Didn’t Realise You Needed on a Motorcycle Trip

Here’s our list of incredibly handy, useful and important bits of kit we use on our round the world motorcycle adventures. They might be things you already carry – or things you didn’t realise you needed. They might not be essential, but they definitely make everyday life on the road easier.

Australia Motorcycle Travel Great Dividing Range
Woah? I didn't realise that was in there!

Contents

What’s in your bag?

On motorcycle trips we all pick up tips and tricks along the way. We find little things that we didn’t realise we needed, but once we have them, they make life on the road simpler and easier. These are our favourite little thingies we’ve found along the way over the last six years of riding round the world. Each of them is now an essential in our kit list.

Do you use or fancy trying any of the items below? Or do you have any bits of kit you reckon other riders might find handy? Let us know in the comments section at the end of this article.

Things You Didn’t Realise You Needed on a Motorcycle Trip

Silk sleeping bag liner

Jag Bags Sleeping bag liner

If you’re on an extended motorcycle trip, chances are you’re camping. And if you camp a lot on your travels, you’ll know the plight of trying to wash a sleeping bag – one of life’s biggest pains. This is where a silk liner comes in…

Firstly, they keep your sleeping bag cleaner for longer. But they do so much more than that. Natural silk keeps you cool in hot conditions and warm in cold weather. And it also doubles up as its own sleeping bag for nights when you stay in questionable hotel rooms. They’re ultra-strong, super light, last forever and incredibly easy to clean and dry.

We have been using Jag Bags silk liners for years and opt for an large double square shaped bag – that way we can both get in one bag. Even if you’re travelling solo, it’s best to go for a square / rectangular bag so that you can use it outside of your sleeping bag and not feel constricted.

They’re absolutely brilliant and once you try it, you won’t travel without one.

Read more: Jag Bag Sleeping Bag Liner Review

Rok Straps

Rok Strap motorcycle review

Rok Straps are ingenious. If you try them once there’s no way you’ll go back to using bungee cords. They don’t fray in the same way as a bungee, they’re far safer and so much more secure. You loop each end around a point on your bike, clip them together and then pull the strap to compress your bag. Your gear isn’t going to slip out from underneath one of these. We carry two on the pillion seat for our bags and a spare two in case we want to strap down jackets or boots.

Read more: Rok Straps Review

Ratchet strap

Carrying a ratchet strap has proved invaluable on our travels. They have three main purposes for us. Firstly, if the bike ever needs to go in a van or on a boat etc, I can use one strap to secure it. Secondly, our pannier rack broke a handful of times in Tajikistan and our ratchet was our saving grace. We used it to secure the rack back to the bike and could tighten it far more than we’d be able to with cord or rope. So we keep it in case anything needs to be strapped together. And lastly, we can use it in case we need to tow or be towed.

A quick note on towing though, we would never tie a strap to the bike being towed. Instead, it’s safer to wrap the strap under and around the centre of the handlebar and then once around a bar grip. The rider being towed would then just place their hand on the grip as they would normally. If anything goes wrong, their hand comes off and the strap is released.

Recommendation: Ratchet Straps

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are cheap and effective. They’ll help you quickly and efficiently organise your gear and kit into neat and manageable sections and you won’t end up with all your gear stuff into a messy pile in your panniers.

Recommendation: Packing Cubes

Backpack

Once our clothes are in the packing cubes, we place the cubes inside a rucksack and put the rucksack into our panniers. This makes life easier when we have to take our kit into a hotel or our tent for the night. Some people prefer to take the inner of their pannier or even their entire pannier, but it’s hard walking up a flight of stairs with either of those two options. Having a cheap and light backpack that you can whip in and out of your motorcycle panniers just makes life easier. Here’s the exact one we use. 

Recommendation: Backpack

Foldable backpack

As well as a full sized rucksack for our clothes, we also carry a small foldable rucksack. These backpacks are ultralight and pack and zip up to fit in your hand. They’re exceptionally handy for when you’re staying somewhere for a few days and want to walk around town for example, buy some groceries, go on a hike and want something to put your jumper, camera and water bottle in. They take up next to no room and are really handy for long term motorcycle travellers.

Recommendation: Foldable backpack

Lightweight duffle

Lomo 40L Dry Bag Review

You might scoff at this one, but we find carrying an empty duffle bag a good idea. Wait, let me explain. We have a 40-litre empty Lomo duffle. It’s easily folded and packed on the outside of our Mosko panniers in the beaver tail so it’s out of the way. But it could easily be packed anywhere on a bike once folded up and flat.

Our empty duffle has several uses. When camping in countries like Australia, we put our motorcycle boots in it overnight. We have a small tent and don’t like taking big muddy boots in with us. You might laugh at that one, but once you’ve had a huntsman spider crawl inside your helmet and over your face while you’re on the motorcycle, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. So helmets in the tent and boots in a bag.

We also use it if doing a big grocery shop. Instead of trying to find little spaces all over the bike to stuff our shopping, we put it all in the big bag, Rok Strap it to the pillion seat and can easily ride to our hotel for the night like that.

Another reason we have it is if we’re riding somewhere particularly hot and just around town etc, or it’s a travel day where we’re on and off ferries, then our jackets can go in there. Or if we’re flying home we have a big bag to put our stuff.

Read more: Lomo 40L Duffle Review

Digital torque adapter

SBV Tools Digital Torque Adapter Review

This digital torque adapter is an ingenious tool from SBV. If you like things precise, simply attach it to your ratchet, put in the torque setting and it’ll beep when you reach it. Saves carrying big heavy torque wrenches around. Have a read of the review below and we reckon you’ll quickly add it to your list. 

Read more: SBV Digital Torque Adapter Review

Insulated water bottle

This is an obvious one, but something we hadn’t thought of until recently. We carry spare fuel and water in Overland Fuel Containers and also have a large plastic bottle each to drink from during the day. But we now also carry a one litre vacuum flasks. These are amazing for hot or cold weather riders. We put cold water in these and it stays cold for the entire day, which was perfect as we were riding through 46C in Canada and the USA. And for cold weather rides, boiling water goes in for a quick cup of tea stop or to sip warm water.

Recommendation: Insulated water bottle

Multiple USB adapter

These handy USBs are brilliant for lightweight and minimal travellers. They have four USB points so you can charge multiple items at once as well as adapters for a range of sockets around the world. We’ve had this one for years. They’re a little pricier than normal adapters, but having four USB ports is worth it. 

Recommendation: Adapter

Clothes Washing bag

Sometimes it can be tricky finding a laundrette, or perhaps you just need a few items of clothing washed and it’s not worth paying for a washing machine. Enter the wash bag! Originally, we used a compressible dry bag, filled it with water, a sprinkling of washing detergent and would give it a good shake to wash our clothes and then rinse them out.

But, you can buy bags specially made for this job. This one has two big advantages. It has a valve so you can release the air inside the bag, and it also has a hard rubber pad so you can effectively scrub your clothes. These bags are invaluable for long term motorcycle travellers. Here’s the one we use.

Recommendation: Scrubba Washing Bag

Camping chair

Helikon-Tex Range Camping Chair Review

We started out on our motorcycle trip with a couple of cheap camping chairs from eBay. One broke immediately and we didn’t use the other so sent it back home. But in hindsight that was because we started our trip in the middle of winter in Europe and weren’t camping that much. After one year of sitting on the floor nearly every night to cook food and rest before bed, our backs were shot. We got two strong and light camping chairs and have never looked back.

Packing for motorcycle travel is all about being light, minimal and low volume. But you need those luxuries in life and if you camp every day, this is an absolute must. A lot of people say they do without, but they’re not camping every day, year in year out – or if they are, they haven’t been doing it long enough!

With a chair you can sit outside, have your coffee, read a book, eat your food and relax. It’s worth it for that comfort.

Lightweight ground mat

A lightweight and small fold up camping mat is a great addition to your gear. We don’t keep ours in our camping bag because we use it so often and because it packs up so small. It’s used as a door mat before getting into the tent and also when we have an impromptu lunch stop and want to lay or sit down and there are no benches or chairs around. They’re tiny, fit in the palm of your hand and have a little metal peg attached to each corner to stop it from blowing away. 

Recommendation: Lightweight Ground Mat

Emergency satellite communicator

Zoleo Emergency Satellite Device Review

While the rest of the items aren’t essential, this one certainly is. An emergency satellite device will send a signal to a 24/7 365 manned global rescue centre if you push the SOS button. Your coordinates will be relayed and they will immediately contact the closest first responders and send them to your position. This can be a life saver, especially if you’re riding in remote places, on your own and without mobile phone coverage.

When Alissa had her crash in Nepal we wish we had one, now we don’t travel without it. Check out the below two devices for more info.

Read more:

Aeropress coffee maker

This one doesn’t need to be on the list, but it made me happier when I started carrying it! An Aeropress is an easy to use, simple, effective and quick to clean coffee maker. I love buying a bag of coffee in every new country and using this each morning to make a proper cup. Forget freeze dried, if you like your morning coffee, get one of these. 

We recommend opting for the ‘Travel’ model and buying a metal filter online instead of having to carry around the paper ones. 

Recommendation: Aeropress Coffee Maker

Tyre compressor and digital pressure gauge

Rocky Creek Motorcycle Tyre Pump

Hopefully you never get a puncture, but if you do, you’ll want an electric tyre compressor so you can change your tubes and quickly pop the bead back on the rim. And a small digital gauge can fit in your pocket and make checking your tyre pressures for off-roading easier. Rocky Creek also do a great little digital gauge. 

Read more: Rocky Creek Tyre Pump Review

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Read more on motorcycle travel gear

Thanks for checking out our Things You Didn’t Realise You Needed guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle gear that we recommend you read next. 

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Do you already use any of the items in this list? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below. 

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