There’s no greater freedom for us bikers than getting on your motorcycle, starting the engine and going for a ride. You don’t always need a destination. Being at one with your motorcycle is a great antidote for many of life’s challenges. We use them to get us to-and-from work and as a means of enjoyment in our spare time.
When a motorcycle really comes into its own however, is when you embark on a trip together.
It’s only then that you really appreciate just how much you and the motorcycle can achieve together once you leave your comfort zone and venture into the unknown.
If you’ve already completed some journeys with your motorcycle then this will sound familiar. However, most of us are still yet to find out what all-the-fuss is about.
After clocking up thousands of miles in more than 20 countries, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about motorcycle travel. The question I get asked the most is “what do I need to pack for a motorcycle trip?”
There’s not one simple answer to this question, it all depends on what kind of trip you’re planning to embark on. Before you start packing your bags you need to answer four questions that apply to every motorcycle trip, long or short.
How long will the trip be?
I don’t need to tell you that you won’t need to pack as many things for a trip of a couple of days compared to a trip that last weeks, even months. For day-trips your packing will be minimal and only the essentials are required.
Even when you’re planning longer trips, you won’t need more than 5-7 days worth of clothes to see you through.
Always plan for changeable weather even if the trip is short, and it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather further ahead when you take a break.
How much storage space do you have?
One disadvantage of motorcycles over cars is that your carrying capacity is limited.
You must think wisely about what you’ll really need for your trip. Try to avoid overloading the motorcycle as it makes everything more difficult.
Whether you have soft or hard luggage on your bike, decide if that’s all you’ll need.
For additional space consider a top-box, tank-bag or small backpack. If you are taking a backpack with you, keep it light so that you don’t put unnecessary stress on your spine.
What environment will you be in?
What will the environment be like that you will be exploring? I always say that you should pack clothes for the worst possible weather, even if it seems highly unlikely. I can’t the amount of times I travelled during summer expecting to not see a drop of rain, only to be caught in a sudden storm or rain shower.
If you plan to explore mountains, even in the warmer seasons, temperatures can plummet quickly. Also in open areas or deserts, the nights can be very cold. Don’t get left out in the cold, pack something waterproof and something warm if you can.
If you have the choice of leather or textile-based clothing, adjust your protective gear accordingly. No matter the surroundings, protective gear should always be a must.
Riding solo or with a passenger?
If you will be riding with a passenger, there a few adjustments you should make to the motorcycle. If it’s possible, you should make the rear suspension of your motorcycle a bit firmer to account for the extra weight. Adding some extra pressure to the rear tyre will also ensure the motorcycle handles well and is stable.
Another factor to consider is luggage space. If you are both carrying luggage, which most likely you will, then make sure you have adequate space for you and your passenger. If you usually wear a backpack, it will be more wise for your passenger to wear it for you.
Make sure your passenger has somewhere safe to hold onto and that you are comfortable with riding with extra weight.
From soaking wet clothes, to a lack of tools to perform simple maintenance and repairs on my motorcycle, I’ve learned from my mistakes and grown wiser.
One of the best aspects of biking is the welcoming community that exists worldwide, we love sharing what we’ve learned through our travels.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting lots of riders out on the road tackling a range of ambitious journeys. Everyone has a different approach to touring, and what to pack. Remaining open-minded and taking the time to listen to the experiences of others can sometimes teach you a thing or two.
It’s always refreshing to hear new advice that could help me stay safe and enjoy my own travels more.
To help ensure your motorcycle trips are successful, fun-filled experiences that you’ll remember for a lifetime, I’ve created the ultimate guide for what to pack when venturing out on a motorcycle trip of any length.
It’s a collection of what I’ve found out by myself and what I’ve learned from other riders. I’ll be covering everything that will help you and your motorcycle stay safe on your next motorcycle trip.
The Ultimate Packing Checklist
The essentials are the items that you will almost always need on any trip of a considerable length. They should be the first items of your inventory to check before setting-off anywhere. Making sure they are in good condition and not on the verge of failure is a great way to avoid any unexpected surprises when far from home.
Being ill-prepared for the potential changes in weather can lead to delays in your journey and more risk on the road. If the weather conditions are too cold or wet, it will hamper your concentration and progress on the road. Prepare yourself for cold and warm climates by packing these wearable items.
Most motorcycles come equipped with a toolkit that can be stored on the bike. Whether you still have the toolkit with your machine or not, it doesn’t always contain all the necessary things you might come to need.
Having breakdown recovery is recommended for emergencies and when there’s nothing you can do. But imagine the situation when you become stranded somewhere and you know what you need to get your machine running again, but you can’t access it without tools.
At a bare minimum you at least need the tools required to remove plastics/panels from the motorcycle to give you access.
If you have the toolkit for your bike it should include a spark plug removal tool, mine does. If this is not the case, pack one with the rest of the essential tools below.
I keep a compact selection of just enough tools with me that have never let me down.
Remember: You only need to carry the tools that apply to bolt sizes on your motorcycle. Full kits take up unnecessary space.
It might sound ludicrous to carry snacks around with you while you ride. Especially when it’s possible to stop somewhere to eat.
But eating a quick bite while on the road is a great way to lift your mood, help you concentrate for longer and maintain your energy levels.
If a 5-minute stop to eat means you can hold off for a few more hours of riding, then you can imagine how much time they can save you in the long run.
Be wary of foods that are heat sensitive like soft cheeses and yoghurts as they can expire quickly in hot weather and cause a mess and possibly a stomach ache.
Other Handy Items
So far we’ve covered all the gear you should carry to be prepared for any situation. Here are a few more special items that I like to pack on longer trips in case of unforeseen circumstances. With these items packed, you can ride into the most obscure and remote locations with more peace of mind.
Time to hit the road!
Overall, being resourceful and resilient is the greatest tool you can possess as a motorcycle adventurer. If you forgot to pack something, you can try to purchase it somewhere or be creative in and find something you could use around you.
Be adaptable and trust those around you that offer help. With time you adjust your inventory and begin to get creative to push your adventures into new territory. If there are any items you’d like to add, we’d love to hear from you.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you go!
Have a great ride and we’ll see you on the road.