Lessons learned to make the most of remote motorcycle travel.
As one who has read many articles on motorcycle camping, I know that, in doing so, you can find yourself inundated with myriad ideas and philosophies about how to do it right. I will preface this article by saying that I do not proclaim to be a camping expert, nor do I profess to be one who is delivering motorcycle camping doctrine to all those who ride and occasionally choose to sleep under the stars.
The following description and interpretation of motorcycle camping is based on my experiences as an adventure rider while exploring gravel and double track routes in remote places. This includes Crown land no-trace camping, provincial/state parks, and occasionally private land — with gracious permission from the landowners, of course. I therefore consider myself, for the most part, a minimalist camper. Not because I am a hardcore, adventure-seeking purist, but because I like things simple, and I do not want to compromise the agility of my motorcycle whenever I am on a trip. After all, half the fun is enjoying the technical riding along the way.
Review Your Gear
My quest for a simplified camping strategy has been focused on minimal luggage and weight which involved sourcing various products that meet these requirements. During the winter months, I try to take the time to evaluate the past riding season and review what worked, what didn’t work, and what items need upgrading or replacement. I also ask fellow riding buddies their thoughts and ideas regarding what they have done to organize their gear and baggage.
Three factors that I consider when purchasing camping products are functionality, practicality, and budget. Thinking realistically, I probably camp on a motorcycle trip maybe three times per year, averaging no more than one to three nights. On occasion, I may do a longer journey from eight to 10 days, but usually they are more modest in duration.
When my adventure is five days or more, I prefer to camp for a couple nights, followed by a night at a basic hotel so that I can do laundry, replenish supplies and have a hot shower (important if you have been doing no-trace camping for a few days). This allows for minimal clothing and food, therefore avoiding the potential of being overloaded.
There are many options to choose from when considering the proper luggage for your bike. Of course, if you have an unlimited budget then you have unlimited choices in bags or hard panniers. Focusing on budget, I was more limited in my bag choices as I did not want to spend more than $1,000.
My first bike was a Kawasaki KLR650, which came with aluminum panniers, and although they were durable and somewhat functional, they were too dangerous for the type of off-road riding I was doing…