The Motorcycle Camping Experience: 26 Tips from 8 Seasoned Riders

Motorcycle camping (motocamping) is a truly exhilarating experience that combines two amazing activities to create lifelong memories and stories. I asked eight riders involved in the r/motorcycles community on Reddit for their motocamping advice for fellow riders.

They all have slightly different viewpoints on several issues which makes this list of tips even more helpful in my opinion. Also, the list is in no particular order!

Oscar's campsite
“Cooking dinner at a lakeside camp spot in Tasmania.”  -Oscar

Oscar’s Advice [Tip #1]

“You don’t need to own a touring or ADV bike to get out there and travel on two wheels. Whatever bike you currently own, don’t even question whether you can take it motocamping, YOU CAN!

A lot of people seem amused by the fact that I motocamp on my little GN250. That doesn’t really make any sense to me. That’s the bike I own, what else am I going to use?… Sure the thing only makes 16hp on a good day and that does make it more of a struggle on the open road, but you adjust to it.

You ride slower, take the back routes and give yourself more time. Even with my mate, on his CBR125r we’ve had some great adventures on the road. And to be honest, at the end of a day in the saddle, it feels pretty badass to set up camp knowing you did it on a small bike.

If you think you couldn’t possibly tour on your current bike because it’s too impractical or too slow, just remember there’s a guy out there travelling around the world on his super sport R1 (Sjaak Lucassen) and another on a humble CT90 (Ed March).”

Check out Oscar’s awesome vlog about his motorcycle trip in Tazmania! Also, here is a link to Oscar’s Flickr account where there are more pictures!

Oscars Friend
“Jacob’s fully loaded CBR125r cruising through some Twisties in Queenstown, Tasmania.” – Oscar

Big Schloss Overlook
Nash Rambler’s picture from the Big Schloss Overlook in George Washington National Forest.

Nash Rambler’s Advice [Tips #2-7]

“Pack safe. You don’t need a luggage rack or saddlebags, but they help quite a bit. Whatever is on the outside, triple-check that it is tightly secured. Use bungee cords and try your best to tug items loose. Never forget that if something falls off, it will most likely happen when you are in motion, and will definitely fall into the path of whoever is in motion behind you.

Pack light. Check pack lists for backcountry camping, and add a tarp, that’s a good guide for “bare minimum motorcycle camping”. Ideally, you shouldn’t need more than 40 lbs. of stuff, and that is meals included.

Stop frequently. You’ll need to, for gas, for the bathroom, to scratch your elbow, grab a bite, to stretch and check your location. That google maps time estimate to reach your location? If it’s 50 miles or less, factor in another half hour. More than 50? Tack on an extra hour, at least. Don’t forget to check your strapped down stuff for any slack when you stop.

Make sure your bike is in tip-top form before heading out. That means fully charging that battery, making sure everything is up to tolerance, and there are no questionable items which could prevent proper operation. Remember, camping generally means a remote place (with no cellphone reception), so if you break down, you could be in big trouble.

Pack heavier stuff near or below the motorcycles’ center of gravity, so it doesn’t affect road handling so much.

Cargo nets are great for securing items, but bungees can do double-duty and hold up a tarp to protect you and/or your motorcycle from rain.”


Long Road
Dustin’s amazing photo of backroad motorcycling.

Dustin’s Advice [Tips #8-11]

“You will almost certainly over pack. Once you’ve gone on a couple trips, it’s a good idea to go over your gear and toss out anything that you haven’t touched.

Liquid fuel backpacking stoves are a great idea for motocamping. Some models allow you to use regular gasoline, which can provide spare fuel for your motorcycle as well.

Motorcycle camping can often take you to rather remote places, and that’s usually when something breaks down. A lot of bikes come with tool kits, but if not, make your own. Even if you don’t know how to fix your bike someone may come along who does.

Advrider.com is an excellent source for trip planning, ride reports, mechanical help, and everything in between.”

To see more of Dustin’s incredible photography, check out Westerhaus Photo. Below is another picture taken by him (and the one I used for the article banner at the very top).

Hillside Overlook
Dustin’s photo of his simple campsite in a beautiful location.

Matt's Motorcycle
Matt’s awesome motorcycle. His advice to me, the motorcyclist’s motto, “Keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.”

Matt Hoover’s Advice [Tips #12-15]

“Have a backrest or pack your bike in such a fashion that some of your gear acts as a back rest. I had brought a full size bed pillow to use in my hammock at night, but when packing the bag that I strapped to my back seat, I made sure the pillow was packed in the direction that allowed me a nice cushion to lean back against. Rode almost 400 miles and had no lower back fatigue.

As for food, we didn’t take any. I planned out the route so that places to eat where easily accessible. Sometimes it was just the grill or restaurant on the campground property, but there were a few really good restaurants as well. And we never had to divert off the route more than 20-30 miles. We were also able to change a planned lunch stop on the fly to be more accommodating to a rider who had to head back early.

Matt's awesome selfie.
Matt’s awesome selfie.

I’m not opposed to packing food, and we had some simple snack items (chips and jerky and the like) but we were more interested in riding then camping. The camping just allowed us more days of consecutive riding, and was cheaper than hotels, so we didn’t have a burning desire to be that legitimate when it came to the camping. Also, we were in bear country, so that was an added incentive not to have lots of food.

Lastly, I will say that next time I do this, I will invest in a camel pack. The two other guys who went with me each had one and all I had was a water bottle in a saddle bag. I didn’t have access to my water while riding like they did. At the very least I will have a cup holder on my bars.

Never use bungee cords, get ROK straps. They are the best.”


ride365's motorcycle
Ride365’s motorcycle sitting pretty on a long straightaway.

Ride365’s Advice [Tips #16-17]

“Well my ‘advice’ is random. Always sit at the bar. You will find far more interesting people and engage with them if you follow this rule. Taking photos won’t change your life; making new friends will!

From my mom – ‘You shouldn’t own motorcycles if you can’t work on them!’ – Learn some basics, like fixing tires, changing chains, etc. You gain so much more confidence when you can work on your bike… and I guarantee you will break down at the farthest possible point from a mechanic!”

You can see more photos and read all about his adventures on his blog, Ride365.


Karl's beach campsite
Karl’s beach campsite is picture perfect.

Karl’s Advice [Tips #18-20]

“I would highly recommend, independently of the distance traveled, to be equipped with a reliable motorcycle and always carry an emergency kit, tow rope, duct tape, zap straps and a sharp blade.

Try assigning heavier piece of equipment to a luggage on your motorcycle rather than in a backpack and if possible, bring a friend with a quad who can haul the bulk of the weight.

Hide your keys or make sure that nobody will decide to go for a quick ride after the first few dozen beers have been cracked. The drunken antics of our very first motocamping trip resulted in a painstaking six hour walk back to civilization whilst pushing our broken bikes with 40 pounds of gear on our backs and a hangover.”

Another pic from Karl
Another beautiful picture from Karl’s motocamping.

He runs a YouTube channel you should check out and subscribe!


Roman's motorcycle
Roman’s motorcycle ready for the trail. Also, notice the incredible fall colors in the background!

Roman’s Advice [Tips #21-24]

“Motocamping is great fun and I highly recommend it. You don’t need a dedicated sport-touring or adv sled, though hard luggage is nice to have. A dry bag with some rock straps has been my go to. Get one big enough to fit your camping stuff (tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc). Don’t use cargo nets, much higher chance of something shaking loose, imo. A compression bag is nice to have for saving space.

Some kind of chair is great for when you arrive. Jetboilers are super useful for cooking and don’t take up a bunch of space. Get the smallest tent possible, both for space savings and setting up/breaking down. I had a 4 person tent on my Nova Scotia trip and it was a pain in the ass.

Invest in good gear, especially if you’re going on a longer trip during colder weather. Cold and wet sucks the fun out of any trip. If you like to ride hard, consider finding a place to use as base camp, so you can unload your gear and have some fun. National and state parks are fun, but I’ve stayed at some great private campgrounds, they’re all usually pretty cheap.

Learn to plug a flat, it’s super easy, kits are cheap and small and it’s great insurance. Ride with a buddy if you can, especially on longer trips. It’s just better in every way. Even without hardbags, a dry bag with some soft saddlebags should be enough for your gear and enough underwear/t-shirts to last a couple days.

I think I’ve shifted towards minimalist as I’ve gotten more experience. Perfect camping trip for me, is ride some distance to good roads, set-up base and have a good time for a couple days before riding back.”

Roman elected to have me link to the Alzheimer’s Association charity. Please consider making a donation today, especially if Roman’s advice was helpful to you!


noobtasticNoobtastic14 and his buddies taking a corner.

Noobtastic14’s Advice [Tips #24-26]

“First off, I bought the correct motorcycle for the job. My VFR800 has good wind protection, comfortable riding position, tall gearing, and factory Honda hard bags for storage. ‘

My hard bags contained clothes, spare shoes, books, tackle box, first aid kit, fix-a-flat, sleeping bag, and other small or soft things. I packed the sleeping mat, tent, and fishing pole on the rear seat and kept my cell phone in the map pocket of the tank bag.

I wired in a phone charger to the bikes power system so I can run the phone all day without battery concerns. One last tip that has really helped me solo travel and camp, running bluetooth music on top of google maps navigation in combination with a sena headset. With this setup I have easy control over volume, no headphones falling out, as well as the convenience of having my music fade out as google chimes in with directions spoken directly into my helmet. You don’t have to look down or fumble with anything and after some practice it is pretty easy to navigate using navigation audio alone.”

Motocamping: Adventure Starts When You Go

As you can read, there is adventure all around the world that is accessible by motorcycle. A little preparation and an adventurous spirit will take you far.

I want to extend a “thank you” to all the riders that helped me with this article. As you can see I didn’t write most of it! If you have a chance, visit some of the links provided and subscribe to their YouTube channels to see more of their adventures.

My goal is to connect with all these motocamping riders when I get my motorcycle. Until then, I will be driving my car with the windows down and pretending…

This is the first time I have published other people’s advice on my blog. If you loved it, please let me know by messaging or commenting on the Where Trails End Facebook page. Until then, keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down!

-David

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