How to Pack for Motocamping Like a Pro

MotoCamps Life

Expert tips on how to choose the right gear, pack it efficiently, and stay safe on your next motocamping trip.

We’re passionate about both riding and camping, so it’s only natural that motocamping (motorcycle camping) holds a special appeal for us and with practice, we’ve learned a thing or two about motocamping. Here are the two key takeaways you should keep in mind:

  1. Streamline Your Gear: If you're an enthusiastic camper like us, chances are you've amassed quite a collection of gear. However, when motocamping, think more along the lines of ultralight hiking gear. Be prepared for the fact that this gear can be quite pricey if you haven't already looked into it.
  2. Pack Wisely: Selectivity is paramount when deciding what to pack. Lay out all your equipment, and then ruthlessly cut it in half. That's likely the maximum you'll be able to safely fit on your bike, considering space and weight constraints.

Honestly, this is exactly why we started MotoCamps.

Sometimes you’re into planning, packing, and riding all geared up and sometimes that part just doesn’t enhance the adventure. And sometimes it depends on your motocamping style. We pack and camp differently based on whether we intend to set up a basecamp or take on more of a road trip.

Packing for Basecamp-style Motocamping

When Brandon and I attended the Blackwater Adventure Rally, we camped at Camp Pioneer in Beverly, WV, and rode loops to and from our basecamp.

It’s an ideal use for our MotoCamps Base Camp setup.

MotoCamps Setup at Blackwater Adventure Rally 2023

Load the bikes in the truck bed, haul the Base Camp trailer with the truck. Practically zero packing is required since the bikes are loaded for daily riding (we always ride with the gear listed below under wearing, in the backpack, and on the bike) and the Base Camp is already outfitted with all the other camp gear (you can explore it all here). There’s no sacrifice in comfort for weight and space.

MotoCamps Base Camp and Bikes Loaded for Blackwater Adventure Rally 2023

Packing for Road Trip-style Motocamping

Our recent Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route (MABDR) trip was a different story. Because we were overnighting at a different location in each section, setting up a basecamp for the full trip was not feasible.

Nine Sections of the 1,080 mile Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route

So part of this adventure was planning, packing, and riding with all the gear.

Our Packing Strategy

It’s important to note that how you pack is just as crucial as what you pack. Since there were two of us on the trip, we were able to distribute the common gear between the two bikes and focused our packing strategy on four key principles:

  1. Organized Packing: We made a conscious effort to group similar gear together, such as camp setup equipment in one bag, kitchen/cooking gear in another, safety and recovery tools in a separate container, and so forth.
  2. Weight Distribution: We aimed to keep the weight of our gear as close to the bikes as possible to ensure optimal stability.
  3. Balanced Panniers: To maintain equilibrium, we meticulously balanced our panniers, evenly distributing any additional weight opposite the exhaust side.
  4. Accessible Essentials: Items requiring quick or frequent access were strategically placed in our jackets, backpacks, or attached to the outside of our bags using MOLLE systems. This included essentials like the first aid kit, tool kit, extra fuel, water, and face shield cleaning supplies.

Now, let’s take a look at what we packed for our MABDR journey.

Our Motocamping Setup at Greenwood Furnace Camp

What we packed

Brandon has an Africa Twin (AT) and I ride a KTM 390 Adventure. On my KTM, I have the Mosko Moto Reckless 40, while Brandon used the Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers and Backcountry 40L Duffle on his AT.

Here’s a breakdown of what we packed both on ourselves and on the bikes with this setup.

Wearing:

  • Helmet with Cardo comms
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Pants
  • Jacket, always have in pockets:
    • Gum
    • Chapstick
    • Credit cards & cash
    • Leatherman tool

In the Backpacks:

  • Hydration pack
  • Neck gaiter
  • Hat
  • Spare gloves
  • Spot or other GPS communicator
  • Power bank + phone charger
  • Snacks (I like Chomps jerky sticks and Larabars)
  • Toilet paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sunglasses
  • Folding hand saw

On the Bikes:

  • Cell phone
  • Extra water bottle
  • Map holder with MABDR Butler Map
  • Microfiber clothes + Pledge (yes, Pledge for face shield cleaning)
  • Tool roll with bike-specific tools including
  • Tire levers
  • Tire patch kit with inflation CO2 (for tubeless tires)
  • Zip ties
  • Quicksteel
  • Duct tape
  • Wire
  • LocTite
  • First aid kit (with LifeStraw)
  • Bungie net

Kitchen Pannier on the AT:

  • Jetboil with fuel bottle packed inside (opted for Jetboil to use with coffee bags and dehydrated meals instead of pots and pans to conserve space)
  • Dehydrated meals for breakfast and dinner (Peak Refuel is THE brand to buy)
  • Coffee steep bags (brand recommendation: Black Rifle Coffee)
  • Eating utensils
  • Ziploc bags for leftover lunches, etc.

Camp Duffle on the AT:

Dry bag on top (on the AT):

Emergency/Recovery Side Bag on the KTM:

  • Spare inner-tubes
  • Air pump & tire gauge
  • Bike recovery kit with tow strap

Clothing/Personal Items in Beavertail Duffle on the KTM and AT Pannier:

  • Clothing
    • Crocs
    • Swim suit
    • Underwear and extra riding socks
    • Extra base layer bottoms and tops
    • Casual shirt, shorts, and long pants
    • Warm jacket/hoodie
    • Rain coat
  • Personal
    • Deodorant
    • Shampoo, soap, and razor
    • Quick dry towels
    • Toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste
    • Contacts/Glasses
    • Pain reliever and allergy meds
    • Spare snacks to rotate into backpack

Post-Packing Precautions

With all the gear packed, we took a short test ride to check for anything that may have loosened up or needed an extra zip tie to secure.

The AT took some adjusting to with the extra weight carried lower on the panniers while the KTM handled surprisingly well with the added weight kept close to the bike by the Reckless system. We both took care to verify tire pressure to avoid any pinch flats on the trail, and then we hit the road.

Your Motocamping Adventure

While packing for a motocamping adventure can vary significantly based on personal preferences, we hope this guide serves as a valuable starting point for your next journey. If you have any questions, need further guidance, or are intrigued by the idea of motocamping with the MotoCamps Base Camp, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!