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Basic Packing and Gear Selection

Some tips on how to approach packing for a motorcycle adventure.

There is nothing quite like getting away out into the bush for a few days on your motorbike.  Especially with a few good mates.  That’s what makes adventure biking  and dual sport riding so special to many people.

Over time, one learns how to make  the most of a trip with the least amount of hassle and discomfort.

Of course people are different.  Some people insist on luxury and every possible convenience.  While others prefer a more minimalistic approach.

What ever your preference, there are a few basic policies that will make your trips easier and more enjoyable:

Don’t take too much stuff

Your bike is not a car – don’t try and take the same amount of stuff!

Too much stuff makes your bike heavy and difficult to manage. This could turn an otherwise pleasant trip into a nightmare, especially if the terrain is slightly technical.  You may even end up avoiding any route or destination that might become difficult, only because of your overloaded bike – and what’s the sense in that?  Why let your excess luggage dictate your choice of route or destination?

Think like a hiker

 Rather think like a hiker.  Hikers quickly learn how to keep weight and bulk down – it makes the hike more enjoyable and manageable. Hiking equipment is light weight and takes up minimal space when packed.  These same two attributes are equally useful when travelling on a motorbike.  If you select light weight equipment that packs up into a small size, then you need not be unnecessarily uncomfortable, while being able to fit everything you need into the available space without overloading your bike.  There is a wealth of knowledge and tips on the various hiking websites, a lot of that can be very relevant to adventure biking.


If you need a tent, remember that packed size and weight are just as important as the size and style of the tent when erected.  Packed size is particularly important because your tent is likely to be the biggest single thing you carry.  If it packs up into a small size, its easy to carry. If not, it can become a real pain in the butt – taking up all the available space, or needing to be lashed onto the outside of other bags each time.  The length of the tent pole sections often determines how small a package the tent can fold down to.  Very often aluminium poles have shorter sections. Try to select a tent that folds up into a nice small package that’s easy to carry on your bike.

Sleeping bags and mattresses

 Getting a good night’s sleep not only makes the trip enjoyable, its a necessity when travelling on a bike.  If you are feeling like a zombie from lack of sleep, you are more prone to making mistakes while riding, which could lead to injury.  And that could really spoil the trip.

A good mattress and sleeping bag are thus important if you are camping.  Again, the two primary considerations are small packed size and light weight when selecting equipment for adventure biking.

An additional consideration is sufficient warmth when camping in cold weather.

Luckily, there are some great hiking products available nowadays. Such as down sleeping bags that keep you warm even in cold weather, as well as light weight inflatable mattresses that are very comfortable to sleep on.  Try to select types which fold up into small packed sizes.


Apart from your riding clothes, which you will be wearing while riding, you may need some more presentable/comfortable clothes to wear when you reach your destination each evening.  Again the same basic considerations of light weight and small packed size are important when deciding what to take.

Another consideration is how fast those clothes dry if you wash them.  If your clothes can dry overnight after washing them, then you don’t need more than two sets of anything, even on a long trip.  Because, while you are wearing one set, the other can be washed and ready to wear the next day.  This can vastly reduce the amount of clothes you need to take.  You may want to take some washing powder, together with a length of line and a few clothes pegs for that reason.

If you are going to adopt this approach, please note that cotton based materials do not dry fast enough.  So try and select clothes made from synthetic fabrics which usually do not retain moisture the way cotton does and thus dry quickly.

 Food and cooking

You don’t normally have the luxury of excess available space for carrying lots of food on most bikes.  For this reason, many people opt for eating in restaurants or buying food along along the way. However it may be prudent to carry just enough food for at least one proper meal in the event that you can’t find a suitable restaurant or supermarket when you need one, or if you get stuck overnight on the trail somewhere.

In addition, many people enjoy a nice cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  You may want to take enough stuff to enable that.

However, don’t forget the two primary adventure biking packing considerations (light weight and small packed size) when selecting both food and cooking/eating gear.   Especially if you are carrying this stuff on a “just in case” basis. There is no point in taking bulky heavy stuff that is going to take up valuable space and make your bike unnecessarily heavy – when it might not even be used!

Hiking websites are a great source of information to help you in this regard, with many good ideas about nice tasty food that doesn’t take much space or weigh too much, as well as cooking/eating gear that is easy to carry and pack.

Bottom line

If you select your equipment wisely (things that pack small and don’t weigh much), and you don’t take too much stuff, you won’t need a huge bag (or even a set of bags).  Your bike won’t become unnecessarily heavy, while the trip will remain enjoyable regardless of what route you take.

Please have a look at some suggested adventure biking accessories available from Amazon.


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