The Essential Guide To Motorcycle Packing

The Essential Guide To Motorcycle Packing

When we sat down to write this blog, spring was arriving and the allure of the path less taken was growing stronger. So, while we wait for these last few risky cold days of spring to pass, we figured we'd put together the only motorcycle trip packing list you'll need for your next adventure ride.

We'll give you the list of the items you should bring, as well as the best packing techniques. We'll also break down important safety considerations and tips for maintaining your riding gear during the tour.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  1. Importance of Proper Packing for Motorcycle Touring
    1. Factors to Consider Before Packing
  2. Essential Items for Motorcycle Touring
    1. Clothing and Personal Items
    2. Tools and Spare Parts
    3. Camping Gear and Cooking
    4. Luggage
    5. Paperwork and Other Things
  3. Packing Techniques for Motorcycle Touring
    1. Balancing Your Load
    2. Utilizing Space Efficiently 
  4. Safety Considerations when Packing
    1. Avoiding Overpacking
    2. Securing Your Load Properly
  5. Maintaining Your Gear During the Tour
    1. Regular Checks and Maintenance
    2. Dealing with Wear and Tear
  6. Prepping Yourself (and Your Bike)


Importance of Proper Packing for Motorcycle Touring

Proper packing is crucial for a successful and enjoyable motorcycle tour. Whether you're hitting the Backcountry Discovery Routes or blazing your own trail near home, having a well-packed and well stocked motorcycle is crucial.

Doing so not only ensures you have everything you need for the journey, but also affects your comfort and safety while on the road. By packing strategically, you can optimize your space, balance the load, and minimize the risk of accidents caused by an unstable or overloaded motorcycle.

Oh, and it means you won't find yourself waking up with no clean socks and only stale instant coffee to get you going (hint: we recommend an Aeropress to avoid this problem in particular).

The first thing to keep in mind? Organization is key. That's why your first step should be to download our motorcycle packing PDF to guide your item-gathering process. Once you've done that, consider utilizing packing cubes or compression bags to maximize space and keep your belongings secure.

Waterproof bags or covers are also essential to protect your gear from unexpected rain showers or dusty roads. It's also a good idea to pack essential items like a first aid kit, tire repair kit, and basic tools for roadside maintenance.

motorcycle packing list

(Download your copy of our Motorcycle Packing List)


Factors to Consider Before Packing

Before you start your trip packing list and filling up your saddlebags, consider the factors that will influence your packing decisions. The most important ones to keep in mind are:

  • The duration of your tour
  • The climate and terrain you'll encounter
  • The availability of services along your route
    Additionally, think about the type of accommodation you prefer, whether it's camping or staying in hotels, as this will affect the amount and type of gear you need to bring. (Though if you're anything like us, the whole outdoor living experience is half the fun of any overnight adventure ride.)

Another important factor to consider is the weight distribution of your packed items. Heavier items should be placed at the bottom and closer to the bike's center of gravity to maintain stability.

Keep frequently used items easily accessible, so you don't have to unpack and carry everything just to reach a water bottle or map. Planning ahead and packing smart will not only make your motorcycle tour more comfortable but also safer and more enjoyable.


Essential Items for Motorcycle Touring

Clothing and Personal Items

When it comes to clothing, pack lightweight, versatile clothing that can be layered for changing weather conditions. Consider bringing a waterproof jacket, a few pairs of durable pants, and multiple sets of undergarments. Don't forget to pack comfortable footwear and protective riding gear, such as a helmet, gloves, and boots. Other personal items like toiletries, medication, and documents should also be included.

Additionally, it's a good idea to pack clothing items that offer high visibility to enhance your safety on the road. Bright colors and reflective elements can make you more noticeable to other drivers, especially in low-light conditions. Investing in a high-quality, breathable base layer can also help regulate your body temperature and keep you comfortable and warm during long rides.

Be sure to pack (or wear):

  • Helmet
  • A good pair of gloves (and maybe an extra set if you have space)
  • Riding pants
  • Non-ridng pants (aka: regular pants)
  • Jackets (leather and waterproof)
  • A warm sweater (we're partial to those made from merino wool) and extra layer
  • Boots
  • Ear plugs
  • Riding socks
  • Base layers and underwear (including an extra sports bra for our lady riders out there)
  • T-shirts and shorts to wear when you're not riding
  • Alternative footwear like flip flops or sneakers
  • Balaclava 


Tools and Spare Parts

Carrying a basic toolkit and spare parts is crucial for any adventure motorcycle tour. Your toolkit should include essentials like a tire repair kit, wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers. Research the specific needs of your bike's model and pack spare parts accordingly. Common examples include bulbs, spark plugs, and cables.

In addition to tools and spare parts, consider carrying a portable air compressor to quickly inflate a flat tire. A compact jump starter can also come in handy if you encounter a dead battery on the road. Being prepared with the right tools, equipment and spare parts can help you handle minor repairs and maintenance tasks without having to rely on external assistance.

Be sure to pack:

  • Wrench and socket set
  • Puncture repair kit (and any wheel removal tools you may need)
  • Air compressor
  • Multi-tool kit
  • Allen keys
  • Hex head set
  • Screwdriver
  • Cable ties
  • Jumper cables
  • Oils, lubes, loctite and similar
  • Consumable spare parts (including a spare key) like air filters or O-rings
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Any bike-specific items you anticipate needing



Camping Gear and Cooking

If you plan on camping during your tour, you'll need to pack some camping gear and cooking gear. A lightweight tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and camping stove are all essential items. Don't forget to pack a compact set of cookware, utensils, and a camping-friendly water filter for outdoor cooking and drinking needs (can't underestimate how important it is to stay hydrated).

Furthermore, consider investing in a portable solar charger to keep your electronic devices powered up while off the grid. This can be particularly useful for charging your phone, GPS device, or camera during extended camping stays. Packing a compact, foldable camping chair can also provide you with a comfortable seating option around the campfire after a side trip or long day of riding.

You list should include:

  • Lightweight tent
  • Pillows
  • Cookware and utensils (including a sharp knife) for your camp kitchen
  • Water filter and a hydration pack
  • Portable solar charger
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp stove
  • Lighter or fire starter
  • Shower bag and a travel towel
  • Roll mat
  • Ziplock bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Coffee maker and a fresh cup
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency dry food and snacks (candy bars are a great option)
  • Emergency water
  • Emergency fuel
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush + paste
  • Soap (for dishes and spot cleaning clothes), shampoo, and shaving kits
  • Mosquito repellent



Yup, if you're going to pack all of these things, you're going to have to figure out how to physically carry them on your bike for the duration of your trip. Chances are, you won't have much extra space, so it's a great idea to "test run" to try packing once before you actually depart on your trip.

Some luggage options you may want to use to help you take advantage of your limited space include:


Paperwork and Other Things

When you go off roading or are hitting those long miles on the highway, these are those easily forgotten items that you may want to carry on your trip. Some miscellaneous items to include on your trip packing list are:

  • Paper maps (a huge help if your device doesn't have service)
  • Charging cables for your devices (and a power bank), and obviously, your cell phone ;)
  • Copies of your registration and insurance information
  • Driver's license (and international license if you are going abroad - not great to get pulled over without one of these)
  • Cash
  • A document outlining your emergency contacts and their information (consider laminating it)
  • Owner's manual for your motorcycle
  • Any medications or supplements you take daily
  • Motorcycle cover
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Vaseline
  • Sunglasses
  • Mounts for your phone and other devices


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Packing Techniques for Motorcycle Touring

Balancing Your Load

Properly balancing your load is crucial for stability and maneuverability. Distribute the weight evenly between the front and rear of the motorcycle and ensure that heavy items are positioned low and centered.

Use the built-in compartments of your motorcycle to distribute the load evenly. Consider adding a tail bag or top case for additional storage capacity, but of course, be mindful of how it affects the balance of your bike. Also keep in mind that some bikes are better than others for carrying luggage. Don't forget that you'll need to make it to your campsite, so there's no guarantee (or expectation) of a smooth ride.

When loading your motorcycle, keep in mind the weight capacity recommended by the manufacturer. Overloading your bike can affect its handling and braking, so always double-check the maximum weight limit before embarking on your journey.

Additionally, consider the placement of items within your luggage. Secure loose items and avoid placing heavy objects on top of delicate gear to prevent damage during transit.

Utilizing Space Efficiently

We don't have to tell you that space is limited on a motorcycle; so it's important to make the most of every inch. Roll your clothes tightly to save space and use compression sacks for bulky items like sleeping bags. Utilize waterproof stuff sacks or dry bags to keep your gear organized and protected from the elements. Soft luggage can also play an important role in helping you to get the most from your space.

 adventure motorcycle packing

Safety Considerations When Packing

Avoiding Overpacking

One common mistake when packing for a motorcycle tour is overpacking. Keep in mind that you'll be on the road for an extended period, and you don't need to bring everything but the kitchen sink. Be ruthless when deciding what to bring and prioritize essentials.

Remember, the lighter your load, the easier it will be to handle your motorcycle and the more enjoyable your tour will be. You don't need to bring every jacket you own, but don't skimp on the essentials for your bike, trip, and self.

As mentioned, be sure to consider the climate and terrain of your motorcycle tour destination when selecting your gear. Packing versatile items like base layers that can be layered or shed will ensure you're prepared for various weather conditions. Additionally, research local amenities along your motorcycle trips route to avoid carrying items that can easily be purchased or rented during your journey.

Securing Your Load Properly

Securing your load is of utmost importance to ensure that your gear stays in place and doesn't shift during the ride. Invest in high-quality bungee cords, cargo nets, or a pair of specialized motorcycle luggage straps to secure your belongings tightly to the motorcycle. Regularly check the tightness of your straps throughout the tour to prevent any accidents caused by loose or shifting items.

When securing your load, distribute the weight evenly on both sides of the motorcycle to maintain balance and stability. Place heavier items closer to the bike's center of gravity to prevent affecting its handling. Utilize saddlebags or panniers for a more organized packing approach, keeping items secure and easily accessible when needed on the road.


Maintaining Your Gear During the Tour

Embarking on a motorcycle tour is an exhilarating experience, but it's essential to prioritize basic maintenance to ensure a smooth journey. In addition to the daily checks recommended, consider investing in a quality motorcycle maintenance manual specific to your bike model.

This resource can provide detailed instructions on how to conduct more in-depth inspections and adjustments, helping you stay proactive in caring for your motorcycle.

Regular Checks and Maintenance

To prevent any mishaps on the road, make it a habit to perform regular checks and maintenance on your gear. Check your tire pressure, chain tension, and oil levels daily. Inspect your luggage straps, zippers, and fasteners for any signs of wear or damage. By addressing potential issues promptly, you can avoid breakdowns and extend the lifespan of your gear. And of course, don't forget to check on all major functions of your bike before you embark on your adventure journey.

Furthermore, consider creating a maintenance schedule outlining specific tasks to be completed at regular intervals during your motorcycle trip, such as weekly chain lubrication or monthly brake inspections. This structured approach can help you stay organized and ensure that no crucial maintenance tasks are overlooked during your tour.

Dealing with Wear and Tear

During your tour, your motorcycle gear will inevitably experience wear and tear. Pack a small repair kit to fix any minor damages, such as torn tent fabric or worn-out zippers. It's also a good idea to have a list of local repair shops or service centers along your route in case you encounter any major issues with your bike that require professional assistance.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with basic repair techniques before your journey, such as patching a tire or replacing a broken luggage strap. This knowledge can prove invaluable in emergency situations where immediate repairs are necessary to continue your tour safely.

Prepping Yourself (and Your Bike)

By following these guidelines for motorcycle touring packing, you'll be well-prepared for the open road. Remember, proper motorcycle packing, is not only about bringing the right items but also about optimizing your space, balancing your load, and ensuring your safety.

Got questions about what additional steps you can take to become the most effective motorcycle gear packer there was? We've got you. Reach out and we'll be happy to advise on the luggage and other items you'll need on your adventure journey. 


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