A Great Trip Starts
with
Proper Motorcycle Packing!

The first of my Motorcycle Packing Tips is an old saying; "Less is More!".

If you're idea of proper packing is two changes of clothing per day, for a 14 day trip, without ever wearing the same thing twice... Think Chevy Yukon with a big trailer!

Sorry, but you ain't gonna make it... Motorcycle Touring!

The ticket here, in pursuing proper Motorcycle Packing, is to be comfortable in less than pristine gear... and if wrinkles give you the wiggly quivers... again... think... CAR! If you're a prissy, gotta have your hair just right... and your jeans sweetly creased kind of creature... I can promise you one thing if you set about Motorcycle Touring...

You are gonna be one unhappy son-of-a-biscuit!

Now... if those things don't make you dizzy, and give you the shakes... we can get back to some Motorcycle Packing Tips!

Another of the first Motorcycle Packing 'things to do' is sit down and do a lil' planning. Maybe even a bit of online research. 'Cause you're gonna need to know what the likely weather is going to be, to do effective planning for your Motorcycle Packing.

Stuffing in half a load of shorts and tank tops... if you're going to be carving twisties at 8,000 feet, in October... In Montana... just don't make a whole lot of sense...

... and Common sense is a big part of what is involved in proper Motorcycle packing!


Before you can figure out what you're gonna pack... you'd be well advised to know what you're going to be packing it in!

Geeze! Nobody told you there was all this thinkin' crap to be done when you started thinkin' about Motorcycle Packing did they? :-)

Don't worry on it much... Once you get it done the first time it gets a lot easier and faster.

So... are you going to use some plain ol' variety of luggage? Motorcycle Saddlebags? Leather Saddle bags or Hard Bags? Dedicated Motorcycle Luggage? Stuff Sacks? Backpacks?... the list, and combinations of it are darn near endless... so...

... Decide what suits your style and way of traveling... and only you can decide what fits your world... so do it!

... and then, go get the bags, luggage, motorcycle saddlebags... whatever you're going to use so you can get on with your cipherin' of what and how you'll pack for your next trip... Motorcycle Touring on Freedom Road!

Remember... Less is more!

Now... with your Motorcycle Luggage figured out... the best time to do your Motorcycle Packing... is in advance!

NOT! ... ten minutes before you're set to pull out! Even if you've been Motorcycle Touring since you were a snot nosed lil' rug rat... and now you're a bald headed Ol' puss gut...

Maybe it's been a long, cold winter... allowing yourself a bit of time, to re-familiarize yourself with your outfit, your Motorcycle Luggage, and how you tie it on your bike, just might keep you from having an unexpected episode of brain flatulence cripple your trip!

Nothing worse than to get down the road a long ways...

Here's a few things to keep in mind as you plan and prepare for your Trip, Run, Ride, Expedition... whatever you want to call it...

I'm sure you can think of a thing or two on your own as well!

  • Your personal comfort level
  • Expected... and Un-expected Weather
  • Don't Overpack! Less is MORE!
  • Sun and Wind Protection
  • Hydration
  • Dual Purpose
  • Efficiency
  • Motel or Camping?
  • Daily Mileage goal
  • Quick access and that stuff you'll only need at the Motel or in Camp
  • Load Balance

A WARNING!... Neither I or anybody else can lay out a 'road map' that deals with every possible difficulty you might run across... and the limited cargo capacity available for Motorcycle Packing means that on occasion... you'll just have to suck it up and roll on down the road! Wet, cold, dry, hungry, thirsty... whatever... all you can do is plan for the averages, hope for the best... and take what comes! ( and remember what did... or didn't work... to prepare better for your next trip!)

... again... if that don't fit your bonnet... you might be more comfortable... finding some other way to travel...

Your personal comfort level can make a huge difference on what you pack, when you're packing for a circle! I for one don't require near as much... it seems... as some folks... to be happy as a pig with fresh slop... That's why I ride a Naked Motorcycle!

To each his own... Pack what YOU need... Leave behind what you don't... and don't spend a whole lot of time worryin' about it... It's not 1860 any more... You're not in a covered wagon out in the middle of the Wyoming praire... with the only source of supplies hundreds of miles... and weeks.... behind you... or in front.

Fact is... if you find there's something you forgot... Why... I'll bet there's a Wal Mart in the next town... maybe an hour ahead!

So don't worry! Ride Happy! :-)

Anyhoo... It's a week before you leave... you've got your motorcycle luggage laid out... and all the clothing and assorted motorcycle touring gear scattered across your bed... now all you have to do is put the motorcycle jigsaw puzzle together!

Here's what I do... for my own style of motorcycle packing.

1. All the stuff I need quick, on-the-road-access to... I put
****a. in my Motorcycle Tank Bag or the locking 'glove box' on the bike
****b. in Jacket pockets...
****c. in the Motorcycle Saddlebags... on top... for easy access

2. Stuff I'll only need in the motel or in camp goes deeper into the Motorcycle Luggage or Motorcycle Saddlebags.

3.Saddle bag contents are packed vertically. Clothes in the bags are in waterproof stuff sacks... since the seams of most leather motorcycle saddlebags leak! Rolling jeans, shirts etc helps them pack more efficiently and doing the motorcycle packing with the rolls standing vertically, makes the contents much more accessible for easier access on the road... I pack the stuff I figure to need in the Tank Bag and such... but as soon as you start planning... so does that 'Murphy' fella!

4. I use Leather Saddle Bags that zip off... The bags are quick and easy to remove from the bike at the end of the day and carry inside... Hard Bags, 'permanently fixed' are going to require pulling out their contents to take inside at the end of the day... so think 'stuff sacks' when packing them.

5. I carry coveralls, vest, sweater/jacket etc. for colder weather riding in a pair of stuff sacks that secure, one each, on top of my saddlebags. In warmer, summer weather, they provide more general clothing space... or room for camp gear if Motorcycle Camping.

6. Top Center, between/over the saddlebag topping stuff sacks is either a day pack or a smaller zippered, duffel type bag... tied down with short bungee cords to the saddle bags...

7. Securing the whole shebang is one of those elastic, motorcycle sized, hook in place cargo nets.

The whole outfit goes on... or comes off, quick and easy in just a minute or two...

I pack two or three shirts, two or three pair of jeans and about the same underwear, socks, etc for a week long trip. Then a sweater, some long johns, my laptop... since I'm always 'writing' about something... If you can't take a fella wearing the same jeans for two days... don't travel with me! :-)

... but I promise... I'll draw the line at a week! ;-)

The quick access stuff is wallet, registration, water canteen, camera, binoculars, first aid kit, maps, cell phone, notebook,glasses, sunglasses...

Most every motel these days has some sort of laundry available... or there's a laundromat just down the street somewhere to do a fast load in the evening... So, even on longer trips... I don't need much more gear...

Nope! For that longer trip, my Motorcycle Packing just needs more gas, grocery and motel money!

For warmth I think in terms of layers... Leather jacket (usually), sweater, vest, long johns.... as it gets colder I just keep adding more light layers... to a point... and dual purpose... My rain gear fits over anything else I'm wearing... no need to take one off... to put on the other...

Selecting my rain gear for Motorcycle Packing. I've gone the REI, 'back packing' store route. It's compact, light and works well... and bought big enough to fit over my jacket and all... at a pretty good price.

... and is perfect for when I climb off the cruiser to go for a hike in the rain!

A back packing shop is where I generally look first for a lot of my gear. Their gear is built to both hold up to the elements and take abuse...

Being made explicitly to carry on your back... minimize weight and compress down to a tight little package... Those ideas are kept 'right up front' when they're designing... so it fits well when I'm thinking in terms of Motorcycle Packing for Motorcycle Touring!

Now... as for your wallet... Have you ever heard the command... "Papers Please!" ?

It's a good idea to double up on your paperwork... especially if you're leaving the confines of the U.S. of A. ... the pain of losing the original just might be softened if you can show the Authorities a 'photo copy' of your Drivers License for example... giving them some confidence you are who you say you are... I wouldn't copy your passport though...

... I expect they'll frown on that! :-)

But do put a photo copy of your registration, your vehicle title, your drivers license... proof of insurance and such in a second, backup, location... just in case... heck maybe even three places... your wallet, your motorcycle luggage and in a 'hidden' place on the bike?... if you're paranoid 'bout losin' it...

Me? I live by the seat of my pants... if the copy in my pocket ain't good enough... bummer!

... and last but not least... add carrying a bit of cash... To your Motorcycle Packing plans. You never know when you'll run across that retro Ol' geezer at a backside of nowhere, hole-in-the-wall fuel stop or greasy spoon, who won't take plastic... or your card won't work... or you lost it!

Having' a bit of folding money squirrled away will keep you traveling with a minimum of heartburn.

Now... with all the wisdom of a bald headed, puss gutted, chicken legged Ol' Cowboy reprobate...

... Go get to your Motorcycle Packing!

Return from Motorcycle Packing to Motorcycle Touring on Freedom Road