The Ultimate Motorcycle Trip Packing List

Female Motorcyclist in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Ten years ago when I started riding motorcycles, I was immediately hooked on long-distance motorcycle trips. Seeing the country from two wheels and being fully self-sufficient along the way is extremely invigorating. Especially when you have everything you need packed on your bike, and not having an “oh no!” moment 1,000 miles from home.

The most popular question I get asked by y’all is what gear I camp with and take with me on motorcycle trips. If you’ve never done a long-distance motorcycle trip, preparing for it can be a little overwhelming at first. Every year I get a little bit better at packing my motorcycle up for the long haul. And, for 2020, I’ve really done some upgrading to all of my gear. Here’s my Ultimate Motorcycle Trip Packing List, filled with all the goodies I make sure to take with me on the road.

>>> Read Next: How to Pack Your Motorcycle Like a Pro

Riding Gear

Riding Gear is one of the most variable factors involved in packing for a motorcycle trip. Something you’re going to want to consider is the climate where you’re headed. Is it Fall in the Rockies? Summer in the South? Maybe reading over my Winter Riding Essentials Guide will help out if you plan to ride in chilly weather. Below is a list of the riding gear I always pack on trips.

  • Full Face Helmet – A lightweight, aerodynamic, full face helmet with great ventilation is going to be ideal for a long distance motorcycle trip. My personal favorite (still, after 7 years!) is the Bell Race Star.
  • Leather Jacket or Riding Shirt – You’re going to want a quality riding jacket that can protect you and is ultimately comfortable for those long miles. I love all of my Roland Sands Design Jackets, but the Maywood tends to be my go-to.
  • Riding Boots – There are plenty of great boot manufacturers out there. I personally really enjoy the H-D Footwear lineup, specifically the Beechwood and Walfield styles. Some people need compression socks to keep their lower legs comfortable on long hauls. A tight pair of tall boots could also help. They also keep my legs warm, deflect debris from hitting my shins, and are comfortable to walk around in all day if needed.
  • Gloves – Consider the weather you’ll be riding in. I always pack a pair of Summer Gloves and Colder Weather Gloves. It’s always nice to have a second set of gloves just in case your hands get soaked!
  • Heated Gear – What a game-changer this stuff can be!
  • Rain Gear – Every time I don’t pack it, it is guaranteed to rain for hours on end. It also doubles as a windbreaker if you need an extra layer of warmth. Don’t forget to keep your boots covered, assuming they aren’t waterproof already.

One year I went to Sturgis and somehow forgot to pack a leather jacket. That was quite a mistake, as temperatures dipped into the low 50’s at night, and I was nowhere near prepared. You can always buy a t-shirt or underwear on the go, but quality riding gear is an investment you usually only want to make once. Don’t forget the basics!

Camping Gear

Motorcycle Camping in an established campground with fall foliage

Camping Gear comes in a variety of forms, but to anyone who is an avid outdoors enthusiast, you’ve probably already noticed how backpacking gear is ideal for motorcycle camping.

>>> Read more motorcycle camping blogs, here!

If you haven’t noticed, and you’re wondering what that means, here’s a mild explanation: Backpackers carry everything they need on their backs. Sometimes for a night, sometimes for months. Pack size and weight of camping gear are vital to making the backpacking experience a breeze. Not to mention the quality. Backpacking gear has to stand up to Mother Nature at all times, so it typically is of higher quality. Motorcycles only have so much room for storage. The lighter your pack, the less likely your bike is going to handle poorly, too.

  • Tent: My two personal favorites are the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 BikePacking Tent and the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Bikepack Tent. Both pack down smaller than any other tent I’ve seen on the market and are exceptionally well made. Make sure to purchase the footprint for added versatility, to ensure the floor of your tent lasts as long as possible and is protected from any rugged terrain.
  • Hammock with Straps
  • Sleeping Bag: Choosing a sleeping bag that will meet your needs in regards to budget, pack size, and warmth will be a lot of variables to consider.
  • Sleeping Pad: I recommend an inflatable pad with a decent R-Value (higher if you’re cold weather camping). I own a handful of Big Agnes pads – all in Long-Wide dimensions since I enjoy the extra room to roll around. They pack down extremely small and are lightweight. If you’re on a budget, a foam pad may work well. They’re a bit more bulky and have low insulative properties, though.
  • Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra – This little guy is pretty versatile. Its primary purpose is to help inflate the Q-Core sleeping pad, but it can easily be used to wash your clothes on the go.
  • Head Lamp – Ever get to camp after dark and have trouble setting up your tent, holding your phone in one hand and a tent pole in the other? With a headlamp, you’ll have your tent set up and dinner cooking in no time.
  • Camping Pillow
  • Earplugs – I’m a light sleeper when I camp. Earplugs definitely help me get a better nights rest, and I can definitely tell a difference the next day. These are also helpful after a few hundreds miles of hearing the rumble of my exhaust. Sometimes, your ears just need some peace and quiet.

My Minimalist Camp Kitchen

Let me start off by saying that investing in this minimalist camp kitchen setup to cook my own meals at camp was the best upgrade I’ve done in a very long time. I LOVE going out to eat when on the road. (I mean, that’s part of the reason this blog exists in the first place!) But, being able to be self-sufficient while saving money for extra tanks of gas or a nice campground is a huge plus.

There’s a ton of other things I could carry in addition to this minimalist “kitchen” setup, but I wanted it to be easy to transport while not taking up tons of room in my pack.

Jetboil MicroMo

Check the price at REI, or Amazon

I chose the Jetboil MicroMo over other options due to it’s size and ability to cook food. Some Jetboil systems are better for just boiling water (like the Flash), and others are better at doing a little bit of everything.

The Minimo is a slightly larger version of the Minimo and is great if you plan to cook or boil water for more than one person often.

The MicroMo has worked well for me and is still the number one piece of gear in my camp kitchen years after purchasing it.

Here are a few more items you’ll need to consider packing with you:

  • Cooking Utensils
  • Sea to Summit Collapsable Bowl
  • Fuel Canister – I buy the 230 gram canister. It’s only $1 more than the 100g and is still fairly small.
  • GSI Outdoors Dish Cleaning Cloth – Helps to clean out my JetBoil after cooking.
  • DIY Camp Cozee – Another backpacking world inspiration. These help save on fuel when rehydrating meals, or even rice! I followed the directions on this YouTube video to make my own.

I can store the cleaning cloth and utensils inside the Jetboil while it’s in transport, so it really is an optimal “minimalist” kitchen kit. If you’re one of those people who needs caffeine in the morning to function, there’s tons of accessories out there that will easily allow you to make a fresh cup of coffee at camp. Check out the Sea to Summit Coffee Dripper and the Jetboil French Press for starters.

Storage & Luggage

Everyone always asks me about the bags on my Dyna and Low Rider ST. They’re the LeatherPro retro FXDXT Bags. Any saddlebag is a great option if you need additional storage space, but I love the look and versatility of these bags.

In 2021, I upgraded to the Kuryakyn Momentum Vagabond Bag to use with my sissy bar setup, replacing my camera bag. This has been a great luggage option for all of my trips. You can read the full review, here.

I also use a detachable sissy bar with a luggage rack. You can purchase an OEM one from H-D or surf Revzilla for an aftermarket option.

Updated in 2022: For years, I used cargo nets to mount extra gear to my bike. Ever since I found ROK Straps, I’ve thrown all of my cargo nets and bungee cords away. These adjustable straps are rugged, and secure my dry bags to my motorcycle MUCH better than any bungee or cargo net ever has. I also carry a set of their commuter straps in my Kuraykyn luggage bag just in case I need them.

Rok Straps being used for motorcycle luggage
ROK Straps are the bee’s knees. They keep your pack secure and really clean up the look of your luggage in comparison to the cargo nets.

Camping Gear and Food Storage

Motorcycle Camping Food Storage | Motorcycle Trip Packing List
  • Sea to Summit 20L Big River Dry Bags: I use two of these. One for my Camp Kitchen, and one for my Camp Gear (both listed above). I purchased the Big River versions of these dry bags over the thinner, lightweight options for overall durability purposes. Nobody wants to get to camp and realize their sleeping bag is a soggy mess. Keeping your gear in a dry bag will definitely save you some unexpected headaches.
  • Odor Proof Bags: I keep all of my prepackaged food in these bags. They do keep food odors down (especially coffee). Be sure to still be mindful of wildlife where you plan to camp.

Clothing Storage

Over the years I’ve primarily used Ziploc Bags to store my clothes, but this past year I upgraded to compression travel cubes. I use both the REI Brand travel bags and the Eagle Creek Compression Bags. The REI ones feel a little more durable, but both brands work extremely well. You can pack a TON in these. So again, try to not overpack.

Depending on how far you intend to ride, and for how long, will definitely determine how much clothing you’ll need. My general rule of thumb is, if I’m leaving for 5 days or more, I pack for 3-5 days:

  • 1 extra pair of jeans
  • 4 extra T-shirts or tank tops
  • A Hat or Beanie (usually both)
  • 1 pair of leggings for sleepwear or activewear purposes
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 bras (sports bra, bralette, whatever you want)
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 Long Sleeve Shirt
  • 2-4 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 pair of flip flops (LOVE my

Any additional clothing I pack usually involves a sweatshirt or wind breaker for added layers on the go. These don’t get compressed into the cubes since I need quicker access to them.

You really don’t need a ton of clothes on the road. From a friend’s house, Washaterias (that’s what us Texans call laundromats) to DIY sink laundry machines or the Big Agnes pumphouse, there’s always an opportunity to get your clothes cleaned.

Toiletries

Motorcycle Trip Packing List | Toiletries

In 2015, I purchased this 5 liter Herschel Supply Bag to use as my daily makeup bag, and still use it on a daily basis to this day. I store all of my makeup and general toiletries in it when I’m on the road without a hitch.

As far as Shampoo, Lotions, and other Shower Gels go, I’ve tried the tubes you can get from Target or other grocery stores, and I’ve also tried the higher-end ones like Go-Toobs. If you’re on a budget and you don’t travel often, the Target 3oz tubes will be just fine. As an extra precaution, I usually store the cheaper tubes in a ziplock sandwich bag to avoid leaks. If you’re more of a quality person, the GoToob brand is great for all of the above.

Motorcycle Travel Tips | What to Pack for a Motorcycle Trip
Travel Towels are great for those who enjoy riding to swim, or simply need a compact, highly absorbent towel for campground showers.

For showering and face washing, I use the REI Mini Towel and these Large Microfiber Towels. What a game-changer to be able to pack a towel with you on the road that takes up barely any space! From hot springs, watering holes, and campground showers, the travel towel has comes in handy on various occasions.

I usually try to avoid buying travel-size items when possible. I take my regular hairbrush, toothbrush, paste, and deodorant usually. And, the most important toiletry of all: toilet paper! It wouldn’t hurt to throw some in a ziplock bag and stash it somewhere convenient.

Water / Outdoor Recreation / Daily Use Items

Santa Elena Canyon

Of course, don’t forget to pack sunscreen, chapstick, and any other items you think you might need.

I always carry water with me on the road via a 48oz Nalgene bottle, HydroFlask, or water bladder. The HydroFlask is awesome at keeping water cold or hot, but it isn’t a necessity. Always fill up your water bottle when you have access to clean drinking water, or pack a small water filter if you plan to get off the grid.

If you plan on riding in any hot weather, I’d advise purchasing this 3 Liter Camelbak water bladder. Mine fits in my armor pocket on the back of my jacket, but you can also purchase bladder/backpack combos. You can read more about tips for riding in extreme heat, here.

If you want to get off the bike and into the outdoors on foot, or perhaps just want an easier way to carry your clothes and toiletries to the shower facility, a stuff-able backpack is a great option. These backpacks fold up to be smaller than a soda can when not in use.

Tools

A tool kit is definitely important to take with you. However, if I threw a list of sockets and wrenches into this blog, they might not fit your bike. Make sure to take the most useful tools with you, but not the entire tool box. Additional things that you should consider beyond the wrenches include:

  • Tire Repair Kit
  • Extra Spark Plugs
  • Zip Ties
  • Electrical Tape
  • Vise Grips

I’m not a very good mechanic, but I can do basic roadside maintenance, like plug a tire or change a battery. It’s always a good day when you can avoid paying a dealership an absurd amount of money to fix something simple, if you just bring along the right things to do the job. Do a little research on your bike and find what works best for you.

Content Creation / Tech Gear

Davis Mountains State Park
Selfies don’t always have to look like selfies. You just have to put a little extra effort into the creation process.
Santa Elena Canyon

Taking camera gear with you is a great idea. I’ve always loved documenting my adventures, and I’m sure you do, too!

>>> Read Next: My FULL Camera Gear List

Charge Your Things On the Go!

Portable Charger | Ultimate Motorcycle Trip Packing List

If you enjoy camping, you probably already know that you can’t always rely on power sources to be readily available. Here’s two different charging options:

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t be. It took me many years to invest in all of this gear. In fact, my motorcycle trip packing list has changed dramatically over the years as I’ve learned more about traveling on two wheels. But, having quality gear is worth the investment when you enjoy trips on two wheels. Have any other comments or questions? Leave a comment on the blog! Think a friend could find this information useful? Share it with them on your favorite social channel. 

Motorcycle Trip Packing List

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Staci Wilt

I’m Staci: a freelance journalist, photographer, and marketing consultant. I primarily focus those skills around my passions of motorcycles, travel, and food…and yes, we will count margaritas and craft beer in that last category. Thanks for checking out my blog!
Grab some gear for your next ride

31 Comments

  1. Martin on May 14, 2020 at 9:01 PM

    Wow thanks a bunch for the packing ideas. This will help me plan a little better and lighter for my first trip from Houston to Sturgis this year.

    Thanks again,

    Bandit

    • Staci Wilt on May 14, 2020 at 9:18 PM

      Awesome. Glad to hear it!
      See you there! Ride Safe.

    • Sandra Brewer on May 14, 2023 at 8:20 AM

      We are going to Sturgis also. Live in Houston but biking from Grand Junction. Thanks for packing tips.

  2. Paully on May 15, 2020 at 5:49 AM

    Thank you! Been waiting for this blog! It’s funny the small creature comforts that can make a trip a lot more fun!

  3. Lauren on May 15, 2020 at 12:12 PM

    Love the list! I still pack toilet paper for camp, but for when I’m on the road, I’ve purchased a kula cloth! Great for us ladies and is just snaps to your bag to air dry. Definitely a game changer for me!

    • Staci Wilt on May 15, 2020 at 12:32 PM

      That’s a great idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. 4Evr_Cruzn on May 24, 2020 at 12:05 PM

    6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Motorcycle Trip Packing List”

    Great article! So, much I forwarded to my FB groups that I’m a member of who premises are around camping. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sure members in my groups will too. Thank you for a great article!

    • Staci Wilt on May 24, 2020 at 6:19 PM

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing it, too! 🙂

  5. Dave Pearson on February 21, 2021 at 5:33 PM

    I’d add a couple things to your list. A camping chair (high back), battery tender USB charger adapter (to charge your cell phone), and kick stand pads. Most places I’ve camped have picnic tables, but they can be a bit uncomfortable so the camping chair is very nice. The charger adapter was so nice because I didn’t have to find a place to charge my phone…just plug it into the bike.

    • Staci Wilt on February 24, 2021 at 12:12 PM

      Ah yes, I have a Big Agnes chair I take along on some trips. Although I don’t feel it’s a necessity, so I didn’t list it. Still a great tip! And, the USB charger is already listed under portable charging. That is a must! 🙂 Thanks for dropping a few tips!

      • Jay on October 28, 2021 at 8:55 PM

        Hi. I just found you on YouTube. I don’t see any word on what bike you have. Is it a Dyna? Year? Also it seems like the dyna either has different pipes in some video or it is a different bike altogether. I ride 2014 dyna street bob. Thanks

        • Staci Wilt on November 1, 2021 at 2:43 PM

          It’s a 2015 FXDL. Also has the same exhaust system in every video (RedThunder).

    • Joseph on June 16, 2021 at 9:25 PM

      Great info, very nicely placed. Really enjoyed all of it. Thanks

  6. Jack on April 10, 2021 at 11:55 AM

    What an inspiration. I love both your Youtube stuff and your internet site. Even at 70 years old I find your equipment interesting and your delivery top-notch. I have extensive long-distance backpacking experience but not so much motorcycle camping experience. At the risk of lapsing into “mansplaining, I have only two suggestions for you.

    Two mantras, “wear-&-a spare” and “dual-purpose”. A wise long-distance backpacking (not me) once said that if your pack (or most of it) is not empty when you have set up camp, you may have packed too much. By necessity, you are most likely doing the dual purpose stuff already like no need for two knives or two screwdrivers (multi-use tools succeed at most things adequately if not admirably).

    That brings me to wear & a spare. Typically while backpacking, I will carry only one change of synthetic underwear/socks that can be rinsed out and dry while I wear the other pair. The wear & a pare mantra may not apply as well to motorcycle camping as long-distance backpacking since you can carry more on a bike and you don’t wear leather & denim on the trail.

    Obviously YMMV. Good luck!!!

    • Staci Wilt on April 11, 2021 at 4:23 PM

      This is great advice! Thanks, Jack! 🙂

  7. Joseph on June 16, 2021 at 9:28 PM

    Looking forward to newsletters.

  8. Adriano on August 31, 2021 at 9:31 PM

    Wow, great list! I’m watching yours videos on YouTube in Brazil, and that inspiring me. Maybe can you suggest what apps or softwares do you had used for editing yours videos. What you use on the way? Thank you for your amazing videos.

  9. Mark Kuczajda on November 27, 2021 at 8:44 AM

    Great videos, tons of good info.

  10. Larry Marshall on February 4, 2022 at 2:42 PM

    Staci,
    Really enjoy your content, keep up the great work!

  11. John on July 2, 2022 at 5:06 AM

    This is a great article on where to find free camping. I love that it includes tips on using apps to find dispersed camping sites.

    • Staci Wilt on July 6, 2022 at 3:56 PM

      Glad you’ve enjoyed it! 🙂

  12. KEVIN on June 25, 2023 at 8:32 PM

    Hi Staci,
    I have been off my bike for a few years and plan to get back on it soon. Have travelled to California, Sturgis, and South Carolina to name a few. Looking forward to getting back on the bike and spending some time riding. You have some great tips on gear and packing. Thanks, Kevin

    • Staci Wilt on June 26, 2023 at 11:49 AM

      Awesome!! Hope you have a blast out there. enjoy! 🙂

  13. Josh E on October 1, 2023 at 5:43 AM

    Great packing list! Planning a motorcycle trip can be a daunting task, but this checklist simplifies the process. You’ve covered everything from essentials like riding gear and tools to those often-forgotten items like ziplock bags and sunscreen. This will be my go-to resource before hitting the open road. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Jaime Rodriguez on October 1, 2023 at 7:11 AM

    This packing list is a lifesaver for riders like me who often forget essentials. Thanks for keeping it short and practical – just what I needed for my next adventure!

  15. Jaime on October 1, 2023 at 7:55 AM

    Super handy checklist! ✅ Thanks for making trip planning easier.

  16. Rob Morgan on October 2, 2023 at 7:05 AM

    Super helpful packing list! Will definitely use this for my next trip. Thanks!

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