Essential Motorcycle Camping Gear List

Assorted motorcycle camping gear displayed on table

At best, forgetting a piece of gear is a small nuisance (e.g. going without a shaver for a week.) But what if you forget to pack a full cook set or the right sleeping bag? Your trip will take a blow and, at worst, end prematurely.

This page exists to prepare you for your upcoming adventure; giving you a checklist of items to take, and items to leave at home.

Assessing Your Needs

Those who have been on multiple motorcycle camping trips know that each one is vastly different to the others. You take the same route at the same time of year, but the equipment and supplies you bring are never the same.

That being said, there are some things you do take on every trip. These are the essentials. For everything else, ask yourself if you plan on staying in motels; what your comfort level is; what your experience level is; how much your bike can hold; the time of year you’re traveling; your medical needs, etc.

Shelter

Unlike campervans and cars, our form of transport doesn’t make a good shelter. Instead of climbing over the driver's seat and jumping into a convertible double bed made up of couch cushions, we have two options: pitch a tent or find a motel/hotel.

A lot depends on how far off the beaten path you go. Not everywhere you travel will have traditional accommodation, but there will always be a place to pitch a tent.

Tent

A large chunk of your time will be in here so it’s only right that we cover it first.

You may have one already laying at home, so ask yourself: “will it make it the whole trip?" If you find yourself thinking too long about the answer, seriously consider buying a new one.

Top Pick: Coleman Sundome Tent

Green dome tent set up
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The Coleman Sundome Tent is incredibly durable and, after some practice, takes all of 10 minutes to set up and take down - a huge selling point since doing so will at some point be part of your daily ritual.

The 2-person tent is their smallest (largest being the 8-person tent) and measures 7" x 5" x 4" when assembled, giving you enough room to spread out, sleep comfortably, and store a bag; all while packing into a compact carry pouch.

Its standard dome-shape isn't designed for extreme winds but does a great job at keeping rain and dust out while allowing air to circulate via the three mesh vents.

Sleeping Bag

Your sleeping bag should, first and foremost, match the timing and conditions of your trip. If you expect nights reaching 35 F and over, look for the ones labeled summer season. Temperatures between 10 F and 34 F are fit for 3-season bags. Anything below that, search for the winter label.

Keep in mind: the lower temperature rating, the bigger the carry bag.

Top Pick: Teton Sports 0-Degree Sleeping Bag

Gray sleeping bag with tartan hood
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Featuring a double layer flannel lining and taffeta exterior, this 90" by 39" XXL sleeping bag is warm enough to combat those cold nights (rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit).

The curved hood keeps your head and pillow off the ground while the specialized compression pack keeps the bag from shifting into weird positions.

There are three color variants to choose from, including black with a tartan inner lining, gray with a lighter tartan lining, and olive green with a mustard lining.

The travel pack measures 17" tall and 12.5" wide and weighs 7 lbs; slightly smaller than the comparable XXL sleeping bags we reviewed.

Sleeping Pad

You can get away without having a sleeping pad/mat, but, from our experience, the quality of sleep you get is well worth the extra baggage.

Inflatable pads are more comfortable and compact than roll up foam mats, however, punctures can render them useless if you don’t have a patch kit on hand.

Top Pick: Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad

Green sleeping pad on white background
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This ultra-light, 75D polyester sleeping pad from Klymit is a lifesaver for those of us who would rather not risk waking up with a sore neck and back.

The unique V-pattern design keeps the pad from rocking and allows air to flow between the crevices which keeps your sleeping bag from becoming damp.

Using the push valve, it takes only 10 manly breaths to inflate and lasts several days before needing to be topped up.

Dimensions (inflated): 72" x 23" x 2.5" Dimensions (packed): 3" x 3" x 8"

There are six color/patterns to choose from, each coming with a carry bag and patch kit for small rips/punctures.

Bike Tarp

Salt corrosion, sun damage, and rust can be reduced if you protect your bike with a specialized cover.

Just make sure it is properly tied down - it only takes a big wind gust to inflate like a parachute and topple your bike.

Top Pick: Anglick Waterproof Motorbike Cover

Black motorcycle cover over bike
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Made with Oxford fabric 210D, the Anglick Waterproof Motorcycle Cover is resistant to wear & tear caused by even the most extreme weather. Dual-thread stitching, adjustable elastic cord, and buckles keep it firmly secured to your bike.

It is designed for bikes up to 8 feet 8 inches long, slightly bigger than similarly priced covers we reviewed. This extra width makes it suited for motorcycle camping due to the being able to accommodate bulky saddlebags.

Using the cover without the saddlebags can leave it looking like a garbage bag, but hey, you're protecting your bike from the elements, not entering it in a beauty contest.

Storage

Proper storage is crucial to a successful motorcycle camping trip. Insufficient storage space and your adventure will end before it even begins. Sufficient storage space and you'll be able to fit everything you need for extended times on the road.

So, what constitutes sufficient storage?

Trailer

Whether your bike is on the smaller scale or you're off on a trip across the country, motorcycle camping trailers provide an abundance of storage space without much hassle.

This is a big investment so, before researching, ask yourself if you really need one. We see people with trailers that are filled with unnecessary stuff. If they go the minimalistic approach and prioritize the essentials, not only would they not need a trailer, they would have enough room for another bag on their bike.

Find the best trailer for you here

Water Bag

Most campsites give you access to water, however, there will be times where the closest water source is miles away. That’s where a water bag/container comes in.

Just make it a habit to fill up whenever you can.

Top Pick: Platypus Big Zip Water Bag

Transparent hydration pack with blue drinking tube
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These types of bags are, in our opinion, far superior to the backpack versions. After all, who wants to carry a backpack with only enough space to fit a water bag?

Sizes for the Platypus Big Zip Water Bag start at 0.4 gallons (for day trips) and go up to 0.8 gallons (for multi-day, long journey trips). And thanks to the antimicrobial ions and BPA-free material, it stays clean for long periods of use and lacks that mild chemical taste found in some of the alternative bags.

The bite valve drinking tube and slide-to-open top make it incredibly easy to both drink from and fill up.

Note: the transparent plastic means exposure to the sun will quickly heat up the water. Good for when you want a shower, bad for when you want a drink on a scorching day

Dry Bag

Often used for water activities such as kayaking and rafting, the waterproof nature of these bags make them suited for motorcycle camping trips.

Towels, first aid kits, food, firestarters, money, electronics - some things simply can't afford to get wet.

Top Pick: Ultra-Dry Waterproof Dry Bag

Yellow dry bag with plastic phone case
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The Ultra-Dry Waterproof Dry Bag comes in two sizes (2.64 and 5.28 gallons), three colors (black, blue, and yellow), and is made of 0.3-inch thick, waterproof 500D fabric resistant to wear and tear.

The shoulder straps extend up to 48 inches long, however, have been reported to chafe the hip and shoulder regions of worn long enough.

Always remember to fold the top down firmly before connecting the buckle. And, if going in the water, keep enough air in for it to float.

Side Bags

Commonly referred to as saddlebags and panniers, side bags are designed to rest over motorcycles (and horses), providing additional storage space without getting in the way of riding.

The two main types--metal boxes and leather pouches--are suited for camping but have varying pros and cons.

Top Pick: Nomad USA Leather Side Bags

Black leather side bags with silver buckles
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Nomad USA’s Faux Leather Side Bags feature a metal frame, storage pockets, buckles, and a hard interior lining to help keep their shape.

Measuring 16" x 6.5" x 11" and weighing 12 pounds, they are smaller than some of the heavy-duty bags on the market but are perfect for most use cases.

Being throw-over bags, they are designed to rest over the seat unharnessed, however, building your own brackets will reduce the chance of them being stolen.

For The Little Things

Without the luxury of drawers and cupboards to organize our cutlery, tools, and miscellaneous knick-knacks, we must use an alternative method to compartmentalize our belongings. Enter the tried and true product: closable plastic bags.

Top Pick: Ziploc Slider Bags (96-Pack)

Front view of Ziploc bag box
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As long as you dispose of them correctly, Ziploc bags are the ultimate affordable camping item, perfect for storing food, separating cutlery from toiletries, and keeping your GPS, phone, and other electronics dry.

We prefer these gallon-sized zip slider bags to the variety pack as they feature flat bottoms which allow them to stand up by themselves, and can be rolled up to save space.

Cooking

Depending on your cooking skills, your appetite, the produce available around you, and the number of people to feed, your needs will range from a simple cookware set to a full-blown commercial kitchen on wheels.

Camping Stove

Your stove needs to be compact, high quality, easy to ignite, yet able to produce sufficient heat. Turns out, buying a portable stove with all those factors is harder than we thought; most products either being too small to cook a proper meal, or too heavy and cumbersome to operate.

Check for fire restrictions in your area before using.

Top Pick: Ohuhu Stainless Steel Stove

Stainless steel camping stove with flames
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Unlike the propane stoves that have flooded the market, this Ohuhu Stove is powered by nature’s fuel: wood.

It is comprised of five parts, including a base vent, stove chamber, stove plate, alcohol plate, and pot supporter. It measures 5.3" x 5.3" x 6" (LWH) assembled, and half the height collapsed. Impressive for something that takes less than a minute to assemble and weighs only 0.89 lbs.

Note: Not everywhere you go will have an abundance of dry wood. Keep a supply of twigs and kindling in plastic bags. It’s better to be prepared than to start dinner only to have to forage for wood.

Cook Set

Nothing beats a warm breakfast to start your day and a hearty soup to end it. To do that, you need a compact set which you is big enough to cook for a few people and small enough to store away.

Top Pick: Terra Hiker Nonstick Cookware Set

Cookware set on white background
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This mess kit is made up of an aluminum pot, frying pan, teapot, plastic serving ladle, and an assortment of utensils.

Cookware is a hard thing to get right. Traditional pots & pans allow you to cook meals for 4+ people, but are not fit for camping. Smaller pots & pans, on the other hand, are easier to carry, cheaper, but can only cook for 1-2 people.

Terra Hiker strikes a balance between portability and cookability. The heat-resistant handles fold back on themselves; the nonstick surfaces are a lifesaver for when you don’t have proper cleaning equipment around; and when everything is packed in the mesh bag, it comes to a measly 1.56 lbs.

Food & Snacks

From hot soup after setting up camp, to energy bars and dried fruit on your hike through the wilderness, camping food needs to be nutritious, easy to prepare, and long-lasting.

That doesn’t mean putting up with plain, tasteless food every day, though. With a bit of preparation and knowledge, you can enjoy gourmet meals from the comfort of your tent.

View our food & snack section here

Electronics

The technology you bring camping should, above all else, be for your safety and security. Those are the tracking devices, the communication tools, the weather instruments, the batteries.

Only once those are covered--and if you have room to spare--should you worry about the Bluetooth speaker and DSLR camera kit.

GPS

Mobile phones are great global positioning systems until you venture past cell range.

Handheld GPS units, on the other hand, are designed to last for extended periods on a single charge and have maps which accurately depict the terrain.

Top Pick: Garmin Foretrex 401

Green GPS with display showing data
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The Foretrex 401 from Garmin is a compact, lightweight, and feature-filled GPS giving you everything you need to navigate practically any environment and location.

Key features:

Power Bank

Bulky solar chargers provide all the power needed on a trip but are simply not suited to travel on the back of a motorbike.

Instead, power banks can charge devices multiple times before running out of juice, all the while being able to into your pocket.

Top Pick: FosPower 10200mAh Outdoor Power Bank

Orange and black power bank connected to phone
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With 10200mAh and a 2.1A output, this power bank from Fospower doesn’t have the biggest battery on the market, however, what it lacks in power it makes up for in sheer toughness.

Encased in a bulky thermoplastic polymer (ABS and PC) shell, it is built for the outdoors - being resistant to dust, falls, water, and extreme temperatures on both ends of the scale. The dimensions (4" x 2.5" x 1.1") are around triple that of modern, slim power banks.

It has a compass, carabiner, and flashlight which can be seen as unnecessary gimmicks, but there will be a time where at least one comes in use.

Remember to charge up whenever the opportunity presents itself - you never know when the last few drops of power will save your day.

Headlamp

You likely already have a flashlight ready to go, but unless you don’t mind gripping it between your teeth when you need both hands free, a headlamp is the perfect secondary light source for nighttime walking, cooking, and reading.

Top Pick: Foxelli LED Headlamp

Silver and black head lamp
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Foxelli’s entry-level LED headlamp has all the essential features you need, along with the capability to last extended periods of continuous use.

It has three brightness levels depending on if you need to preserve battery and how far you need to see. The most powerful setting illuminates up to 165 feet but drains the battery significantly faster than the lowest setting which maxes out at 50 feet.

The other settings include a red light for a less intense light and an SOS mode which pulsates.

Tactical headlamps, although fancier, cost significantly more and come with features motorcycle campers will likely never need. Save your money with Foxelli and invest in extra packs of AAA batteries instead.

Miscellaneous

Shelter, storage, cooking, and electronics may be covered, but there the essentials don’t stop there.

Camping Chair

The best motorcycle camping folding chair is one that is ultra-portable, has a high-back, wide armrests, and a build quality that won't break down after a few sittings.

Top Pick: ALPS Mountaineering Folding Chair

Brown folding chair unfolded
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Admittedly, low-profile camping chairs aren’t for everyone. If you can get past sitting close to the ground and having your legs slightly more angled, then you will have a comfortable chair that folds up much smaller than traditional sized ones.

And, weighing only 6.8 lbs, its high-quality steel frame and 600D polyester fabric seat with breathable mesh midsection has a max capacity of 300 lbs.

Available in three colors: khaki with a gray frame (pictured above), orange with a gray frame, and gray with blue trim and frame.

First Aid Kit

Having the necessary gear to wipe, disinfect, patch, and, in some cases, stitch wounds is crucial to any trip where you don't have easy access to a hospital.

Top Pick: Swiss Safe 120pc First Aid Kit

Red first aid kit zipped up
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This FDA approved First Aid Kit from Swiss Safe is a two-in-one combo featuring the main 120pc kit, as well as a smaller 32pc emergency kit to keep in your backpack.

Inside the water-resistant bags includes multiple types of bandages, a CPR mask, whistle, trauma pad, instant ice pack, and much more.

Get one for your home, car, and motorcycle trip.

Bike Tire Repair Kit

The road is riddled with glass and nails waiting to pierce your wheels. When the inevitable happens, a tire repair kit can mean the difference between dealing with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and being able to ride back to your campsite.

Top Pick: Stop & Go Tire Plugger

Contents of tire plugger kit on white background
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The Stop & Go Tire Plugger is perhaps the most convenient and compact tire repair kit on the market right now.

Designed for mid-sized vehicles (e.g. motorcycles, ride-on lawnmowers, and ATVs), it contains everything you need--except for pliers--to inflate tires and plug & patch punctures as a temporary measure.

Kit includes:

With an ample supply of plugs and none of the glue-based solutions that leave a mess, this will save you hundreds down the road.

Elastic Straps

Skip the hassle that comes with bungee cords and opt for a set of elastic straps to securely tie down your camping gear.

Top Pick: ROK Straps Adjustable Straps

Elastic straps in original packaging
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ROK Straps make securing camping gear to your bike easy. They take up hardly any space, are simple to install, and are able to withstand long distance off road travel without the need to periodically adjust/tighten.

Toiletries

Personal hygiene is surprisingly straightforward if you’re prepared. That means taking enough of the following to last the entire trip, without going overboard.

Essential toiletries checklist:

Group them in categories and store in Ziploc bags, then pack those in a toiletry bag.