We have written not so long ago about the dangers of camping fires, but we forgot to mention the “camping” aspect. Camping is a popular activity for motorcycle riders the world over. Not only is it cheaper than hotels, but we continue enjoying a certain amount of freedom that hotels or motels do not offer. The brotherhood (and sisterhood) of bikers often continue when camping. What can be more fun that living “outdoors” with likeminded bikers?
So here are few things you need to take into consideration when camping.
What To Take?
That is always the big question; what can you take with you. If you are traveling in a cage, it is less of a problem, but traveling on a motorcycle, especially when you are riding two-up, it becomes a real issue. Space is at a premium, and you need to have good motorcycle bags.
If you are planning on cooking yourself (I don’t, since there are always nice and cheap places to eat along the way), you will need to bring cooking gear. That takes up an enormous amount of space; stove, pans, plates, cutlery, cups and some form of drinks (coffee, tea). The food itself you can buy locally, if not you will need to bring cans of food.
The other thing that you need to bring is clothing. Again, it’s a space issue, you can not bring your whole wardrobe, just some basic stuff. But you do need to take into account your destination’s climate. If you will be traveling between different temperatures, be smart in your clothing choice. Bring stuff that can be added, not replaced. In other words if you are in a warmer climate and going to a colder one, do not bring warm clothes and cold weather clothes. Bring warm weather clothes and then add extra clothes that can be put on top of the warm weather clothes to resist the cold weather. This way your clothing is not going to be (that) bulky. A turtleneck sweater takes up more room than two shirts that can be put on on top of each other.
Shoes take up a lot of space. Motorcycle boots can do the trick, depending on the boots, and I would add one pair of easy shoes to be used around the camping. So boots for trekking or walking, light shoes for around the camping. Since you will be wearing the boots while riding, they take up zero space.
Do not forget a towel. Drying yourself off with t-shirts is messy. Nowadays you can buy microfiber towels that take up very little space but are great for drying yourself off.
Another handy thing to have is a first-aid kit. You never know, and they are usually very small. Just the basic stuff, and of course, depending on where you are going, anti-mosquito sprays.
Tent, sleeping bag and mattress are obvious, unless you are planning to sleep under the stars (good luck). The more compact, the lighter, the better. Tents, sleeping bags and mattresses take up a lot of space, so choose carefully. This is where money spent is money well spent. But do again remember your destination’s climate. Your sleeping bag’s choice is going to determine if you are going to sleep well at night.
The last thing to bring is a personal choice: guides and maps. Some people do not care, and just enjoy what they are seeing, while others want to read all about the area they are in. But a paper map can be quite handy, especially if your GPS quits on you.
Packing the motorcycle
Now you need to pack everything. There are really no rules of thumb about packing. Obviously best is to keep stuff together so you know where everything is. So cooking gear in one bag, clothes in the other. The last thing you want is that cooking oil seeping into your clothes.
But one thing you do need to keep into account; your motorcycle’s center of gravity. Best is to keep as much stuff as you can, particularly the heavy stuff, as close to the bike’s center of gravity as you can. The heavier stuff goes low, the lighter stuff higher up. So if you are bring a cast iron frying pan (why would you?) place it at the bottom of your pannier/side case/saddlebag. Use as much as you can a fuel tank bag. It’s limited in volume but sits in the center of the bike.
Sissy bar bags hold a lot of space, but do catch wind and will slow you down, and use up petrol. But they are handy to carry a lot of space, especially two-up.
Make sure your clothes are in a rain proof bag. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and find your clothes soaking wet.
At your destination
When you have arrived at your destination, whether it is an official camping site, or just somewhere along the road or in the wild nature, be sure to secure your motorcycle. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning to find your ride gone. It’s going to be a long walk back home. Chains and padlocks are your friends here.
Being able to keep your motorcycle close to your tent, even using your motorcycle as part of your tent is great, but some camping ground do not allow that. Better safe than sorry. But if you do, make sure your motorcycle will not tip over.
Make sure your motorcycle will not sink into the ground, especially when it has been raining. Put a plastic or metal coaster under your side stand, or put your bike on a center stand.
If you are staying at a camping ground, you will need to respect the rules. One of them is not to fire up your engine and revving it. I do not think other campers are going to like you very much if you do.
If you do plan to cook, or just make a fire, read these points about camping fires. The last thing you want is to be held responsible for creating the worst fire known to mankind.
Now just enjoy your freedom and camp to your heart’s content. I just hope it is not going to rain.