Motorcycle camping is a seriously fun thing to do and most people plan for a few trips each and every year.
To go motorcycling competently, you’re going to need some prior planning to ensure it all goes according to plan.
Going motorcycle camping is a combination of packing the right gear for the conditions, selecting the right campsite and allowing yourself to forget the world for a few days and nights. For many, camping and motorcycling go together like cheese and wine, and with a fire, a tent and your motorcycle, it makes for an incredible experience.
In this guide, we’ll show you how you can go motorcycle camping, whether that’s at a national park or even stealth camping for free.
Getting Started with Motorcycle Camping
A lot of this will come down to your gear, your destination, the weather conditions and how much of a glamping experience you need. In part, these factors are dependent on the type of motorcycle you have.
As such, those with smaller motorcycles with limited storage space will struggle to bring everything they need. We say ‘need’ because there is always way more that people want to bring rather than need.
There are also almost limitless configurations that one can come up with which can make their experience much more fun to be had.
Choosing the Right Luggage
While you can simply through a cheap set of pannier bags on the sides for the occasional weekend experience, those with some deeper pockets and a desire to camp more frequently should invest in some serious luggage sets.
You generally have 2 types of luggage styles:
- The soft luggage. This is excellent for the dual-sport and adventure rider who goes stealth camping and sees themselves off the beaten path quite regularly. They are made from water-proof materials that are also quite thick and with reliable straps. Notable brands in the market are Klim and Krieger.
- The hard luggage. This luggage is best for security and to look more flush with your motorcycle. Better suited for the road rider that sees the occasional dirt track. While they are more expensive, they also look better and certainly can keep your goods dry.
In addition to the two types, you may wish to bring a backpack with you which holds only soft and light goods like clothing and a pillow. Some riders also fit a tank bag for their DLSR camera and guide books.
At Frontaer, we prefer the soft-sided luggage due to its padding in the event of an accident. With hard-side luggage, they are not only more likely to break during accidents, but they’ll actually transfer the intrinsic forces of the crash on to your body and on to the frame of your motorcycle. Ouch!
Now – hard luggage has its place and for most riders, they never have an issue. Being able to sleep at night knowing that the cases are locked and safe from prying eyes is worth more than the potential accident that may never arrive.
Selecting a Tent
There are so many different tents that work well for motorcycle camping, as long as they are obviously small and light, while also being high quality. After all, a good night’s rest is necessary for safe riding the following day.
Here are some great options:
- Normal family tent. Something that you’ll find at any adventure store is enough to help you have a great 3-season experience. These are designed for the family car camper and for the budget-conscious individual, these tents will work well.
- Hiking tent. This is a much better choice as they pack up quite small. Chance are that you’re going to be sleeping by yourself or with one significant other. As such, these are preferred though you’ll have limited space to store stuff such as your riding jacket.
- Swag. Popular in Australia is the remarkable swag which is a combination of a sleeping bag, tent and mattress combined into one system. These roll up into quite large contraptions, but for sheer comfort, you’ll certainly find the swag offering so much value.
- Motorcycle Garage Tent. New on the scene are motorcycle garage tents which allow you to park your motorcycle inside and away from the rain. Horray! However – this comes at a cost for both your wallet and the space on your motorcycle. They’ll cover all of the available space on the rear for most motorcycles, meaning your saddlebags need to take the rest of the gear.
Apart from a great luggage system and premium tent, what else should you bring along for a motorcycle camping adventure? Well, quite a few things.
Over the years we’ve come to realize that this gear within this checklist is necessary on any motorcycling adventure:
- Something to go swimming in. For the guys, a pair of board shorts that can be still worn casually is ideal.
- Normal walking shoes. Nothing ruins a great camping trip than having to walk around in your boots. Imagine having to put these on at 2am when nature calls. Weird! Bring some flip flops or thin shoes that fold flat.
- A hat. Seriously. A hat is something that so many people forget but can really help you when you go for an afternoon walk. If anything, it’ll help you hide that awkward helmet hair.
- Charging accessories. Even though you’re camping, you’ll probably want good access to the outside world and want to keep your devices charged up. Consider a 12v solar kit to bring along that folds up easily.
- Compact camp oven + cookware. Unless you plan on eating raw tuna, bringing a camp oven with cooking pans, utensils, plus an oven with gas should definitely be on your checklist.
- Torch. While your cell phone has a flashlight function, don’t discount the value of a torch. When your cell phone gets broken or goes flat, what’s your next plan?
- Baby wipes. Sometimes you’ll be going a few days without showering and baby wipes can give you a mini-shower while in your tent which will help you sleep more soundly.
- Quality straps. You don’t want to lose your gear when going down the highway, especially as you can’t see it. There will be no worse feeling than arriving at camp and noticing a missing bag. Let’s not forget that feeling in the back of your mind when you’re cruising along when you should really be focused on the road ahead. Trust us – quality straps are the best way to go!
- Foldable fishing rod. Yes! In some places, you’ll be camping right by a lake and you’ll be kicking yourself for not bringing any fishing supplies along. A foldable fishing rod packs easily into the panniers yet can land yourself a tasty dinner.
- Something to sit on. Yep – something to sit on is something that you’ll definitely want to bring and for many people, they opt for a folding 3-legged stool which takes up minimal space. You might want to research your campground ahead of time and see if they have picnic tables or logs to sit on.
Finding Camp Sites
There are literally thousands of potential campsites around that are welcoming of motorcycles. Essentially, anywhere a car can camp – a motorcycle can too. Even better is that motorcycles can access tracks that conventional 4×4 vehicles can’t.
On the market are numerous apps and guide books that will help you find the best camping spots in your local area. These days even Google has become better in helping people find available campsites and you won’t even have to spend a dollar.
Additionally, you may with to get into stealth camping which is free camping wherever you pitch your tent. By being camouflaged, you can camp in spots where others can’t see you, even in suburban areas. Do note that this is largely frowned upon by everyone except for the motorcycling community, so you’ll need to be covert as possible and don’t leave any evidence.
Additionally – we recommend networking with other keen adventure motorcyclists. These are the folk that have been camping with their motorcycle many times and can pass along some stories and excellent sites that are worth the visit.
One of the best ways to get started with motorcycle camping is by joining a club or one of the numerous Facebook groups in your region. It’s these people that will welcome others along at any chance they can.
Now – if you’re one of the socially awkward type, then don’t despair! Going camping with your motorcycle is an easy experience which only requires a little forward-planning to be comfortable enough.
A great strategy is to use hotels or motels for the first few trips. After some time, you’ll become acustomed to planning and packing effectively, and can start bringing the tent and sleeping bag along for a night or two away in the woods.
From here – you’re able to stretch into new horizons and towards dream locations that most others would only dream of discovering. That all starts with getting out there today!