People own motorcycles for many reasons — the freedom of the open road, the thrill of the ride or simply an easier daily commute. For those who began motorcycling because they love the outdoors and want to be closer to it, a motorcycle camping trip is a dream pairing. A camping trip encourages you to slow down and learn how to live with basic necessities and your own outdoor skills. These outings can also be a great way to end a motorcycle expedition with friends or family.
Use this motorcycle camping trip planner and checklist to prepare for the ultimate two-wheel adventure.
Motorcycle Camping Essentials
When choosing your motorcycle camping items, look for ones that are lightweight, easily portable and multipurpose. For example, you can cook, drink, eat and wash dishes in the same pot. The key to a successful trip is to bring as few items as possible. For minimalist motorcycle camping, you don't need much more than the clothes on your back and a few survival items.
To create a packing list, consider where you're going to camp, what things are already provided at your destination and what activities you plan to do while you're there. Specific items will depend on those factors and the local climate, but some staples to consider include:
- A map or smartphone with GPS capabilities.
- Seasonally appropriate clothing, including light layers, socks and a jacket.
- A sleeping bag.
- A towel.
- A small camping stove.
- A roll-up sleeping pad.
- A hatchet.
- A bottle or canteen for water.
- A portable water filter if camping without water access.
- A portable coffee percolator.
- Slip-on shoes.
- A flashlight with a backup battery.
- A lighter or box of matches.
- Toilet paper, along with a trowel and plastic bag.
- Insect repellant.
- Emergency cash.
- An expedition or backpacking tent.
- Backpacking cookware, including a pot and utensils.
- A bag for wet clothes and towels.
- A first-aid kit with bandages, pain relievers and antibiotic cream.
In addition to all the typical pre-riding essentials, you'll need the following items for your bike:
Motorcycle luggage: Look for luggage designed specifically for motorcyclists, like dry bags or small duffel bags.
Cargo straps or net: Keep your luggage secure on your motorcycle with cargo straps or a cargo net.
Rain gear: Always have motorcycle rain gear on hand, including an insulated, waterproof suit, a helmet with an anti-fog visor and weatherproof gloves and boots.
How to Find the Best Motorcycle Camping Spots
The best motorcycle camping spots depend on the type of experience you want to have. Are you looking for a rugged, backwoods camping adventure, or something a little more comfortable and family-friendly? If you're seeking a public campground or RV park, look for one that offers bathrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities and amenities that can lighten your luggage. For primitive camping spots, look for a flat and level place so you can pitch your tent easily.
Some popular motorcycle camping destinations include:
Public campgrounds and RV parks: These sites often have amenities and features that allow for a more comfortable camping trip, like laundry facilities, shower houses or on-site stores. They are also a great way to meet fellow campers. When you stay at a campground, most of your area is already set up for you, like a fire ring and a leveled-off patch of ground. You could even reserve a stay in on-site accommodations. Remember to make a reservation early if camping during holidays or peak travel seasons.
National and state parks and forests: National and state parks and forests have beautiful scenery, ideal for hiking and camping. Some even have motorcycle-friendly trails, so you can experience the outdoors in a whole new way. Before camping on state or national park property, make sure you have any required permits listed on their website.
Private property: Many landowners rent their private property to campers. You can find these listings on vacation rental websites. Never stay on anyone's private property without getting permission directly from the owners.
Off-trail, primitive spots: For a truly rustic camping experience, pull off the road when you're tired and find a patch of open space in the woods or at the beach, and set up camp for the night. Remember to check for any no trespassing or private property signs, and stay vigilant of local wildlife.
Tips for Motorcycle Camping
The bags are packed, your motorcycle is loaded and you have the perfect spot in mind — here are a few more tips to help you have a safe, successful motorcycle camping trip:
Do some pre-trip maintenance: Give your motorcycle a pre-trip maintenance inspection — including inspecting the lights and tires and performing an oil change — or take it into the shop for a professional check-up. Doing this will help you avoid any unexpected expenses or breakdowns.
Know the laws: Each state has its own laws regarding helmets, eye protection, noise restrictions, headlights, lane splitting and headphone use while riding. Consult local laws before camping or riding in an area you're unfamiliar with.
Stop for gas frequently: When taking a long motorcycle trip or camping in the backcountry, it's always good to stop for gas whenever you have the opportunity since you don't know when or where the next gas station will be.
Check the weather forecast: Check the weather forecast for the days you plan to camp, especially if camping in a tent. Knowing the weather will also help you prepare for riding in the rain, if necessary.
Have a backup plan: Always have a backup plan in place — like secondary accommodations or a new route — for your camping trip in case something goes wrong, like a flat tire, road closure or bad weather.
Get Parts and Services for Your Harley-Davidson at Fat Head Cycles
If you're planning a motorcycle camping trip, Fat Head Cycles has the gear you need to prepare your bike for the journey. We are a full-service Harley-Davidson parts and extended warranty repair shop where you can find custom audio units, oil change kits, engine parts, detailing products, tools and accessories. Check out our online store to shop our complete inventory today!