Packing for a motorcycle trip can be stressful. Maybe you’ve tried, and you ended up with more bags than you can even strap to your bike. Or perhaps you made it a few hundred miles down the road, and realized you forgot something important. We’ve all been there!
That’s why it helps to have a plan on what to pack, and go by a list. Because you don’t want to waste the effort of dragging around 50lbs worth of gear, stuff, and junk you won’t even need. Motorcycles may get great gas mileage, but all of that weight adds up!
First - are you headed to the next town over, or are you riding across the country? Keep in mind how many days you will actually be on the road, whether you’ll be living the high life in hotels, or camping on the side of the road.
Let’s go over the basics to start.
First off, you’ll need your leather jacket or vest. Of course. That’s just a given! Leather provides an extra layer of safety and protection to your ride. As we’ve all heard, dress for the slide, not for the ride! And you never know when you’ll get to an area that’s somehow 30 degrees colder than where you just were.
A helmet - even if the state you live in doesn’t require one, many states DO, even if you’re just passing through.
Boots - leather boots go a long way in protection, and many offer waterproof options. There’s nothing worse than wet socks on a long ride!
Heated Gear, and Rain Gear are also great to have when you need them, but if you’re just hopping a couple hundred miles away and it’s not the rainy season, that’s up to you on whether you have the space to pack or not. Our Reign jacket is a great option for a waterproof jacket with armor!
You know what they say - if you don’t pack tools, that’s when you’ll need them. Many motorcycle companies offer kits ready to go for your particular motorcycle - the wrenches and items you specifically will need for roadside repairs.
If not, you’ll want to carry the basics:
- Wrenches of various sizes
- Allen Key kit
- Tire Repair Kit
- Zip Ties
- Electrical Tape
- Vise Grips
*Extra Spark Plugs* - especially if your bike requires a size not readily available at the local AutoZone on your way.
Now, if you’re just going for a day trip, you’ll realistically only need you, your gear, some tools, and some water and snacks. If you’re headed out for a few days, keep on reading to see what else you might need along the way.
There’s a wide variety of luggage options available, from saddle bags to sissy bar bags, tank bags, and everything in between. Depending on the style of bike you ride, you may have a preference on style, size, and how it attaches to your motorcycle.
Using dry bags inside of your luggage can help keep essentials dry. Outdoor stores have many varieties of dry bags available, so you can pick the sizes you need.
We find that this is often a spot where people tend to overpack. Toiletries, from deodorant to shampoo can be found in mini-sizes and take up a portion of the space of full-sized items. Are you staying in a hotel? Chances are, they’ll have the majority of things you need available, and you can always grab an extra when you’re out on the road.
Here’s where it’s time to get realistic. If you plan to be on the road for 5 days, are you actually going to put on a fresh t-shirt and jeans every day? Or are you going to be stopping at dealerships or events where you’re likely to purchase a shirt?
Chances are, you can cut down a LOT by just packing smart. You’ll definitely want enough pairs of socks, and perhaps an extra pair, too. Don’t forget undergarments, you will absolutely need enough to last you the trip.
Not splurging for the hotel this trip, and choosing to crash at a campsite? Well, this is the area where you’ll have the most bulk.
Backpacking Tents pack down nice and small, and if it’s just one or two of you, these are perfect for saving space.
Sleeping Bag - consider the temperature where you’ll be camping. Do you need a giant, 10-degree bag, or can you get away with a smaller, lighter bag?
Camping pads, pillows, and more - Consider what you’ll really need here. Camping pillows can be inflatable, or packable.
Cooking items is a great place to be realistic. Do you need to bring a JetBoil and have coffee first thing, or will you probably end up at a local coffee shop anyways?
Something that may definitely save you on the road - a Battery Tender USB charger. If you are on anything more than a few years old, you won’t just have a place to plug in your phone, and a USB charger might save you.
Power banks are handy, and some even have jumper cables in case you leave your bike in the “ON” position all night…
If you’re the type to create content while out on the road, cameras and GoPro type cameras, along with batteries and charging cables can pack down pretty small.
And of course, PACK WATER!
Having your face in the wind is an amazing feeling, but can be very dehydrating, especially when it’s hot out. Stay prepared with water bottles, particularly reusable bottles like a Hydroflask.
And the handiest thing you can pack? Extra cash! You never know when you’ll hit a local diner and they won’t accept a card! And of course, for that ONE item you forgot to pack, even though you followed this list…