Back in the days, bikers used to travel with just a toothbrush and a bedroll. Today, we all take more stuff on tour, and packing it right takes some planning. Let’s dive into the essential items to consider when packing for a motorcycle trip.
What kind of luggage do I need?
Before you decide what to take on a multi-day trip, you need to figure out how you’re going to carry your belongings. We have already gone through all different kinds of saddlebags so: if you have a touring bike with built-in bags, no worries there. If not, you have a couple of options.
I personally use a smartbag and a leather saddlebag. Let’s dive into my packing routine.
Packing for a motorcycle trip: Smart bag
These days tank bags are so undervalued. In reality, this tank bag is one of the best gadgets I have purchased since I started riding. I always store my motorcycle documents, my wallet and my cellphone in it. No more need to take my gloves off and reach for wallet or documents when stopping at a toll or being pulled over.
Packing for a motorcycle trip: saddlebag
Road trips are simply the best thing in the world but if not planned right, your ride can turn into hell really quickly, really soon.
Learn to prioritize
When packing for a motorcycle trip, make sure you have a couple of tools, and be ready for any weather condition. Make sure to pack your rain suit, waterproof boot covers, thermal and, if you get cold easily, foul-weather gear—heated stuff. Tools and cold weather equipment are space hoggers, so is important to carefully plan the personal stuff to carry. Keeping in mind that nowadays is possible to find a laundromat everywhere, here is a list of what I pack:
– 3 pairs of underwear
– 3 pairs of socks
– 1 sleeping shirt
– 1 toiletries pouch (1 toothbrush, 1 toothpaste, 1 mouthwash)
– 3 shirts
– 1 hoodie
– 1 spare pair of biker jeans (yup, they have protections)
It is important to put all your clothes in a bag, or inside liners. You do not want all your clean stuff to get dirty for no reason and, above all, if something happens, you do not want to dig for tools into socks and underwear. Everything needs to be well organized and easy to reach.
Balance is the key
Position the heavy stuff low and as far forward as you can. If you have a couple of saddlebags, try to balance the load left and right, too. My own habit is to put my rain vest and gloves, and a jacket liner, at the top where their light weight won’t affect handling much and where I can get them in a hurry if the weather changes. I keep my headset and tablet there, too, for security and weather protection. Heavier stuff always goes at the bottom of my saddlebag.
Packing for a motorcycle trip: traveling with a pillion
First of all, packing for two requires some compromises. The rule of thumb for couples is to take half the clothes and twice the money you think you’ll need. Leave the hairdryer and the beard trimmer at home, too. I do not have a bag for my bike right-hand side, therefore I use a sissy bar bag. Considering what we previously said about balance, it is rather important to follow the “heavy stuff at the bottom” rule in order to avoid bad balance. Considering the sissy bar bag extra space, we can fill the saddlebag with all our personal stuff and leave out the light stuff. Packing for two when riding on a tourer with two saddlebags is way easier. As long as all heavy stuff is placed at the bottom of the saddlebags, it is possible to have a bag for each rider.
In conclusion, road trips are a wonderful way to travel the world and the way you pack your stuff makes a huge difference. Therefore I firmly believe in packing smart and having fun!
What about you? How do you usually pack?