A weekend trip doesn’t really involve much investment in either time or money. Just about any rider on any bike, on any budget, can get away for a quick weekend. Now, before we get too deep in the video, one quick caveat. We can’t show you how to camp in 20 minutes.
That’s just not possible. So we’re going to assume you have some basic camping knowledge, and we’re going to help you augment that with some moto-specific tips that make living off of a motorcycle just a little bit easier. Because, I mean, the thing is camping is pretty much the same once you get to the campsite. It’s how you get there that makes it a different experience. When you’re in a car, man, you can throw pretty much anything in the trunk– the cooler, the kitchen sink– and just go.
But when you’re on a motorcycle, you have to be much more cognizant about what you’re taking with you. And this actually has more in common with something like a backpacking style of camping. Because it’s really all about the size and the weight of what you’re taking, and how you’re packing it on the bike. Now, if you look at the two bikes we have here, these are pretty different motorcycles. I’ve got a very large ADV bike, and Spurge is kicking around on a little, teeny tiny dual sport there.
But it does pay to remember that, in their stock form, neither of these bikes was particularly well-suited to take in a long trip. But with some quick additions that can pick and choose from, these things are a little bit more comfortable for life on the road For Lem’s Africa twin, he went with hard luggage down low, and then he added the mounting plate up top, so he could lash down some dry bags to it. For my bike, I took a completely different approach I went with soft bags because it was easier to get that on this particular motorcycle.
But remember, regardless of which method you’re going to go with, there’s some pros and some cons with each of these. For example, if you’re taking a look at these hard bags that Lem has on here, these are awesome in the fact that they’re secure, he can lock them on there, in most cases, waterproof, and there’s dual functionality. When we get to the campsite, he can pull those off. He can use them as a camp seat around the fire, or even a table when we’re preparing dinner. Now, there are some negatives here, as well.
These are going to be expensive, and I think their cost is going to be prohibitive for a lot of folks, especially because you need specific mounting hardware to get it on the bike. You’re also going to add a lot of width, as well as a lot of weight to these bikes. Now, for me, I went with soft luggage. And the beauty about soft luggage is it’s going to be rather inexpensive. It doesn’t add a lot of extra weight.
And I can simply throw it over I don’t see any specific mounting hardware to get this onto my motorcycle The downside is I have no security Anybody can walk up and cut this with a knife and take my stuff And in a lot of cases, I’m going to need to actually add extra waterproof covers to this to make sure my gear doesn’t get wet
And as far as that dual functionality goes, I’m going to have to rely on old Lem-Lem here to be nice enough to let me sit on one of his boxes when we’re around the campfire. Now, Spurge has covered, I think, the thing that everybody thinks of first when they’re talking luggage, and that’s panniers. However, there’s lots of other ways to put stuff onto a motorcycle, and especially if you’re riding a bike that’s not traditionally a touring style motorcycle There are some other areas you can use in order to maximize the packability on your motorcycle Now, Spurge has done just that.
If you look over at his bike, you’ll notice he utilized a spot that I think is absolutely critical on bikes that don’t have lots of packing space, and that’s the area on the fuel tank. He threw a tank bag onto this bike It gives him a little bit of additional packing room, and it’s especially good for stuff that you want to keep close at hand when you’re actually out there on the road. Check out, too, another area he didn’t use, but is still a great spot to pack– the handlebars. Handlebars can be an awesome place to pack things if you don’t have a fairing in front of them.
You can actually put a longer piece on them and lash down. I’m thinking, specifically, of tents. There have been plenty of trips I’ve taken where I’ve thrown my tent onto the handlebars. There’s a lot of different ways, though, that you can get stuff onto your bike. Just remember, if you’re using any of those lashing methods, you want to put your items inside of something waterproof because they’re going to be out in the elements.
And once you figure out what luggage you’re going to use to carry items with you on your motorcycle, the time has come for you to pack it up And Lem has made a great point earlier about weight distribution. You don’t want a bike that’s packed too top-heavy. So any heavier items you have– like maybe a cooking stove, or some extra canned food, or even some tools– you want to go lower in the luggage Keep that extra weight down low.
The other thing to consider is you don’t want all the weight on one side So make sure you’re evenly distributing the weight from side to side And that way, when you’re rolling down the highway, the bike maintains its handling characteristics. Now, once you’re done packing up your motorcycle, step back for a second and start thinking about safety. Take a walk around it to familiarize yourself with exactly how big that motorcycle has grown.
While you’re taking that walk around, I want you to check something, too, that a lot of riders miss, and it’s a really big safety consideration. And that’s your lighting. All too often, I see people lash things to the bike, and they obscure their lighting. You need your taillight, brake light, and turn signals visible It’s going to keep you safe.
It’s also going to keep other motorists on the road safe Make sure you don’t obscure your lighting. Now, another thing, too, that should be top-of-mind for you is the cargo carrying capacity of your bike. Now, if you’re a larger guy, like Spurgeon or me, or definitely like Spurgeon, it can be really easy to overload a motorcycle. So pay careful attention to this.
Some bikes have very small cargo carrying capacities. Yes, I’m on a smaller bike, and I do have it packed to the nine, which actually brings us to our final tip. And that tip is that maybe the best place to pack something on your bike isn’t on your bike at all, but rather a buddy’s motorcycle. So if you’re traveling with a few different riders, maybe they could help you out with a few items that you want to take with you. Now, you don’t want to be that rider, asking everybody to carry a little bit of your stuff.