Please: think before you pack. He didn’t.
Here’s the thing: writing about adventure motorcycling means that packing lists most assuredly figure in my fate.
So, that makes this the day to trot out the clichés:
You can’t fight fate.
Time waits for no one.
Man does not control his own fate; the women in his life do that for him.
Oh, that last one isn’t really what I’m getting at — it might be true, but not what I’m getting at….
Packing lists are the first thing many people ask me about; they’re the last thing most riders agree on. And that means I’m going to ruffle some feathers.
Rustler. Ruffler. Whatever…
But I’m not really a ruffler. So let me approach my first kick at the can this way. I’m not going to push my opinions or make any judgements. I’ll simply tell you what I pack.
But first you need a couple details.
The gear I take on any overnight adventure bike trip is always the same, whether for one night or 30. The only variable items are food.
Here’s how it works. I roll into some little town with my bike loaded up, find the local greasy spoon, and use GPS and maps to plan a route through the desert or forest to the next town. Then I provision with food to last me two to three days, top up my fuel tank and water bladders and get riding. When I reach the town I’ve targeted…well…lather rinse and repeat.
The problem’s between your legs.
The limiting factor to how far I ride in two to three days is sloshing around between my legs. The gas tank of my TE610, combined with the two litres of supplemental fuel I carry, gives me close to 300 kilometres’ range. It doesn’t seem like much distance for a three-day ride – especially if you’re used to road riding – but the terrain is often challenging, so the riding pace is slow. And I stop to take lots of photos.
Oh, and I’ve a got a problem with mornings, so I usually start riding long after the early bird has not only found but digested his worm and is looking for a copy of Reader’s Digest to peruse in the bathroom….
45 litres of luggage
Okay, that was my first long-winded explanation before I give you the list. Here’s the second: I fit all my gear in approximately 45 litres of luggage space, plus a tool tube mounted to the front of the skid plate.
My luggage breaks down like this:
- Outdoor Research Drycomp compression backpack – 30 litres *strapped to the seat with Roc Straps; my camp chair folds around the pack.
- Wolfman Enduro saddlebags (pair) – 11 litres total *discontinued, but similar to the Wolfman Daytripper bags
- Tankbags (pair) – 4 litres total *homemade, using two old fanny packs
- Tooltube – 2 litres total *homemade (yes, this is a theme with me) from 4″ ABS piping
47 litres is enough volume for all my gear, 7 litres of water, food, tools and spares.
I also have two litres of gas in bottles flanking my rear fender.
To put that in perspective, many soft saddlebag sets fall in the 60 to 80 litre range; riders usually add a tail bag as well, and these frequently offer about a 30 to 40 litre capacity. So I’m toting no more than half the 90 to 120 litre volume I see on most adventure bikes.
So that’s…50% smaller, right?
Yes: I’m doing the math and blowing my own horn. And finally – drum roll please (how many of these can I shoehorn in here?) – here’s my packing list.
- Wallet (water resistant):
- Passport, credit card, debit card, license, health card, auto club (CAA or AAA) card, travel health insurance card, cash, bike insurance, spare motorcycle key
- Cell phone
- Batteries (4 x AA), USB 12V DC battery charger, 6″ USB cables (1 each, mini and micro USB)
- GPS (x 2: Lowrance iFinder; Garmin Oregon 600)
- Flash drive with motorcycle information
- Kobo reader (mini) *Remember: I mostly ride solo. I take this because I spend lots of time reading in the evening and don’t want to rely on my phone in a rough, dirty environment — although I do also load books onto it.
- First aid kit *detailed list of contents in an upcoming post
- Journal and pen
- Sunglasses, cloth case
- Eye drops, TUMS, Lip balm (in small Ziploc bag)
- Repair tape (Tenacious)
- 2 carabiners and z-drag (mechanical advantage) recovery kit
- Flares (x2) and launcher
- Tire gauge
- Camp chair *rolled around the backpack in the bike photo above
- Ground sheet
- Sleeping mattress (Thermarest NeoAir XLite, short) *take a repair patch
- Tent (REI Passage 1)
- Sleeping bag (down fill)
- Pillow (Cocoon ultralight inflatable)
Cooking and kitchen
- Pot (1.5 litres). Packed inside the pot:
- Collapsible cup, homemade alcohol stove, lighter, spoon, Starbucks VIA instant coffee envelopes, drink crystal envelopes
- Windshield (metal foil)
- Alcohol fuel bottle
- 4 L water bag, with small carabiner (for hanging)
- 2 L water bag (fits in a tank bag)
- Water purification tablets
- Ziploc bags
*all clothing items except t-shirts are synthetic; I wear cotton T-shirts because I generally ride in hot, dry weather and don’t require the wicking properties of synthetics. Plus they feel better. For cooler weather and nighttime, I change into my synthetic base-layer top.
- Baseball cap
- Shorts, usable for swimming
- Underwear (x 2 pairs)
- Socks (x 2 pairs thin, 1 pair thicker)
- Long-sleeved fleece top
- Long-sleeved base-layer top
- T-shirts (x 2, cotton)
- Pants (1 pair)
- Waterproof stuff sack to hold it all
- Flip flops (in plastic bag)
- Jacket (synthetic PrimaLoft insulation) in compression stuff sack
- Helmet with goggles
- Mesh jacket
- Mesh pants
- Ear plugs
- Pack towel, mini
- Toothpaste, toothbrush
- Glasses (in cloth bag)
- Contact lens solution
- Contact lens case *I’ve cut mine in half; since my prescription is the same in both eyes, I can drop both lenses into one cup and not worry about mixing them up.
- Contact lenses *on my eyeballs
- Contact lenses, spare pair
- Baby powder
- Dental floss
- Prescription meds if you got ’em
- Stuff sack to hold all these items
*I pack toilet paper separately, in a Ziploc bag.
On the bike
- Saddlebags (11 litres)
- Backpack (30 litres) *my old Summit Sack holds a bit more than the new 27 litre model
- Roc Straps
- Tool tube (2 litres) *look for upcoming posts on my tool kit. In the meantime…
- Fuel bottles (2 x 1 Litre)
- GPS mounting brackets (x 2)
- 12VDC to USB adapter for charging batteries
- Paper maps
As I am a true gourmet, you’re likely desperate to know what kind of food I might take. So the following list fits under the “Don’t blame me; you asked for it” kind of maxim.
Food — or, as Yvonne calls it, “Seriously? I’m not eating that.”
- Milk powder
- Instant oatmeal
- Pasta and sauce prepared meals
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Ramen instant noodles
- Power bars
What’s on your list?
Let me know if I missed something, or if you want details about specific items. And hang around for future posts: I’ll fill in some gaps about camping gear, first aid kits, tools and luggage.