Youth is a time when we’re expected to be wild and free, and I can assure you, I have lived up to those expectations. A group of five friends and I once decided to ride our motorcycles from Charlotte, NC to the motorcycle capital of the US, Sturgis, SD. How I miss the youthful optimism of believing that taking a 1976 Honda CB750 on a 3400 mile, 2-week trip, would be exciting and without incident!
Expecting a good time, we sped towards the horizon with wind blowing in our hair by day, and camped under the stars by night. We were off to find the thrills none of us had ever experienced before or at the minimum come away with stories that will one day fill the pages of an outdoor blog. Spending time with great friends, doing something we loved and making fond memories made every second worthwhile.
And now? What happens when one of those same friends comes to you with the idea of doing it all over again? For starters, I immediately grab my lower back and begin massaging my knee just thinking of the physical demand of such a ride.
Older And Wiser
Now that we’re nearly 20 years older and a quarter century wiser, there are some things we’d do differently this time. There’s something incredibly enjoyable about combining motorcycling with camping. The thrill of adventure and awakening of all the senses through breathing fresh air and taking on the open road adds to the aura of excitement.
When you’re considering camping at night, the trip will be more enjoyable if you’re well prepared. Assembling things you’ll need beforehand make the trip more worry-free. You need to plan for the different types of weather you’ll encounter.
Things To Bring Along
The most basic things you’ll need for camping are a sleeping bag, some type of mattress and a tent. There are other things, however, that always come in handy. You’ll also need a way to carry your essentials. Some of the best options for carrying supplies on motorcycles include:
A much bigger bike than a Honda 750… but I digress!
Aluminium cases or Panniers – Heavier than your other options, but can come with nice features like lids to reach your things without needing to unpack. They should either lock while attached to the bike, or be easy to remove so you can store them in your tent at night. Be aware that these cases are often big and can cause you to pack more than you really need. They’re also heavier than other types of cases.
Saddle Bags – Softer and lighter to carry than hard luggage. Finding a way to fasten them to the bike so they’re not near the exhaust is crucial. A rack might be needed to accomplish this.
Tank bag – Used for essential small items and similar to a glove compartment in a car. Use this bag for sunglasses, camera, cell phone, maps, pen and paper and snacks for the road, including foods that won’t melt in heat.
Dry bags – Lots of room and are watertight and made sturdily enough so nothing breaks if they’re dropped. Dry bags are usually strapped on bikes, so you want straps that are strong and dependable. Watertight features are especially important if a dry bag is where you’ll store your sleeping bag.
An American Express card, probably the most important thing that was missing from my trip at 18! But again, I digress.
Other Things To Pack
Other things you’ll need to pack include lightweight, water-resistant clothing and a few cooking essentials including a small stove, cups, plate, pan, instant coffee and quick meals to warm up. Extra straps or bungee cords are essential in case one breaks, especially while you’re up in the mountains away from civilization and need to tie something down. A small tool bag also comes in handy.
Some of the most important things to have with you are your sense of adventure and the can-do attitude you had last time you embarked on a motorcycle camping trip. Enjoy every second of the freedom of the open road and cherish sleeping under the stars.