There are various aspects in which traveling around by motorbike is different from backpacking for a year or going on your 2 weeks of yearly vacation. Not only does it differ in the obvious aspects such as the very act of commute itself but even the subtle aspects like packing are a different ball game. So let’s talk about how to pack for a long motorbike ride.
Depending on what you pack and how you pack, your trip can be wonderful or a series of distasteful memories. Some motorbiking travelers like to take their entire household with them. While some take nothing more than a change of clothes. Both cases serve as perfect examples of how not to pack for a long motorbike ride.
I must confess that I’ve made quite a few mistakes myself. But over the years I have cut down my luggage from a 72-litre saddle bags + 20-litre backpack to only 32-litre backpack. I am not going to details and provide you a packing list. What I will start with is a few pointers
If you’re on a solo ride you have to consider every possible eventuality and thus be completely self-sustained. If you’re riding with a group there may be a few non-essential items that you could share and lessen the load. For e.g. while riding with a group (or solo) you should have your own first aid kit all the times. But maybe, not everyone in your riding group needs to get a camera. You can appoint one as a photographer or take turns.
Is it a cruiser built for long rides and has loads of space for luggage? Or is it one of those fake Honda Win that you backpackers use in Vietnam. Another thing you should consider it does it already have mounted panniers or does it have detachable saddle bags. Or will you have you tie your backpack to the rear seat using bungee cords?
You should also take into account where you will be riding when you pack for a long motorbike ride. In some remote parts, it might be almost impossible to find someone to find spares if your bike breaks down. In contrast, you’ll find a mechanic or a garage every few kilometers while riding in Vietnam and you have no need to carry spares. Weather conditions are another factor you need to consider.If it’s going to be raining all your gear has to be waterproof.
Having a pillion passenger is good because you’ll have someone to talk to. Trust me, long days of riding can get pretty boring. But it also poses challenges as when it comes to packing. You’ll have to discuss and agree on what and how you are going to pack for your long motorbike ride to avoid confusions and arguments on the road.
Once you have tackled these questions successfully, then you can go ahead and start to pack for a long motorbike ride.
Having an efficient system is essential to not spending too much time looking for things. It can also help reduce the time you spend packing and unpacking. It is not as required if you are just going on a weekend adventure or overnight ride. But when it comes to road tripping for a few weeks or months, it becomes very beneficial.
Compartmentalize stuff so that you can take out only stuff you need and when you need it. Clothes can all be one place and everything related to camping in another while motorbike spares can be in yet another. Similarly, divide the overall luggage in two section. First, essential things that you’ll require throughout the day at regular intervals. For e.g. Money, snack bars, water, camera, mobile phone. These can go into a small backpack, tank bag and should not take you more than a few seconds to access. And second being the one that you should only need when you pull over for the night. These can be in other places like mounted panniers, saddle bags or duffel bags
When I go backpacking I rarely create a packing list. It is not much of an issue because I can always buy things I need even if I forget. However, if you’re on to adventurous activities like trekking or motorbiking trips, make sure to create one and go over it a couple of times. When you’re on a motorbiking trip and on some remote mountain and have a flat tire and don’t have tools to fix it, your adventure can very quickly turn into a major inconvenience.
Unlike road tripping in your car, campervan or RV on a motorbike you have very limited space. So use that wisely. Youtube has so many videos of packing tips with limited space. For e.g. rolling your clothes not only takes less space but also keeps your clothes from getting wrinkly. Watch those videos or look up for ideas on Pinterest on how to pack.
Quite often on my rides, I have come across riders who had their luggage hanging loose on their motorbike. Or worse some have lost it because they didn’t take care to secure it well. And not only do you risk losing your stuff but it also affects your ride quality. Improperly tied luggage can lead to an unsmooth ride or sometimes, even accidents. Bring some extra bungee cords and zip ties to make sure your bags are secured to your motorbike and stay there.
Whatever be the style of you riding and packing the essential thing is to pack minimal and light. And this applies even if you are not traveling motorbike. Having less possessions means being able to unpack and pack quickly as well as having less to take care of off and less to lose.
So pack less, pack light and make sure that it holds pretty neat and tight to your steed and ride into the sunset and memories.
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