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Motocamping: What to bring on the first trip

Motocamping: The First Trip
It’s time to do some moto camping, here’s what you’ll need

Hotels are booked up, there’s nary an Bread and Breakfast to be found, and the sun’s going down... Some riders would be lost, but motocampers worldwide are ready to rock this scenario, and most welcome it! Motocamping can be super rewarding and a lot of fun, read on for some tips and recommendations for a first time moto camping trip. 

Wherever the trip is headed, motocamping is better with friends. Enjoying one another's company around the fire is a grand tradition for all kinds of outdoor activities, and having an extra set of hands for setting up camp can be pretty handy too. Traveling with friends who have motocamped before is a great way to learn tips and tricks or to find a great spot off the beaten path.

A top tip from expert motocampers: Camp shoes! Flip flops, Crocs, slip ons, whatever is preferred, it always feels good to kick off those sweaty motorcycle boots after a long day of riding. Depending on time of year, socks and sandals may not be a faux pas at the campsite!

The next requirement is a spot to sleep! Depending on the locale and the camper, there are a few popular options. Tents are most common, and some even have an option for a covered motorcycle parking space. In forested regions, some campers like a hammock setup. Each has advantages and disadvantages: Tents offer space for one or more campers, an area to change clothes, and space to store gear. Hammocks have a small footprint, both in camp and for packing up, but don’t sleep more than one camper easily and some campers may not like the sleeping position a hammock creates. Hammocks can still be a great addition to a trip for lounging and relaxing, while still having a tent for sleep; a ground tarp is a great addition to any setup to keep feet and gear clean. Hammocking? If there’s a chance of mosquitos, a bug net can be a lifesaver!

Sleeping bags are an important part of any motocamper’s kit. Some campers throw them right on the ground, but for some (most!) a sleeping pad or cot is required for a successful trip. There are numerous options, and depending on travel requirements, foam or inflatable options are preferred. Sleeping pads are helpful in cooler temperatures for insulating from the cold ground, and a cot or air mattress can make getting in and out of “bed” more comfortable for campers. 

Not into tents and hammocks? Lots of campgrounds offer cabins for those campers who like a few more comforts out on the road; but be sure to reserve in advance.

There’s a place to sleep, but living on s’mores just ain’t it. Riders need fuel! A jet stove is a great product to borrow from the backpacking world. Compact and powerful, these  little guys make whipping up some dinner a breeze, especially handy when restaurants are closed for the evening. A hot meal– even from a bag– can be just the right thing at the end of a long day on the motorcycle. 

A place to sleep and a bite to eat are sorted out, but what about creature comforts? A headlamp is a great camping accessory to have on hand for dark evenings at the campsite, and keeps hands free for setting up camp or warming up a meal in the dark. Blankets are handy for sleeping and sitting by the fire, and many are compressible to fit in a saddlebag or rack bag, and a collapsible chair for sitting around the campfire is a must. Compact options abound, and some pack up pretty small! 

Whatever gets packed, a frequent recommendation is to bring extra socks. Yes, really! A pair of clean dry socks after a long day in the saddle feels pretty fantastic, and can truly make or break a trip. Starting each day with clean socks can be truly renewing; it’s about enjoying the journey and the little things along the way. 

While camping is about getting away from it all, it can be important to remain connected to friends and loved ones. A USB adapter to charge devices is useful on any ride, and there are a slew of options that will plug into the bike or even a battery tender lead. Some manufacturers have solar chargers as well, and charging solutions can be used for a lot of flashlights in addition to mobile devices. Don’t get caught without communication in an emergency, and make sure the folks back home can see photos from the road. 

Another important tip: Do a dry run of the load-out before hitting the road. Make sure anything tied down will stay tied down, make sure any device chargers are working properly, and check to make sure all the gear and accessories fit where intended. Practice makes perfect, and rearranging items in saddlebags and on racks is to be expected; sometimes more than once! Don’t be afraid to unpack and repack until everything fits, camping requires a bit more gear and supplies than the average motorcycle trip and fitting everything on the bike can present a challenge. 

Harley-Davidson’s touring models have great saddlebags for trips, and other models have fantastic add-on options, but if space becomes a commodity, an additional soft bag can take up some of those items that don’t fit in the saddlebags. Rok Straps, luggage nets, and elastic bungee cords are great additions to hold items on the bike. Elastic straps are recommended, as soft items can compress over time and non-stretch straps can become too loose to hold items on the motorcycle. No need to be chasing loose camping gear all over the highway!

While most trips are planned for good weather, it will always pay to be prepared. Waterproof bags are a great upgrade in case of inclement weather, and a waterproof rain fly for a tent or hammock can make or break a trip. 

Ready to hit the road on a motocamping adventure? Harley-Davidson has great Touring and Adventure Touring models and beyond for motocamping and more. Contact us to book a no obligation, free VIP appointment to check out the Harley-Davidson lineup.