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Not sure what to pack for your next motorcycle ride?
You’re in the right place.
Today I’m going to give you the basics on what to pack for your next trip plus other hacks, tips and tricks I’ve used to make my rides better.
The best part?
Not only can your use these tips while you’re riding your motorcycle, but some of them you can use anytime you travel.
Motorcycle Packing Basics
A lot of newer riders that start taking long trips always wonder how much and what to take with them on a ride.
The first and important thing to remember is that you want to pack as light as possible and not take anything that you don’t need with you.
This can be tough to try to get that through to your lady! It will take a trip or two to understand.
The basics you need to pack:
- Extra Pants – I take three MAX. The pair I wear and I pack two.
- Shorts or relaxing clothes – I combine this with my choice of pants, as you’ll read below.
- Shirts – Both long and short sleeve. Although I tend to take more long than short sleeve.
- Underwear – I’ve streamlined this with the use of travel underwear. See below.
Other items you might want to pack:
- Pair of comfortable shoes
- Long johns
- My iPad – I like having the bigger screen if I’m planning the route for the next days ride.
- Sweatshirt or hoodie
- Small lunch box with drinks and snacks
So now that we have the basics out of the way, here are additional motorcycle packing hacks and tips for items you may consider using for your next ride.
Rolling your clothes
If you’ve been riding for a while this is a no brainer. There are different techniques but the end result is the same; Rolling your clothes will save a tremendous amount of space on your bike versus folding them.
If you roll your clothes correctly you can also keep them fairly wrinkle free also.
In addition to rolling technique there are a couple of different options on how you can organize your clothes.
For example, you can roll three days of shirts together or do the same with underwear. How many days’ worth of clothes you can roll together will depend on the thickness of the fabric.
Wear ‘dual purpose’ clothing
Wearing jeans is a biker staple, but if you want the ability keep more stuff on your person, be more comfortable during the ride or perhaps wear shorts in your down time, it’s time to consider an alternative. This is where ditching jeans for cargo pants or convertible pants comes in.
I’m always looking for ways to take as little as possible when I’m taking a motorcycle trip. In the past, I’d wear jeans and then take at least one (maybe two) pairs of shorts to relax in after the days ride or hang out if we were staying for a couple of days.
I’d change out of my jeans and into the shorts to go to dinner, etc but having to take jeans and shorts gets cumbersome and takes up a lot of space.
I’ve since switched from wearing jeans on long trips to wearing convertible pants. Convertible pants give you the option to zip off the legs and turn them into shorts, so you don’t have to pack extra shorts.
At the very least I usually wear cargo style pants so that I have plenty of places to keep stuff with me, not to mention being a lot more comfortable in the crotch than jeans.
Take some extra oil
Anything can happen when you’re in the middle of a trip and having a bit of extra oil with you in case your bike develops a leak is must. It only takes that one piece of road debris that you or your buddy hit on accidents to cut or puncture something on the motorcycle that causes a leak.
Plus, its just good to have a lubricant on hand for loosening bolts or emergency chain lubrication or any other function that requires that you have to lubricate something.
Always have raingear
Having raingear with you on your motorcycle is a must on any long trip. It’s not if you get rained on, but when.
Rain gear serves the dual purpose of keeping you dry, but as I found out one time on a trip to Sedona Arizona, does a good job of keeping you warm when it’s not raining.
You have a lot of options when it comes to rain gear from using the lighter Frogs Togs (which saved my butt in Arizona) to getting a little heavier with Gortex.
The last most expensive option is getting yourself a full-on riding suit, which I would recommend if you plan on being on the road for really long periods in all manner of weather.
Carry Duct Tape
Duct tape is the all-around utility tool!
Invented originally by the heating industry to help seal aluminum ducts that were leaking at the joints to keep the air from leaking and conserve heat. Duct tape was created to stop those leaks and… voila! A star is born.
Duct tape can be used for just about anything from stopping leaks, repairing cracks in plastic. Here are just a few things you can use duct tape for:
- Reseal your food packages
- Hold a jacket together that has broken zippers
- Repair a cracked water bottle
- Wrap a sprained wrist or ankle
- Make a bandage
- Repair glove and boots
- Fix motorcycle seat
You’re only limited by your imagination. Make McGyver proud.
Bungee cords and Zip ties
If you know you’re going to be bringing quite a bit, you’re going to need a way to secure it to your motorcycle. Bring extra bungee cords to keep your cargo tied down and in place.
I use both a cargo net to attach bags to my luggage rack as well as take extra bungee cords and zip ties. I’ve also used the bungee cords wrap around clothing and other items.
Always keep a few zip ties on your motorcycle. They can be used from securing cables that come loose during the ride to applying the front handbrake if your trying to lift your motorcycle off of the ground to keep the motorcycle from rolling out from under you.
Bring a long, quick charging cell phone cord
There always seems to be that one hotel room or location that your cord just won’t reach. This is where having the longer cord comes in.
Most cell phones come with around a 3 foot cord. In all of my travels whether I’m on or off of my motorcycle I’ve found it useful to spend some extra money and get about a 6 to 10 foot cell phone charging cable for my iPhone (I sprung for the 10 footer). It never fails that I don’t have an outlet near me when I need to charge my phone!
While your looking for a new cell phone cord, another feature to be on the look out for is the cord’s ability to charge your phone faster.
If you’re unable to find a quick charging cable, one way to speed up charging your phone is to put in ‘Airplane’ mode. My phone battery has been three quarter depleted and been recharged in about a half hour using that trick.
Hide extra cash and spare key on your bike
You should always have some cash and a spare key with you when you ride long distances.
The things is, you don’t want all of your cash in one place (like on your person) in case something happens to you. It’s best to keep some cash on your person and then some backup cash hidden on your motorcycle somewhere as a contingency.
When you start riding in rural areas, you’ll discover that not everyone takes a card if you’re trying to pay.
In addition to taking extra cash you should take your spare motorcycle key with you as well. There are any number of ways you can accidentally lose a key while on the road and not having a back with you can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere and paying gobbs of cash to not only tow your motorcycle but replace the key.
When going on a long trip I put my passenger (my wife) in charge of the spare key. If your traveling alone, you do the same as I mentioned above – hide the key on your motorcycle in one of the nooks and crannies.
If you don’t have a passenger with you but your riding with friends, you can also give one of your friends your spare key to hand on to.
Pack your socks inside your shoes
Even on long trips I always bring an extra set of shoes to relax in. As comfortable as my riding boots may be, it’s just good to get my feet out of them and give’em a break.
In addition to just having an extra footwear to relax in, having extra shoes makes a great place to store your socks.
Just roll your socks up and tuck them inside your shoes as far you can get them. With athletic shoes I can usually squeeze at least 3 days’ worth of socks into each shoe. That’s plenty enough socks for a ride, just keep your eyes out for hotels that have a laundry.
Electronic copy of your pair manual on you phone
You have a couple of options with this one.
While some online repair manuals offer an online version of their manuals (Clymer manuals is one) you’re going to ultimately need to have your motorcycle repair manual in a form that doesn’t require that you have internet access.
If you already own a repair manual for your motorcycle, simply take your phone and take pictures of the manual. That’s a pretty big task, so you may want to take pictures of the parts of the manual that you think you’ll really need, such as the electrical or fuels systems.
When using this method, try to set your phone up ahead time with folders, galleries or some other way to keep track of your repair manual photos.
A better and more comprehensive way to get a complete repair manual for your motorcycle is to find or purchase your bike’s repair manual in a pdf form.
Amazon also has a good selection of motorcycle repair manuals. But depending on the bike, finding the pdf form of the manual will be hit or miss.
You can then email or transfer the pdf file to your phone for use while out on the road.
Pack liquids inside their own plastic bag
Nobody likes their clothing soaked with mouthwash or their toothbrush tasting like motor oil.
It’s always a good idea to take any bottles of liquid and place them into their own zip loc plastic bag in case one of the leaks.
If you group liquids into plastic bags that are used for the same purpose (and label them) it also helps to keep you organized.
For example, I put all of the liquids I use for dental (mouth rinse, mouth wash, tooth paste) into their own zip lock bag. Hair care products go into their own zip loc bag etc.
If one of the bottles leaks, not only is the mess contained in the zip lock bag but I know exactly what I have to replace.
Use mittens over your gloves
Don’t have a specific set of winter motorcycle gloves and don’t want to buy them?
A hack that I learned about that a lot of adventure motorcyclists use, is to purchase a set of mittens or loose hunters mits large enough to put on over the top of their existing gloves to help keep their hands warm.
A great place to find the kind of mittens that can handle this job is going to a military surplus store. You can often find exactly what your looking for without paying premium prices for specialized winter motorcycle gloves.
Have a tool kit and Pocket Tool
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – make sure that you have a toolkit with you when you ride.
Although your motorcycle came with its own toolkit, you may find that it can be limited on what you can do with it. This is why I went out and purchased a larger roll up style tool kit that has tons of tools in it and doesn’t take up too much room.
In additions to any toolkit(s) you have on board, consider taking either a swiss army knife or leatherman pocket tool.
I personally use a leatherman and I never take a ride without it. There are a lot of simple annoying things that can happen during day rides (like tightening down loose screws on modular helmets, slivers in my hands) that having a leatherman tool is good for.
It’s a great addition to any toolkit you already have on your motorcycle and if you don’t have one, you should get one.
When you put your toolkit together try and tailor it to the year, make and model or your motorcycle.
Take pictures of documents and keep them on your phone
You should always make sue that you keep physical copies of important documents (registration, license, passport etc) with you whenever you ride.
What I like to do in addition to having the actual physical copies of important documents is to take pictures of them with my phone. This gives me easy access to important information, and in a worse case scenario (like an accident) having some kind of information with you is better than having none at all.
Most insurance company’s theses days offer an electronic version of your insurance card through an app (USAA and Progressive are just a couple). Before your trip, access the app, website or get in touch with insurance company and get an electronic copy of your insurance card.
Windshield And Visor Cleaner
Your windshield and visor are going to get nailed with bugs and debris. It only takes one big fat bug dead center in visor to really screw up your field of vision!
Your going to need to have a way to get your windshield, visor and glasses clean either during or the end of the days ride.
I always use just plain water most of the time but you don’t always have access to water when you really need it.
To that end I recommend taking a can of Plexus, a common and safe plastic cleaner and several microfibre rags to clean things up without scratching plastic and other sensitive parts.
A hat or ball cap
Long periods of time with a helmet on your head doesn’t exactly lend itself to having a great hair day.
Always keep at least one hat or ball cap (I always take two) so that you can cover up your hair and not worry to much how you look. Aside from looks, it helps keep the sun off of you if your traveling during the summer season.
Load Your phone With Travel Apps
There are a ton of apps you can put on your phone to help you do just about anything.
If fact, I could write an entire article detailing all of the apps you could jam into your phone for planning and taking a motorcycle trip.
That being said, I don’t like to stick tons of apps on my phone, so here are a few that I’ve found useful in my travels. Three out of the five apps you can use all the time outside of your motorcycle rides.
- Hotels tonight – I learned the hard way booking hotels in advance and then riding like a banshee in order to get my reservation is a pain. Hotels Tonight is an app that helps you find hotel deals in your location at a moments notice. IOS and Android
- Waze – Waze is community (or crowd sourced) navigation and traffic that will give you all the latest road conditions, traffic problems you name it. The app was developed for commuters and works really well when going through urban areas. IOS and Android.
- Gas Buddy – Whether you’re on your motorcycle or in your car, Gas Buddy is one of the most popular apps out there to help you find the cheapest fuel and help you save some cash.
- NOAA Weather Radar – As motorcyclist, you have to constantly worry about what the weathers going to do. Nothing worse than bad weather screwing up a trip. The NOAA app lets you see weather radar in real time and help you plan accordingly. IOS and Android
- Eat Sleep Ride – This a great all-around app for motorcyclists that helps you plan your ride plus tons of other stuff. A great app for the motorcyclist.
Emergency road kit
Get yourself a small make up kit bag or any other kind of small bag, that you can use to put together an emergency road kit.
Here’s a few items you’ll want to have with you in your road in case things go bad:
- First aid kit – This is the obvious. You should always have a good basic first aid kit in case your or someone in your party gets themselves injured.
- Road flares – If you break down beside the road (specially at night) you need to be seen. While its not practical to keep flammable road flares on your motorycle, what I use that works great is called a Powerflare. The Powerflare is a battery operated LED light that’s bright and durable and is visible for long distances.
- Flashlight – Although you can get just about any kind of handheld flashlight and that works great, consider picking up a headlamp flashlight. This helps keep your hands free in case your stuck doing a little mechanic work beside the road.
Use plastic sacks to line your bags
In the ongoing effort to keep road grime water out your saddle bags consider lining your saddle bags with plastic bags.
Conversely, it may be easier to just place your items in the plastic bags and then place them inside your saddle bags. Which method you use may depend on how your saddle bags are set up.
A lot will depend on how your saddle bags are set up – Do you load them from the top (like Harley) or from the side (Goldwing)
Motorcycle Tire plug kit
There’s nothing worse than having a flat tire on a motorcycle. Removing the tire and dealing with it of course requires that you have a big tool chest to accomplish the job and it’s something that can’t be done roadside. This means a tow truck gets called, which can put a serious crimp in your plans.
For ‘simple’ tire punctures along the tread of your tire, you’re going to want a tire plug kit to help you get the hole plugged.
A tire plug kit provides you with a hand-held tool and rubber plugs to patch simple holes or punctures in the motorcycle tire tread. As helpful as they are, the kit should never be used on the sidewalls of your tire. If your tire sidewall has a cut in it, that tire is done.
In addition to using the tire plug kit, bring a Co2 tire inflation system and a can of fix a flat or tire sealant to use with the tire plug kit. That’s about as bullet proof as you can get for roadside tire issues.
Take Water And Snacks
Having lived in the desert for a lot of years, this has always been a big one for me. Even if I’m going on a simple day ride, I always bring a small cooler and pack it with water and bring snacks along.
The first and most obvious thing is that you never know if your going to be stuck somewhere. But more often than not on my rides, bringing my drinks allows me to take breaks where I want instead of looking for a convenience store all the time.
Switch To Travel Underwear
Using breathable fabric travel underwear helps with two problems.
The first problem it helps to solve is saving room. In the past, I would pack close to a weeks’ worth of underwear for a long trip.
Using travel underwear, I only take two (sometimes 3) pairs of underwear. Travel underwear is easy to wash in hotel room and are quick drying.
Breathable travel underwear also helps to combat monkey butt on long rides which is an extra benefit.
You can find travel underwear for both men and women.
Fold Your Chaps When Your Not Wearing Them
I don’t personally wear chaps, but of course many motorcyclists do.
If you decide that you don’t want to wear them for a while and would like to pack them away, there’s a way that it needs to be done. When not folded correctly, chaps can take up a lot of room and possibly damage the chaps.
Check out the video below:
20 Other Motorcycle Packing Hacks And Tips You Didn’t Know About
Preparing to hit the road for a long period of time? Here are some more hack and tips you can use to help life go as smooth as possible.
- Keep important items accessible in your saddlebags
- Carry spare fuses of common sizes – this can help you or a friend in a tight spot
- Cell phone battery pack. Keep you phone charged between stops.
- Wetwipes and Babywipes – for basic cleanup to public toilets, you may want to pack a few of each. It’s best if you can get these items in individual packets.
- Kneadable epoxy – for hardcore roadside repairs of broken parts exposed to a lot of heat.
- In Hot Weather – Soak your base layer of clothing to keep cool. I’ve purchased a cool vest that you do this with and it works great.
- The bedroll – if your riding solo, and you need some extra back support put your bed roll on the seat behind you.
- Kickstand support – bring something that you can put under your kickstand to help support your bike if you’re on hot asphalt or soft soil.
- Fingernail clippers and tweezers
- Extra bulbs
- Six-way screwdriver
- Monkey butt powder
- Parking – Park your motorcycle in the position you want it to be in when you leave the next day.
- If your wearing lace up boots, bring extra laces
- Take industrial strength Velcro with you
- Bring a physical map – the batteries on them never run out!
- Ear plugs – This can help you with helmet noise on long trips
- Consider bringing a cover for your motorcycle
- Water proof luggage – If your luggage will be mounted on the motorcycle, make sure that it can withstand the elements.
- Bring extra zip loc bags and rubber bands