Touring Top Ten Motorcycle Camping Mistakes

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by cafebikerpro, Dec 16, 2023.

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  1. cafebikerpro

    cafebikerpro New Member

    Dec 14, 2023
    #1 cafebikerpro, Dec 16, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2023
    Motorcycle Camping Mistakes - and How to Avoid Them

    So you’re finally going to do it—cut the cord, get off the beaten path, let ‘er rip and do some real motorcycle camping! Good for you!

    But, there are those nagging doubts. You try to rationalize by saying, “Aw go on—it’s just a camping trip—what could go wrong?” Of course, the answer is “plenty” but you knew that. So, what’s the best strategy to try to avoid those trip-busting mistakes?

    Here is our list of the top 10 motorcycle camping mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

    1. What’s on your list?
    Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make is failing to plan ahead. Don’t hesitate to make a list of things that come to mind as you consider the trip. It’s helpful to use in organizing things that need to be done before you leave, things to take and can even be useful in deciding what not to take. As you go through your list, you may realize that some things can serve dual purposes, which can eliminate the need to take something else.

    1. Don’t leave without filing your flight plan.
    Filing a flight plan is a must for most pilots, and it’s not a bad idea for motorcycle campers, either. Heading for the back country is exciting stuff, but whether you’re going with friends, a buddy or going it alone, making sure somebody back home has an idea of where you’re headed is just practical planning. Particularly for a solo trip, having somebody back home who knows about where you plan to travel and when you should return can literally be a life saver if something goes seriously wrong.

    You can’t count on even the best cell phone and network coverage to work in a lot of back country. More than once, a rescue has been launched by someone on the homefront realizing a trip is taking longer than planned.

    1. Maps aren’t just for fuel systems anymore.
    It’s a mistake to ignore good ol’ paper maps. Good maps, especially some topographical maps of the area you plan to cover can not only prevent you getting lost, they can enhance the enjoyment of the trip by helping to locate points of interest, natural features worth seeing such as waterfalls and by helping to avoid obstacles such as swamps. GPS systems are great, but like and device, they can fail or get damaged, so at times like that, low-tech countermeasures are handy. A number of companies produce printed map books by state and region and others may be available for download from the internet. Indeed, leaving a hard copy of a map showing your anticipated route at home is a great way to handle item #2 above.

    1. Dead batteries are a downer.
    Don’t forget to charge every battery-powered device you plan to take. Having fully charged back-up batteries is a good idea and double-check that battery in the bike. If it’s a flooded cell battery, make sure the electrolyte is up to the right level and if it’s a battery with a number of years of service on it, consider installing a new one before the trip.

    1. The provisions proviso.
    If your camping adventure doesn’t include fast food for most meals or restaurant dining, but instead campfire cooking, Sterno stove or propane stove cooking, be sure to pack foods that are easy to prepare that way. The right cookware and utensils are key as well as taking along a little seasoning to make the cuisine just right—even out on the trail. Prepackaged camp foods can be great ways to make both planning and packing easier. Hauling foods that don’t keep, aren’t sealed or can’t be resealed is a mistake.

    1. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
    It’s a mistake to assume nothing bad can happen when you exit the fast lane for the woods. Even the most cautious rider/camper can get hurt out on the trail. Heading into rugged country without a first aid kit and some basic knowledge of how to use it is a real mistake. The American Red Cross ( ) offers classes in first aid and CPR through a variety of organizations and individuals across the country.

    1. Keep it wet; your whistle, that is.
    Staying hydrated is crucial and becomes a key issue when your body is getting a workout, particularly in hot weather, maybe accompanied by the use of adventure riding gear. If drinking water sources are a question mark, you have to plan to pack a sufficient supply to get you between water holes. Packing a survival straw (such as a Life Straw ( ) for example is a good idea, but being able to carry enough to get by if there is no surface water and for any cooking (just add water type prepacked meals for example) is essential, too.

    1. Missing gear (not as in missing a shift).
    There’s an old saying, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Deciding what to take along can be tricky, especially in the details when you’re just starting out as a motorcycle camper. And the flip side of that expression is “you only have so much room to pack gear in.” Experience is a great but tough teacher.

    Some of the key indicators of what to take along is where you plan to camp; along with that is time of year, prevailing weather conditions, types of terrain and so on. The further off the beaten path you plan to venture, the more diligently you’ll have to plan.

    For example, if your trip is in the desert southwest in August, heat and hydration are factors in what kind of gear you may need. Yet, the desert and high country can be pretty cold at night. Camping in the north woods? Forget a little detail like insect repellent and you’ll regret it!

    Unlike backpacking, there is a piece of gear that has gear demands of its own—your motorcycle. Key maintenance and repair items and the tools necessary to use them must also be given due consideration; tire puncture repair kit and inflator, spare spark plugs, master link kit (if applicable), and so on as well as do-it-all tools like locking pliers, a few heavy duty cable ties, electrical tape, survival tape and any odds and ends you have found to be useful for the needs unique to your bike.

    1. Multi-tools can come in handy.
    Multi-tools come in all shapes and sizes from tiny pocket-sized jobs to hefty items that come with their own ballistic nylon belt case. Over the years, I’ve found good cause to use both types; for camping, the larger ones, some of which include a functional saw blade, can really earn their keep. Good stainless steel models can stand up to years of hard use and bad weather, but tend to cost a little more.

    1. Off site.
    Getting off the highway and into the backcountry for overnight means finding a good campsite. Getting into one that is too low will quickly be revealed as a mistake if a downpour moves in overnight. Setting up camp on boggy ground can present moisture problems even if it doesn’t rain. Pitching a tent in an area prone to rock falls or flooding can prove to be a serious mistake.

    There are a great many other items that could be on this list that you could add—do so by all means! Plan ahead, pack wisely, take your time and have a great motorcycle camping adventure!

    • Like Like x 1
  2. MoreT

    MoreT Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2022
    Love it. My take
    1. flight option is to allow your loved one to track you on WhatsApp. There are also Spot apps that will do the same for more money.
    2.Wet Whistle + Gear. Particularly in the desert with few fuel stops. Drink a liter at every stop (depends on your tank size but every 2 hours or 120 miles or so). Even if you think your not thirsty, you will also have to pee, which is a great gauge on if you are dehydrated or not. clear and your in the clear, yellow drink more. brown and your in trouble. If you are riding in the desert, cover up. 1st mistake rookies make is riding in tea shirt etc. Your sweat will whip off you without cooling you down and further dehydrate you. Also sun burn out in the wilds is no joke. Watch out for the wrists between cuff and glove and the back of your neck. Soaking your kerchief in water every stop is a tested method.
    3. food. If you carry dry food your going to have to carry the water anyway. I have at least one tin of Full Monty beans and sausage and a tin of mackerel in tommy sauce. I always carry real coffee and make it camp style, I learned that from my mum. I used to be able to get the tiny wee tins of evaporated milk, but not in this country. Not even in the Asian supermarket :( . cant stand milk powder so go without and add a little sugar. I always carry me some chunky oats for porridge. Speaking of Asian supermarkets, they do some cool precooked sachets of Dhal etc. Perfect for one. and a hunk of polish bacon keeps well and can have chunks cut off it. Wrapped in cling film or waxed paper. I try and get apples or any local fruit, but wash it in bottled water.
    4. I pack my own first aid kit. I have managed to get it down to just over two fist size (which is half the size it was). Minimum: mouth damn for mouth to mouth, 2x gloves (not the crappy ones they provide in 1st aid kits. Decent scissors with blunted ends that can cut at least thick denim, not the crappy ones, same with tweezers. couple of eyewash, at least one decent burn gel patch. How many times have I seen exhaust burns? The usual plasters and a few bandages. At least one decent bandage and pad, a trauma kit if you have space. T shirts can double up for wound packing. I have one tourniquet but don't pack it if you don't know how to use it. head torch, couple of nappy pins, I often carry ethanol for camp fuel, so can double up as cleaner. Oh yeah an emergency blanket. Also find out what your blood type is and have it on the bike, jacket or somewhere the first response will see it. also any medical allergies, save them guessing. I also pack paracetamol and non drowsy antihistamine in date. I used to pack Imodium but now I find its better to hole up a day or so and get it all out. Some electrolyte tabs.
    5. tool kit, up to you but again I have managed to reduce it in size to one small Molle pouch, includes a multi tool and spare nuts, bolts, cable ties and duct tape amongst other things. If you have tubeless tyres a plug kit will get you or friends out of trouble.
    6. tent, get one that fits you, is waterproof and is is easy to set and break. There's a trade off between comfort and packing space only you can decide.
    I also have a poncho for camp downpours that can also be used as a tarp. folds up to less than a fist. Can be used a porch on smaller tents with a walking pole and some paracord.
    7. make sure your sleep kit works, ultra light weight sleep pads can burst. Carry a sleeping bag liner, don't freeze, don't over heat. You don't need a pillow, use the sleeping bag stuff sack.
    8 I also have sandals or flipflops for camp. Easier than putting heavy boots or going barefoot on sharp stone.
    9. I don't have space for a folding chair and frankly i haven't found one that covers me in its max weight. I have a stool and a fancy wax cotton 2ft square that my sister gave me for Christmas.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. Eldon

    Eldon Elite Member

    Nov 14, 2018
    North Yorkshire
    Number 1 rule..... don't take too much stuff!

    Number 2 rule is...... travel light, cold at night!
    If you want compact lightweight then you're going to have to bite the bullet and splash the cash. My down bag is now nearly 20 years old and still going strong. What is the point of going away and being miserable and tired each day?

    I did a weeks trips around the Scottish highlands with just 42 lbs/20 kgs including throwover panniers and tank bag.

    Why would you take anything else other than petrol?
    My MSR XGK runs straight off tank fuel and I just top up the 500ml bottle at each fill up.

    Gas is cleaner, and in some ways more convenient, but you know when that gas cylinders going to run out don't you?????

    @MoreT definitely agree with number 8, the convenience is so much worth it. Flip flops or lightweight trainers are a winner.
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  4. MoreT

    MoreT Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2022
    Agree with the packing light and dual use...but I cant stand the smell of petrol fumes after brewing up in the tent porch even with it open (CO)
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