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Old 08-25-2014, 09:00 AM   #1
Project84 OP
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From a first-timers moto-camping experience.

This past weekend I took my first motorcycle camping trip. Myself and 3 friends all rode from Cincinnati all down through eastern KY to TN and back. Was an awesome trip and taught me a lot about moto-camping. Route in total was about 550 miles in 2 days.

Here's my short summary if you're a first-timer and wondering what to bring, what to buy, etc.


1) Have a meeting/dinner with who ever is going on the trip. Establish in clear understanding who is bringing what. My friends and I didn't do this and it caused for a lot of surplus to be packed. Seems logical, but somehow we overlooked this idea.

2) Size matters.
- I don't own motorcycle specific ANYTHING.... yet. I now know that it is a necessity. All the camping gear I own was purchased from Walmart over the years and was intended to be used when traveling via car/truck to campgrounds. That's NOT practical when you're traveling by motorcycle. All my gear was heavy, bulky, and excessive. My rain gear is made of PVC coated nylon, it's super heavy and takes up a ton of space in itself. The air matress I used is made by Coleman, it's heavy and bulky.

My suggestions -
-frog toggs rain gear for size and effectiveness are needed
-smaller/thinner sleeping bag, or even just a sheet of high thread count
-use extra t-shirt or sweatshirt for pillow at night, don't pack one, certainly not a full size one.
-if you "think you might need it" you should probably just leave it at home if it's only a 1-2 day trip - you'll either improvise or do without.
-Cheap pool float as an air matress for size/weight savings.

3) Don't be a pack-rat.
- I overdid it on food. I overdid it on comfort items. I overdid it on extra clothes (we were forecast for rain, and my rain gear isn't intended for use at 70mph in downpours). I over did it on whiskey too, believe it or not. lol

My suggestions -
-Eat fast food or sit down for dinner somewhere that you will stuff yourself well for the evening.
-If you do bring food, bring something small in a can with a pop-top or in a pouch that doesn't require heating or accessories to eat.
-Breakfast of protein bar is good enough to get you moving and packing up camp - get on the road and go get good food elsewhere.
-Bring a bottled water/caffeinated drink if needed. When it's empty and you stop for gas, fill it up for free in the faucet or if traveling w/ friends, buy a large gatorade and split it w/ a few guys pouring some into their old water bottles.

4) Watch the pace! (AKA plan a route that's practical, at practical speeds, not a route that's maybe, possibly, if we go super fast, able to squeeze it all in.)
- We rode pretty damn fast. Faster than I like actually, and I got uncomfortable a few times and trailed back. We wanted to spend all weekend riding nothing but 3 and 4 digit roadways, goat paths, twisty mountain passes. That was AWESOME, except the guy leading was on a Sportster only able to roll about 80 miles between fillups, and the group I was with were all smokers except for myself. This meant we were stopping every 40 miles for smoke breaks, then 40 miles later for gas and more break time. It messed up our pace of "spirited" and made us all push pretty hard to get to camp and set it all up before nightfall. Then we still had to go out for dinner and to buy firewood - which meant riding in the mountains at night, dodging deer and meth-crazed locals in cages. Plus it meant setting up camp and leaving all our valuables behind and hoping no one messed with our stuff.

Some other small tips -
-go through your bike well before the trip - not the night before. (friend stripped threads on oil drain plug night before, only managed to get 4 hours of sleep due to staying up late fixing it)
-if only 1-2 days, bring extra socks and underwear for sure, other stuff may not be required. For example - I brough extra shorts, shirts, a hoodie, etc. and used none of it. I rinsed my mesh t-shirt in a creek twice to both clean it somewhat and to cool it off to help w/ the heat of the day.
-SLOW DOWN, ENJOY THE SCENERY. My biggest regret about our pace/available time was the fact that we were pressed for it and going way too fast 99% of the time. The trip was just yesterday and I remember all the roads, all the turns, but I don't remember seeing anything else. Just blacktop. That sucks!
-ask locals about dining options nearby or attractions. We got lucky and took a wrong turn which lead us to a lake. They used the opportunity for a smoke break, I stripped down to my undies and jumped in the lake. lol
-we all really wish we could've been in communication during the ride. We need to invest in some type of devices for this.
-acetaminophen. Bring it, use it morning of day 2.

Lastly - You cannot pack enough baby powder. I put it in my boots, socks, boxers, buttcrack, and of course the other parts. Day 1, I was too modest. Day 2, I was a cloud of baby powder at every stop for gas. I enjoyed day 2 much more.
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Old 08-25-2014, 09:14 AM   #2
riverflow
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I rode the first half of the KAT solo as my first real moto camping trip. I'd traveled a bit on the bike beforehand and have a lot of backpacking gear/experience.

I more or less agree with everything you said. However, I will always overpack tools after a few weeks of dealing with chain issues. If you have a group of 3-4 of you, you should easily be able to carry enough to fix about anything.

As for the rest of the gear? I keep it to a minimum. I had food/utensils/cooking for 4 days, 2 options for shelter, and a change of clothes all in a small duffel and sleeping bag in a stuff sack.

The best idea I had for that trip though was mounting a fresh knobbie a few weeks before I left. I hit some pretty good mud holes and am sure I would have been stuck without it. Had I also changed out the worn chain/sprockets I probably could have avoided a lot of problems as well (though I did hit a small wire that wrapped itself around the rear and derailed my chain soon after)
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:33 PM   #3
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I still do shake-down trips before any long ride...an over-nighter or maybe a long weekend is perfect. Helps me a hell of a lot when it comes to packing, what to take, what not...and, of course, is a great justification if you have a significant other.

But..even with that done...

I still send stuff home (via the post office). It's almost always clothes, but I also throw in any souvenirs that I may have bought along the way.

To me there's three really big space/weight savers - and they all revolve around sleeping.
  • The tent - I loved my old BA Seedhouse II but I lost it so right now I'm using a tent three times the packed size and the widest/longest thing on the bike.
  • The sleeping bag (my down 4 season bag with full length zip + an Egyptian cotton bag liner is enough for everything apart from sustained sub-zero nights).
  • The sleeping mat - again I managed to lose my self inflating, ultra small mat....grrr.....so right now I'm using a bog standard, cheap and very cheerful foam sleeping mat. It's big, it's bulky. It's not ideal but it's what I have.
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:18 AM   #4
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Looks like a good list for your first MC camping trip. You seem to have paid attention to what worked for you and what didn't.

I still like my blue foam sleeping pad. Lighter than any of the air pads and a perfect record of reliablilty. But bulky.
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:02 AM   #5
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I have a blue foam sleeping pad that I didn't bring because a friend suggested I use the Coleman air mattress instead since the forecast was rain and the pad still leaves you on the ground basically. I use the pad whenever I camp, but I figured it was too big (even though its not heavy) to pack on the bike.

Apparently of my friends, I'm the only one who surfed the hunting section at Walmart. I found a few unique and beneficial items there. A foam seat pad that I used both on the bike and at camp to sit on. A small 4-legged colapseable chair.

I don't think I mentioned it in the first post, so I will now suggest one final MUST HAVE.... zip ties! I used about twenty securing the gear packed high on the tail section (no tail bag) and friends used them for various things as well.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Project84 View Post

I don't think I mentioned it in the first post, so I will now suggest one final MUST HAVE.... zip ties! I used about twenty securing the gear packed high on the tail section (no tail bag) and friends used them for various things as well.
Yes, I carry four different sizes...for small electrical wiring issues to the big thick ones. Zip ties, duct tape, baling wire, and a good epoxy are always at the bottom of one of the panniers.
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Old 08-29-2014, 09:25 AM   #7
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Backpacking gear is your friend when picking motocamping gear. There is an even stronger size/weight focus. Then since you have a bike not your back, you can use bigger/cheaper/heavier options as it makes sense.

When on a bike trip you're always within a half of a gas tank from civilization, so there's lots of stuff you can just pick up if you end up needing it.
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Old 08-29-2014, 02:47 PM   #8
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My first moto camping trip I borrowed a tent.
But this advice works if it is simply a new one you bought as well.


Do let the first time you set up the tent be after dark by the headlight of your motorcycle.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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You seemed to have learned some important lessons that will be useful as you undertake further adventures. With more experience you might also want to try long distance solo riding. The freedom of setting your own pace and stopping when and where you want to stop is the primary reason that you see so many riders traveling alone.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PachmanP View Post
Backpacking gear is your friend when picking motocamping gear. There is an even stronger size/weight focus. Then since you have a bike not your back, you can use bigger/cheaper/heavier options as it makes sense.

When on a bike trip you're always within a half of a gas tank from civilization, so there's lots of stuff you can just pick up if you end up needing it.
This. REI is your friend. Get to know their website if you don't have a store nearby. With a good bit of careful research you can eat, sleep and stay dry much better than you probably did.

No offense but your trip sounds just plain awful to me. Mainly the stopping every 40 miles part.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:33 PM   #11
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Eek

Campmor also has lots of backpacking gear.

I've been backpacking for almost 40 years and have the worn gear to prove it.

What I'm find now that I'm getting back into MC expeditions is that size is more important than weight in my gear. Just bought my first down bag (REI on 30% sale) because it met my temp requirements and it crushes down to about 1/4 of what my really comfy Slumberjack bag does. The 3 lbs weight savings wasn't important to me.

I have too many tents, but always prefer a 2-man tent. When it is likely to be nice weather, I take my small 5 lb 3-season Eureka Apex. When it will rain hard, freeze or maybe snow, I take my 7 lb 4-season Eureka Timberline. The Timberline doesn't pack well on the bike, so I usually end up strapping it behind me on the seat.

Tools, spares, water, cooking gear, food, liquor, sleeping pad, clothing make up the rest. Everything except the Timberline tent will fit in my saddlebags.

Also, keep in mind that spending a lot of money doesn't mean you will get something that works well for you or that you like. When traveling on the bike or backpacking, I like to be very comfortable and sleep well. I don't like being soaking wet. Those kinds of things drive some of my decisions about gear.

For you older or damaged folks, you might want to consider a Coffey chair (or something like it). I'm looking to buy one. I also pack a kneeling pad to save my poor knees if I have to work on the bike of sit on a rock. It weighs nothing, is cheap and you can use if you find the need to sit on rocks.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:34 AM   #12
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I have similar issues......need to lose the weight....not just around the middle

I tend to pack to much stuff.....

What I run into is I do hybrid trips...some camping some hotel...I want light packable camping gear but still a certain comfort level....
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlestonADV View Post
You seemed to have learned some important lessons that will be useful as you undertake further adventures. With more experience you might also want to try long distance solo riding. The freedom of setting your own pace and stopping when and where you want to stop is the primary reason that you see so many riders traveling alone.
This makes a lot of sense. I seem to have pissed my friends off. Eating dinner on the last day of the trip only 30 miles from home we were all recapping our experience. Mine was basically, "I loved the experience, enjoyed the pace AT TIMES, but would've rather stopped to see more cool things, slowed down a bit and not felt so pushed for time, and spent more time exploring the ATV camp we stayed at overnight." Their experience according to them was "The pace was great, I would've went faster if we could've, we went to hit all the twisty backroads not sight see."

That being the case - I don't know if I'll go along w/ them again unless that mindset changes. I expressed my concern for railing into double apex blind corners at 70+ mph and one buddy says "just lean it harder" but he wasn't understanding my "this isn't a race track, we're 4 hours from home and I don't wanna lay'er down!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmason View Post
This. REI is your friend. Get to know their website if you don't have a store nearby. With a good bit of careful research you can eat, sleep and stay dry much better than you probably did.

No offense but your trip sounds just plain awful to me. Mainly the stopping every 40 miles part.
Stopping every 40 miles did stink. Well, stopping wasn't so bad, gave time to relax the mind instead of being so focused on making it through the turns, it was the 30 minutes of them standing around smoking that was annoying. Guess I shouldn't complain too much, two of the guys mapped out the route and lead w/ their GPS, I was kinda just "along for the ride" so I have no room to judge.


My next moto camping trip will be better. I'll make sure of it!

Thanks for the suggestions and tips here. Didn't realize I posted this in the Trip Planning section when there is also a Day Trippin section already here. This should've belonged there most likely.
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:00 AM   #14
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Well put together

Especially the packing, pacing and prepping the bike tips....all true
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:04 AM   #15
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nice write-up. Funny how your mindset works when you're packing and you keep adding stuff that you "just might" need and end up with 100lbs of stuff hanging off your bike. I've motocamped a number of times now and still seem to over pack. I have a detailed list that I'm supposed to use...down to what goes in right/left pannier...still manage to over pack. Hopefully I will get it down to something a little more manageable some day soon.

As for the riding speed, that one takes some time. When you're riding with the same guys, you tend to get into a rhythm and worry less about going too fast or too slow. I have one riding buddy that I've ridden with for about 15 years. He has much more riding skill than I do, but we both know that if I slow down and get behind, he'll wait at the next turn for me. I dont have to push way outside my comfort level to keep up. As for riding with new acquaintances, I think you have to talk about the pace up front. If someone is telling you to lean more in a turn when you are saying 70mph in a double apex is fast, I'm afraid I would separate myself from that particular rider. I'm sure there are plenty of guys who love that kind of riding on twisty roads, but out riding your line of site while loaded for camping isn't something I would do.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Project84 View Post
This makes a lot of sense. I seem to have pissed my friends off. Eating dinner on the last day of the trip only 30 miles from home we were all recapping our experience. Mine was basically, "I loved the experience, enjoyed the pace AT TIMES, but would've rather stopped to see more cool things, slowed down a bit and not felt so pushed for time, and spent more time exploring the ATV camp we stayed at overnight." Their experience according to them was "The pace was great, I would've went faster if we could've, we went to hit all the twisty backroads not sight see."

That being the case - I don't know if I'll go along w/ them again unless that mindset changes. I expressed my concern for railing into double apex blind corners at 70+ mph and one buddy says "just lean it harder" but he wasn't understanding my "this isn't a race track, we're 4 hours from home and I don't wanna lay'er down!"



Stopping every 40 miles did stink. Well, stopping wasn't so bad, gave time to relax the mind instead of being so focused on making it through the turns, it was the 30 minutes of them standing around smoking that was annoying. Guess I shouldn't complain too much, two of the guys mapped out the route and lead w/ their GPS, I was kinda just "along for the ride" so I have no room to judge.


My next moto camping trip will be better. I'll make sure of it!

Thanks for the suggestions and tips here. Didn't realize I posted this in the Trip Planning section when there is also a Day Trippin section already here. This should've belonged there most likely.
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