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I’m totally addicted to motorcycle travel. During the “major” riding season (usually April through October for me) I almost always manage to get away every other weekend for an extended trip.


Doing so on the smaller motorcycles I favor - most recently my Ducati Scrambler Classic - means that you need to become an expert in preparedness, as the limited space available for luggage forces you to really pare down to what is absolutely essential.

I’ve been an avid backpacker for most of my life, and that activity really has helped me in this regard over the years. Besides, I’ve grown very fond of a somewhat “minimalist” existence - while on the road.

These weekend trips are almost always travelled on back roads, I very rarely touch an interstate or even a major highway. The destination is usually unimportant, as it is the roads themselves which are my focus. I spend a ton of time finding and researching the best twisty rural roads that I can for any trip - and maintain a huge database of these for future use.

Lodging during these excursions is never at major hotel or chain. I almost always camp for the night in some forest (or stealthily just off the road) - only occasionally at some tiny motel that time has forgotten.

In this post, I will attempt to demonstrate my packing system utilized on trips such as these.

Minimal luggage - minimal everything - for maximum enjoyment. No burdening of the light and nimble machines I adore with anything unnecessary.

Please note: Included in this document, whenever possible, there are hyperlinks to the actual items discussed, for your further exploration.


This is my “main bag”. A duffel that has a mere 12 liter capacity. It is only 8″ wide, 7″ tall and a short 16″ in length. It is totally waterproof, in fact its submersible to down to 16 feet. I had a local tailor sew on the “D” rings that are highlighted - these make attachment to the bike and my other packing options easier. It is manufactured by a company known as “Mad Water”, HERE is a link for those that are interested.

This is what it usually contains:


  1. Portable Shortwave - AM/FM Radio - good for music and weather updates.
  2. Insulated Coffee Cup - Gotta have coffee on the road (more on this later)
  3. LED Lantern - Super bright and battery efficient, does double duty as a lantern and a flashlight.
  4. Down Sleeping Bag - Nothings packs as small, or is as warm as down.
  5. “Survival Kit” - This contains multiple items, such as waterproof matches a couple of cubes of fire-starter, a signal mirror, spare cordage, duct tape small sewing kit, tent repair kit - essential stuff like that, plus a mini water purifier.
  6. Tire Repair Kit - Contains four 16 gram CO2 cartridges with an inflator nozzle and tire ropes.
  7. Playing Cards - Gotta entertain yourselves, right?
  8. Guylines - For when the weather threatens to blow your tent into the next county.
  9. Titanium 600 ml Pot with Lid - Inside is a miniature stove burner and a gas cartridge.
  10. Tubes of Soap, Benadryl, Sunscreen & Hand Sanitizer
  11. Mini Tool Kit - Mini multi-meter, some spare wire, various (but minimal) hand tools.
  12. Pack Towel - Cleanliness is next to godliness
  13. Inflatable Sleeping Pad - Super light & small
  14. Grandpa’s Fire Fork - For the occasional stray trout (or hot dog)
  15. Inflatable Pillow - A luxury, but one I choose to never leave home without.
  16. Spare AA Batteries
Strapped to the back of this bag is my camping “roll”…


It contains my single person tent with poles and stakes, camping chair, a saw & a collapsible fishing pole with a small open faced reel and tackle. It is no longer than the duffle which it is strapped to.

Both items fit nicely on the smallest of passenger seats, here is a photo of this setup on the back of my Scrambler…


I also wear a small hydration pack that houses a 2-liter bladder, with spare room for storage of additional small items. My pack of choice is an Osprey Syncro - 15 liter version. This pack was designed with mountain bikers in mind, and I find it perfect for my use.


It houses the following items…


  1. Toiletry Bag - Contains some “butt-wipes” in a plastic bag, spare contact lenses, various drugs, deodorant, comb, etc.
  2. Rain Pants
  3. Rain Jacket
  4. Dry Bag with Spare Clothes - Spares of each: undershirt, drawers, t-shirt, socks plus some long underwear.
  5. Lenovo 8″ Tablet - Running Full Windows 8, essential for interfacing with the GPS (runs full version of Garmin’s BasCamp), also makes a good e-reader.
  6. Cables for Tablet
  7. Spare Camera Battery
  8. Digital Camera - Model varies according to trip.
This leaves plenty of room in the pack for things like cigarettes (I know, bad for me - but I’m addicted. Besides, I ride motorcycles - sometimes very aggressively - and have little illusion of living to an old enough age for emphysema to be a factor) plus other essentials like this…


This is my favorite coffee in the world. It comes in these little single-serve packets and contains only three ingredients - instant coffee, non-dairy creamer and just a tiny bit of sugar. I prefer this over any coffee I’ve ever had - anywhere - and always pack along several dozen of these tiny packets.

So, what about food & water?

Well, there is no shortage of farmer’s markets along the scenic country roads I travel. Here, I usually stop and load up on some fresh fruit and seasonal vegetables, which are bagged and thrown under a net on the back of the bike for consumption later (with some fresh fish, if I get lucky). I do stop at little local cafes and such whenever the mood strikes - but never eat fast-food or at “chains”.

I never buy bottled water, this is a wasteful American invention - I think (much like pet food) - electing to fill my hydration bladder from the sinks at gas stations or afore-mentioned roadside cafes.

Hygiene?

Bathing is done in various restroom facilities, or more preferably in some wilderness lake or creek - the same goes for laundry.

Believe it or not, this setup can usually support me for not only weekend trips but also several weeks at a time.

On the road, less is definitely more…

What is your "system?

Originally appeared on my personal blog @ www.moto-graphic.com
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Excellent pack! Consider myself inspired to try this.

Although it does look very clean and new for a regular camper :toothy12:
This is the latest iteration of this system - many of the items have been replaced over the years due to wear and tear.

I never went on a camping trip, but this got me thinking about it..
Do it! Its a great experience.
 
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Nice write up! I too love to camp on trips and have a similar pack setup. If you haven't ever travelled this way it's a great way to experience an area and have some adventures along the way. I have met some truly interesting people while cycle camping
 

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That road in your 1st photo is a cracker init.

As for the packing, you have it down to fine art, if camping.
Me, I rough it smoothly in hotels. Travel very light using the wear and toss method.
 

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I love travelling, a lot of my kit is my old military stuff, so well proven and odly comforting to have with me! My tent is a 2 person, lightweight walking tent. I've had it 15 years, and back then it was the best part of £400, you pay for what you get. I have a 2 season Snugpac softie sleeping back, again from mil days. Packs super small and is warm enough for the conditions I'd tour in. A 3/4 length thermorest self inflating roll mat is a must. LED torch, wash kit, basic first aid, and a decent size power cell to charge my phone. Satnav is fitted to the bike.

I cook with gas, using a Coleman self igniting burner, and use old military mess tins. Dry bags keep spare clothing dry, and I take a handful of Wayfarer meals for roadside eating. Again, the same as in UK forces ration packs. I also use the coffee sachets, can't do without them! A couple of water bladders are a must.

I take a handful of tools, cable ties, gaffer tape, and straps, with chain lube. My riding kit is my Rukka stuff, so no need for extra waterproofs. A luxury if I have room is a small folding chair ;-)

I take throwover panniers, and strap the rest to the pillion seat ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I love travelling, a lot of my kit is my old military stuff, so well proven and odly comforting to have with me!
That brings back memories for me!

Back in the "stone-age" of the early 1980's, when backpacking just started to get popular in the US, almost all of us new "devotees" used military surplus stuff - it was all that was widely available at the time, but it still works - and well.
 
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