Pack The Right Gear For Your Road Trip

Tip #188 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

Pack for your trip, motorcycle gear

Backpackers and motorcyclists soon learn that, as with so many things in life, less is more. The same goes double when it comes to packing for a trip. Some folks buy giant touring bikes, load them to tire-bursting capacity, and then hook up a trailer for good measure. Minimalists will take along a credit card, cell phone, and toothbrush, and probably cut half the handle off the last item. As for the rest of us, here’s what we’ve discovered works for most journeys.

GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT The bike comes first. Bring a small kit with a set of tools and some maintenance materials.

PACK RIGHT When you're shopping for luggage, buy small—it'll force you to pack light. Backpacks are the most versatile. Also, consider luggage designed for motorcycles, such as saddlebags or tank bags; they'll take the load off you and put it on the bike instead. When you do start actually packing, don't just throw stuff in. Instead, put everything on the floor before you pack—then put half of it back. You may want to bring that stuff, but you don't need to.

PACK LIGHT Choose multitasking items. The pocket multi-tool (such as the iconic Leatherman) is a perfect example. Your bike cover might double as a ground cloth if you're camping, or your hammock might double as a bike cover. If you want to ride all the great back roads to that MotoGP race across the country, but you want to keep your bike light and nimble, then you can ship your clothes to the hotel via UPS, FedEx, or some other service. And remember, nothing is as compact or as versatile as cash.

SECURE IT ALL Bungee cords are your friends here. Motorcycles shake and move, and their loads compress and shift. The elastic in bungee cords compensates; rope can't. If it moves and it shouldn't, use zip ties or duct tape. If it's not moving and it should, use WD-40.