Sturgis Camping Essentials

Camping at Sturgis can be the best plan if you bring the right gear

Camping at Sturgis can be an absolute riot or it can totally suck. It's up to you to come prepared so that your down time is spent in relative comfort. Over the years I've taken my motorcycle on quite a few camping expeditions, so I've come across some key items that will help make the experience a little more manageable without taking up too much space. Here's a list of 10 things that can help make you a bit more comfortable while camping at Sturgis.

Inflatable Sleeping Pad

Sleeping Bag
Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping PadCourtesy of the manufacturer

Campgrounds are rustic, to say the least; expect the ground to be hard and lumpy so a good sleeping pad is a necessity. A good-quality, inflatable pad is the best way to get you off the ground and absorb a few lumps so you can get a good night's sleep. The latest pads can be stuffed into a bag that fits in one hand, taking up less space than a foam pad. And an inflatable pad is a lot more comfortable.


Bike tent
Vuz Moto tent with bike garageCourtesy of the manufacturer

I love tent camping on a motorcycle. If you're going solo, you have a huge variety of compact tents to choose from. If you plan on bringing your significant other or picking up a temporary partner along the way, then you'll want a little bigger tent. I prefer to always go for a bigger tent so you can stash your gear and have an easier time changing clothes. Vuz Moto offers a radical townhouse of a tent with single bike garage—but I haven't tried it out for myself…yet. Don't forget the tent stakes because the wind can pick up at the Chip.


OUTRY Waterproof Multi-Purpose TarpCourtesy of the manufacturer

Like I said earlier, the campgrounds are messy. A tarp allows you to do any one of a few things to make your life that much better. You can spread it out under your tent to help keep moisture from seeping into your sleeping area. If the rains go crazy, you can use it on the top for an added level of rain-proofing. Or simply use it as a porch. Leave your boots and gear outside the tent so you're not always dragging dirt into your sleeping area. You can go el cheapo or you can get a fancy version like the Outry and never have to buy another one again.

Sleeping Bag/Bedding

Horizon Hound Down Camping BlanketCourtesy of the manufacturer

Sleeping bags are always the easy answer, but they are not the only option. A couple of soft, fleece blankets can make for a cozy bed, as can a wool one for that matter. The Horizon Hound is a recent addition to my gear because it is a huge blanket that packs into a tiny bag.


Coleman Company Conquer 250 lm LED HeadlampCourtesy of the manufacturer

I use plural here because you can never have enough light. I like to bring a good, reliable flashlight as well as a headlamp on all my camping adventures. A headlamp allows you to have hands-free light, which makes working on bikes, digging through saddlebags, and blinding your buddies while you BS with them that much easier. It's also important to bring extra batteries, just in case you pass out with the light on. It's never happened to me. Maybe.

Camp Chair

camping chair
KingCamp Portable Camping Beach Folding ChairCourtesy of the manufacturer

If you haven't seen the numerous options for lightweight, portable camping chairs, then hop on your scooter and get down to your local outdoor store and pick one that suits your needs. Or just follow this link to the KingCamp chair. This has become one of the most reliable ways to bring a bit of comfort to your camp. It makes it easier to get your boots off and on as well.

Rain Gear

rain gear
Alpinestars Quick Seal Out Rain Jacket and PantsCourtesy of the manufacturer

It always seems to rain at some point during the Sturgis Rally. Plus, you can use rain gear as an extra layer of protection from the cold or simply to walk around at the campground if (more like when) the rains show up. Bring rain gear and thank me later.

Bathroom Kit

4monster Microfiber TowelCourtesy of the manufacturer

Shower lines are long so it's best to be prepared. Bring small bottles with your favorite gels and a small package of wet wipes. The wipes are good for washing your hands before you eat, after you use the Porta Potti, or maybe you just need a little help wiping road grime off your ugly mug. A camping towel is always nice because it dries quickly and is more absorbent than you might expect. Plus, they take up very little space compared to a traditional bath towel. And don't forget, flip-flops are the best way to keep your feet off the floor of public showers. Who wants to dip their toes in Bubba the biker's soap scum?

Portable Power

Micro jump starter
Antigravity KIT Personal Power SupplyCourtesy of the manufacturer

Portable power packs come in many shapes and sizes, but a few years back, these micro-kit versions showed up and they are awesome. They can jump-start a pickup truck or simply be used as a USB power source that lasts for days.


Watch the weather and plan for it to swing in any direction. Bring clothes for walking around in camp so you are not always in your riding gear, and be prepared to party with the proper attire. A bikini is always nice for the ladies because it can get hot. If that’s not your style, then a pair of dark-colored board shorts and lightweight pants are always a good idea. Plan to wear your jeans for multiple days so you don’t have to add extra bulk in your bags. Make sure to have lightweight long-sleeve shirts as well as tees. Don’t skimp on the underwear though. A great way to keep the clean and dirty stuff separated is to bring a few garbage bags. Neatly stuff the funk-filled clothes back in its own sack and stash it outside the tent so your living area doesn’t stink like dirty socks.