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Packing for your first motorcycle trip

Packing for your first motorcycle trip

Posted by Grumpy The Biker on 2018 Jul 17th


packing for motorcycle tripSeveral years ago, once all our kids where finally at the age where they either didn't live at home anymore or were old enough to take care of themselves, we decided to head out on our first real long trip. We had been away on weekend rides before but never had we gone on a journey that would be a little more than 3500 miles long; taking us from Fruitvale, BC to Tucson Arizona and back in 10 days.

At the time I worked on Vancouver Island and I was flying home the same day we were leaving on the trip. The plan was to leave at 5pm and make Missoula, MT the first night. My flight landed at 3:40 and the wife had the everything packed and just needed me to load up the motorcycles, and by everything packed I really mean everything. I never went up to the house, I asked our youngest daughter to bring down the stuff and I would start putting the bags on the two 650 V-Star motorcycles we had at the time.

Char brought the first bag down to the bikes, I started putting it on as she went and got the second bag. I started strapping the second bag on to Eye's motorcycle and Char brought down the third piece of luggage. Then while I was putting that piece of luggage Char started walking towards me with a 4th piece, and she was supporting a large smile across her face. I looked up and questioned her "That's the last of the luggage I sure hope Char?"

motorcycle trip near oatman california

Char started to laugh and responds with "Dad, I think we are about half way". I sent Char backup to the house with the piece she was carrying, I unstrapped what was already on the bike and took the rest of the luggage back up to the house as well. Eye was devastated, how was she going to be gone for 10 days without all this stuff she had packed. It wasn't bad enough that we couldn't take everything, but I made it worse when I said we had to keep room for buying stuff along the way. We unpacked and repacked everything but even at what I agreed to take with us it was too much and luckily when we got to Cal's house he talked her out of bringing other items that she had strapped to her bike...like a folding chair.

Nowadays when we go on an extended trip our stuff fits into two bags. Our saddlebags are kept for items we will use during the day, maps, riding gear, and items we have purchased as souvenirs. Our theory is to pack for 4 days and if we are going longer there is something called a laundry mat or we buy a souvenir t-shirt.

What we typically each take with us is:

  • 3 t-shirts each
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts each
  • 1 hoodie each (can be used in the evening at the end of the day or be added to what you are wearing if it is a cold ride)
  • 2 pairs of jeans each
  • underwear for 4 days each
  • 4 pairs of socks each
  • walking shoes each - don't forget them, you will regret it if you do.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sun Block
  • Rain-X
  • Personal items, if you're hoteling it keep in mind most have shampoo, soap, and hair dryers at them.
  • Atlas
  • I also carry a tool kit that has approx. 6 sockets, one ratchet, one pair of pliers, a multi-change screw driver, folding allen wrench set, and an air pressure gauge.

This leaves plenty of room for buying those t-shirts at the Harley-Davidson shop, or the Sturgis Rally t-shirt. It doesn't matter that you're going to be wearing a limited selection of clothes, nobody is going to notice. We find by the time we get back home we have filled our t-bags up, and usually our saddlebags. If we had left with more, we wouldn't have been able to grab as many memory keepsakes along the way.