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Packing Tips for Two-Up Motorcycle Camping

Bringing just enough for two to be comfortable without overloading the bike.

Published on 12.09.2015

Gear Placement On the Bike

TOP CASE:

This is where we generally store our sleeping gear and things that come with us inside the tent. Try to keep it light to avoid making the bike top heavy.

packing for two up motorcycle camping
Top case contains sleeping gear, tent poles, tent spikes, and JetBoil stove. Avoid storing food with your bedding because the lingering odors could attract animals.
  • Self Inflating Sleeping Pads (2)
  • Mummy Sleeping Bags (2)
  • +25 Degree Sleeping Bag Liner (2)
  • JetBoil Stove & Coffee Press (1)
  • Jetboil Fuel Canisters (2)
  • Lantern (1)
  • Water Purification Tablets Pack (1)
  • All-Purpose Blue Tarp

LEFT PANNIER:


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This is where we pack items that go outside the tent and also our food. It is important to keep food and dirtier items separate from your clothes and anything else that will go inside the tent.

two up motorcycle packing tips
The left pannier carries camp chairs, lights, food, ax, shovel, and utensils; everything that stays outside our tent.
  • Camp Chairs (2)
  • Ax with Integrated Knife (1)
  • Mini-Shovel (1)
  • Water Bottles (2)
  • Head Lamps (2)
  • Tripod Flashlight (1)
  • Collapsible Rubber Mess Kit (1)

RIGHT PANNIER:

Bulkier items like a tent and tools go in the right side bag. We also carry tennis shoes here for times when we want to hike or go for a walk.

two up motorcycle packing
Tent, towels, and rags go in the right pannier. And don’t forget the tools and first aid kit!

Clothing High and Dry

It is important to keep our clothing separate, but dry. So we use the 21-liter Wolfman Luggage Renegade Dry Duffel for shorter trips or the 33-liter Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel for longer trips. Either bag straps onto the top case, making clothing easily accessible throughout the day, should we need to add or subtract layers.

two up motorcycle travel packing tips
Our clothing gets strapped to the top case for easy access throughout the day. The 21-liter Wolfman Luggage Renegade Dry Duffel packs clothing for both of us on shorter trips.

Which brings me to the clothing, which I promised I would briefly discuss. When packing clothing, we focus on thin, snug fitting layers in order to keep packing size to a minimum. We use fitness clothing and stay away from cotton items or anything that is not easily dryable and/or washable. We also want to leave room for extra undergarments like underwear and socks so we can change if we get wet in our travels. Below is a brief list of the clothing each one of us packs for a two-week journey:

  • Base Layers (3)
  • Undergarments (7)
  • Socks Pair (7)
  • Long Sleeve Shirt (4)
  • Short Sleeve Shirt (3)
  • Button-Down Camp Shirt (1)
  • Fleece Pullover (1)
  • Cargo Pants (2)
  • Fleece Cap (2)
  • Gloves Pair (2)

Packing this way allows us to dress with layers and easily adjust to changing temperatures. Because the layers are thin and snug, they take up minimal space in the bag. And using fitness materials keeps the weight of the bag down. These materials are also easy to wash and dry while on the road. Dressing in layers also means that we can get more use out of our clothing before needing to wash them.

I should also mention that, in the event that we are carrying additional electronics, such as cameras and music devices, we add a Wolfman Luggage Explorer Lite Tank Bag to the mix. This bag has plenty of space to add smaller items we need quick access to.

Wolfman explorer-lite tank bag
For extra space and quick access to essential items, we add a tank bag to the mix.

An indispensable item that you don’t see here is a 4-6 liter water bladder, which we usually pack in the right pannier. But it goes wherever it fits the best, once we are packed.

packing for two up motorcycle touring
It’s important not to stuff the cases too much in order to leave room for extra things you’d like to bring back from your trip.

This setup has allowed my wife and I to have many wonderful experiences as we’ve traveled over the years. Although this may not be the best solution for everyone, this solution has served our specific needs. And hopefully, it will provide you with a good starting point to get out there with your “someone special.”

Two-Up Motorcycle Camping Gear Weights and Measures

Qty. Equipment Weight (lbs.) Price USD*
1  Kelty Salida 4 Person Tent 7.3 $193.59
1  Heavy Duty Tent Stakes 4-pack 0.9 $3.66
2  REI Flex Lite Camp Chairs 3.3 $145.00
2  North Face Wasatch 20-Deg. F Mummy Sleeping Bags 3.8 $178.00
2  Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme +25-Deg. F Sleeping Bag Liners 1.8 $133.90
2  REI AirRail 1.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad 3.3 $179.00
2  Sea to Summit Aeros Ultra Light Inflatable Pillows 0.4 $69.90
1  JetBoil Flash Cooking Stove 0.9 $62.00
1  JetBoil Coffee Press 0.1 $9.96
2  100g Fuel Canisters 0.4 $17.46
1  Sea to Summit X-Set 31 2-Person Collapsible Rubber Mess Kit 1.3 $104.95
1  Joby Gorillatorch Adjustable Tripod Flashlight 0.4 $27.56
2  Nalgene 32 oz. Water Bottles 0.8 $19.98
1  Water Purification Tablets 20-Pack 0.1 $10.99
1  Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel 1.8 $32.33
1  Gerber Gator Combo Axe/Knife 2.0 $38.74
2  Princeton Tec Byte 50 Headlamps 0.3 $44.92
1  Black Diamond Orbit Lantern 0.2 $19.88
1  7’4″ x 9’6″ All-Purpose Blue Tarp 1.0 $4.99
1  Counter Assault 8.1 oz. Bear Spray 0.9 $38.00
Total: 31.0 $1,334.81
ADVPulse.com  
* Current prices found at time of publishing. Prices may vary over time.

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For more information, or answers to questions, please post comments here, and I will answer them as thoroughly and promptly as I can.

Photos by Kristen Vota

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Author: Jim Vota
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Harold Olaf Cecil
Harold Olaf Cecil
December 9, 2015 1:24 pm

Great tips and info! Soft luggage is another option that helps reduce the weight of the packing system itself https://youtu.be/j9KB4y–I9U

Jim V.
Jim V.
December 9, 2015 4:06 pm

Harold.

Very good point! And we do use soft luggage, depending on where we are headed and the terrain we will face. Honored to have you comment here! Ride safe out there!

Jim V.
Jim V.
December 9, 2015 4:26 pm

Just to add one more note. We sometimes even forego the hard top case and replace it with a Wolfman Duffel if things are gonna get really rough. 🙂

Chris
Chris
December 9, 2015 4:54 pm

Very interesting article, I enjoyed reading it. My wife and I just started our first year motorcycle camping with our 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650. We really enjoyed camping as a family when our children were young and now we are rediscovering it all over again via an adventure motorcycle. Planing what to take and how to pack are part of the fun along with mapping out the route, stopping for sightseeing along the way and just enjoying each others company during the entire experience. Motorcycle camping is one of our favorite activities. Thanks for the helpful information you have provided, you have given me some new ideas to consider for our own future adventures.
CLW

Jim V.
Jim V.
December 10, 2015 5:35 am
Reply to  Chris

Chris. Thanks for the kind words. Choosing camping gear is very personal. You can go minimal or aim for comfort. And you are right. Some of the best fun was sitting with my wife and finding everything we would want. The planning of adventure trips is just as exciting as the trips themselves. I am glad to hear that you guys are enjoying the process. And please feel free to post any questions here. I will do my very best to answer them. Ride on and ride safe!!

Andy
Andy
December 10, 2015 8:00 am

I’m sure that you get a great deal of suggestions of other things to bring, but two things I like are the hiking cot (now owned by Thermorest) and a battery powered motion detector/alarm. I “velcro” the alarm to the bike so anyone messing with it will be warned off and in bear country I put it outside my tent to alert me to visitors.

I may have to try the bag liners since I’ve needed to sleep in clothes to stay warm from time-to-time.
Thanks for your article.

Jim V.
Jim V.
December 11, 2015 9:17 am
Reply to  Andy

Andy,

These are great tips, and are certainly logical additions, depending on where one is going! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m gonna look into that cot for when I’m traveling on my own. 🙂

Jodi V.
Jodi V.
December 11, 2015 7:30 am

What do you bring for toiletries and where do you store those?

Jim V.
Jim V.
December 11, 2015 8:55 am
Reply to  Jodi V.

Jodi.

We tend to stack up on smaller, travel size items when it comes to toilet paper and tissues. That way we can place them wherever there is room.

Here is a list that I have on general toiletries and quantity for both of us:
– Deodorant (2)
– Toothbrush (2)
– Toothpaste (one for both of us)
– Dry Shampoo (1)
– Body Spray (2)
– Baby Wipes (one pack or each of us)
– Razor (for her)
– Portable beard trimmer (for me…I don’t shave much on trips)
– Wet Ones (1 can)
– Sun screen (SPF 100 minimum) (2)

Typically, this kit will go in one of two places. We will place it in the duffel with our clothes, or in the right side case. When we pack our camping gear, along with our clothes and electronics, we have the extra space in our right case. We keep our food and fluids in the left case because there is nothing in there that will go in, or on our tent. We feel it is important to separate the food from any clothing or anything that will be in the tent. That way we can avoid getting animals snooping around. Because of that, we tend to fill up the top case and left side case faster. This leaves room in our right side case, which really only holds our tent, tent foot, tent spikes (possibly), and some other miscellaneous items. Hope this helps. Please ask any other questions you have! Thanks for contributing here!

backseatriderblog
backseatriderblog
May 12, 2016 10:26 am

This is a really great article and particularly helpful for us 2-up riders who don’t have a set of panniers each! I’m sure we don’t take much more than you have but it doesn’t seem to fit nearly as neatly and with as much space free as yours! Am going to try your way exactly and see how it goes! Thanks for taking the time to post pictures and links too.

Henrique
Henrique
July 28, 2016 1:06 am

Amazing tips! Really appreciate it as I’ll attempt a 2 week tour here in Europe… Just a question, how do you lock up the clothes dry bag if you leave the bike to explore the city/ go to the beach?

Kyle
Kyle
February 18, 2017 1:30 am

This is a fantastic guide! I’m very happy that you covered what you pack in such great detail. Extremely helpful!

Jacob Willén
Jacob Willén
February 24, 2017 1:16 pm

Hey! Great article! But I’m just wondering what model those panniers are. Can’t find anything like them anywhere!

Jim V.
Jim V.
February 24, 2017 4:39 pm
Reply to  Jacob Willén

Jacob. Thanks for the kind words! The panniers and top case were made by Hepco Becker. The panniers are called Juniors. They come in two sizes and these are the larger size. Please reply here if you have any other questions.

madcrouton
madcrouton
May 5, 2017 10:26 am
Reply to  Jim V.

Jim – Great post… glad I stumbled upon it! Love the set-up with Juniors on the sides and top… curious if the sides are 30L or 40L, Is the top-case Junior as well? What size?

Pete
Pete
April 19, 2017 8:42 pm

Hi Jim, great tips. What’s the brand of the hardshell saddles? Thanks!

Pete
Pete
April 19, 2017 8:44 pm
Reply to  Pete

disregard, just noticed Jacob’s post!

Jenn
Jenn
September 12, 2017 2:20 pm

Great article and comments! We’re getting ready to take a two week journey and because of where we’re going I need to add one weeks food to our bike. We’re completely maxed out with the panniers, tour pack, and a soft clothing bag as you suggested. Any suggestions?

Jim V.
Jim V.
September 17, 2017 6:04 am
Reply to  Jenn

Jenn.

You may want to consider adding a tank bag to your bike. Even the smaller tank bags can make a big difference. That will give you some extra room to move items from another bag to the tank. Don’t put anything too heavy in the tag bag, though. Also, try to look for a tank bag that will have sufficient resistance to rain. It will be on top of the bike, so it will get wet.

Concerning food, and this is just what I do. When I have to carry provisions with me, I look to camp food and MRE’s. They are light weight, give you a lot of calories (which you will need), and they pack easily. They don’t always have the taste one may want. But they cook easily, needing only hot water. And they do not add much weight at all to the bike. I use camp food and MRE’s when I travel longer distances. But food is a personal thing and this is just my way of doing things.

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