An added benefit of moto camping is that it can be as long or short as you like. In other words, while you can make your journey a cross-country odyssey, you can also make it as simple as a casual overnighter. It’s up to you. No one expects you to be the next Kit Carson. The important thing is to embrace your curious side and get moving.
In addition to making sure your bike is tuned up and ready for the road, we put together the following tips to help you get the most out of your experience.
If you’ve traveled by bike before, you’ll know the concept of minimalism goes a long way when packing. With space at a premium, it’s important to pack only what you need. Lay out your gear with the goal of eliminating anything that isn’t essential, whether that’s an extra pair of pants, an oversized sleeping bag or that one indulgence you think you can’t live without.
Remember, quality is king when it comes to moto camping. Make sure to bring well-crafted items made from quality materials. Choose base layers made of wool or premium synthetics – the kind that protect you from heat and insulate from cold and are designed to wick away moisture.
Consider a synthetic sleeping bag versus a down-filled one. That’s because unlike down-filled sleeping bags, those made from synthetic materials provide insulation even when wet. And once wet, a down filled sleeping bag takes a very long time to dry – time most moto campers can’t afford to lose.
Before heading out on your first moto camping trip, do a practice run by setting up your camp in your yard or home. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment and that you’re able to set up and tear down everything confidently and efficiently. And if you make a mistake or run into an issue, it’s okay. That’s what a practice run is for – to work out any kinks, so that when it comes time for the real thing, you’ll be prepared for just about anything.
We all have limits on where we will and won’t camp. Understand your comfort level. Will you be staying at campgrounds the whole time? Or will you be roughing it in the backcountry? If you’re more comfortable at campgrounds, make sure to map them out ahead of time and be sure to check on their rules and availability. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a place to camp while you’re on the road.
If you decide that backcountry camping is more your style, be sure you research what kind of wildlife is in the area. It’s a good idea to know the behaviors of these animals and the risks involved. And in the event that you do run into wildlife, make sure you understand the safest way to respond.
If you’re camping in an area with bears, think about carrying some bear spray with you. You might also consider setting up a portable electric fence. Designed for easy packing, they’ve become quite popular with mindful campers.
Another good thing to know when camping in a bear habitat is how to hang a bear bag. And no, a bear bag is not a satchel filled with bear-friendly treats. Quite the contrary. A bear bag is an odor-proof bag you fill with items that could attract a bear to your campground. And when it comes to bears, that includes a long list of things – from food to first aid, and many things in between.
Make sure you hang your bear bag away from your camp on a tree branch that is roughly 15 to 20 feet above the ground and is at least 6 feet in length. It also needs to be strong and secure enough to support the weight of your bag. As far as hanging your bear bag, simply toss a thick rope over the branch, attach the bag, hoist it up and secure the other end to the tree’s trunk.
If you’d like more information about bear bags or to see how to hang one, there is a lot of great information online, including helpful how-to videos.
Be sure to let someone know of your plans, especially if you’re riding alone. Provide them with an itinerary of your day-to-day plans, including all of your arrival and departure information, so they’ll be able to keep track of your journey.
You might also consider bringing a satellite phone or beacon to communicate with your contacts in the event of an emergency. With many remote places across the country offering little to no cell service, these devices can really come in handy.
Once you’ve packed your bike, take it all off and pack it again. By doing this, you’ll often discover ways to pack more efficiently. It will also help you pack the items you use most more strategically. For instance, you’ll want items like your gloves, additional layers of clothing, as well as water and snacks to be easily accessible. There is nothing worse than having to dig through a bag on the side of the road to find your sunblock.
While camping, make sure you allow enough time for a thorough night’s rest. Eat healthy, stay hydrated and get some Zzz’s. To alleviate pressure on your lower back, try placing a rolled-up towel or some spare clothing underneath your legs, halfway between your knees and ankles. Keeping your back aligned in this way helps to increase blood flow, making for a more comfortable night’s rest.
When spending time outdoors, be careful to minimize your footprint. Use biodegradable soap for both yourself and your dishes and utensils. Resist the temptation to use paper and plastic, opting instead for non-disposable items that can be cleaned and reused. And whatever you brought with you should go home with you, too. In other words, leave no trace.
Moto camping is the perfect way to combine two things you love, affording you the opportunity to get away from your everyday routine, commune with nature and enjoy the company of others. So, what are you waiting for? Gas up, pack smart and get moving. The open road awaits!