Traveling by motorcycle and camping just seem to go together.
The rugged outdoorsiness of traveling across the country with your body exposed to the elements makes sleeping under the stars seem all the more natural. Moto Camping, as some like to call it, requires packing light. But just because you're sleeping outside doesn't mean you have to give up all the creature comforts of civilization. I mean- really.
There are certain things I have decided to not live without. To accomplish this requires certain gear- particular tools that I have found invaluable on the road- and at the campsite. I share the following list in hopes of helping my fellow motorcyclists avoid despair, and make their journey just a bit more comfortable.
Before You Go
If you're looking for reference material check out Motorcycle Camping Made Easy by Bob Woofter. It's not only a good read, it offers tons of great advice. It covers the basics, and that's why I highly recommend this book to those with limited camping experience. Recently updated, it's even small enough to bring along on your adventure!
Another great resource is the website and forums at Moto Campers.com. As the name implies, it's devoted to two-wheeling adventure and offers user-submitted reviews of campgrounds and camping gear. Wet Leather also offers some sage advice on Bill John's Excellent Motorcycle Camping Guide. It's got to be good if it's written by a man with two first names!
You'll find more links to motorcycle camping areas and resources in our links section under Campgrounds & Resorts.
Must. Have. Coffee.
And no, instant will not do!
But if you have the ability to heat water, then you can have real-live, good coffee at your camp. I make it in a cool gadget called the Bodum Travel Press. It's an insulated travel mug and coffee press all in one! Just measure out your coffee, pour in hot water, let it stand for a few minutes and it makes 16 ounces of kick-ass coffee!
The Comfy Chair
My preferred derriere depository is the PICO Arm Chair by GCI. It packs down to 20" by 12" yet supports up to 250 pounds. The Pico is full height, unlike the beloved Kermit chair you see at all the BMW rallies.
Don't settle for a lame chair from Mega Lo Mart. And whatever you do, don't make my mistake and take along one of those folding stools. My back was aching for days after that trip!
Face it, it's no fun camping if you never get there. And no matter how much we like to waller around with a paper map- it ain't no fun while riding a motorcycle down the highway!
My GPS has been a real life saver more than a few times. Oh sure it's fun, I like exporting the routes after I get home so I can figure where the hell I got lost. But on the road it's great being able to dial in the destination and know I can get there- and having the freedom to detour down some lonely lane to the tune of "Recalculating." I'll get there. I can wander, and I'll still get there.
The other nice thing is being able to look up lodging (campsites or otherwise) from the cockpit. My preferred GPS is a Garmin Zumo. There are a number of different models available, but all Zumos are designed specifically for motorcycle use. Waterproof, touch-sensitive even with gloved hands, rugged, and the latest 665 model even includes a weather radar feature!
Here's the one you'll really thank me for- or kick yourself if you ignore it. So simple, handy and costs less than three bucks!
A kickstand coaster will save your bacon when you have to park in gravel, loose soil or moist earth. Heck, I've even seen a Ducati take a tump on hot asphalt! The August sun had made the new parking surface so soft the kickstand poked in like a a cake knife. That guy was wishing he'd spent the three bucks!
Screw It- Let Someone Else Handle It
Yes friends, this is an option. If all this packing and securing and folding sounds like a major PITA then consider this drastic alternative. Consider your nuclear option.
Tim Mayberry touts himself as the "hotel service for campers," and that's exactly what he does. Imagine you ride up to your favorite rally, park your bike, sit your ass down in a comfy chair beside your assembled tent- and open up a cold one.
Mayberry's Sherpa Service travels to various bike events and provides turn-key campsites for a modest fee. Services include single or doubles with sleeping bags, dome tent, camp chair, pillow and a fresh towel every day! There's even a community coffee pot and shade canopy. The event list includes the larger BMW motorcycle rallies and Bike Virginia- but you can contact them about other events.
No matter how you do it- or don't do it- camping on a motorcycle is pretty cool way to spend a long weekend. Or better yet, an entire vacation. America offers a slew of state parks, private campgrounds and wide open spaces just waiting to become your temporary front porch. Enjoy!