Whether you ride a bag-equipped cruiser, an all-out adventure bike, or a classic tourer, it is very likely that one day you will take to the road for a long trip.
Motorcycles have a way of tempting riders to chase the horizon. If you are smitten by the motorcycle tour bug, it’s necessary to understand what you need so that your trip is a memorable and pleasurable event instead of continually feeling unprepared. The best way to ensure that you leave nothing behind is to have a prodigious and all-inclusive packing list – just like the one we’ve outlined below.
We’ve included items experienced riders have learned prove essential to having a good journey. Not all of what is listed fits everyone or every journey. The concept is to present the ultimate catalog of items garnered from people who regularly tour on a motorcycle and then let you decide what’s important for you. When choosing, keep in mind personal preferences, the type of trip planned as well as where you will go and when you will ride once there. First we tackle motorcycle accessories then personal conveniences.
We’ve linked to the items listed as a convenient way for you to browse what’s available. Certain motorcycles feature some of these as stock so keep that in mind as you decide what applies to your situation. Also, if your trip is short, some of this is unnecessary. The longer the journey, however, most will be indispensable.
Luggage (saddlebags, tank bag, other bags):
- Tail Bags
- GPS Systems
- GPS Mounts
- Lock/Security System
- Tool Kits
- Tire Repair Kit
- Roadside Cleaning
- Chain Oil/Wax
Other items to consider taking with you:
- Spare key(s)
- Extra oil
- Spares (bulbs, fuses, etc.)
Motorcycle Riding Gear
This selection is for what you will wear on the motorcycle trip. You probably already have most of this, but you may find that a newer piece of gear is better suited to your intended destination. Remember, though, that if you do buy new gear, break it in before the journey so that no comfort or compatibility issues hamper your riding enjoyment.
- Packable Rain Gear
- Ear Plugs
See our other guides for additional selections:
- Sportbike and Motorcycle Protective Gear Guide
- Picking the Best Motorcycle Helmet
- Motorcycle Rain Gear
- Motorcycle Touring Gear & Accessories Guide
- Heated Motorcycle Gear
- Reflective Gear Recommendations for Night Riding
This section is fairly self-explanatory. The important part of choosing proper clothing is to check the weather along your trip path and at your destination. You do not want to be over or under-dressed for any events, either. Try to find garments which are multi-purpose to save room in your luggage.
- Sweater or Pullover
- Windbreaker Jacket
- Walking Shoes/Sandals
In addition to these items consider packing the following along for your trip:
- Suit jacket/blazer
- Casual socks
- Contact lenses or glasses
Small items which you need to keep up your hygiene and grooming duties are listed here. There are some motorcycle-specific items which do differ from any other form of travel, so take care to think about the ride itself and any common issues you experience when on a bike for a long period of time.
Consider packing these items for your trip:
- Pharmaceuticals (anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, pain meds, regular meds)
- Bug repellent
- Female sanitary items
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
- Grooming supplies (razor, shaving cream, nail clippers, etc.)
- Washcloth, towel, anti-monkey butt powder
Information and Connectivity
Since you will be far from home, it is a very smart idea to carry your important information with you on the trip. It is also wise to have a way to communicate with the world should you get hopelessly lost or need to let someone know where you are. You will also be presented with many opportunities to take photographs and record what you see along the journey, prepare for it. While on the road, some music may be helpful for the more boring super-slab portions. The items here will help you with all of these needs and check out our wallets to help you carry some of these items:
- Vehicle insurance card
- Bike registration
- Credit card, cash or traveler’s checks
- Tickets to any events
- Mobile phone
- Guide books
- Printed directions
- Affinity cards (Safeway, Albertsons, etc.)
- MP3 player
- Laptop, tablet
- GPS (mentioned above, but important if not attached to bike)
- Pen or pencil
Should the motorcycle tour involve sleeping outside, away from stuffy same-y hotels and motels, here are some camping items which will help to keep you warm, happy and safe. Even if you do a hybrid trip where there are some rented rooms and some nights under the stars, much of this will make that easier to accomplish and far more comfortable.
- Lighting (flashlight, candles, lantern):
- Sleeping bag, sleeping pad / air mattress
- Collapsible chair
- Ground cloth
- Pocket knife (or multi-tool)
- Firestarter (matches, lighter)
- Saw or hatchet
- Eating utensils
- Camping dishes
- Cook stove
- TOILET PAPER!
Taking some food along on the tour is a very good idea as there are many areas where you will find next to nothing in terms of eating. Plus, for the simple fact that the human body also needs fuel to run and to stay alert, capable and coordinated, you need to eat and drink. Of course, if you plan on camping for most of the trip, you may want to bring along a good selection of foodstuffs for preparing over a campfire.
- Hydration pack
- Hot chocolate
Bad stuff happens – it’s just a simple fact of travel. Be prepared for it by taking some of the items below with you on your motorcycle tour. For almost all of these, it is always better to have it and not use it than to need it and not have it. Most of this will fit in your wallet or tank bag, so there is no excuse to leave something at home which could save your butt.
- First Aid Kit
- Medical insurance card
- Locator device (i.e. SPOT)
- Duct tape
- Extra batteries
- Flashlight (see Camping section)
- Zip-ties or cord for tying objects in place
- AAA or other roadside assistance card
- List of dealers or shops along the way.
The motorcycle tour list here is fairly long and includes several optional items which may not suit your plans for a motorcycle tour. Keep in mind that this is merely a guideline to assist you in finding what you will require. You will find that experience is the best teacher. As you do more and more long distance travel by motorcycle, you will develop your own list which more closely matches your needs, wants and your personality. Write it down and keep it somewhere you can find later. The human mind loves lists because then it does not have to recall everything on its own. Take advantage of this and prepare yourself well for your journey to the horizon and beyond!